Scriptwriting is probably not my thing.

I began this scriptwriting class for a number of reasons.

Tomorrow after class, I’ll head over to Counseling and see if letting this go will affect my financial aid at all.  I don’t think it will — at least, it probably won’t unless I get a C average in two out of three classes in Fall (not going to happen — at least not so unless I neglect to turn something in, in both of my classes) or I withdraw from 2 out of 3 classes in Fall (also probably not going to happen).

At this point, I haven’t done my homework for tomorrow.  One of the reasons I tried taking this class was to see if I really wanted to write scripts for graphic novels.  This class doesn’t focus on graphic novels, but on film and animation, where narration is entirely absent.  This is a problem for me because of my writing and thinking style — most of my dilemmas are internal, not external.  It’s a bit of a stretch to try and illustrate internal dilemmas through action.

So, this is not the right class to learn how to write graphic novel scripts, unless one wants to write action-based graphic novels.

Another reason I took this class is that I wanted to see if I could write stories in a way that was healthy for me, and this is definitely not healthy.  I’m dark and irritable and angry right now, and I get even more resistant when I try to focus on my homework.

Last week, every day I came home from class, I would go right back to sleep, then stay up and do my homework until around midnight, then get up around 7 AM to get to class on time.  This is a recipe for depression, when even a healthy adult needs 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  As I said before, I realized that I was using caffeine to stay up so that I could write; when what I needed to be doing was decreasing the medication I’m on which is a sedative and risk having a depressive episode.  As things are going now, I may have pushed myself into a mild depression because of the sleep disarrangement and unpleasant mental focus, which means that I can’t drop down on that medication right now unless I want things to get a lot worse, very quickly.

As for homework content, I find myself zooming in on high school traumas and idiocies which I don’t want to relive (and writing about them causes me to relive them), but which are the strongest stories in my mind.  I’m told (by family who can see that I’m visibly upset) to make something up instead of going by the book and doing something autobiographical like I was assigned.  It’s tempting, but what I really want to do is fantasy (a freedom that exists in fiction, graphic novels, and animation, but not so much in film), and that’s going to be obviously not autobiographical.

The other reason I thought this would be a good class to take is that I was considering going down the Animation and/or Video tracks at my college; however, I’m pretty sure now that this is not what I want to do.  At least, it’s not what I want to do if I’m going to be a writer.

So there are two good things that have arisen out of this:

  1. I know now that I don’t want to work in animation or film as a writer.
  2. I know now that writing screenplays can trigger whatever it was in reality, which stopped me from writing fiction this last time.

Of course, though, there is also the fact that the subject matter of this writing centered around sexual harassment, homophobia, transphobia, rejection, and sexuality as a youth.  One version included an instance of sexual assault.  Probably all of those are really strong things to be writing about, and I was dealing with all of them at once during the time of this screenplay, in addition to racism and sexism.  Life was pretty hard for me to tolerate, then.  It actually took me about a decade to be able to get out of what I’d been dealing with through all of my teen years, and so obviously I don’t want to rehash it again.

But I couldn’t think of anything more significant to write about.  If I ask myself where the main story of my life is, it begins there.

The fact right now is, though, that I’m not doing a good job of managing my mental health while pushing myself to write about this.  Granted that if I was writing what I actually wanted to be writing, or if I didn’t have a traumatic and troubled past that filled up most of my “autobiography” (which is what we have to draw from for this assignment), maybe things would be different.  And maybe if I wasn’t shouted down for saying that white heterosexual experience is not universal, on top of all this, I might feel better about it.  But that’s not what happened, and that’s not what’s happening.

