Sleep hygiene chaos, plus essential knowledge gained

I finished What’s the Alternative?:  Career Options for Library and Info Pros by Rachel S. Gordon, last night…at about 3 AM.  I may want to go back and reread sections of it, and I know that I will want to look back into the books referenced, in Appendix D.

Did I mention this took place at 3 AM?

My sleep schedule is all messed up:  I lay down at 8:30 PM, fell asleep after 9 PM, then woke (2:15 AM), took medication; lay back down, got up (3 AM), ate a little, fell back to sleep (4:30 AM), woke for breakfast (11:30 AM), went back to sleep (12:30 PM), woke about 4 PM.  This is why I don’t like trying to change my sleeping schedule!

I know I need to be going to bed earlier, but I have constant experience with lethargy, unless I have slept for 14-16 hours.  In today’s case it could have been because I didn’t take my (sedating) medication until 2:15 in the morning, though.  And yesterday it could have been because I didn’t take medication until 1 AM.

Hmm.  Now that I’m looking at my records, my medication time has been shifting later and later (I’m supposed to take it at 9 PM, which is why I know I fell asleep after 9, last night:  the medication alarm went off; and I turned it off and fell asleep without taking it).  I can try and do something about that, and hope (?) that it makes it easier to get up in the morning…and that it won’t just contribute to oversleeping.

I mean, obviously I was tired, if I lay down at 8:30 PM, right?

Anyhow…I learned in What’s the Alternative? that, at least as of the time the book was published (2008), it would not be expected that one could learn essential tech skills in order to open up technology-based career paths, just from classes in LIS.  Because of that…if I want to work in Web Design after getting out, I’ll have to teach myself programming.  Either this, or I could re-enter Computer Information Systems training after graduation; I’m just not entirely certain how I’ll fit that in, timewise.  And that’s largely because I don’t know what kind of job I will have at that time.

I’ve compared the Graphic Arts and CIS curricula; CIS is actually closer to what I need.  And I’ve actually compared the two systems teaching this which are nearest me…I can do this.  I might be able to do this by cutting some courses out of my future Master’s program and taking Community College courses in CIS, in person, but that doesn’t seem like the best option.

Alright:  I’ve just sent off an email about this.  I should probably try and get ready for bed, as I did just take medication, and I don’t have anything to do except homework.  (I suppose that’s a good thing, as I have three assignments due in a week.)  The hard part will be actually contacting and setting up meeting times for the assignment I was given last week…though I guess that in a pinch, I can have family test what I need tested…

Sleep hygiene chaos, plus essential knowledge gained

Yes, something happened.

One good thing:  I restarted reading What’s the Alternative?:  Career Options for Library and Info Pros by Rachel S. Gordon.  This…helps.  Having options outside of working in a library is a good thing, even though I get the sense that this is a political issue with some.  That is, I get the sense that some would feel “betrayed” if I decided to take a different path.  But the Library world is weird like that.

For me, though, the “outsourcing” of library work to other specialized groups, means that I can work for some other specialized group, as versus working directly for, say, a Public Library:  the work in which, I’m not sure is a recipe for happiness, for me.

Also, the track I’m on (Digital Services), includes most of the path of Web Design/Info Architecture plus more.  All of the core courses are covered, and some of the “Recommended” courses in the Web Design path that aren’t in the Digital Services path, aren’t even given.  So it’s a good bet, if I do want to go into Web Design, to hold steady.  (I doubt that Design will be as Computer-Science-centric as Web Development…)

I will, though, have to educate myself on the aesthetic dimensions:  a lot of my work so far has dealt with usability, coding, and organization.  Which are all fine…but as someone who is into Art, too, I might want to look into visual elements of Design.

And — ha!  I have some books on Design that I haven’t read, on my bookshelf right now.

Wow…a lot of them, actually.

I also came up with the idea of interactive textbooks, but did a little research, and Pearson already has started working on this.  (Maybe I can work for Pearson?)  In addition, there seems to be a lot of work on this as regards Apple (another possibility), on mobile and tablet devices.  The interlacing here of technology, creating teaching programs, writing the textbook, and gamifying is interesting.  For the first time we have the option of making our “textbooks” into interactive multimedia computer programs…that might be able to be either downloaded or carried on a MicroSD card, or similar.

