Seriously, why isn’t Intermediate Drawing a 4-unit class?

I must have been drawing for 5 hours straight, yesterday.  I did learn some good things, but still.  5 hours.  I was told that others were “amazed that I was doing my homework,” and “why didn’t I take this class before?”

I’m getting a little more comfortable with drawing, I guess.  I still feel a bit timid, but the outcomes of my experiments have ranged from “blah” to “surprisingly good.”  In this post, I’ll go over the process I went through, roughly, to produce the first drawing I really impressed myself (and can still remember impressing myself) with.  Right now I have it written down on an index card — I got 100 of these at Staples for $0.99 and a case for them for an additional $1.  I’ve been using them to rough out compositions before dedicating a full page to the process.  But, I’m jumping ahead of myself here.

As I might have said sometime earlier, I’ve had some practice with the creative process via working things out in the printed word.  Because of this, I know that revision may well be part of the process even when it comes to art.  And sometimes, even in fiction, it’s possible to get bogged down in details and miss the entire picture.  For me especially, it’s very easy to start drawing what I’m comfortable with and “know,” and neglect to plan the rest of the composition before starting.  This is something I’ll have to work on — envisioning a piece before beginning it.

I have, however, started to be able to take notes on this.  Let me list the 12 steps I took for my botanical drawing:

  1. Photo brainstorm/photo acquisition/inspiration-source
  2. Sketch of initial idea (including layout)
  3. Photo selection
  4. Crop/rotate
  5. Pencil in basic/overall shapes with 2H graphite pencil
  6. Lightly draw detailed drawing with hard (2H) pencil
  7. Color scheme selection
  8. Blocking in main/base colors or main design
  9. Background/highlights
  10. Forward details/highlights
  11. Heavy darks/outlines
  12. Final details/date/signature

Okay, now, one by one, here:

1.  Photo brainstorm:  The botanical drawing started out as a series of photographs of plants which have popped up in my yard.  I wanted to photograph these, as I didn’t know how long they would stay back there in the way they were — that is, I’m prepared for them to be ephemeral.  Right now they’re mostly small — about 1′-1.5′ in diameter.  Like I said earlier, I’m pretty sure these are deer gifts, which I’m not really against, because they’re pretty and they take care of themselves.

2.  Sketch/layout of initial idea:  My time of inspiration occurs very often late at night (while I’m trying to sleep) or in the wee hours of the morning (same).  I already have what I call my “random thoughts” journal next to my bed, where I document everything that seems important enough to remember at the time, regardless of whether it’s true or not.  Now, added to that, is a small stack of white index cards, which are lined on one side and blank on the other.

As I was trying to fall asleep, I somehow generated seed ideas both for my botanical drawing and for my graphic drawing (the latter of which had elements loosely based on a portfolio design — it turned out to be my second finished piece due today).  I turned on the light and quickly sketched the layout of my initial designs in miniature on the blank sides of two 3″x5″ cards (the “canvas” can be any dimension, just forget about the frame — or make different-shaped cards), along with notes on what media I’d like to use and any other notes which came to me.  Then I went to sleep.

3.  Photo selection:  The day I was supposed to work on my two drawings, I found myself hesitant to go outside to draw, feeling that I’d need to make myself presentable or at least put on some sunscreen.  I hate sunscreen.  So what I did instead was get up, upload my reference photos to the computer, and preview them one by one.  Because I’d had the layout vision the night before, I knew I wanted something entering the frame from the right side, with my paper in “landscape” layout.  I found one photo which was attractive enough to use.

4.  Crop/Rotate:  I began to attempt to draw an entire plant that would lead towards the edge of the right side of the paper.  Someone else saw what I was doing and recommended I crop the image to simplify things for myself.  I copied the image, opened the copy, and cropped out everything but the leftmost portion of the plant.  This, unexpectedly, blew up the cropped image, with amazing clarity remaining.  It would have been easier to rotate this had I printed it out, but unfortunately, I found that my printer is running out of two colors, and I was too lazy to change out the cartridges.  😉  In lieu of this, I worked in my notebook in front of the monitor, with the cropped copy-of-the-original saved to disk (in case my computer crashed).