I feel the need to begin scheduling these posts to go out during the daytime.  🙂  But I’m kind of sick in the head, so I’ll post now.  😉

Mandala #2

Given that I started out yesterday planning to copy over my mandala, for some reason, and got the seed of a nearly entirely new one…I’ll probably eventually figure out what happened.  But for now, I’ll post this:

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Mandala #2 grew from mandala #1…

This one evolved from the last.  I can see places where I can tweak it, already — particularly in the negative space that comes just before the tulip-like forms (I was trying for leaves, but I think they’re tulips, now.  Green tulips?).  Apologies for the picture quality — I’m learning to use my scanner instead of my camera, so it’s coming out looking a bit more like a coloring page as versus a drawing.  😉

And…yeah, I guess I could make coloring books…

I originally scanned this at 600 ppi on standard contrast with automatic background removal, then cropped it, resized it, reduced the ppi to 72…and got some weird-looking underexposed pixelated thing.  Then, after seeing how dark it turned out, I went back and re-scanned it with maximum background removal and minimum contrast, and went through all the steps again.

At 600 dpi, the image itself is really pretty crisp, except for the darkness at the center of the drawing, and some stray pencil lines.  I’m planning to redo this one in (relatively) large format — 12″x12″…it might end up being the one I paint on Hardbord, or maybe I’ll like a later version more?  Not sure, yet.  I’m…really not sure.

I thought before, that I would use the first mandala I drew as my painting.  Then I tried to copy it over, and you see where that got me.  🙂  I am nonattached to this one enough that I wouldn’t feel bad playing with it in ink and watercolor, at the least…and that’s mostly because I can see where it can be improved.

I can see some implied lines going on where the bracts I drew in could almost form petals with the abstract line that cuts them off.  I want to do something with that, and resolve the abstractness surrounding the center motif.

I’m kind of wondering if I should give y’all something to color, although posting the complete version would be like giving up my original work.  Maybe I can do something by resizing using a better program so you can get the smoothness of line without the full-res version.  Or I could post the full-res (given I redraw it more cleanly) to some official sharing service, or something…and I could take another look at the Creative Commons website to see what version of their agreements I could/should use for things like this.

Just for the love of all that is holy, if you’re inspired by this and want to make something like it — add something to it, subtract something from it, change it up a little.  Besides any legal issues that may crop up, just straight copying me doesn’t develop your own artistic skills nearly as much as would making something that has part of you in it — that changes something you don’t like or adds something you do.  I don’t want you to think that I can do something you can’t and that there’s no point in trying to do it yourself.  You know?

Like the coloring book idea — not only do you not have to color inside the lines, not only do you not have to make every area a solid color — but you can make your own lines, add your own textures, choose your media.  Art is full of choices, and ultimately, freedom.  I think it’s the “freedom” part that tends to cause me most anxiety.  When there are so many choices before me — and there are a bewildering number — it can be baffling to try and make one or another.  But ultimately, when we make art, we do make those choices, over and over again, until we reach a stopping point.  What we are left with is our artwork.  All those paths we didn’t take are what feed our next pieces.

The more of us who are creative, the better.  And creativity requires facing the chasm and taking the leap.  I don’t know any artist who has said that they’re confident that they can make that crossing.  Not even artists who have made careers out of art.

At this point I’m pretty certain I’m probably going to have to/want to make something new even if I do continue with this mandala (or in this case, cross/star) thing in Fall semester.  Of course I’m scared I won’t be able to make another one as successful as this!  But really, that’s fear talking, irrational fear at that (especially given the above adage:  that art is about making choices, most of which you haven’t yet made), and I know that there are many more possibilities I haven’t yet unearthed.

This pattern was fairly easy to create, so far as the folds were concerned.  (I was an origami kid…what can I say?)  I had to push myself to break out of the guidelines of the folds (they’re just guidelines!) and place lines where there were no vertexes, and to place lines off-center, where there are some gentle curves.  I also really, really want to experiment with ruffling the edges of the petals of the center cross.  I think that could look really nice, though maybe I should practice by finding some ruffled irises or peonies to draw first, or something…

I did bring in some of what I’d observed of my last flower drawings, to this one…I just think it could be a whole lot more visually engaging.  I’m thinking, though, that I’m actually engaging with the artmaking process through this…and that in itself, is useful, no matter how simple the output.

So I finally got brave enough to post some work…

I am really…in a state of either nonmotivation or disgust at this screenwriting homework.