I doubt I would have come up with the idea, if it were not for my Nintendo DS…yes, probably a bit outdated by this time, but The Legend of Zelda:  Phantom Hourglass was the first time a game ever asked me to write an answer to a puzzle (I’m wondering if it used anything related to “Least Squares” in sensing what my answer was)…would it be that different, say, if you were watching a language-learning video or reading a passage of text and could practice writing in the textbook?  With scores or something to show you how well you did, and without using up physical space with blank paper on which to write?  And what about voice recording and recognition?

What else has been happening…I’ve been slowly getting my reading for User Experience done, though I’m not certain if I’ll have to work on anything due this weekend (I’ve kind of been having a tough time for the last several days, and haven’t even checked the message boards).  I know I have one thing due in one more week, but it shouldn’t be hard.  Though I will have to drag myself back over there and see what’s due.

Anyway.  I just think that I’m not a very social person.  But I’m being graded on my engagement, so there’s that.  Whatever.

Oh, right:  the art and craft storage area has again been rearranged.  There’s…a lot more room, now…

And I think that it’s best to ignore my sibling’s insistence that I write a story before attempting the artwork for it.  The time I came closest to actually having a story and a graphic novel, that story developed out of my drawings.  And I’m going to have **** drawings if I wait until after I’ve written a story before I try to draw anything.

That makes sense, right?

I should get some rest…

Yes, something happened.

Tired.

Maybe it’s the heat, but I’ve been asleep for most of today [EDIT:  make that, “yesterday”]; although I did go a mile on the exercise bike, it was at about a constant 5-6 MPH, as versus 6-8, which is more my norm.  And I did remember to work on core muscles, then did a little yoga to equalize the tension (my lower back is much stronger than my abdomen — from carrying school books — so I’m mostly working my abs at this point), then did as many push-ups as I could, before my core muscles started to tire and get unbalanced.

I’m starting to think that trying to shift my bedtime earlier has really messed up the sleep pattern I had been holding to.  So now I have an excess number of hours spent asleep, as versus staying up late — and I still have a hard time waking in the morning.  This means that although my immunity may be high, I’m spending most of the time of my “vacation” in bed.  And after I get up, I’m still groggy.

But then, the temperature has been in the 90-100º F region (in the 30 C range, that is) for the last three days…meaning that it is uncomfortable to be awake around, say, 2 PM; and more comfortable to be up around 2 AM.  (If you can handle being up with the earwigs and spiders, that is.)

I did get to go to the art store, but unfortunately my time there was limited, and so I bought a number of things I hadn’t intended to.  One of them was “permanent” masking fluid — essentially a liquid wax — that can be applied to watercolor paintings to repel subsequent layers of color.  This is…interesting.  I had intended to get a liquid latex — that is, removable — frisket, but I’ve been wary around liquid latex for a very long time (the fumes can cause latex sensitization, meaning a new allergy to rubber).  Liquid wax, though…that’s interesting.

It sounds like the working process might be (loosely) similar to the reductive carving technique for relief printing…but maybe I’ve got that backwards?  I’m not sure — not too experienced in linocut printing, yet!  The thing that I am fairly confident in is that it’s relatively very safe.  And if I can work with certain aspects of my painting being permanently “clear”, it might be a way for me to work with masking fluid without worrying about my health.

I’m also, now, wondering about the possibilities of reduction carving for floral images, utilizing those tiny 2″x 2″ blocks I bought a surplus of?  I’m not terribly attached to my initial design anymore:  it’s very…straight-on.  It works as a mandala, but I don’t want to limit myself to mandalas.  Not that mandalas are bad, but I really need to work on asymmetrical composition.

The tricky part about this is…which images to use as designs, whether to draw from life, from photos, or from imagination.  It’s fairly apparent to me that plants:  particularly flowers and fruit, and other things I might find at the market (and in gardens), are things that draw my attention.  I just don’t want to fall into a cliché.

(Interesting idea:  are insects [like bees] attracted to the centers of mandalas?  And that’s why gnats keep trying to fly right into my eyeball?)

