Today is one of those rainy, overcast Chicago Saturdays – the kind that makes the pavement wetly audible and keeps you inside with tea, a top bun, and time for quiet reading. It’s the kind of low-lit, indoor day where I’d rather listen to Petula Clark’s “Downtown” and dream about the city than go there myself.
Anyhow, just a doodle and a song to share today. Wishing you many good times with many good books!
The word ‘pastime’ is no coincidence. I’ve been reflecting, recently, on how creative activities seem to devour the time, sometimes voraciously. I am hoping to rein in the times where I’ve crafted myself into several hours-long states of self-forgetfulness; these zones of suspension are creatively desirable, and are calming in their own way, but (alas) lives aren’t entirely made on trance states. In and around the making, there are bills to pay, dogs to walk, taxes to be done, dishes to clear.
Here is a little doodle of that moment of coming up and out of a knitting session. It’s been a few hours, and someone has just reminded me – oblivious – of the time.
In the real world, the glasses will have slipped much farther down my nose, granny-style. As crafters out there know all too well, maker-time tends to escape the dictates of clock-time. That well-intentioned injunction to work for only “15 more minutes” goes unheeded as the knitting grows and grows and takes on a momentum all of its own (if only I could harness this energy when it’s time for the laundry).
What is your view? Do you regulate or schedule your inner crafter, set times when making is “off-limits” or, on the other hand, allow it days where it has free rein? How do you find the balance between clock-time and maker-time?
My posts have been more doodles and drawings as of late – something about Spring’s arrival has back-burnered the warm woolies and stirred up some hibernating drawing energies. I hope to have more knitting news in the next little bit…like a few new FOs!
A happy Wednesday to you.
It looks like Christmas is just around the corner. This one really crept up on me (it always does, but I’m usually a little better prepared!). We are leaving today to spend the weekend south of Chicago with A’s relatives. I’m, of course, bringing my latest work-in-progress with me – a purple cartridge belt ribbed scarf for my friend, R.J. Yep. Still working on it (but past the halfway point now). I’m looking forward to catching up with A’s family and getting some more rows on that scarf.
In the meantime,
Whatever your plans, Knitting Panda and I hope that the next days find you warm, stuffed with treats, and in the presence of your very nearest and dearest.
Season’s Greetings and Merry Christmas!
P.S.: I am working on a little backstory post about ‘Knitting Panda’ in the coming days. Stay tuned, and stay warm!
During the holidays, my thoughts take a natural homeward turn. I keep this skyline doodle by my work station – it reminds me of the vibrant and electric place where I grew up.
Toronto, 6.5″ x 5.5.” India ink and acrylic on watercolour paper
Some time ago, I made this paper P gift card for two dear friends who were welcoming their new daughter, Peregrine, to the world (congratulations, Arthur and Isabelle!). At that time, I had just discovered the joy of mixing paper-cutting with another longstanding love: typography.
I love a good font. I also love the way paper-cut letters seem to go back and forth between 2-D flatness and their slight 3-dimensions, casting a good shadow.
Hi again! It is nice to be back in the blogosphere after an over-month-long hiatus. I can’t wait to catch up with what I’ve missed.
An overseas move to the U.S. + holidays in Canada + another move within Chicago (in the snow and up 4 flights of stairs, no less!) = not being as creatively productive as I would have liked in these past few weeks. January, however, is the month of making (and keeping) resolutions. Top of my list: becoming more aware of how I spend my time, and giving regular attention to what I like to call the ‘drawing tree’ 🙂 I’m learning that my ability to be productive results from carefully ‘stewarding’ the thing that allows the drawings to happen–tending to something complex, dynamic and living that can wilt or flourish depending on the conditions.
For people who also like to make things: What do you like to call this thing? Do you have a name for it, or an image that conveys the process? And what things do you do regularly to keep your creativity-tap running?
Speaking of trees and other twiggy things, I thought I’d share some of the holiday greetings I drew over the next few days. This watercolor wreath was made for a certain little girl in love with horses. More to come.
A little cross-hatched piece of fan art I made after watching the Canadian film A Bear Named Winnie (2004).
Feeling a little bit like this inky kid doodle today: mischievous, electric, and just about ready to shoot searing lightning bolts out of my eyes. Mostly for good.
Goodbye is often another way of saying “Thank You.”
I finished my year of anthropological fieldwork in Switzerland 2 weeks ago. The weeks leading up to my departure on November 14th were a flurry of farewells and goodbyes, often in the form of cakes, pies, and last suppers. In some cases, I was counting down the minutes as I ran to the homes of friends just to see them one last time and, more importantly, thank them for opening their houses and hearts to a meek anthropologist. I’m learning that farewell-time is one in which an often latent world of social ties suddenly comes out of the woodwork, like a sudden sprouting—all of the not-always-evident relationships and even the loosely held links (in addition to the long-standing friendships) suddenly revive and become visible again.