Never alter the original master…you may never get it back.  Always make one or more different copies, to edit and alter, just keeping in mind that at least, JPEG is a “lossy” format which compresses with every save, and will degrade every time it’s saved.  However, one copy away from the original probably won’t degrade that much.

5.  Pencil in basic/overall shapes with 2H graphite pencil:  Why 2H?  Although I love the expressive and velvety qualities of soft graphite, the higher numbers of the B series (6B, 8B, 9B, etc.) are very difficult to completely erase.  What you’re looking for here are guidelines, not final outlines.

I used 2H this time around because it’s the hardest graphite pencil required in my class, and I didn’t want to dent the paper too much.  I also ended up leaving in the guidelines in the final drawing, so if you plan for this, you don’t want your guidelines drawing attention to themselves.  2H is relatively light, and if a light touch is used, it’s relatively easy to erase with a soft eraser, while still remaining visible enough to be of use.  (I used a General’s Tri-Tip…not the most functionally perfect eraser [it’s a little firm, and produces rolled-up dust like I’m used to from erasers] but the triangular shape is fun, and it won’t stain the paper.)

At this point, you’re going to have to start thinking about what details to include, which to exclude, and which to include but gloss over.  In this, you’re thinking of what’s important.

I put in the major shape I wanted in my composition — like a very light fence of an enclosed area, which itself is a constellation of different elements.  Compositional balance is important here, but more things than what I’m going over can affect balance (like hue, and value [or lightness/darkness of tones]…I’m probably not the greatest person to explain it, though I do seem to have some sense of it.

6.  Lightly draw detailed drawing with hard (2H) pencil:  For me, this is the most demanding step, but YMMV.  At this point I took the basic “yard” that I’d fenced in with my lines and began to detail what lay inside that “yard,” lightly enough so that the lines wouldn’t show as highlights.  In this, I was particularly paying attention to shapes, and the relationships between the shapes.  It’s kind of hard to explain, so I’ll leave this for now and move on to something I can explain.

7.  Color scheme selection:  This is really fun, for me.  I’m assisted in this, in that I have an extensive range of colored pencils, which I used for this drawing because of their feathery/delicate quality; and because a long time ago, I made “color chips” (like “paint chips” from home improvement stores) out of each of my colors.  These chips have gradations of one colored pencil on one side, and the name, number, and lightfastness rating of the same pencil, on the other side.  I basically drew these in a grid and then cut them apart, leaving me with a lot of frustratingly tiny color chips that scatter everywhere, which identify the colors somewhat better than looking at the pencil itself…or so I seem to assume.  Looking at the tip of the colored pencil is also a good hint, but can be misleading in cases of pale colors.

I wanted the colors in this composition to be close to what they actually were in reality.  I took the colors of the photo on my monitor as a good-enough relation to what the colors reasonably had been, outside.  Of course, this leaves me open to a hole where the colors on the monitor don’t match the actual colors of the actual thing I was drawing, but I decided not to worry about that.

I held up each color chip which seemed reasonably close to the colors on the monitor.  If they were close enough, I included them; if it seemed the colors were an overtone (like Light Phthalo Blue), I included them.  This is just a net to catch all the colors which might be in or which might harmonize with the composition, if you’re working from drawing an object.  Obviously, the method differs if you’re doing something abstract.

So I picked out about 12-14 colors which either harmonized with or matched colors in the composition.  I only ended up using about 5-6 of them, though.

Anyhow, once you identify the basic palette, pull them out of your colored-pencil tray and set the others aside.  Examine them to make sure they all seem to harmonize well enough.  For me, they did, so I moved on.

8a.  Blocking in main/base colors or main design:  For this, I started lightly blocking in the positive space of the composition, that is, the leaves and stems on the plants.  I was seemingly somewhat fortunate in that I had one color which exactly matched the base color of the leaves.  However, blocking that in flatly really doesn’t do justice.  What I was doing was trying to get a sense of presence.

If I were to do this over again, I would have added a step here:

8b.  Press undergirding highlights into the paper:  I found that pressing a sharp, white or light-colored pencil firmly into the paper creates a dent which resists filling up when darker layers are applied over it.  This is what I eventually did with the second and third whorls I illustrated, but the first whorl was still an experiment.  However, be aware that if your paper is backed by a pad, you may want to protect the lower layers of paper to make sure they aren’t indented as well (because you’ll get your highlights on subsequent drawings, too).  Or, remove the drawing from the pad, back it with a few sheets of newsprint on a drawing board, and then impress the paper with a sharp colored pencil.

