Monday, December 20, 2010

Resistance & Snowflake Envy

Having grown up in the lower elevations of California, I haven't seen much real snow. Something strange happens here in December, though: hanging snowflakes made of paper or cotton balls appear; snowflakes are spraypainted onto shop windows; and artificial snow may drape a visible living room tree or two. Were these decorating customs begun by transplants from the East coast who missed the seasons? Or is it snowflake envy?

As a kid I was told that all snowflakes were different. We folded paper and dutifully cut out shapes to make our own unique snowflakes, but I was skeptical. Much later, as an adult, I stood outside in Massachusetts and a snowflake landed on the arm of my black wool coat. Wow! It really looked like one of those paper snowflakes. No, it was way better. I felt inspired to try to make a copy of a real one, but I didn't succeed.

Even though I now have the memory of a real snowflake, and maybe because of it, I tend to resist this time of year and all those artificial snow decorations. But what is resistance? In an experimental fiction class I took the readings seemed strange, horrifying, or uncomfortable to most of us; we were resistant to them. I decided early in the class that I was going to dive in and embrace all those images that I didn't like, play with them, see if I could understand why they bothered me rather than shutting them out completely. I found out there were certain new areas (primarily violent ones) that I didn't want to pursue too deeply, but there were other areas where I could push myself and learn.

Do you resist fake snow, puns, Star Trek? Resistance is futile. During these festivals of lightheartedness, embrace them all! Here's a wordless snowflake gesso-resist project to absorb you. (More gesso and ink examples in Painted Paper.)


Thanks for coming by and happy "turnings of the sun!"


Tools and Materials: a square piece of copy paper; scissors; artist's masking tape; (flat-bottomed) stencil brush; gesso; bottle of acrylic ink; container of water; watercolor paper or cotton paper or museum board for the card or base. Note: Let the gesso dry completely before you paint the acrylic ink wash over the stenciled pattern.

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And while we are still looking at some resistance to the repeal of the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, Harry Reid sums up the priorities rather simply, "We don't care who you love, as long as you love your country."

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