Bright side — I’ve decided that it’s OK to record one of my mandala trials, here.  I talked with my sibling, who encouraged me to share.  In Art/Fear as well…the authors talk about how a support network for artists basically disappears after classes are over.  I’m thinking that maybe I can use this space to mitigate some of the lack of support for artmaking that happens outside of the class structure…though I do have family and friendship support, at least somewhat.

The first mandala I've plotted with regard to the paperfolding technique.
The first mandala I’ve plotted with regard to the paper-folding technique.

I haven’t shown you all much of my more recent work…the stencil compositions, in particular, and the self-portrait.  Both of those are in acrylics (we can’t use oils in our building because of ventilation issues).  Then there is the ink wash drawing, which I’m not too fond of.  It was a technical exercise for me.

The self-portrait, I’ve shied away from posting because it kind of looks like me.  Not enough so that it would be obvious to a stranger, but obvious enough so that if someone were browsing this blog at my job and someone else saw it and knew me, they’d probably recognize me.  In which case, I probably actually shouldn’t post it.

However, the stencil project…that’s fine, if we don’t take into account the fact that I should have used another stencil to mask out some areas on the side with the shoes.  It would have been $8 extra to do that, but I didn’t get the extra acetate sheet, so there is some guesswork in the painting which is obvious to me.  (The front side of that one was supposed to be a self-portrait as well, but I avoided my face, as I didn’t want to be recognized.)

I really want to be working on the mandala project, but I find myself freezing up.  It’s silly, somewhat — I don’t want to mess up my folded blanks.  It’s like, how cheap is the paper, Haru?  How cheap is the paper?  (But I only get four sheets of each color!)

But the above mandala skeleton…it has some folds in there which I’m not quite sure I know how to reproduce.  I was switching back and forth between folding and drawing, and I wasn’t recording how I was folding the paper, thinking that the relevant points, edges, or lines would be obvious enough when I creased it again.

Note to myself:  I just realized one of the mystery folds is between the corner and midpoint of an adjacent side…

So, you can see where I have some decisions to make as to what colors I’ll put, where.  I definitely see blue and green in this one, probably some hints of yellow, at least, too.  I could put in some ultramarine and diluted alizarin crimson or magenta…  This one has a floral feel to me.  I should probably trace it out on Layout or tracing paper, and then work out the colors with my colored pencils.  The reason I am hesitant to do that on the origami paper itself is that I want to keep a clean master copy.

Or — hey, I just realized this.  Instead of photographing the master copy, I can copy it in my printer and print out a duplicate, which I can then color!

I’m trying not to make the color scheme too close to Skull #2, a.k.a. “Butterfly Soul,” even though I did really like what was going on, there.  I can probably deepen the blues and cool down the greens, somewhat, so that the pinks and yellows will stand out against the background.  I should remember that I can intermix colors to harmonize the palette…and that not all of these areas need to be a solid color.  In addition, I don’t have to start all my lines from a vertex for the thing to turn out nicely.

If I had been braver, I would have worked on this today, specifically instead of working on the screenplay.  But I hung out in bed for a while, choosing to work on neither and just be frozen instead of willingly defying my need to work on homework.

I need to work on that.

Figure Drawing strategy

Just one note for now:

I’ve been reading over my backposts and found a place where I was talking about strategies for Figure Drawing.  What I need to note down now, lest I forget it again, is that it’s OK to start out illustrating the main gesture of the pose and work outward from there.  This approach made all my subsequent attempts easier.

[Rant] Irritation at academia. Don’t mind me.

It’s taken me a long time to decide whether to log my thoughts on the screenwriting class.  Since yesterday (after seeing my teacher’s social awareness fail), I’ve lost a lot of faith in the teacher and motivation to do the homework.  Today was the third day in a row of coming home and going to sleep.

Ordinarily, having some sort of set structure assists me in being productive.  Today, though, after having sat through another three hour lecture, I’m trying to avoid my consideration of not going back.  The only thing to keep me in is the fact that my financial aid paid for this class, and I don’t want to stop getting financial aid because of multiple Withdraw statuses.

