Mad Cat, Bad Cat

graphite drawing + digital mattingMurderous Mack

I prowl the alley on dark nights, looking for trouble spots and fights

And hissing, spitting, yowling, loud, my claws and fangs splitting the crowd,

So don’t be fooled if I look fine: wildfire is in my feline line–

My zoot suit is as cool as ice; my blood, though? Hot, not cool; not nice–

I’m fast, I’m fine, the cat that has searchlights for eyes, wild stripes for jazz,

A heart of iron, soul of steel, and toughness that’s dead deep, for real–

I’m fuzzy, but I warn you that I ain’t no prissy pussycat;

I’m lean and mean; I’m slick and sleek. But sweet? I’ll kick you to next week!

Get me riled up, it won’t be pretty–Bad Cat, yeah, but never Kitty–

All the same, at home a tub of cream is nice; a belly rub;

I’m tiger tough, to say the least, but hey! I ain’t no senseless beast–

Don’t cross me, ’cause I’m fierce, although I’m not an animal, you know!digital illustration

Sometimes I Surprise Myself

I catch a glimpse of myself in a window or mirror as I pass, and I am astonished to realize that the person I see is Me. It’s not so much that I’m horrified or amused by my rapid slide into aging’s odd forms of pseudo-disguise, by my generally slovenly dishevelment after rigorous housecleaning or gardening, or by my bizarre thoughtlessness about what I left the house wearing (though any of those might conceivably play a role from time to time); mostly, it’s just that I don’t really think that much in general about what I look like and so it always catches me very slightly off guard. My spouse tells me he finds me attractive, and that’s all I care much about, as my appearance goes, short of anyone finding me visually repellant, and thus far, no one has admitted that one to montageFortunately, the same spouse who is stuck looking at me more than any other person has also acted as my barber and general appropriate-dress consultant for the last eighteen years or so, so if he doesn’t like what he sees, he’s free to recommend a different outfit or cut my hair in a new way. This last summer’s road trip, while it didn’t make it impossible to cut my hair, made it inconvenient enough that we decided to just experiment with growing it out longer than two or three weeks’ worth as has been the norm for all these years. It was mostly just a laziness-motivated decision on my part, but after a couple of extra weeks I started to like the idea of just seeing how my hair grew out after having been so uniformly short for a couple of montageTurns out, there’s some slight wave to my hair, an unexpected–ahem–turn after the last number of years having had pretty much straight hair, short as it was. I kind of like that what white hairs I have show up better with the slightly longer look too–an accent I like much better than my naturally bland brownette color. Hey, maybe the streaks of white will further highlight my pasty-pale complexion. Ha! Not for nothing that my Thai college roommate and her friends from home called me Princess Snow White!

I decided to celebrate my new/old (wink-wink) look by trying my hand at jewelry assembly last week, and concocted a necklace out of jewelry findings and parts plus a couple of items I already had among my collected miniature sculptural found-object goodies. While I’m obviously a neophyte at the whole practice of concocting jewelry, I was rather pleased with my little semi-Steampunk necklace, perhaps the more so because the first person who saw me wearing it the first time I did so was very complimentary. Given all of the new bits of image-tweaking, and having been asked by a couple of friends to update my Gravatar now that I have a tad more hair to show, it seems apropos to get around to it. In another slightly surprising event, I managed to take a photo in which my eyes remained open, I did not decapitate my self-portrait or get my usual wildly wiggly motion blur, and most amazingly of all, I don’t mind the picture terribly much. So here we go. Never know what I’ll surprise myself with

Where are They Now?

In a couple of generations, so much change! It seems to me, at this point in my life and the tiny spot where that life sits in human history, that change grows ever speedier, as well, but I can only guess at that. I do know that within the memory of my own family and friends, what was common knowledge and something like a cultural vernacular at one time within those groups disappears with the rapidity of birdseed down a squirrel’s gullet.

When I was growing up, computers were still [refrigerated] room-sized and full of punch cards that represented their binary data in concrete form, and any private individual owning or knowing how to operate one was generally a subject for science fiction and fantasy. You might think the magnitude of the gap between then and today’s ubiquity of such techno-wonders as laptops and smartphones and their ilk would carbon date me, but no, I am still alive and kicking (though not nearly so high as, say, a Rockette), and I expect that today’s marvels will have become equally quotidian and us, equally blasé about them almost before I can blink my diode-wearied eyes.

One of the more obvious markers of the speed of our cultural shifts has been our costume, at least since we started wearing clothes. I can, to be fair, imagine that–once there were more than a couple of people around wearing leaves and animal skins–there was immediately somebody on hand checking out whether the prognathous brow next door was adorned with a groovier piece of saber-tooth fur than her own, and some other body busily rearranging his gunnera leaf cape because he’d noticed with some envy that the cave dweller across the way had added another leaf to his ensemble for a hat, giving him a little more screening from the notice of passing pteranodons.

