So I went to the Arboretum…

…and soon realized I didn’t know what I was doing.  That’s OK, though, because I get another shot, tomorrow.  I now know certain things would be good to take (some of which I did not or do not have).  I’ll try and sketch out what I’ll need or want, below:

1) Water brush
2) Bottle of water
3) Small container from which to fill the water brush (so I don’t contaminate the bottle)
4) Aquarelle crayons (Neocolor II was the type I used)
5) Aquarelle pencils (these are also called watercolor pencils)
6) Grey Neocolor I (a water-resistant crayon)
7) Set of semi-moist pan watercolors (I found myself not mixing these, to my detriment)
8) At least one sharp pencil (I used 2B for background sketches)
9) Watercolor pad
10) Rag to clean the tip of the water brush
11) Palette

I think and/or hope it’s apparent now that even though I’ve taken a Color Dynamics class, that still doesn’t mean that I know how to use transparent watercolors.  Plus, this was my first time trying to draw and/or paint with watercolors in the field.

(I have more of a clue as to how to use gouache [opaque watercolor], but in practice, that’s kind of in between transparent watercolors and acrylics.  You can layer light colors over dark with gouache; you can’t with these %&$@ transparent things.)

My color palette was limited because I didn’t know where I’d be able to clean my palette, and I didn’t want to dump out possibly-toxic (to something — like newts) water into the soil or sop it up with a rag (which I’d then have to carry home and possibly wash the possibly-toxic paint out of — we do have AP Nontoxic seals here, but just because something says it’s AP Nontoxic, that doesn’t mean it’s fully nontoxic).  Accordingly, I ended up using my water brush and Neocolor IIs most of the time, with some Cotman half-pan watercolors which were only mixed on the surface of the paper.

I’m taking the aquarelle pencils with me next time so that I can get more detail out of what I’m doing, instead of just areas of wash + scribble.  I can also take my white Neocolor I and see if I can use it as a masking medium.  Though really, it may just make white streaks — white Neocolor I is very opaque.  I still could have used it last time to delineate light-colored tree trunks.  The only reason why I’m taking white instead of grey is that I don’t have grey.  I had the chance to go out and get it today, but for some reason we didn’t make it out again after lunch (I fell asleep while waiting, it was that bad).

At least I know what I don’t have to take, this next time.  I’m considering carrying a bag instead of a backpack, and not even taking my kit.  It helps that I don’t have a class following this, tomorrow.

Otherwise…I did pick up my huge 2’x2′ plywood panel yesterday, though I have yet to sand, gesso, or underpaint it.  I should be able to get at least two of those things done by Monday (the time change gives me an extra hour of daylight to work), though today I was more wishing to go to sleep than sand this board out in the garage.  Accordingly, I can’t sleep now, even though I’m still tired.

Maybe I’ll try using the Prangs, next time, so I won’t have to try and mix so much.  My teacher wanted something that looked Fauvist, so I did “Fauvist.”  It looks like $&%!, but I did Fauvist.

I’m hoping to find a gnarly tree next time adjacent to an open area of sky.  We have to do a scene with a foreground, middle ground, and background.  Last time I did a vertical composition with a tall tree that had some kind of weird pine cones at the top (?) which would have been much better if I had spent a longer time on the underdrawing — but my teacher doesn’t want us to spend more than a minute on that, so here we have $&%! Fauvist.

I sound like I’m tired, right?  And frustrated, probably.  I feel like I’m being asked to use skills that it’s assumed I had before I started the class (like watercolor painting), though transparent watercolors are probably the most difficult medium possible to start out with.  I also feel like it was assumed I knew what to bring (no) or what my working process would be (no).  Then I was late because all avenues of traffic were congested that day — it took me an hour to get to the Arboretum when it shouldn’t have taken more than half an hour — so I missed the beginning instruction.  And we aren’t supposed to work from photographs, which I can see the logic in now (when painting from a photo, there is one area of focus and everything else is blurred; in a plein-air painting, everything is in focus as one views it over time).

At least I get a second chance at this, so it won’t all be a wash.

I’m not sure if I’m getting depressed from working too much or what, and if that is leading into the pessimism, or if it’s the thought of exiting school after the Art Certificate is granted because I’d like to get paid for my work and stop playing games in college.  (I mentioned this to some classmates yesterday, and then realized that they’ve been in school several years less than I have.)

I’m not sure this is possible within the Certificate itself, but I’m thinking that if I do continue on with this after the Certificate, taking all my elective classes Pass/No Pass.  I’m not even sure I want to do the Multimedia Arts thing anymore, because the $%&@ stress over preserving or enhancing my GPA and keeping my academic record clean, is getting to me.  This is for the sake of preserving some kind of wedge where it comes to a mystery MA or MFA which I don’t even know if I want to pursue, at this point.

The only program I can see really being interesting is Buddhist Studies, but that is a 7-year PhD track…and I still don’t know Mandarin or Japanese.  The only way to get an MA in that program and not a PhD is to fail at the PhD level.  And of course, then I’d be a Buddhologist or Sinologist, and would be able to be a tenure-track professor basically anywhere which has a Comparative Religions or Asian Area Studies program.

If I were allowed to think freely and critically in that program, it would be interesting — but that’s 7 years of hard-core work — meaning I’d get out in my own middle age, at the earliest.  I’m thinking it’s about time to get a real job, though.  I’m not after power or money or status.  I just don’t want to be abused, and I want to have enough time and disposable income to pursue my art and writing, while having a secure (if small) home in a safe area (hopefully with a good-sized Asian-diasporic population).  I don’t think that’s a lot to ask, though it may be hard to fulfill.

And, right:  I wandered off of the title topic again…apologies…


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Haru ("Codey") is a second-year Master's student in Library and Information Science, hoping to find a way to fuse their desire to make the world a better place and to finance their art.

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