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Caturday, January 24, 2015: The War on Christmas (Mouse)

24 Jan
Behold. I am Smokey, Vanquisher of toy mice.

Behold. I am Smokey, Vanquisher of toy mice.

Christmas is so over. And I, the mighty Smokey Cat, would like you to know that I have caught and defeatedRed Christmas Mouse, one of the two wily foes that came out of my Christmas stocking (Green Mouse has taken the cowardly way out by hiding under the couch. It’s amazing how many times Red Christmas Mouse has gotten away from me, considering my well-honed hunting skills. So I want you to see that for the record, Christmas mouse has surrendered and is lying on its back in a pose of utter defeat. Should I let Red Christmas Mouse go to fight another day? I await your votes.

Writing Prompt: Mercy or no mercy? What’s a decision where you had to choose whether or not someone or something deserved another chance?

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I heard it on NPR. Kind of.

23 Jan
USA! USA! World War II poster of Americans anxiously huddling around a radio shows why we rock. (courtesy of Wikimedia commons).

USA! USA! World War II poster of Americans anxiously huddling around a radio shows why we rock. (courtesy of Wikimedia commons).

Lately I’ve been engaged in a tragically fruitless project of decluttering my insane art room. This has given me the opportunity to listen to National Public Radio All. Day. Long. Listening to NPR is like listening to one’s friends, including the part where they repeat themselves, which, let’s face it, everyone does. Including the part where they repeat themselves, which, let’s face it, everyone does. Oh wait, what did I just do?

I am happy to say that it has increased my knowledge of public events very quickly. In fact, I feel quite brilliant.  And just in case you haven’t had the opportunity of being similarly enriched, I will give you today’s news report as well as I remember it. Ready?

  1. Yemen’s government quit and has now been taken over by thousands or maybe tens of thousands of (Hrathis? Hathis?) who invaded the capital, Sanaa. The (Hrathis? Hathis?) hate America, but they either are part of al Qaeda or they hate al Qaeda, and they hate America, which is why we are pretty sure that we should make them allies. Now the U.S. embassy is working with a skeleton staff, so don’t you worry that nobody is going to answer the phone. We just don’t know if anybody is going to be able to man the drones. The (Hrathis?) are Zaidis? and are either Shias or Shiites, unlike the Iranians who are not Arabs but Persians and are mostly Shiite. Did I clear that up for you?
  1. Saudi Arabia’s king what’s-his-name, the one who once tenderly held George Bush’s hand as they celebrated their bromance in some flowery park, is dead, and his place has been taken by his spring chicken 79-year-old heir Prince Something-or-other. This is going to slow things down because this prince is in bad health—not AS bad as the former king, who had a “typically modest” Muslim funeral today (plaintive cry of “Allu Akbar” in background). New king promises to keep policies of old king, who was known as a reformer, a veryyyyy slowwww reformer. Saudi Arabia will not have a problem with this change because it’s got tons of cash in the bank. However, it may have a problem because now all these Saudis went to college and there aren’t enough good jobs for them. Unrest alert!
  1. Producer or director of some vampire play says that play is based on mythic themes like bullying. He says they only use blood three times in play because with blood, “Less is more. “ Play was first shown in Dundee. People who lived outside Dundee paid for poor people in Dundee to go to play. Rich people got stubs, poor people got experience of lifetime watching Vampire /mythical bully themed play. Also, it’s tragic that some people grow old and others (such as vampires) don’t.

4. Brain scientists dished about two brain study initiatives, one in U.S., one in Europe. The one in U.S. is stupid, the one in Europe is even more stupid. Not enough consultation with psychologists. Better to study mouse brains. FMRI machines are gimmicky, ineffective. “It’s like a magnifying glass when you need a microscope.”

5. After NY state politician Sheldon Silver is arrested for corruption charges, some guy asks about the “Three Men in a Room” system for negotiating. “Why three men? Why not a woman? What size of room is it anyway, that only fits three men?” 135journals editorial: Sheldon Silver is SO guilty.

6. Blah blah New England Patriots dumpty dum underinflated football doodly doo I have no idea why I should care about this.