This creates highlights which do not show until further layers of color are applied over them.  You can continue to stack more and more layers of highlights this way by periodically adding more impressions.

But basically speaking, what you’re doing in step 8a is just getting a sense of what’s there and what is not.

9.  Background/highlights:  At this point, I began to lightly block in the color of the background.  Keep in mind areas of light in your composition, because you may well want areas of white to show through to indicate luminescence.  I did this, even though in my photo, there was no white anywhere except in the stems and immature blossoms.  I think that if I had kept more white in, it would have been a more…vivid composition.  But I was thinking too literally for this, at the time.

10a.  Forward details/highlights:  Here I began to add detail to the leaves, so they weren’t just flat blocks of color.  Again, there was no white here in the original photograph, but if I’d left some, I think the contrast would have been higher and the image would have “popped” more.  If you did the impressions with the white pencil for veins, coloring over them specifically with a darker color can draw attention to them as details.

There was also the problem of the blossom centers, which were so complex + unimportant (to me, in this composition) that I didn’t want to draw them all.  I ended up making little French-knot-type squiggles for the blossom centers and underlining them with a light green in order to give the illusion of depth.  I don’t think they really needed any more than this.

10b.  Shadows.  I almost forgot this part.  Here, once things are visible, you’ll want to block in the shadows of the composition, in order to give a sense of depth.  You don’t have to stick with black for this.  I used a combination of dark green, mid blues, and yellow to try and create a chromatic grey where the shadow touched something in the foreground.

I might have been more successful if I’d used a violet-blue (like Ultramarine) plus a yellow, instead of a green-blue (like Phthalo Blue Light) plus a yellow, for this.  The yellow and purple would have combined to create a chromatic grey; as things stand, it looks more like one of the shadows is a more vivid green than desired.

11.  Heavy darks/outlines:  At this point, I began to finally sketch in the darkest colors, which were random lines in a dark, desaturated brown, meant to represent dead grass.  The darkest areas of the photo got the darkest brown lines, and some got dark fill as well — keeping in mind that my highlights from step 8b were still in place and showing through, as though on top of the darker shadows.

I also was doing this all along, but at the edges where the positive and negative space met, I would trace over the borders with a sharp colored pencil, matching either the foreground or background color (depending on which was darker).  This really brings clarity to the composition and enables one to see the shapes of what one is creating.  When it’s all fuzzy, the picture can be hard to make out.

12.  Final details/date/signature:  This is one step to take to make sure everything is going a way one wants it to go (or cannot correct, if it’s already gone).  I did a lot of crisping-up borders, evening out yellow/blue balance in the leaves, basically just finishing work.  You’ll want to date this if you’re ever planning on using it as a portfolio piece, because it will show your level of skill at one point in time.  You’ll probably also want to sign it.

Phew!  I think that goes through the entire description of my process as regards the botanical drawing of 8/27/14.  I think that the only real new things here are the index cards, and the color chips.

Now, I suppose, I can work on that “fear of creating” tangent, plus the newer tangent which reads that maybe I can communicate well enough through Fine Art that I don’t require a narrative to back it up (as in Comics).  It certainly feels expressive enough…


One drawing down.

I just completed one drawing of the little mystery plants in the backyard.  Finished enough to sign.  For the future, self, remember that veining in leaves is very efficiently done by imprinting the lines with a firm white pencil line, making a groove, and then coloring over them.

Also remember that single-color leaves don’t look “finished,” even if you do have a color that matches them perfectly.

I did this from a photograph which I made a copy of and cropped, which blew up the relevant area and allowed me to see more detail.

For the rest of the review, I’ll have to see what’s said tomorrow.

I finally got Copics!

Alright, adding to the random material posts here, I did make it out to (a couple of) art stores today.  Neither had the desired chalk pastels…though I have recently discovered the joy of drawing on unusual materials.

