Little Paper Sheep

I hope your week is going well and is feeling springlike and full of new energies. 🙂

Nothing too big to report on my end this day, except that I had a hankering to make some little paper sheep – a combo of watercolour paper and Black Magic india ink (I love that stuff). Since teensy sheep call for teensy scissors,  I was aided by a quite portable pair of Swiss Army scissors. The little ones that, very much like these sheep, you can put in your pocket.

I’m not yet sure what to do with these sheep or where they’ll find their home; for the time being, I’m letting them explore their new environment on their quite wonky paper feet.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

paper sheeppaper sheep 2paper sheep 3

A Bear named Winnie

bear hug colour 3 (3)

A little cross-hatched piece of fan art I made after watching the Canadian film A Bear Named Winnie (2004).

When Goodbye is Thank You

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.

Scherenschnitte heart

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 papillon

Merci, watercolour butterfly.  

Bolbol - Soraya
I'm finally learning to love technical pens.
This is a card in Farsi with a bolbol (nightingale).  
Kheili mamnoon: Thank you very much.


Spooky Toucan

Toucan pam (1001x1024)

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.

Bacterial love

maggot love

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.

Mr. Escalade

Mr escalade 1

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.


Canada geese

ImageI recently had a dream that I canoed all the way from Europe to Australia.  I started my voyage, heading south and around Africa’s Atlantic coast, then east across the Indian ocean.  Once on the continent, I was greeted by a majestic breed of bright red peacocks running through the desert.

The dream has nothing to do with this drawing, but it’s good to know that one can still dream in colour.