Okay, considered yourselves schooled.

Writing prompt: What did you learn from the news today?

135Journals Art Corner: Drawing on Receipts

23 Jan
Drawing on receipts. Even if you don't have anything else to draw on, you can use the small space of a receipt or other scrap of paper to draw a pattern that you can later use in a collage or other piece of work. by Alexandra Hanson-Harding

Drawing on receipts. Even if you don’t have anything else to draw on, you can use the small space of a receipt or other scrap of paper to draw a pattern that you can later use in a collage or other piece of work. by Alexandra Hanson-Harding

One day I–I know this is crazy–I didn’t have my journal with me. And I was waiting in a line. And I was bored. Of course, my pocketbook did contain a bunch of old useless receipts and some markers. So, I found myself doodling this little design on top of one of those receipts. The paper is probably as toxic as all get out, but it does have a nice smooth feeling. And having only a small space to fill was oddly satisfying. And, of course, every picture, no matter how seemingly repetitive, that I do means that I am developing a little bit more strength in my hand, more personality in my line, more sense of possibility. So, what can you actually DO with litttle pieces like this? Many artists save small bits and pieces of work for collages. I do not know how to make a collage–yet. But I have a file for pieces of my own work. It might fit in somewhere perfectly. And if not, what have I lost? In a way, I like the fact that I can read through the drawing that I visited Barnes and Noble and had a cup of tea on a certain day. That too is part of my history. Maybe I’ll just glue it onto a page of my journal (as you can see in this picture, the receipt is lying on one page of my scandalous tomes), because it’s part of me. It’s part of a day I drank tea, and part of a day I was bored standing in line. It was a point in time when I was drawing circles. Maybe someday I won’t draw so many circles. Then maybe I’ll draw something else. And THAT will be part of my history, too. It reminds me: There’s really no reason to ever clean out your purse.

Writing Prompt: What do you do with little scraps in your life–of time, of material, of paper?

135journals Art Corner: Using Elmer’s Glue as a Resist

20 Jan
lack Labyrinth. Watercolor and elmer's glue. By Alexandra Hanson-Harding

Black Labyrinth. Watercolor and elmer’s glue. By Alexandra Hanson-Harding

As I slowly acquire my art education via the University of Pinterest, I have become more and more acquainted with the idea of “resists.” Those are different materials or items that stand in the way of paint or dye or whatever being laid down on the surface of the paper. Resists can include wax (including crayons), and in this case, I thought I’d try out Elmer’s glue. I lay down a thick line of glue in a rectangular pattern moving outward. I let it dry for a day. And then I painted over it. It really worked! I like the spooky way the black looks against the thick line. I think I also dabbed some of the paint off the white line of Elmer’s with a cloth (by then it had a nice plasticky consistency) to emphasize the difference–but not off all of it. It was a fun technique and I would definitely try it again. The only trick is waiting long enough to let the glue dry!

Writing Prompt: How can “resisting” help you improve the quality of your life?

135journals Art Corner: Journal Sketch of woman on Iphone at Apple Store

20 Jan
Woman talking on Iphone at Apple Store, now in the journal of Alexandra Hanson-Harding

Woman talking on Iphone at Apple Store, now in the journal of Alexandra Hanson-Harding

What in the world could possibly be better than spying on people who are doing whatever it is they do in public? A lot of what they do, fortunately, is talk on their phones. Unfortunately, 99 out of conversations on cell phones are tedious, and I should know, because I eavesdrop all. the. time. Luckily, they are also very distracted by their conversations, and I can capture their looks while ignoring the tediousity (word TM by me) of their one-sided chitchat. I liked the looks of this young lady. She was so pretty. Drawing her kept me content while I waited for a Genius to visit me (Oh how often I wait for genius to visit me.) I was so glad I had my journal to keep me company, since my computer wasn’t doing me any good at that moment.

Writing Prompt: Next time you hear a cell phone conversation in public, try writing it down. Then tell me if I’m right about how b-o-r-i-n-g people are on their cells.