However — in art class today, I met someone who had used Copic marker in their drawings.  From what I could see, it didn’t seem that the “streakiness” of the marker was eliminated at all, but I’m feeling that this is likely due to the paper used, which was very thick and absorbent-feeling, almost to the point of being board.  I kind of feel like anything but Sharpie or maybe Chartpak, would have shown streaks.  On the other hand, I have marker paper which is very smooth, nearly transparent, bleed-proof.  The Copics might fare better, there.

I did try out a couple of greyscale Tombows, which made weird poolings where fuzz came up off of my sample paper (always take a spare sheet of paper to art stores to test out the colors!).  I tried a Copic light grey, though, and it didn’t pool like this (probably having to do with the surface tension of the solvents — Tombows are water-based, Copics are alcohol-based).  I then proceeded to test out the Copics and came back with a greyscale set — 6 tones from very light grey to black — which I think will be fabulous.  I picked up the Ciao markers, which are the least expensive of all their models — on sale at about $4.50 per marker, so approximately $30 for 6 markers.  Good for a starter set.

If I recall correctly, I believe these are refillable with liquid ink, and can be disassembled and reassembled to switch out the nibs (I know this is possible with the Originals, I’m not certain it’s true with the Ciaos).  What basically did it for me was discovering my Pantone Universe greyscale set dried out the other day (3 of them still work, I don’t know how), and the very visible difference between each of the Copic greys I did purchase (there are more than 5 greys — I skipped some intermediary tones), plus the reuse aspect and the smoothness of color.

Plus, it’s like, how much money have I spent trying to find a quality greyscale marker, while avoiding the Copics?  I mean, of course I could always switch to Chartpaks, which make illustrations that look nearly like animation cels, but I don’t want to expose myself to more xylene than I need to (there’s also xylene in a cement I’ve used to seal knots in beadwork, and it’s enough, there).  They’ve reduced the amount of xylene so that the new Chartpaks qualify as AP nontoxic and not CL, but…it’s a reduction by degree, not an elimination of the toxin.  I think the reality is that the thing that makes Chartpaks blend so beautifully is the same thing that it isn’t good to expose oneself to.

So I am not sure just how this is going to work out.  I have two drawings to do for Thursday…based on a group feedback assignment in which I got barely any useful feedback.  It’s basically an “identity” assignment that was supposed to take into account words both I and my partner used in describing my portfolio.  In the absence of an adequate response, I am forced to mostly rely on my own perception of my work and not the perceptions of others.

And I didn’t say, but — two finished drawings, for Thursday.  I hardly finish anything, ever.

I’m thinking of making something very modern, dynamic and graphic-looking.  I know my style ranges from delicate and feathery (with colored pencil and graphite) to bold and graphic (with charcoal and pastel, or marker/fineliners).  I really like doing abstract art, or what I suppose is essentially design.  Maybe I’ll make one delicate drawing, maybe of a plant, and one bold drawing, maybe a character.

I really like to draw plants, a lot.  They’re pretty easy, for me.  I’m not entirely sure how they’re hard for others, but I suppose I shouldn’t sell myself short and assume it should be easy for everyone just because I in particular find it easier than drawing other things.

Ah — and I need to take in an object to draw, on Thursday.  I almost forgot.  I have a couple of shells which should be great, including a huge cowrie which is around here, somewhere.  I just have to pick one.

The other big thing I learned today:  drawing on fabric can be extremely fun.  I used a basic cotton muslin with charcoal pencil, washed to remove the sizing.  Awesome tooth, velvety feel.  The fake suede I took in, though — that one stretched with the pressure of marking, and really didn’t seem to take up anything very well.  Maybe it was because the fabric was synthetic in origin, not natural fiber.

There are two things I found on my second art store visit, today, which caused me to melt a little bit:

1) Pastel pencils

2) Watercolor pencils

As I said at the start of this, I couldn’t find the chalk pastels I was looking for.  However, I did find a lot of wood-cased, thick-lead, intense, vibrant pastel pencils.  I’m thinking maybe they would handle like charcoal pencils, but obviously — I haven’t tried them yet.  When I do try them…I’m thinking maybe it would be best to use a drawing board propped up at the fireplace or something, above a sheet of newsprint, to keep my hand off of the drawing and to catch loose dust.  There was also a carcinogenicity warning just in general as related to pastel…so I will have to be cautious.  There were a lot of brands at the second store I went to, which I’d not heard of before.  So some research would be good, as well.  The last thing I need is to use a pencil with actual cadmium or cobalt or lead pigments without wearing a glove, for example.