I’ve just spent the better part of an hour looking over my photo archives in search of images that still spoke to me.  What I’m seeing is actually the fact that most of the content which I’ve found…interesting, has to do with bright and graduated — that is, intricate and complicated — color.  And that, along with problems of translucency, reflection, and light.  Ideal for watercolors.

However, if I were looking for something to just practice linocuts with, I have a number of photos of insect specimens which might work well, particularly the moths and butterflies.  I could be trying to jump ahead of myself in terms of my skill level, though.  Maybe I should just try for a better carving of my initial flower and try to do what I had initially planned to — print these in colors over my suminagashi prints, then cut them apart and give them out as bookmarks.  I think, but am not sure, that the Canson Wet Media paper was the one which printed most efficaciously for that use.

The question does arise, though, as to whether to back these with something nice (like patterned scrapbooking paper), so it won’t just be white paper.  And that begs the question of which glue will dry and cure completely, and not leave sticky marks in books (I don’t think it will smear the front of the bookmark).  I have an idea of what to use, though.

Then there was the falling-gingko-leaf idea for a number of prints which I could work…but I’m not sure, entirely, what to put in the background, here.  I could use acrylic inks or more suminagashi, attempting this time to create greens and earth tones, with black — I’d just have to mix up the ink ahead of time.  I’ve also found laminating material at a nearby office supply store…but don’t know if I’ll need it, or indeed, whether to charge to recoup my costs (at least, if someone wants a bulk order of these after I give out the free ones).  Then, there’s the fact that lamination itself could cause fading…

I kind of wonder what the point of this is.  Did I have footing that I lost?  Do I really want to be doing art more than writing, right now, and that’s why it’s been more difficult to stay on task for the last couple of days?

Ah, I don’t know — maybe just going to the art store made me feel sad, or something.  I don’t have an infinite amount of money to be spending on this stuff — which, I suppose, is the same drawback that beadweaving had, except that fine art can pull more of an income stream (relatively).  And I’m thinking that I may have to move on from my current job, relatively soon.

It might be that I’m sleeping a lot more, so I see the lost hours reflected in lost time to do anything — and I don’t want to do my homework.  And I don’t want to go to work because of interpersonal conflicts.  Library Science seems apparently to draw heavily off of Social Science, which is something I was interested in before I found out that I would have to interact with people.  It’s kind of like Sociology all over again.

I’m just not sure which classes to take if I do, indeed, want to be a Web Designer or Web Developer, with the side benefit of being able to work in a Virtual Library space.

Actually:  I just now looked it up, and the pathway I’m on crosses over heavily with the path which would prepare one to be a Web Designer.  At least I’m OK with that.  I know that Web Design is heavily about understanding users so we can make navigating our pages as easy as possible for them…still a human-centered and ultimately a service job, but it isn’t one where I have to constantly deal with people I don’t know (whom I don’t want to know, but who want to know me).

It could be that I’m dealing with a touch of depression after a job-description rewording at work.  Like I said, I could go in for more hours, and it would help the money aspect of this, but I really don’t want to — and it’s mostly because of one person in particular who is creeping on me.  And that, in turn, is producing a lot of dysphoria for me (I don’t identify as a woman, but this *** is obviously seeing me as a “girl,” which is worse, because he obviously thinks I’m young and stupid).

Anyway, maybe I should go do something productive so I can stop fantasizing about what there is of my tendency to rage around this issue…

I really don’t want to be female, right about now; and being female and gender-variant is worse, because it’s OBVIOUS when people are messing with you because of your appearance…

Tired.

Re-entering Japanese language study…Writing? Libraries?

Today has been surprising in a number of ways.  I started in on work in Beginning Japanese by Kluemper et. al, along with the workbook:  this led into an impromptu nihongo (Japanese language) lesson with a native-Japanese-speaking family friend (listening and speaking, plus reading).  (She saw that I was working in this textbook and got excited.)

It’s kind of something to be asked to explain things in one’s own life, in a language of which you just started renewing study, and in which your last class was 15 years ago!

That…is a long time, isn’t it?

I think I remember that I gave myself the goal of becoming a fiction writer when I graduated with my BA in 2005.  But at the time I had just begun a medication which …apparently somewhat drastically, changed the way my brain worked.  Because of this, I thought that I would not be able to write (fiction) professionally.

