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I admit, their chatter broke the monotony and loneliness of my studio. I was alone, but my drafting supplies were talking to me.

Hamlet and the Kneaded Eraser

Now I have to put up with these two?
I was at my draft table drawing barns.  The drawings were detailed and architectural. Over the many hours of alternating between a 2B draft pencil, a ruler and a kneaded eraser, I imagined my art supplies were unhappy with my constant errors. As I set the kneaded eraser in the margin of the paper, I imagined it complaining to the 2B draft pencil about the poor excuse-for-an-artist they had been sentenced to work with. He flippantly called me “ol’ Michelangelo.” Their banter stung, but it was really funny.

I was telling my artist friend, Kathleen Coy, about how much I liked her series of paintings titled Melancholy Pear (http://katsdailypaintings.blogspot.com/2012/06/day-47.html) about a pear that had a stem that forced it to look melancholy. (She painted the series all that week which ended with the pear cheering up.) We were talking about how much we enjoy assigning human characteristics to non-human things. She said it was anthropomorphism.

Aha! I was vicariously working through my art tools to scratch my inner itch for camaraderie and companionship that I need from other artists, and missed from my former career. The comic became my outlet for honest dialogue and allowed me a healthy vent while working on the series of barn paintings.

I story boarded in my composition notebook in the morning at the coffee shop. (My studio is in my home, but because I was previously used to driving 40 miles to work, I find that a drive to the coffee shop in the morning and back to my home studio gives me the feeling that I’ve driven to work.) Once in the studio, choosing from my notebook full of ideas, I would photograph the tools and lay the strip out in Adobe InDesign and post them to my WordPress site (http://inthemargincomic.wordpress.com/) To make it efficient, most of the strip was from a template. I did eventually move them around a little, but mostly they just made their observations from the margin.

Some favorites:

  • Rauschenberg’s Eraser (Art Class at the Des Moines Art Center)
  • On the Studio Floor (think Undersea Adventures of Jacques Cousteau)
  • A Christmas Carol (visits by three art tools – published sacreligiously during Lent)
  • Muses (preparing for a visit by Olivia Newton John – muse from movie Xanadu)
  • Siren (the sharpener is a siren)
  • Death (they debate what happens when an pencil reaches its end – although erasers are still needed)
  • Knock Knock Jokes (they work through how to tell them in three panels – spoiler alert: post-it notes)
  • Of Mice and Pen (loosely go through the story line of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men)

Yesterday I published the last comic. I don’t need it anymore. I’m pretty comfortable in the studio alone now. This morning at the coffee shop I read this Peanuts strip in today’s Des Moines Register. I’d like to think it wasn’t a coincidence. Nice, thanks “Sparky.”