And then the dust — even with a particle respirator, if I’m drawing in my house, I’m producing dust.  I’ve been warned about this by my professor, twice; that I need to go after the AP nontoxic brands and not the ones lacking a “nontoxic” label, as they’re probably toxic in some way.  It’s one thing to use these in liquid media — another to use them in media where they can become airborne and settle all over the house.

And watercolor, plus watercolor pencils.  Tons of watercolors in brands I’ve never heard of, at the second art store.  If I were going to use toxic pigments, I’d use them here; they cannot become airborne and get into my lungs, unless I’m sanding my painting or something.  Which, obviously, I’d know would be a bad idea.  😉  Watercolor pencils, or aquarelles:  beautiful, vibrant colors.  I’ve just recently tested a couple of the ones I already have.  They are a different animal wet than dry.  I could have the tightness of a colored pencil drawing with the smoothness of aquarelle.

And then there are the actual watercolor paints, which can be used in drawing and illustration.  I would be hard-pressed to exactly explain the difference between a painting utilizing watercolors and a drawing utilizing watercolors, at this point.  But, in my last semester of Drawing (Continuing Drawing), there was a person in the Special Projects section who was, indeed, drawing with watercolors.

I think the difference has to do with markmaking as versus utilizing areas of color, but I’ve never taken a painting class (other than Color Theory).  If anyone can define the difference better than I can, given that marks can be made with paint, and that it seems (to me) that drawing may be about markmaking, they’re welcome to go ahead in the comments.  I just lean against the “wet media obviously = painting, dry media obviously = drawing” line of thought, because it seems something more subtle but unspoken is going on here.  Plus, if my teacher allowed watercolor in the Drawing class, it’s not really…I dunno, productive? to shut down the line of thought or question as to why, and what defines a drawing as versus a painting, beyond wet/dry (which may be an inaccurate assumption).  I have an idea about this, but it’s not fully formed yet.

It’s kind of like I didn’t know the difference between Art and Graphic Design, or what the adjective “graphic” meant, until I took one or two Graphic Arts classes and contrasted them with Fine Arts.  Graphic means that it’s designed to get your attention, to efficiently communicate a message; to work now, and be reproduced; Fine Art doesn’t have this emphasis to this extreme, often has more emphasis on longevity, and has less ability to be produced in a mass-media capacity.  That’s the way I see it, anyway.  Discussion welcome in the comments!  🙂

I’d wanted to pick up pan watercolors because they last longer than tube watercolors (as tubes can separate and dry out, mold, etc).  But the second store I went to had barely any pan watercolors.  This may be telling.

But also, the tube watercolors are…I can’t even say.  They’re so beautiful.  When I had my Color Theory class, we picked up Holbein gouache (an opaque watercolor)…the colors were just so vibrant.  This is to the point that I look at one common brand’s Alizarin Crimson (in a different type of paint) and just feel like I’ve been spoiled by Holbein.  😉  Alizarin should be a vibrant red-purple, not brownish purple-grey.  Maybe the color chart was just not printed well, and their Alizarin is actually passable, but going by the color chart, I’m not that attracted to work with that paint.

The thing is that I use watercolor so rarely as things currently stand, that pan colors, because of their long-term stability, are more attractive, as I don’t want $80 of tube paints separating and drying out because I didn’t get to them in time.

But I guess, maybe, don’t we all know.

There is one more concept that I want to just remind myself of, before I turn in for the night.  That is, joy in creating versus fear of creating.  This is something that I’m being forced to deal with because of this Art class.  I can touch on it coming up, maybe it would be good to help work this problem out.  But as it is, I’ve been here probably for a good couple of hours now, and I’ve been awake since before 6 AM.  I should get some rest…

End of week 1 of art homework…

I made it out into the yard today to look at the little silver plants that have popped up all over the place.  When the weeds aren’t there, these guys come.  They’re really very simple-appearing:  silver spade-shaped leaves in a whorl, surrounding a central rosette of tiny blossoms.  I’m thinking they’re one of the benefits of having deer in the backyard.