Relative to what I had known before, I felt inhibited, but this may have been just the effect of my prefrontal cortex (Executive function) gaining more control…which would have relatively “inhibited” me.  That’s kind of what the prefrontal cortex is known for…

I came to the decision to stop fiction writing through thinking that I had been upsetting my own life (self-sabotaging) to gain experience to write about.  I also found my life surprisingly peaceful after graduation (I didn’t have a job at the time), and did not want to introduce conflict where there was none, for the sake of …what, writing a story?

At the same time, I had been having fears that I was splitting my mind apart in order to handle …in effect, acting, as up to three characters at once (I don’t think I could have handled four or more at that time).

Twelve years later, I know a lot more about myself and about how the mind works, generally, than I did, then.  I’ve also been through a lot, even if a lot of that life was acted out virtually.  I’m not sure if medication changes have helped with this, but I’m certain it didn’t hurt.

What’s happening now is that I’ve realized that perhaps I can write fiction again — if I let myself do it.  I’ve been keeping a fairly tight clamp on it, for multiple reasons (see above).  But it may — now — be possible for me to write without taking it too seriously.

And by “too seriously,” I mean, “as reality.”  I have historically had a problem separating, “fantasy,” and “reality,” to the point that I’ve wanted to invent new terms to refer to the living world and the mental world.  After all, the mental world is not “unreal” to the person experiencing it — it’s just not objectively existent (except as electrical patterns in the brain, which bothersomely enough, simulate reality).

In the extreme this ranges into hallucination, though I have a tendency to have more inhabited a space in between living in dreams (asleep) and never fully waking up (derealization), occasionally moving into what has been called “illusion” (receiving sensory input but cognizing it in a distorted manner:  like running water in the sink and hearing repeated high-pitched beeps) and hallucination (in my case, literally smelling things that weren’t there — which I’ve been told is an uncommon form).

On top of this, though, is…the sense that I’m just picking up on more of reality than most people do.  I’m relatively comfortable with this explanation, now.

These two states have coexisted ever since I was in my early teenage years; I’m currently in my mid-thirties.  I’ve just about had it with second-guessing my own intuition (which is what has been happening for about the last 20 years) because it doesn’t fit someone else’s abstract (and narrow) model of “reality.”

What I’ve learned is that what happens in one’s private mind is real enough, although I also think we have more control over this — and more power as to what happens in our own minds — than we think we do.

It’s also very easy for my brain to freak itself out while trying to explain things it cannot, and coming up with the single most dramatic explanation it can think of, while disregarding the equal validity of multiple scenarios, and also the fact that none of them are proven.

In any case, I began this post wondering if I should — seriously — decide to dip a toe back into fiction writing.  Every writing class that I’ve been in has mentioned…bad first drafts (though they universally used a more colorful adjective for “bad” which I’m not sure I’m allowed to say on WordPress!).  They don’t have to be novels — short stories or flash fiction might be more graspable at this point — and maybe I might begin them here and then edit them for a time before posting them up.  (I do have enough conflict and experience in my life, now, to have a working base:  which was not as apparent to me when I was in my 20’s.)

Something about getting back into learning Japanese language has sparked this.  I’ve wanted to be able to read Japanese for a very long time, and it’s somewhat…gratifying that I still recognize most kana, even if I don’t remember the stroke order for all of them.

What I most want to do which is within my grasp, is learn to read Japanese.  However, I have heard mention of the idea of attending Japanese classes with family…which would give me at least one convenient practice partner, where it comes to speaking and listening.

I’m gaining strength in this from realizing that many creative people have interests that span different media; so there is, in effect, no reason why I can’t be into drawing and painting and writing.  (Or drawing, painting, writing, and music!…though I’m much more of a consumer of music than a musician, myself [I play a little guitar, but not consistently enough to sustain the toughness of my fret hand].)

