Hidden Stories

Monsoon Papers hold endless fascination for me because I can’t control them. I think I am going to make a largely blue one, and then one corner, with a yellow flash, holds all the interest. I begin to think of the background of the page, and think of it like tea leaves–that the random patterns hold the story of the past and future.

The detail above looks to me like an exploding sun at the time of creation. It spins off a world into the shadowy ocean. People are born and live on that world, which is not of their choosing. Some thrive, others ache for what they don’t have on this undersea, mysterious world.

When I make them, my hands and arms are covered in ink that takes days to wear off. I don’t get tired of looking at the accidental details in the papers. In this one the sun is back and the gold shows the track of the sun as it crosses the sky in a different path through the seasons. The years behind the gold tracks layer into the colors. There is history on this page.

This looks like an ancient map, on ancient papers, with shadows hiding the parts of the past we want to forget.

My biggest delight today is that I discovered how to make Monsoon Papers in a room with one sink. Without a hose and with rich, deep colors. That means that I have inks, will travel. I no longer need good weather and outdoor space to make Monsoon Papers. And best of all, these new ones also tell me stories about places I’ve never seen.

-Quinn McDonald is a writer and artist who works at the intersection of stories and color. She teaches what she knows.