Because of the shapes and orientations of the leaves, I’m thinking it’s safe to generalize out to many of the plants I’ve drawn, and say:  plants with flat leaves feel relatively easy to me.  At least, when they aren’t chrysanthemum leaves, or something!  (Toothy.)  After all, leaves are essentially 2-D, so far as visual representation is concerned.  Fruits are harder.

I picked up a Kiku apple today, specifically so that I could try and draw it.  I think I ate part of one of these recently, and it tasted eerily like dried sweetened pineapple?  Anyway, 🙂 this one is goldish pink, and has those little vertical striations that run in a mottled form, all the way around the body of the apple.  I think the blossom end is really the most interesting part, though — probably because the stem is missing.  Someone left a sticker there, seeming to apologize for it.  😉

I’ve wanted to try and render an apple in colored pencil and/or watercolor pencil and/or watercolors.  I should have plenty of opportunity for that, given that I need to be working on drawing as a homework assignment for about 30 minutes each day.  I’m ramping up to it:  today it was more like 15 minutes of drawing, and it’s been like that for the past few days — when I actually got brave enough to draw at all.  It’s hard enough for me to get up the nerve to do it in the first place:  fear of failure and all that.  But I have to draw new things in order to get out of my rut of “what I can draw well.”  To draw new things implies drawing new things poorly at first.  Or, maybe, “beginner-style” is a better way to put it.

My professor loves working on the challenge of this (what she calls “process” and seeing the gap between the imagined and the created), and I’m hoping that maybe some of her zest can rub off on me.  After all, if one could turn out photorealistic art all the time, it would basically be like being a human version of Adobe Illustrator…which isn’t that valuable, because Illustrator can do it vastly more economically.  Maybe it’s kind of like what must have happened with portrait painting at the advent of photography.

I tried drawing a different apple last night — I think it was a Gala — and found that my hand-eye coordination isn’t quite as great as I’d hoped, which I’m thinking is part of the reasoning behind having us draw every day.  I still need to learn to visualize the entire space taken up by the form, not just trace an outline without reference to the rest of the shape.

I’m also pretty sure that my teacher is having us start out with compressed charcoal because it’s vastly less intimidating than any of the finer/tighter media, including pencils and fineliners.  It’s really messy, but that’s just basically a given when working with charcoal.  I suppose the fun part of it might happen with chalk pastels, but the kind I tried out at school — which I really loved — was of an unspecified source.  The NuPastels that I have are both really dusty and still coated with some kind of lacquer which prevents them from getting all over one’s hands.  While that lacquer is on there, though, there’s no way to tell if the chalk pastel which gave vibrant, smooth color was a used NuPastel or something different.

I just looked it up, and the color I tested is similar to one which ~ I think I will have to get, so no posting the mystery item at this time.

I should pack up my things to get them ready to go by tomorrow.  My day starts at 6 AM, meaning I should set my alarm for 5:45, plan to get up at 6, plan to be ready by 7 and out by 7:15, and in class by 8.  I’ve been late both days for my first early-morning class, which I do not really enjoy.

If I get to bed by 9:30, I should have a solid 8 hours of rest.

Oddly enough, I’ve been feeling more energized on waking, even after waking up at 6 AM.  Maybe it’s because I’m getting to bed earlier?  I dunno.

And guess what?  I just realized that I forgot to do one of my assignments!  This should be quick, though…

“Work on the script, first”

This is not going to be a long post.

I just wanted to make sure that I preserve in my records a bit of advice which was handed to me today:

If I want to make a graphic novel, I should work on the script first, before working on the art.  This is because I’ll go through so many revisions of the script that it will take a lot longer to work this out if I try (as a first project) to work on the art and script at the same time.

Right now I have a vague idea of what I want to do with this — I’ve posted more, elsewhere, and can probably review that if it comes to it.  But I’m thinking that some kind of outline, at least of key plot points, is in order.  After I get what the story is about, I can start filling it out, little by little.

I’ll try to make more of these short posts, and not necessarily try and tie myself to one huge post a day.  The latter can be intimidating, yes?  For me, too.