And there is no reason why being a Librarian would negate any of this.  It may, actually, help; at least, so long as it doesn’t take up all of my time.  In the field, I may be grappling with these cultural transmissions more than doing the abstract work of learning organizational systems…

I do wonder, though, if getting back into reading and writing (fiction and nonfiction) is something that will help propel me forward in a career in Libraries; as versus doing Art.  The family friend I was speaking with, tonight…was encouraging me not to let go of my dreams (one of which was learning nihongo; I’ve wanted to do so ever since I was in Middle School).  This, in turn, and in combination with the degree I’m seeking (MLIS), would prepare me somewhat to work in Hawaii as a Librarian.  From there, it’s just a relatively short jump to get to Japan…(and it’s kind of shocking, the number of Japanese in Hawaii!)

…but is my dream to be a great novelist, or to change the world in the way I can, or to make art?

…it would be nice to be a writer.  And to do the Art for myself and to keep myself engaged and healthy.

I think so, yeah.  The Art is for me — to sustain me.  The Writing is the reason I’m alive.  The Librarianship is to serve a social good while earning a living.  And the nihongo is one step toward broadening my world.

That sounds really, really, good.  🙂

Re-entering Japanese language study…Writing? Libraries?

Meditation

The heat still radiated out from the walls, although the sun had ceased to blaze about an hour ago.  Lee could feel the sweat sticking to her, evaporating all too slowly.

But how are you going to do it? she thought.

It amused her:  she worked surrounded by books, with the ability every day to take home a new writing, and yet something had stopped her from even opening anything that wasn’t based in reality.

Nearly every day, she tried to write, and even then found herself avoiding what she had once been happy to resign herself to, as life’s work.

Somewhere, buried under mountains of excuses, fears, and projections, lay the reason why.  But she didn’t know it, couldn’t see it.  There was too much in the way.

I have to open up if I want to be creativeWithout it, my work will suffer.

How many generations of artists had lived through eras of their work being constricted by the pressures of the market?  For how many years had Lee lived with the spectre of her own…shall we say…mental irregularities?

She hesitated to call herself “insane.”  Insanity was a legal term.  It meant a person couldn’t tell right from wrong.  She wasn’t insane in that sense.  But her fear,

if I let them see who I am, I’ll just show the world I am insane,

that stopped her.  Over the years it was possible to learn how to blend in, how not to frighten people by being too friendly, how to avoid glares as a reward for eye contact.

Even the word for it — schizophrenic

The vast majority of people, even educated people…even her professors — didn’t know what it meant.  They had a tendency to link the term with multiple personalities, which was not even close to what she meant when she used the term in a clinical (not pejorative) sense.

So she just didn’t use it.

Due to complications, she couldn’t even say, though, that when people did use the term wrongly, based in 19th-century dogma, that they used it inaccurately.  No one’s mind is wholeSo why am I so scared of opening the door to…that?

I’ve stood here, watching you, every day…writing these things out.  Have you forgotten your primary purpose?  Since you have gained to fortitude to begin to live, your fear has overwhelmed you.

Because now my employment depends on…

depends on appearing “normal?”  That’s why you chose the field you did.  You know it is normal within the arts and within letters not to be “normal.”

But I don’t know if I’ll stay,

You are not trapped.  Believe me when I say that I hear you where you fear becoming another like the ones you try to separate yourself from.  But you are not them.  You have not reached the point of spewing diatribes from upturned cartons on the sidewalk.  And I know a thinner line than you would like, divides you from those you smell before you see.  But you have care.  They don’t.

Then what separates us?

Lee looked over her shoulder at the dimming twilight.

I’ve never been hospitalized.  I’ve never been homeless.  I have access to medication and mental health facilities.

I don’t want to be hospitalized.  I don’t want to be homeless.  I don’t want to lose access to medication and mental health facilities.

This world was not made for me.

But you live here.  And if you want to be an artist — no.  If you want to make an impact on the world, you have got to face the idea that people will come to know you.  I know you’ve been hurt in the past, but you’re no longer a child.

I only live among children.

Listen to me.  Which part of you/I/us are you talking from, now?

STOP BEING CONTROLLED BY FEAR AND DO YOUR DUTY.

can you live fearlessly?

Meditation

Buying, Writing, Doing: The Triad of my Present Dilemma

It’s become increasingly apparent to me that it is much easier to purchase art supplies than it is to apply them in creative ways.  It doesn’t seem that this in any way should really be a problem for me:  I did work my way through an AA program in Art (I couldn’t justify it the first time around with my BA, nor at the Master’s level…at least, currently), so I know that there is some part of me that is creative.  I also know that I’m skilled, though as I said before, when I don’t exercise those skills, they’re hidden within me.

