I think “societal expectations” or “arbitrary ideals” might have been a better title. “Stereotypes” implies a cultural image you can’t shake off – which may have been what was on my mind at the time – but now when I look at this, what comes to mind are the impossible ideals that we long to attain even as we know nobody can live up to them.

Part of my Marginalia series.

Tree Dancers

These sketches were early attempts to work out the composition of elements (moon, tree, dancer) and Luthien’s pose for my digital painting Tinuviel. They share a page with notes from an undergraduate linguistic anthropology class, but I don’t think I drew this during a lecture.

Part of my weekly Marginalia series.

“Civilised” Sheep and “Natural” Goats

From a linguistic anthropology class. The professor did fieldwork in Georgia (in the Caucasus), and as I recall he was making a point about animal associations in Georgian culture. Something about sheep being “closer to civilised” in their domestication while goats in the mountains remain “closer to nature”.

Part of my weekly Marginalia series.

Bird vase

Whatever was on my mind when I drew this (5-6 years ago), when I look at it now, it strikes me how much the wings look more like plants growing out of the bird. (Perhaps this would work as a vase/plant pot design?)

Part of my weekly Marginalia series.

Inspired by… Astrolabes (part 1/2)

As the featured artist in the MIA Library’s Inspired by Books series, there is now a display of some of my work in the library. It includes the original drawings The Astronomer Under and Mycelium Sun, as well as the notebook marginalia (surrounded by various quotations and thoughts about astrolabes) below. (ETA: Here is the other half of the two-page spread.) If you’re in Qatar, go check it out!

Part of my weekly Marginalia series.

Images and Stars

Drawn under my notes during a lecture about the Al-Sufi star manual (one manuscript of which is in the MIA’s collection), given last Wednesday by Harvard University’s David Roxburgh. It helped me to better understand some of the links between star manuals and celestial globes and the way that images lend functionality to both. There wasn’t much about how this links up with astrolabes, but it did give me some more context for thinking about astronomical practices of the time.

Part of my weekly Marginalia series.

Hybrid mask

Drawn in a completely unrelated university lecture, this sketch was a random idea for a mask(? puppet? costume?) of some sort of fantasy creature. The neck and head would be stiff, protruding from some sort of cloth that fits like a blanket over the head and shoulders of the performer. At the time I had this fascination for masks that are not designed to be worn on the performer’s face, though I have no idea if this particular design would work in performance.

Part of my weekly Marginalia series.


An experiment with coloured accents in marginalia. I like how it came out here, but colour imposes new factors to think about in the drawing process that impede satisfactory improvisation. But it may make an appearance again in standalone works (where planning is part of the game).

Part of my weekly Marginalia series.