Right now, I think I’ll get some rest…

…I got sidetracked in my brainstorm…

I have a little less than two hours to write this, and I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to be writing about at this time, so please bear with me.  This happens every so often — I’ll know that I need to write something, but I don’t know exactly what it is that’s trying to come out, so the best I can really do is just sit down and start typing…

I’m not sure where my career is headed at this point.  The school thing’s a mess — I am having an extremely difficult time picking one path and sticking to it.  Plus, I already have a BA, and I’m told I don’t really need to be taking any more classes.  I’m no longer planning on using my beading as a potential primary (or heavy secondary) mode of earning a living, so that means the Business classes probably just saved me a lot of time and money invested.  Though it probably would have been a fun (if expensive and ultimately disappointing) ride.

I probably would have learned the hard way what I did last semester:  I’d need to make a lot of low-cost, fairly quick, high-value items (read:  earrings, pendants, likely natural stone) in order to earn any kind of profit, because taking 3 hours to knot a bracelet which can be mimicked for $3 with overseas labor isn’t…a good use of my time.

This is unless I went into straight-out metalsmithing, particularly casting, which has an expensive setup but can easily mass-produce things like silver rings, which then just have to be finished + stones mounted.  Unless I got into enamel (I probably would); which requires an enameling kiln in addition to the wax burnout kiln.  I know there is also torch-fired enameling, but from the few pieces I’ve seen, the enamel doesn’t seem to melt as cleanly.  Plus, enamel — requires a respirator, at least, though probably only a high degree of cleanliness and caution (as I have) at most.  I have seen some really gorgeous enameled pieces, though.  There was one example on Ganoksin which came up recently, using plique-a-jour technique (it basically looked like stained glass) with diamonds.  Just beautiful.  I’ll see if I can find it for you.

Though I know that I might like doing this stuff more if I were in a really safe environment, which my last two classes were not.  Plus, is it a hobby or is it a job?  How do you start out designing when no one has taught you how to design in the first place?  I seriously wonder about the quality of Jewelry Design classes, given that there are some I do know about.  But in the States, it seems that technique is often valued over design, to the extent that design is often brushed aside in favor of technical skills.

And I suppose this would be why I’d take the Studio Art and Art History classes.  I still want to do that.  But at heart I think I’m an artist and a crafter (even when that is most often expressed in words), not a salesperson.

At the same time…the Business classes have gotten me to think about the job market in a different way.  I mostly blame Microeconomics for that.  Right now I’m thinking about job specialization which can happen in organizations (as versus self-employment).  There are still a few classes out of the Business department I want to take:

  1. Financial Management
  2. General Accounting
  3. Computerized Accounting (or whatever it’s called)

…also, I’ve been told Business Law is a good one to take if I’m intending to form a nonprofit.  But otherwise…well, there are the MS Office programs to learn or brush up on as well, but I can do that on my own.  Plus, Office is probably going to move to the cloud, at least in the near future (as I’ve heard support for Windows 7 will be discontinued in early 2015 — boo), so there’s probably going to be a new platform to deal with, in any case.

On top of this…I’ve wanted to brush up on my Math.  I do know of one place where I can do this online, and it should be less stressful than taking a series of courses and putting my GPA in jeopardy.  I’d be able to do it at my own pace, but I’d just have to be sure that “at my own pace” doesn’t end up as “picnicking in the shady spot by the starting line.”

Third.  I need to work on getting together a Writing portfolio in case I want to apply for a position which heavily entails writing.  As someone let me know today, I’d probably do well as a blogger, but the question is:  do bloggers get paid?

I’m going to stick with Intermediate Drawing, I think, this semester.  Just hearing myself wax all poetic about the jewelry…that did stir something in me, and drawing is an important part of the design process.  My main problem is that I don’t exactly know my motivation behind making jewelry, or others’ motivation behind buying or wearing it.  Actually, my main problem is I don’t know others’ motivation behind buying or wearing it.  I don’t really even understand my own.  So it’s like, what am I selling, you know?  Am I selling an artifact of someone’s dream of finding love through beauty?  I can’t sell dreams, and I can’t make them come true.  I can give you the item, but what that item means to you is your business, right?

I know Jewelers (metalworkers) will probably make more money than Handcrafters (in this case, beaders).  They’ll also probably have more job security as people want rings resized and chains fixed, and such.  Though, I don’t think either group is really affluent.