Unless I practice, my skill and creativity won’t have the chance to show themselves, or to develop beyond the point they are at, now.  Maybe the problem I’m facing (starting out with incipient projects) is the one faced by writers of all types (which I’m well familiar with, as my BA actually was in Creative Writing):  fear of the blank page.  Or white paper.  Basically, it’s the same thing.

What I can latch onto right now are the exercises which build increasing familiarity with my media. Right now, I am very, very drawn to water-based media (inks, acrylic inks, acrylic paints, watercolors, water-based block printing).  I have a feeling that this is majorly because I don’t like to deal with toxins when they’re unnecessary, and cleaning out watercolor brushes isn’t a big deal to me, at present.

Ah — and, I used to work more in dry media (pencils, pens, colored pencils, most apparently) — until I got tired of the tiny point of contact with the paper (give me brushes) and the graininess of most of my attempts.  (Keep in mind here that my Prismacolors were purchased well before the year 2000, so I don’t have the advantage of the smoother laydown of the new formulations, in that brand.)  In contrast, inks and paints are much more…captivating for me:  they lay down solid, (usually) unbroken, and (usually) more vivid color.

Color is something that I at one time began to organically grow into (toward the end of my stay in Community College) — and then I restarted the Library & Information Science program.  At that point, my energy focused on the goal of gaining an MLIS in order to be able to be a Librarian, so that I could have a steady income stream, hopefully benefits (though I have heard that these are increasingly being cut in Librarianship proper) and work within one of my areas of interest, while also performing a social good.  In my spare time, and with the spare resources I would gain from being an Information professional (or so I’ve heard), I have planned to work on my Art, thus bolstering my psychological resilience.

Right now…it’s hard for me to formulate or say what my point is, within LIS.  It’s where I am now, and it’s what I know, but that doesn’t really count for much of anything when I realize that I’m already at the top of my pay scale and will have to change positions soon if I want to become more efficient at earning money.

What I want to be doing right now, is helping to construct Web pages.  It’s fairly evident, even just through my experience with this blog and my drive to personalize and edit its structure.  It fits in with my other two degrees in the aspect of being production-based, but not entirely so much in the fact that it’s technical.  I presently do not have the ability to customize pages and sites.  If I keep on in the LIS program, I may eventually gain the skills, however:  and a new perspective on the experience of designing for someone else.

I have a feeling, though, that this will put me about even with the youth coming out of high school in this era — technically speaking.  Technology flows on, and keeping current with it is one of the things to which I’ve resigned myself.  Design, however, is a specialty, and requires skills and knowledge that not everyone has.  And, as has become increasingly apparent, it’s not about me or my expression (as versus Art, which seems to require drilling deeply into myself to draw out something that only I can do).

Right now I’m in a class on User Experience, which is an aspect of Design — and it’s very apparent that Design encompasses much more than the utilization of art skills.  Designing is not the same thing as producing Art, unless the person you’re designing for is you.

And writing for yourself is not the same thing as writing for someone else.

I think that if I did not have the fear of repercussions for expressing anything unique, I would have an easier time with both Art and Writing.  But I’m old enough to know that expression begets consequences.  Whether those are good or bad consequences is unknown and ultimately subjective; whether praise or hatred will prevail is yet to be seen.

This could be the reason why I have seen so many take a brash stance against this psychic wall…because if you don’t stand strongly, the force of that wall could crush your light down into a black hole.

Of course, it helps to have solid grounding and conviction in something reasonable, first.

M has expressed frustration that I have been acquiring supplies — particularly for painting — and have not progressed beyond, “little squares.”  (I’m not sure she understands how difficult the medium of watercolor is, however…)

My little squares, though they could be made in a more aesthetically pleasing manner, are doing something for me:  they’re familiarizing me with the medium.  I don’t feel comfortable jumping from having done nearly nothing into a place where I have no ground to stand on and don’t know how to kick or stroke.

