Rainbow Art Journal – Night and Day

I rarely ever work across two art journal pages.  The fact that I use a spiral bound journal does not lend itself to double spreads.  I thought, however, that I might attempt a sort of diptych, two pieces on two different pages but somehow visually linked.  I am glad I tried something new but the results didn’t leave me feeling I had accomplished much.  There is a strong visual connection between the two pages, which could be regarded as a success.  I introduced colour in order to differentiate between the two pages.  One of my kids suggested the idea of blue and yellow to represent night and day so I opted for those colours but otherwise did not pursue the idea of different lighting conditions.  I wanted to maintain the monochromatic theme and to connect the figures through use of silhouette.  Not being overly keen on the outcome of this pair of paintings, I kept circling back to these pages in my art journal, adding a tiny bit more here and there.  But I have now reached a point where I no longer feel inspired to tinker with the pages and want to call these pages done and set them by.  So done they are.

6a Night & Day

6b Night & Day

6c Night & Day

 

 

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Selling Love in Packs of Thirty

When I was in Rome a few years ago, we saw the (purported skull) of St Valentine.  I am sure in life he was a stand-up guy but he has a lot to answer for.

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I loathe Valentine’s Day.  With.  A.  Passion.

An element of it is that I am hard-wired from experience to despise it.  Every year, kids at school would pass anonymous lovey-dovey, bokey cards to each other.  I would receive one card a year with handwriting suspiciously mature for your average 11 year old and somewhat reminiscent of my father’s script.  As an adult I can reflect on that and think how sweet and thoughtful it was of my Dad to not want me to feel left out but at the time it felt like salt being rubbed in the wounds.  It wasn’t really that I wanted a declaration of romance from some snotty nosed boy – because really I very much didn’t – but I was bullied for being a square peg all the way through school so Valentine’s Day was just another means to remind me of how unpopular I was, how left out I was. Of course, my super-popular younger sister would need a sherpa to help her transport home all of her cards.  I might have been a wee bit bitter about that at the time.

Then one year, when I was about 13, I received my one and only Valentine’s card and it was gigantic.  Massive.  It was over half my height and there was an icky, cutesy panda on the front. In one fell swoop it could have made up for all of those years of never having received a card.  Except it didn’t.  My epiphany that day was that receiving an obscenely proportioned card from a sproddy teenage boy who makes your spine judder is so very much worse than receiving no cards at all.  So I took the card and shoved it in the outside rubbish bin – because it was too big for the kitchen bin – but my Mum discovered it.  I learned I had been foiled when I walked into the living room and discovered the card, in all its gigantic glory, perched atop the television set.  It was as if my parents had turned it into some sort of shrine.  So I whipped the card from it’s place and ripped it into tiny pieces before placing it, once again, in the bin.  This time my Mum decided not to stick it all back together and restore it.  Job done.

However, it is not just those childhood experiences that wrecked Valentine’s Day for me.  I have been in a happy, loving, committed relationship for twenty years but Valentine’s Day is still not part of my calendar because I actually detest it for ethical reasons too.  First of all the whole idea that there should only be one day a year when people express their romantic feelings to each other, having had to be prompted by the date to do so, is a complete and utter nonsense.  If you want to tell someone that you fancy or love them then just do it when the feeling hits you.  So you realise you like someone on 15th February – are you really going to wait 364 days before you tell them so?  Of course not.  So what is the point?  The point is that having one day a year for designated romance means big business for card companies, florists and possibly even chocolatiers.  It is all just commercial hype that people get sucked into.  You walk into a shop with shelves stacked with random foods and objects covered in pink and red hearts and peer pressure kicks in.  The panic of conformity.  If everyone else is buying this heart covered tat then what happens if you go home to your beloved empty handed?  So you buckle to peer pressure and clever advertising designed to play on your vulnerabilities and buy some tat.  Think of the money those businesses rake in on that one day not to mention the boost for restaurants too.  All those marriage proposals on Valentine’s Day too.  How original.  Thankfully Mr Pict and I have a pact to not submit to the commercialism and we don’t mark Valentine’s Day.  People may judge but we don’t care.  Non-conformity is a comforting feeling in the Pict family.

So why am I blogging about Valentine’s Day weeks too early?  Because I am irked that I am being forced to conform and that makes me loathe Valentine’s Day even more.

The other day, I noticed a post on Facebook from a friend who lives in California.  It was a link to lots of creative ideas for Valentine’s gifts for your kids to hand out.  Woah, woah, woah!  Kids hand out Valentine’s gifts in the US?  I posed the query and friends confirmed that, yes indeed, it is traditional here in America for children to hand out cards and presents to their classmates.  My heart sank and my blood boiled.  Simultaneously.  I pinged a quick email to one of my boys’ teachers in the hope that perhaps their school did not participate in this tradition but alas she confirmed that they have a Valentine’s party and kids exchange cards and gifts and they even make bags in which to collect all their heart-shaped booty.

In Scotland, Valentine’s Day is very much the preserve of teenagers, courting couples and old marrieds.  It is not for children.  My kids have been raised in a culture where giving someone a Valentine’s card is a way of expressing your love for them, a way of indicating that you want to smooch them.  I was not looking forward, therefore, to breaking the news to them.  I predicted a full-scale rebellion.  It transpired, however, that the word “party” took the edge off the news and I was emphatic in explaining to them that the card exchange would, at Elementary School age at least, be a declaration of friendship rather than of love.  They were just about sold.

So now I am being forced to conform.  I don’t want my kids to not participate in events at school, I don’t want them to feel left out and I don’t want to foist all of my views on them either.  Who knows, after all, maybe I am raising some budding romantics.  I don’t see any evidence of that so far but you never can tell.  So this year I am going to have to opt in to the rampant commercialism and buy packs upon packs of Valentine’s cards for each of my sons to hand out and, in turn, they will each tromp home with bags full of pink and red heart-shaped tat.

So now I have another reason to find Valentine’s Day intensely annoying.

I will conclude this blog entry with my Zombie Valentine drawing from a Zombie of the Week project I set myself a couple of years ago.  That’s all the Valentine’s romance I can muster right now.

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Martin Luther King Day

Yesterday was my first ever Martin Luther King Day, which is a fairly recent addition to the calendar of holidays, as I have never visited America at this time of year before.  I am not going to blog about the legacy of Dr King or his importance to American and world history because that is not the nature of this blog.  Suffice to say, however, that he and people like him are inspirational.  That then is the essence of Martin Luther King Day.  It is about taking that inspiration and those lessons of doing something to make your community better and using your time, skills and resources to make a difference.  Of course, this is not necessarily bound in the context of the Civil Rights movement but is interpreted more widely so that it has become a day for volunteering.  I have volunteered in different capacities and at different levels of dedication since my teenage years so the concept of this holiday appealed to me.

For our day of service, the kids and I headed to the Elementary School they attend as the school’s counsellor had organised a range of volunteering activities.  We could do things as varied as bag up breakfast items, write letters to service men and women, sort out donated coats or weed the school’s grounds.  In the end, given the spread of ages of my children, we decided to go and organise, clean and box up donated toys.  The kids did a great job of getting stuck in and helping out and as a whole group we powered through the task in no time at all.  I was especially pleased when m 8 year old told me how much he enjoyed the feeling of doing something to help others.

I really like this holiday and perhaps next year we will be in a position to get even more involved in volunteering in our community, perhaps even engaging longer term in a project if we can manage the logistics.

As an aside, on the way home my four year old asked me if what we had just done was “musketeering”.  Cute.