135Journals Art Corner: Pink, Green, Yellow Circles 1

16 Jan
Pink, green, yellow circles 1: Watercolor, acrylic, markers, and more. by Alexandra Hanson-Harding

Pink, green, yellow circles 1: Watercolor, acrylic, markers, and more. by Alexandra Hanson-Harding

Lately I’ve been doing tons of pictures with circles in them. I have always liked drawing mandalas, but this is a different kind of process, rougher and quicker and using more colors. I wanted to try using different materials. First, I did a watercolor background. Then I added circles of greenish acrylic paint. On top of that, I practiced some different patterns that I am trying to make my own–and by my own, I mean that they come to my mind and hand instinctively. One of them is the spiral. Another is the wavy arrow border. There are also several kinds of flowerlike motifs and a sunburst. And dots. I used markers, gel pens, and maybe even a regular pen. I also bought a kind of white ink pen that you have to shake before you use it, I forget what it’s called, because I thought it was getting too dark. I am not sure that I’m done with it yet. That big green circle in the middle seems ripe for some kind of detail. But maybe not.

Writing Prompt: What are some motifs that you doodle?

135journals Art Corner: Tiny Diamonds

13 Jan
Make yourself a diagonal grid and get yourself some markers, and hours of fun shall ensue. By Alexandra Hanson-Harding.

Make yourself a diagonal grid and get yourself some markers, and hours of fun shall ensue. By Alexandra Hanson-Harding.

In some ways, I am soooooooooo lazy. You just go ahead and ask my husband. But in other ways, I am incredibly diligent. Lookie here at what hard work I put into making this picture of tiny diamonds. I not only had fun coloring in boes with markers, but in devising little patterns to put into some of the boxes. I think they help to give the composition a little variety. I also left some spaces blank. You might have fun doing such a project yourself. I found it meditative, but it also helped me develop more small iconic images that come naturally to hand. I also got to see for myself color combinations that looked better than others. I want to develop my eye for what colors work together. It is interesting how different look next to each other. It was good compulsive fun, and a person could do this over and over (with regular grid paper, too), and still learn something and even make something kind of pleasing.

Writing Prompt: What is something you do compulsively?

Caturday, January 10: Loose Cannon

10 Jan Thelonius Monk in Loose Cannon Box
Thelonius Monk in Loose Cannon Box

Thelonius Monk in Loose Cannon Box

All right, Monk seems to be saying with his green, glowing eyes, perhaps I am a sucker for a box. It may be that I will never meet a box that does not need testing. Certainly, I have never in my life experienced such a box. And so, you may find my behavior in some way risible. I would like to just pose a question to you humans. What if there were a whole lot of human-sized boxes just sitting there. Just the perfect size to sit down in. I’d like to see if YOU could pass up the opportunity. From where I sit, I think not.

Writing Prompt: What can you simply not resist?

135Journals Art Corner: Paisley

9 Jan

One of my vows this year is to show not just pictures I’m really proud of, but ones that I am stumped by. I don’t really like what I’ve done here. The colors are too stark. They lack nuance. I think it looks primitive, but not in a good way. It’s all done with markers, which are not a perfect vehicle for art on their own. Still, I think the cure for what ails it can be found in doing something more to it. What that more is, I do not know. Yet. If and when the answer comes to me, I will show it to you. I do know that layering can add depth and dimension to pictures that seem hopeless at first. Let’s see if that happens with this baby.

Writing Prompt: Do you have some kind of project that hasn’t come together yet?

Paisley 1 by Alexandra Hanson-Harding. (Unfinished. So far).

Paisley 1 by Alexandra Hanson-Harding. (Unfinished. So far).

135Journals Art Corner: Faucet

6 Jan
faucet drawing

This is what faucets look like these days. Interesting fact: I get bored in stores that sell faucets. (from the journal of Alexandra HH)

Part of the joy that is renovating is picking out new stuff. I know, it really is. A person is lucky to have new stuff. I remind myself of that. But I must admit my mind wanders a bit when it comes down to making these life-altering decisions. Here is a picture I drew in my journal while Mr. HH was asking sensible questions.

Writing Prompt: What kind of shopping do you hate?