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Paper cut (im)perfections


Paper cut (im)perfections

Kristin Smith

I've been dying to get out the x-acto knife and scissors lately. It seems everywhere I look I'm getting crazy amounts of inspiration from artists doing paper cut artwork and illustration. It's quite different from how I usually work, and cutting things out of paper is not about perfect shapes and lines. So after tonight I learned two very truthy thingys, which I will let you in on as we go along!

FIRST TRUTHY THINGY: Paper cutting is all about the jagged edges and gorgeous imperfections. Want a perfectly round circle? Forget it! And—hang on, I'm going to get artsy here and talk about feelings—there's much to be learned from embracing this as a way of thinking in general. I could learn a thing or two about that as someone who perpetually needs to lose 10 more pounds, lengthen runs, lift more, clean more, work more, internet less, etc. The list goes on and on.

So in I dove this evening, red wine in hand. I decided to use an existing creature I developed recently, Chaplain, who is based on a real life cat of a dear friend of mine. He's a feisty little critter and was born in a tuxedo. OK, not really, but he's pretty fancy and awesome in general.

I used some pastel paper that I had laying around and with a reference photo in hand I used gouache to paint out the basic shapes I would need for his body, tail, bow tie, shirt, eyes, feet and whiskers. The lovely part about gouache is that it dries fast, so I was able to start cutting out the shapes quickly.

I mostly used an x-acto knife, except when it got to the really really teensy parts like his eyeballs. I found it pretty impossible to do round curves in such a small shape. I used a hole punch to get his eyeballs nice and round, and drew in parts that were too small to cut.

After flattening him out in a book a little bit I started gluing all the bits and pieces together. I placed him all assembled on a thick stock of paper, glued him down, and promptly spilled red wine on the lower part of the sheet. OOPS! This lead me to...

SECOND TRUTHY THINGY: Red wine and art-ing do not mix. OK, that's a complete lie. They mix, but you should probably keep them away from each other. Lesson learned. Maybe.

After that I doodled his name, and probably thanks to the aforementioned wine, I spelled it wrong. It's OK. Adam tells me they mostly just call him "Kitten" anyway, so I don't think I offended him. Phew. Close call.

So here's this silly little kitten with all his glorious imperfections. I'm learning to embrace Chapl(a)in's... and of course, my own.