So eventually, we arrive in the present day, when there are still a few ladies alive who can remember wearing middy blouses, and their granddaughters instead wore midi skirts. And in the course of my life, I remember a number of fashions and popular items of clothing that have ranged rather widely and sometimes even circled back to repeat a generation later, when the young and trendy are distant enough from their original appearances to be unaware of how ridiculously out of date the New Thing looks to the people who knew it as the New Thing thirty years earlier. This tautology of togs can be amusing, mystifying, a tad mortifying, or possibly just inspiring to those who kept the ‘offending’ garments in their attics for just such an occasion or at least out of laziness and apathy. In any case, we find ourselves seeing the past replayed despite our long-ago vows to never revisit such awful and embarrassing gaffes of taste, expense and/or comfort, and as much as we might revile them on their reappearance, it’s not entirely unknown for us to readopt them along with the crowd, when they’ve become familiar again.

Where are they now? Probably right where we left them, waiting to be picked up and worn once more. Much as it pains me to admit it, you will probably eventually find me wearing, again, such vintage garb as elephant pants, soap-and-water saddle shoes, paper dresses, bobby socks, a matching crocheted vest and tam, dickeys, or perhaps just a tasteful voile pinafore over my dress. Not sure if I’ll go as far as a bustle or a farthingale, but since everything old is eventually new again, I can’t say for certain that I won’t, either. Safe to say I think it highly unlikely you’ll ever see me wearing a girdle or V-boots or armor, even if those should become familiar personal accoutrements again anywhere during my life, but I rule nothing out–weirder things have happened. And I’d hate to get too out of sync with my fashionista neighbors, don’t you illustration

Doodle Bug

pen & inkI would like to state for the record that I am not, nor have I ever been, to my knowledge, an actual doodlebug, either zoologically or as a rolling or flying vehicle, a dowsing rod, or a method of seismic activity tracking. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those. And it’s probably safe to say that my garden and numerous dimly lit corners of my home are probably full of living and dead pill bugs (what we used to call potato bugs when I was growing up), and I confess to thinking it highly amusing that these creatures are in fact tiny crustaceans that live right in my house and look like–indeed, are scientifically named after–armadillos. House Armadillos or Domestic Crustaceans, either way kind of weirdly cool in my estimation.

But I digress.

What I am is one of the many humanoids prone to doodling. And that’s not a bad thing, either. Doodling (or randomly scribbling on whatever is handy, usually a cocktail serviette or textbook or office paperwork or top-secret legal document, depending upon one’s status and age and current supposed activities) often leads, though many a grade school teacher would vigorously deny it, to thinking. And on occasion at least, thinking is not an entirely bad thing.

Whenever I’m struggling to get a piece of writing, a drawing, or frankly, any other project underway, there are few motivational tools that compare with doodling. The serendipitous or random mark that merely records a purportedly thoughtless and pointless motion of the hand can sometimes come to resemble an actual Something, and well, Something almost always leads to Something Else. In drawing as in life, just getting in there and starting, whether I’m ready or not, is the best way to potentially get anything done. Who knew!

Today’s doodle is brought to you by my propensity for turning many of my scribbles and scrawls and squibs and squiggles into things that resemble simplified linear paisley patterns or rosemaling, or any number of other folk design traditions. Once I get going on them, I find it meditative to a degree just to follow the whimsical path of inserting repetitive forms and line treatments, geometries and organic outgrowths of the marks, until I’ve filled much of the available space. Many of these folk-like, repeating elements become almost a trademark doodling style that might be as identifiable to some as my handwriting. Though, hopefully, more legible. And while the doodles don’t necessarily lead to specific or pictorial drawings in and of themselves, they do lend themselves neatly to a more relaxed and receptive state of mind in which those more concrete thoughts and ideas can indeed begin to insert and assert themselves usefully. And that can lead to different sorts of drawing, whether more topical or more sophisticated or more directed. Or not! The inspiration is in the painting from a P&I drawing

Today I was led by the doodling, not to a different drawing entirely, but to scanning it and playing with it digitally, first layering colors all over the place, then digital textures, then altering the proportions of the image, and lastly, stitching the resulting mash-up into a larger grouping of four copies of the same image arranged in a pinwheel fashion and then stretched, skewed, cut-and-pasted, and electronically stamped into a fabric-like whole that uses the same idea of the initial doodles repetitions-with-evolutionary-changes so that the end product still seems to appear quite handmade, as it’s not symmetrical or fully even from side to side or top to bottom. Now, if I were to take that square and repeat it, even if I turned it 90 degrees each time, for example, it would finally become more machine-made in appearance as well as manufacture. But that’s just mental doodling right there, isn’t it, because I could further alter the combination every single time I ‘copied’ it.

Which illustrates exactly what I was talking about as characteristic of doodling. One thing does lead to another, as long as we bother to do the initial one thing.

That said, I suppose I should get up from my desk and go forth to do a few individual things that might lead to getting some other essential things done around here. Cheerio!digital image from a P&I drawing