Doing that, and working out my familiarization in a way in which I am likely to destroy my first five paintings (if not more), would be…almost traumatic, for me.  So I’m working on little squares.  Little squares, I can handle; and although the progression there is incremental, and likely to hit a roadblock when I try actually using the colors in application, at least it is something, and I’m learning from it.  Without something, I’m paralyzed because I’m being expected to perform as an intermediate or advanced student without having taken beginner classes.

Maybe M can move forward like that; but I’ve noticed that, in her own design work, she doesn’t think ahead.  She plunges forward and then hits a roadblock and doesn’t know where to go from there.  In contrast, I think things out much further, but then am criticized for my tentativeness and my expensive preparations and my lack of starting.

And actually, now that I’m looking at my notes, I can also see a pattern here:  and not just in the delicateness of my process and my work.

I probably write about art so much because it’s easier for me to write about art than it is for me to get up the courage to actually do it.  I’ve been writing nearly constantly, for all of my life.  Writing is familiar to me, and it’s easier for me to do this than it is for me to sit down with a paintbrush, no matter the chances of coming out with something beautiful as an end product (though maybe I will try and keep that in mind as a goal.  I have a chance of making something beautiful if I risk failure.  If I do not, I have no chance of doing the same).

Writing about work, though, is not at all equivalent to actually doing it.

I’ve got to make a number of lifestyle changes relatively soon.  Many of these — most, actually — are related to my mental and physical health.  I need to floss regularly.  I need to brush my teeth and wash my face well in advance of bedtime.  I need to avoid late nights (sugar cravings come on after 11 PM).  I need to drink more water and avoid excess sugar.  I need to shower more often, and to exercise (and stretch) more often and more regularly; and if I can, I ought to try to meditate regularly (doing all of this may allow me to reduce my medications…and drop down a few sizes).

Along with this — I wonder if it would be too much of a strain for me to try and wake up with the Sun, so I have all the hours of the day to do my work and my art, as versus doing art in the afternoon and taking photos in the late afternoon or evening (when it’s dark).  Or, less optimally, doing art at nighttime with less-than-natural light.

It’s something to think about.  Maybe tonight I can try going to bed early, instead of trying to wring all the good I can get out of the day, and see if I am able and willing to get up at, say, 7 AM tomorrow (as I tried to do, today).  And maybe if I have the art play as a lure to get me out of bed…I’ll actually do it.

Buying, Writing, Doing: The Triad of my Present Dilemma

Mixing greens, and experimenting with camera settings…

Well, I got two things off of my list.  Everything else had to wait until after watercolor experimentation (hey the sun was up!).  😛

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From top to bottom:  Lemon Yellow (Hansa Yellow Light)/Prussian Blue, Lemon Yellow/Chrome Cerulean (Daniel Smith), Winsor Yellow/Chrome Cerulean, Winsor Yellow/Prussian Blue.  In these tests I made a near-middle green first, then extended the color into blue going down; and yellow, going to the right.

I’m in the middle of relearning that in art, most skills and techniques can’t be learned unless the artist goes out of their way to try it themselves.  Learning about it in theory, or learning about it secondhand, won’t suffice.  Thus, listening to other people say what can and can’t be done, or will and won’t work, isn’t entirely productive.  Those other people may not share your conditions (as, say, maybe M. Graham paints do actually never dry, in tropical conditions; but maybe I don’t live in tropical conditions).

Today M stated that if I went to the art store again, I couldn’t go back for a week, because I was addicted.  *^_^*  I opted not to go and to save that trip for a later date, even though we were right there.  I knew that if I could first practice with the paints I have, I would then have a better idea about anything I needed, as versus something I might need but was not sure about.

What I can tell, though:  15ml tubes are probably about the right size for intense color.  I have a bunch of tiny tubes (5-7 ml), but really those are great for testing colors…not for being mainstays.  And I’m not sure if I want to keep to Winsor & Newton, now that I have had a taste of other brands (particularly:  Grumbacher, M. Graham [I really love their Hansa Yellow — it disperses beautifully — I haven’t tried it wet-on-wet yet], Daniel Smith, Mijello).

Of course, though, it’s necessary to be a smart consumer and know what you’re buying before you buy it — there have been a lot of complaints that I’ve seen about Mijello Mission Gold brand being “mislabeled,” but it really seems that “mislabeling” is industry-standard and that companies telling you the actual pigments they’re using is a mark of quality.  I don’t think they’re required to do so, unless the paints contain one or more ingredients requiring a carcinogen warning under California Proposition 65.