My life on non-work days is strongly circling around this class — mornings, in class; afternoons, asleep; evenings, homework.  If I had any interest in film or animation I think it would be different, but I’m coming to see that I don’t — which is part of the reason I took this class.  I needed to see if I actually did want to be telling stories.

I write prose, fine.  But I don’t like to write stories as much as I used to.  And what I do want to do — which I don’t actually know if I’ll enjoy at this point, but it’s a possible goal, at least (writing and producing a graphic novel) — is less stringent than this.  It might give me a leg up to submit a graphic novel script in standard screenplay format, but I really think that most of what we’re being taught are formalities (e.g. use Courier in 12-point font), and not how to write a compelling, non-formulaic story.

In short, I think I’m liking my art more than I’m liking the process of writing.  It could just be because I’m not doing the art.  Or because I’m stuck with this kind of…intellectual exercise of trying to figure out what scenes and actions to show, and my art is much more exploratory and intuitive.  I suppose that my writing style is also very internal, because my stories are internal.  I’m just not that interested in laying out autobiographical works…

All that to say that my writing style is not well-suited to film.

One of the benefits to scriptwriting is that internal states are implied by action and not set in stone the way they can be, in prose.  This allows a state of openness toward differing interpretations which may not be allowable in highly specific fiction or prose format.  This means that I, as a writer, am not locked into one reality and one set future, as I’m writing.  However…problems arise in representation.

I found this early on in manga and anime, but it applies to other formats as well — the tendency of life to reproduce art, when art (or, rather, mass media) is using established social conventions in order to convey as specific a meaning as it can.  This means that it’s using known conventions, and known conventions have the problem of being grounded in the social hegemonies — or unquestioned societal systems of understanding which define “right” and “wrong” — which undergird and reinforce the power structures of the world we live in.  Thus when life imitates art, if art is reinforcing the present power structure, life comes to reinforce the present power structure.

In this way, certain things like body image come into play, as each body is encoded with specific meaning which may have little to nothing to do with the person who lives within that body.  Or, at least, when one meets another in the real world and comes to associate the other’s body type with the meanings one has gleaned (often unknowingly and unconsciously) from media which has used established social conventions in its encoding, then we have a problem.

We end up with a really big problem when we’re talking about mass media and people doing this en masse.  This reinforces racism, sexism, the idea that heterosexuality is to be celebrated and everything else is deviant; the idea that for one’s personality to differ from the image that is associated with one’s body is dangerous (particularly where this comes to transgender subjectivities); etc.  This has been getting better recently, at least in the LGBT realm, but racism and sexism are still rampant, as can be observed from the disproportionate targeting and incarceration — or straight-out killing — of non-white males in the U.S.  This is not to mention the high rates at which feminine-appearing people are targeted for sexually-themed violence.

I see this lack of criticality, and it makes me not want to engage in learning the system.  On the other hand, I only have 12 more class sessions left, and I can deal with a C.  Whether I’ll be able to restrain my own derision is something else (I find it likely that I know more about these issues than the instructor, having spent the better part of my life in the educational system, regardless of the fact that I only have a BA).  What I’m finding out is that covert racism in the faculty is really very present in all of the college systems in which I’ve participated.  And this is sad — especially considering where most of these schools are located, and who makes up the student body.

I learned to expect it at the University I first attended, because they had very little meeting of the minds with ethnic minorities.  Those who were on the faculty there…well, I remember one professor whose words were that of a conservative, racist white man, even though his skin was dark.  Of course, though, his own philosophy excused his behavior as “bigoted” at most; he could never be “racist” because “racism” was a term which depended upon structural inequality.  To him, because of his racial background, he could never be racist, even though if a white man said the same thing…well, I guess you still couldn’t fire him (tenure).  I (rather foolishly) thought I could confide in him.  I was wrong.

Moving on to other colleges and Universities, I’ve found that often those who were employed as faculty, if of a nonwhite race, were often assimilated and complacent with the systems they found themselves within — at least within the English department, which was so oppressive that the term “festering” comes to mind.  (One of my professors said that I couldn’t call any author “racist” if they lived before the term “racism” was coined.  Seriously?!  So all those slave owners and traders weren’t racist, I guess.)  Some of them (like the one who called me “Godless”) were more overtly oppressive than the white faculty members I studied under, though the really progressive faculty, at both of my Universities, were within the Ethnic Studies and Human Sexuality departments.

