Monthly Archives: February 2011

Why Gift-Giving Was Easier When You Were Ten

There are two types of people in this world (yes, just two… it’s that easy, and I’m about to hand it to you): those who are great gift givers, and those who aren’t. Unfortunately, I fall into the latter category. For weeks leading up to all major holidays and friends’ birthdays I’m a total mess… hemming, hawing, general nightmare-ery. Everyone says that the perfect gift for someone you love will come to you if you just calm your mind and listen to your heart. Ok… ‘everyone’ in this scenario might actually be not-real actor people in various Lifetime original t.v. movies… still, Valerie Bertinelli would never lie to us. That’s a fact.

This year I’m listening to everyone (i.e. Ms. Bertinelli) and paying some attention to the thoughts of my inner self. Turns out my inner self is a child of ten who remembers every handmade craft going over like gangbusters with the fam. That’s right, people… this year, I’m giving the gift of paper cuts and marker-stained hands. And so can you.

Being February, V-Day is the big man on campus. What better way to pay homage than to break out the crayola crayons, some heavy white paper, and a pencil with a comically large eraser? It’s family portrait time!

  1. Locate. Pull up a picture of you and your honey on a computer screen of some kind (this could easily be your BFF… let’s be honest, divorce rates for friendships are a way sexier stat than for marriages). The brilliance here is a. it’s way bigger than viewing a phone and b. the back-lighting from your computer will make it easier to trace the basic outlines. If you’re a prodigy of some kind, go nuts and pick the most compositionally challenging picture you have. If your skill set is more the markers and construction paper type (like mine… no shame) pick something simple: a close up head-shot works perfectly. Reducing the background increases your success rate, trust me.
  2. Grow a Pair. Pick up that pencil, take a deep breath, and give yourself 10 minutes to copy the general shapes in your picture. Circle for a head, rectangles for glasses, etc. Remember, imperfection is perfection for this exercise. I mean… have you ever seen a Picasso portrait? Not an ounce of photo-realism to be found. And he’s like, way famous, y’all. I digress… get out your draft in 10 minutes, keep it simple, and aim for that fancy abstract look modern museums love so much.
  3. Technicolor, This! Break out those markers! Let the fun commence. Think bright, fun, 10-year old mastery. Who says your cute hat wasn’t electric blue? Skin color? How about chartreuse? Remember when there wasn’t a thing you could do wrong and anything outside the lines was chalked up to creativity? Tap into that and go with it. When you’re done, add a couple black lines around the edges and call it a frame.
  4. Revel. Tada! Nearly-insta family portrait.

Of course, you can use any media your inner self gravitates toward… acrylic, watercolor, charcoal, colored pencil, dry elbow pasta pieces and Elmer’s glue. The list goes on, but the project doesn’t! Less than an hour after you’ve started, you’ll have an awesome handmade gift that your lucky bestow-ee will either absolutely love or feel too ashamed for not loving that they can’t say a damn thing. Guaranteed.

Happy Valentine’s Day, piss-poor gift givers! You’re welcome.

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