My major stress with Jewelry, besides the occupational hazards (which I could avoid easily enough on my own, but which gave my teacher some satisfaction to see us inadvertently or intentionally expose ourselves to here paint the flux on your hand because I won’t let you bring in a paper towel) is the stress of screwing up while resizing someone’s wedding band or something and then this little heirloom is messed up for the rest of their lives.  😛  Do I really want to be under that kind of pressure?

But anyway, I’ve probably sat here long enough.  Adobe Reader already downloaded itself and caused my system to crash once during the writing of this post.  I probably shouldn’t push it.

Getting some sense of the turf.

I just finished “finalizing” my schedule for Fall semester, though I’ve changed my classes so many times that it’s not even very hilarious at all.  😉  I was looking through the schedule at classes which I may want to take, given a Business major — or, at least, a program of study focused on Business, even if I don’t get the shiny piece of paper.  (It would be nice if it actually was shiny — now that would be kind of funny…)

From my study at the career counseling website I spoke of earlier, I’m thinking that if I do go into the Business field, I may be forced to supervise and/or manage people.  This is even though dealing with people in real-time is a weak point for me (I think it’s just assumed that this is not so because I have a degree in the Humanities).

So I actually, flukeishly, went and looked at classes in the Communications department.  One of them seemed relevant and fit my schedule perfectly, so I wouldn’t be putting my boss out to reorganize the work schedule more than they already are, and I wouldn’t be putting out my friend who wanted to take an Art class with me.

I’m not certain that Advanced Math is where I want to go.  It sounds fun from here, but my parents remember me crying over Honors Math as a kid (seriously), and I think they don’t want to repeat that.  I was basically traumatized enough by Math in high school that given the choice, I didn’t take it again until Statistics came up as I was studying to be a sociologist.  [sarcasm]Yes, see, pushing kids past their breaking point and giving them so much homework that they will never be able to finish it all really helps them excel and learn to put work first.[/sarcasm]

I really don’t recall what happened to throw me off the Social Sciences track anyway (probably the “social” part of it), but there you go.

But anyhow.  Either late last night or early this morning, after reading over some stuff, including my last post here, I decided to go the route of Business first, Computers second.  My classes will largely be drawn from Business, Computer Info. Systems, and Communications.  I’m told I won’t need Advanced Math, even if I do go the Accounting route — but the hardcore Accounting class I tried and then dropped (I missed a 4-hour class because of illness and then couldn’t make it up and didn’t know what to do) was so confusing for me that I’m thinking of taking the basic one next time, instead.  With a different professor.  Or I could try a different school…

Then we have classes which will help with an office job, though I probably don’t need to take those for college credit.  I’ve had a semester of MS Access already, though I don’t remember much of it now; and I can use Excel decently enough.  I’ll still have to find a couple of textbooks which will help me refresh those skills.  I’m not sure of PeachPit’s focus anymore, but I have good feelings surrounding their press, so I can look them up (and see if they still exist).  Word, I use constantly, so that’s not a problem.  PowerPoint, I can learn on my own.

Most of what I need deals with human relations, computer programming, and finance.  And that’s about it.  The other thing that I was thinking about was entering a paraprofessional program to take up a job as a Library Assistant.  I have a degree already, and taking the classes would open up the paraprofessional activity and salary level to me, which is decent enough to live on.  However, the program that I’d likely utilize is being revamped, so it will likely be a year or two at least before they can get the program together.

A deeper reason I’d want to be at Reference, though, is that I’d like to get the experience so that if I do work with an LGBTQIA nonprofit, I’ll have the experience of having worked in Information Services already.  I’m thinking that this would help, especially as regards determining what a user’s actual needs are (as versus what they think they need).

This also came up, back when I almost took my second Graphic Design class — the prof was saying that we needed to be able to discern what a client actually wanted/needed, as versus what they said they wanted/needed.  This was enough to scare me out of there.  But I’m thinking that if I can develop better people skills, this won’t be such a big handicap to me anymore.

I think I’ll probably have a hard time of things if I go through life trying to avoid human interaction.  And it’s not really a big mystery to me why I have trouble interacting with people:  until I entered the adult world with my first job, people in general had not been very kind to me.  I’m told that my interactions with the public in this job amount to “exposure therapy” as regards social anxiety.  And, I’m just hoping that the anxiety can progressively get better with experience.

On that note, I should probably get going, but it’s nice to be able to write, and be heard, here.  🙂