One of the things I was taught in the Creative Writing department, by someone on loan from Stanford, was not to make anything “different” in one’s story which the story wasn’t about.  I’m encountering this again in my Screenwriting class.  I don’t know then what the standard reference is — white, heterosexual, middle-class?  What do we avoid “differing from” unless relevant to the story?  I’m not here to write a story about Everyman, because Everyman stories tend to be ethnocentric and sexist.  But what then do I do, write stories about people who are of my race and ethnicity?  How is that less ethnocentric?  In more formal language, how do we avoid ethnocentricity when composing our stories?

I don’t think anyone teaches that, probably because people have tried before and failed obviously and miserably.  The best we seem to be able to do is hire writers who can be ethnocentric in a way we haven’t seen yet.

I think the problem arises with the model we’re being taught here.  It would be somewhat more refreshing if this were a three-semester series and we addressed these issues.  But, no.  This is a six-week class at a public community college.  What can I expect?

Having a hard time getting out of bed and off the computer.

I found the blog address of the person whose mandalas I was talking about before.  For both your and my reference, it is here:

Shilpa Sharma Online

It seems there haven’t been updates for a while, which is why it was difficult to find.  It also looks like the artist has been using fineliners, not necessarily regular pens, in contrast to what I said earlier (I was going off of recollection).

While I’m at it, here are three other blogs that feature mandala drawings, or, in any case, pen and ink drawings, a media that I find personally compelling for my own work…

Inkwork by Linda

Yezarck

Designs by Eri

I’ve found these recently as I’ve been scanning tags related to mandalas.  All four blogs have some really nice content.

Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten to work on the art much over the last several days, due to my job and this class.  I also have a bunch of stuff I want to read, which I don’t have time to read because I’m working on the material for this class.  In addition to being mildly internet-addicted (it’s hard to get off of the computer and do non-interactive things like drawing or reading), I am not entirely sure I’m good at being single-minded.  For the past two days I’ve been going to bed after midnight and spending the afternoon asleep…though this is likely related to my medication.

I realized that I was using caffeine (tea and chocolate) to help me stay awake, which was leading to some tremors (an irritated nerve firing off and causing an annoying vibrating sensation), when all I really need to do in order to be wakeful is cut the medication which is most sedating.  When I cut it by 1/3, I’m much more awake in the daytime and at night — the drawback is that if I do this too drastically and suddenly, I risk a relapse of what it treats.

The good part is, the class only lasts for about a month more — four weeks — and after this week, I should get some time off in my job schedule.  I’m trying to hang in there.  Falling behind would not be a good thing, at this point, as all the assignments build on each other.  It’s also a pain having to work on assignments immediately after I get home.

I’m having the issue of being irritated by this class, though.  I think I may be a bit old for it…I find myself in a minority position because of being not-white and not-straight and in my early 30’s, so a lot of the younger students are still experiencing and exerting peer pressure and groupthink.  (I said something which was shouted down.)  At this point I will probably stay in the class, but the teacher doesn’t share my experience either — she’s not in an ethnic minority — and so I find myself again with someone who experiences one of, but not all of, my intersecting oppressions and doesn’t seem to understand intersectional feminism.

Yeah, I’ll try and hang in there…I can’t expect to be accepted and understood everywhere — and maybe it was just my error in thinking I would have been, here.

Starting out with mandala generation

I only have a little time to write before I get back to my screenwriting homework, but…hey, other than my nap and eating (along with some hopeful browsing), I’ve been working at this class all day.  I realized a couple of days ago that it had been some time since I’d written here last, and when I get off track like I did last time, it’s hard to know where to re-enter.

