By March, I am so tired of looking at cold white skies, dead grass and trees without their leaves. Since I can’t snap my fingers and wake up in a lush tropical rainforest, illustrating pretty flowers is my graphic prayer for Spring. Orchid, Plumeria and Jasmine.
“The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.”
– Marcus Aurelius (160-180 AD)
almost 2,000 years later and this statement is still pretty wild.
I’ve been thinking a lot about life, lately. My little brother is in his twenties and after a life-changing accident, he is struggling with a traumatic brain injury. He’s confined to a bed, unable to speak and barely able to move. As his only sibling, I’ve been affected by it in ways I could not have imagined. I have way fewer answers than I thought.
Our lives are formulated by incredibly complex systems in our brains. Neurons transmit information through electrical and chemical reactions called synapses. These synapses conduct signals that travel through long, slender axons from cell to cell. A single axon can branch information out to millions of the estimated 100 billion neurons in our brains. That’s a number that rivals the amount of stars in our galaxy.
What happens when those systems – huge chunks of those systems – are permanently damaged? Do we still grow and feel emotion? Are our lives still meaningful? Are feelings like love and sadness, strength and courage all just electrochemical reactions?
Exactly how much of our lives is just…biology?
I’ve done a lot of traveling over the past few years. A lot of it was in a car, where changes in landscape are the focal point of a long journey. It’s amazing how dramatically the scenery can change—coming down from the treacherous turns and vast slopes of the mountains in Colorado to a terrain that’s flat and still as a board, stretching all the way through the Great Plains. An endless pass through the hot reddish dust of Oklahoma and Texas makes the landcape of New Mexico seem lush with succulents.
These are a selection of images from my travels across the country that highlight the colorful landscapes of this country.
2012 has turned out to be an incredibly long and eventful year. It brought unexpected and difficult changes in my family — my younger brother was involved in a car accident that left him with severe brain injuries – and learning to reprioritize and weave life back together again has been quite the challenge. I am back after a year in Los Angeles, which was life-alteringly beautiful and a worthwhile effort. Of course I wish I could have stayed for at least another year, but life back in Boston reminds me that I’m fortunate for a “hometown” that’s equally as special as Los Angeles, although colder, and in the winter, darker.
Here are some photos from the 7,000 miles of road trip endured in one year. With a cat in the back seat.
I can think of no better way to simultaneously do my civic and artistic duty than by illustrating offenders of the law. The people are real, the expressions are frightening and the idea of creating a portrait of someone at their absolute worst is strangely intriguing. And kind of morbid. :)
North Shore Baby, published by Union Park Press in December of 2011, is a handy “field guide” for parents with children in the Boston area. The book highlights the best local activities, day trips, museums, theaters and classes, and it was as much fun to illustrate as it is to read. Aside from setting the typography, I created the front and back cover and worked on some of the interior illustrations.