I’ve just been learning things piece by piece, and each new bit of information makes me want to experiment, more.  Unfortunately (or maybe, fortunately), there are no decent art stores in my area…and waiting at home encourages research

Anyhow, I’ve also been experimenting with camera settings.  The two photos I’m showing here were taken on the “Tungsten” lighting setting on my camera.  Although I was under fluorescent lighting, these images were the closest I came to what I had seen while the Sun was up (though they didn’t capture everything:  for example, M. Graham Hansa Yellow [I tend to just call this Lemon Yellow, as versus Hansa Yellow Light, or Pigment Yellow 3 {PY3} or Arylide Yellow, but in the spirit of accuracy…] and Winsor Green [Blue Shade] make a nearly fluorescent green combination when combined, seen below left).

(I tend to work by the edict that a color can be neutralized and thus dulled down, but the amount of light it reflects cannot be made brighter than it initially is…though that thought has been questioned by those around me…possibly because warm and fluorescent colors can appear psychologically brighter than white?  I don’t know.  I’ve noticed that I have a relatively high-key palette, though, and that is for this reason.)

Anyhow — every other camera setting cast a brownish tone over the entire image, which I knew I would have to edit out in Photoshop.  Turns out, it’s much easier to take the photo correctly, the first time.  😛  I also realized that I could alter the white balance on these images directly in my camera, instead of applying filters after the fact.  (Both of these images were taken with the white balance shifted a bit brighter than the light in the room.  Which, like taking the photo under the “Tungsten” setting even though I was under warm fluorescent light, did help with color fidelity.)

There was no processing after-the-fact (post-processing?) I knew how to do that I could do here, that would have helped — other than a judicious applying of the Skew tool to unskew my camera positioning.  But I thought that would be a little much.

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Top to bottom:  Lemon Yellow/Winsor Green (Blue Shade), Winsor Yellow/Winsor Green (Blue Shade), Lemon Yellow/Winsor Blue (Green Shade), Winsor Yellow/Winsor Blue (Green Shade), Aureolin/Winsor Blue (Green Shade).  For newbies, Winsor Green and Blue are both Phthalocyanine colors, with Winsor & Newton branding in these particular names.  Aureolin is genuine Aureolin, PY40.

What I found is that I get some **** clean colors out of Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) and Phthalo Green (Blue Shade), when they’re combined with the lighter Hansa Yellow (which is a cool, delicate, light yellow, often referred to as “Lemon Yellow”).  Phthalo Blue (GS) combined with Aureolin also makes really bright, pure, strong mixes.  I will indeed be sad if Aureolin does discolor with moisture and/or light…

…and I’m thinking of going over some of these swatches again with glazing in their original color mixes, in order to deepen them.  (I’ve already done this on maybe 3 or so squares, where I used too much water.)  It will be easier to see differences in hue, that way.

Prussian Blue and Chrome Cerulean (1st image) also make decent mixes with Lemon Yellow; in addition to Prussian Blue mixing well with Winsor Yellow (according to Blick’s website and handprint.com, this is a benzimidazolone [or Benzimida, I’ve also heard it called] yellow; and I’ve just manually checked it:  it is Pigment Yellow 154 [or, PY154], which concurs).

I got some really…slightly surprising reactions of the Chrome Cerulean with Winsor Yellow, however (1st image, third from the top).  I wouldn’t repeat the process, unless it were to see if the pigments settled out because of the amount of water in the paint (too much).  This mixture granulated heavily in the mixtures tending more toward Cerulean, in a way that I didn’t really find attractive or currently useful (you might, though!).  However, using less Cerulean and more Benzimida could add a subtle touch to …something.  I don’t know what, right now.

This is as far as I got today before I had to stop.  I was working on cheap paper because I was just doing scales…but I’ve got to say that the Fluid cold-press watercolor paper (second photo) was much more of a joy to work on than the Strathmore 300 rough I was trying to use up (in the first photo).

I’m kind of glad I don’t have any more of it, now… 😉

Mixing greens, and experimenting with camera settings…