The farewell compels this flowering; it’s a reminder of temporariness, and is a period of recognition and acknowledgment. I left my field wishing I could carry all of the lovely people and their sweetness back home with me, but I overlooked that “home” had now stretched its boundaries. It only took a year (!), and I can only hope and resolve that the things I learned and gleaned will somehow carry over and translate into a new life.
In spite of the goodbye flurry–or because of it–I was able to get some drawing in (less blogging). Here are 3 of the handmade thank yous I made for friends and family. The time spent drawing into the wee hours of the morning helped me to make the imminent goodbyes more than just an ache in the chest.
Heart in paper. A first stab (or snip) at Scherenschnitte, the intricate Swiss
art of paper-cutting (with which I fell deeply in love).
More on this in a later post.
Merci, watercolour butterfly.
I'm finally learning to love technical pens.
This is a card in Farsi with a bolbol (nightingale).
Kheili mamnoon: Thank you very much.
I was on the phone with my father the other day, and we were talking about old movies and TV shows from his childhood. Laughingly, he told me to watch the film “Flower Drum Song,” where I discovered the strident Nancy Kwan. This is her portrait, drawn from a Chinese movie poster for “The World of Suzie Wong” (which I haven’t yet seen, but which strikes me as an earlier version of Pretty Woman set in Hong Kong).
After staying up late one night to read a biography of Dürer, feasting my eyes upon his dazzlingly detailed etchings, I was inspired to try my hand at using lines and cross-hatching for shadows instead of my usual heaps of diluted black ink. I discovered that working this way to get gradations, you quickly enter a mental thicket. The lines become a forest that gets denser and denser the farther you go into it. This is an alluring place that is easier to enter than to exit. Get what I’m saying?
This drawing combines technical pens, gouache, watercolour, india ink, and a little elbow grease.
I drew this bird a while ago. Missing out on sunlight in the thick of Swiss autumn, I had it in mind to make an image for myself that I could hang on my wall and look at to be reminded of sunnier, happier climes.
The end product ended up looking awkward and spooky. This toucan appears to know something that the rest of us don’t. He is Sam’s darker and less-loved sibling.
How very appropriate for Halloween! So, instead of vultures, owls, crows, and ravens, I propose my vaguely sinister Halloween toucan.
More ink practice with darks and lights. Shadowing in comics is, I’m finding, one of the most challenging things to do. There’s a level of committing to the ink that takes a lot of trust. You can tell when a line has been demurely laid down, or not.
I have a feeling I should start studying Ingmar Bergman film-stills…
I wonder if, in all of their ambitious hurry to colonize and reproduce, bacteria ever feel the need to find love. Does their unicellular existence make them immune to infatuation? Do the logics of binary fission keep them from longing? (Would they, in effect, be falling in love with endless versions of themselves?) And if people could reproduce by splitting in two, would we still need each other?
While they don’t rely on each other to multiply, I like to imagine that the precarity of bacterial existence makes some sense of connectedness one of the few sources of pleasure in an otherwise uncertain and short life. Maybe it begins with a furtive glance from across the colony… followed by cellular fireworks.
I write this on the verge of some growing tummy trouble. I’m counting on my immune system to take care of the thing, but in the meantime, I like the image of a micro-drama unfolding—bacteria mingling and rushing to meet their special someones in the little time they have left.
Every December, in Geneva, the city celebrates the Fête de l’Escalade to commemorate its historical military victory over the Duke of Savoy who, in 1602, launched a surprise night-attack on the unsuspecting city-state. To honour this event, there is an annual race and procession given by the Compagnie de 1602. They don stunning 17th century garb and march through the old town with horses, torches, and pipers. Men perform battle re-enactments, cannon-firings, and musketry demonstrations; women sell Escalade pins and plastic cups of mulled wine. The night ends with a fiery speech in the town center declaring Geneva’s enduring independence.
One of the more colourful characters of the Escalade celebrations is Mère Royaume–the semi-fictional cook who, as the folk history goes, was preparing vegetable soup in a large cauldron on the night of the Savoyard ambush. Seeing the approaching Savoyard soldiers attempting to scale the city walls, she roused the slumbering townsfolk, sent for help, and fended off the first attack by pouring her hearty soup–cauldron and all–down onto the approaching climbers. So the story goes. This little tale is why marzipan veggies in a chocolate pot have become one of the Escalade’s official treats.
For all of this clarion-calling spectacle, a memorable moment of last year was getting to watch a musketeer on his smoke break. Having just finished a 17th-century style musketry re-enactment, he lit one up in his horn-rimmed glasses and kind of just stared off into space. I imagine he was lost in a veggie-filled reverie.
This was a little exercise in inking with as minimal penciling in as possible, which feels like doing trapeze art without a net (fun!), minus the real danger. This is perhaps also a reminder from my subconscious that adequate sun-protection ought to be a concern among monks and lay-persons alike.
All in all, I think these two have seen better days.