What I’ve been doing, artwise, has circled around the process of creating a mandala for the Mother’s Day gift that I put off during Finals.  Of course, now Father’s Day has come and gone.  I’m thinking that maybe I just don’t understand special days…like if I’m going to give a gift to show I love you, can’t it be any day, not just limited to holidays?  But then maybe people get depressed because they think you don’t care about them, even on their special day.  But anyhow…

I’ve started on a mandala-making journey which promises to be…interesting, at the least, and I might learn some things (geometry, linear algebra) and be very productive, at best.  There is one person I’ve been following on WordPress who has been making a mandala every day, though on searching for their blog in the Reader, I no longer see it (and it routinely did not show up in my feed).  The person I’m thinking of did all their designs in ballpoint pen, with a rather baffling number of divisions (I’d say at least 20)…I wouldn’t be surprised if they took it down because others were using the images.

Anyhow, though…I’ve found that I can generate bases for mandalas (I keep wanting to call them mandalae, but that’s probably wrong) by taking a square of paper — like origami paper — and beginning to make creases in it.  Where the creases meet is a potential point for a vertex…it’s easier to make sense of it when you see it, but I’d rather not share the little one I did right now, in case I end up needing to use it for a class (plagiarizing myself — or someone else who copied my design — again comes in as a concern).

I should state that I’m not holding to any predetermined religious format or meaning for what I’m doing, rather allowing things to be generated internally with the help of visual and tactile aids which incidentally form patterns which can be described mathematically.  The latter was kind of a surprise, but it explains the visual harmony I found on my first attempt.

I’m wanting to do multiple “thumbnails” in smaller origami paper, first.  I’m using some weird off-size which is between 6″ and 8″, though I’m not sure where exactly it falls, in there.  At this point, though, it doesn’t matter, because the entire image can scale up or down depending on the size of the square.

Once I decide on a pattern I want to blow up (I want to try and generate at least three, before choosing one), I’ll try and recreate it in 12″x12″ paper.  I could not find origami paper of this size, even after calling all of the local art stores I knew of — they had 9″x9″ and 13″x13″ and 10″x10″ and 5 7/8″x5 7/8″ and odd sizes like this (I don’t know why these sizes are this way; I’m not even sure it makes sense in Metric), however, 12″x12″ is a standard size for scrapbooking paper.  I only recalled this when I remembered the non-archival sheets of colored paper that I’d obtained for preparatory sketches…and I matched it to my 12″x12″ panel…they are exact.

So I was able to find sheets of 12″x12″ scrapbooking paper at a craft store, which only need one edge trimmed off before they’re usable.  This is easy when the printing is exactly aligned to the right spot!  These can be used, in my limited experience, basically like origami paper.  This last time, I got some pages — 10 of them — at 59¢ each, which were only printed on one side (leaving the back free to mark up).  This is because everything I’d gotten up to this point was actually cardstock.  I did initially try to fold the cardstock, because I had nothing else in the right size, but when unfolded these provide ridges along the crease lines.  That may be desirable sometimes, but not all the time.  The up-side is that they’re not as fragile as folded origami paper; the midweight papers I found at the craft store are a nice compromise.

And in any case — I have a 12″x12″ Hardbord panel that I bought around Mother’s Day, which is just waiting to be primed and have the pattern transferred onto it via graphite transfer.  I’m thinking that if I do a series of these, I’ll want to get some Saral paper, just so that I won’t have to deal with messiness (graphite rubbing off of the back of the pattern in storage) and Glassine protective sheets or envelopes.  Though, I do have enough Glassine.

My only real concern…well, I have to come up with a color scheme.  It’s not like I have a lack of colors (especially where it comes to acrylics or colored pencils), but…the look of a piece changes drastically when the colors are changed.  It’s actually very striking.  But!  I do suppose that I can experiment with this!  I actually think this could be good material for a series of works.  With each new fold, the possibilities for execution multiply; with each line drawn, they focus and decrease.

While searching for the blog I was thinking of, above, I found a number of other sites with mandalas…which got me thinking about the use of a compass and protractor.  But, in time…

P.S. to myself:  Don’t forget about the 12″x12″ watercolor paper you got to use for color experiments, or alternately, watercolor painting of these designs.  They should help, prior to or instead of the Hardbord idea.