Finding out I actually like some tomatoes…

It’s kind of hard to believe these things are even tomatoes.  🙂  I tasted one yesterday and found it sweeter than the grapes I’d bought (I’m trying to break myself of the habit of tasting grapes in stores, though of course that means I get a lot of not-sweet grapes).


So these little guys, I found at a high-end produce market.  Apparently, it’s tomato season?

I woke up before my alarm again today (cracking the blinds helps so much, I can’t even express it), with a little bit of a sore throat.  D says it was probably from dry air.  I drank three glasses of water and went back to bed, and after about an hour snuggled up under the covers, I felt better.

When I finally did get up (I got tired of waiting expectantly for the alarm to go off after an hour and a half, and just got up early)…I ate some cereal and then washed off seven of these little things and ate them.  🙂  (Yes, I counted them.)  😀

The funny thing is that for years; I mean, a really long time — I would not touch a raw tomato.  Any raw tomato.  (Except in tabbouleh.)  I wouldn’t eat anything that had touched a cut tomato or its juices.  (Except in tabbouleh.)  I wouldn’t eat ketchup.  (I still don’t eat ketchup.)  But somehow I got started on heirloom tomatoes and these tiny cherry and grape tomatoes.  I think my first ones were the Sweet 100s that came out when I was …I’m guessing, in my late teens or early 20’s.  They have a really high sugar content.

I just looked up Sweet 100s on Google, and I think these guys I photographed here are probably them.  They are really super sweet.  They taste like fruit.  I got these little guys instead of the orange ones because last time we picked up orange grape tomatoes, the skins were a little tough.  These were the tiniest, though not the most fragrant, and I hoped (accurately) that they would be more tender.

And of course, you know, at the store, there was a display with all of these little tiny tomatoes of different varieties scattered around.  I picked this basket because I really wanted one that was in the center of the display, but I would have ruined the display!  Around here, they put the tomatoes into these little strawberry baskets all next to each other, and then seem to dump all the extra ones that won’t fit in the baskets, on top.  It looked like that.  (I didn’t have my camera, or I would hope to have photographed them.)

And then of course, it’s like, “how do I get these home without crushing them,” right?  Especially when the edge of the strawberry basket itself may bruise or cut something like this (when it inevitably spills little tomatoes over the side).  I think the paper bag I put them in cushioned them somewhat, though, and it helped that I had a flat spot on which to rest the basket.

I’m guessing I can say that it was tomatoes like these that got me to taste any kind of tomato at all…I’ve since tried some of the other varieties of cherry and grape tomatoes (which are generally easier for me to eat), and there are some larger ones — like the Bruno Rosso Heirloom variety — that I will sparingly eat.  I say “sparingly” because they usually end up pretty juicy.  It’s not that they’re bad, it’s just that I have a little trouble with the texture of the jelly around the seeds.  If they’re cut, though, even though I’m a picky eater, I will normally try these.  Because they’re good.  🙂

The tiny cherry tomatoes have the “squirt of jelly” thing going on, but the thing for me is that the jelly tastes frikken’ good.

Roma tomatoes, I’ll also eat, though I’m more forgiving with those because of the firmness, low jelly content and concentrated flavor.  I think the first thing I ever made with Romas was tabbouleh.  It just isn’t the same, without tomatoes.  And what I did to ease myself into that was to squeeze out all the seeds and jelly before cutting the flesh.  This made it a lot easier for me to eat.

I’m also, slowly, branching out into pico de gallo.  PICO DE GALLO, MAN!  IT’S SO GOOD!

I think what really turned me off to tomatoes early on was ketchup.  (I still don’t eat mayonnaise or mustard; I even scrape off excess barbecue sauce.  On the other hand, I can eat food prepared with fish sauce.  I don’t know what that says about me.)  I’m not sure if the reason I’m turned off to this is the vinegar (prior to the last five years, I would not eat vinegar except in dill pickles and sushi), or just the texture and the smell.  The smell of ketchup, to me, is pretty gross; but then again, I’ll eat pickled radish that makes the house reek of sulfur, so to each their own.  😉

And, yeah, I did start to eat vinegar, as well.  First it was just dill pickles and sushi, then it expanded to house pickles made with rice vinegar, and pepperoncini and marinated artichoke hearts (though the latter are hard for me to tolerate because of the vinegar, I love the artichoke flavor).  I’m on my way, I guess…

Speaking of which…hmm.  I should cut those vegetables.  And…I should get to sleep.  Hmm.  Sleep, first.  I’ve been up since daybreak…those Persian cucumbers can last another 12 hours, and I got a firmer daikon root yesterday…


Back on the mandala project…

Hey, so:  guess what I was doing last night instead of blogging?  🙂

I finally got back to work on the mandala project.  I was really more intrigued by the possibility of having drafted an image in Binary than anything…though at this point I’m unsure just what connection the number 2 (or rather, 1/2) has to what I’m doing.  I basically found a pad of graph paper and cut out an 8″x8″ square, then started folding.

I have yet to really analyze the lines, but you can see what I was doing by this image:

Updated version, with guidelines marked.
Updated version, with guidelines marked.

I marked out all the relevant folds on the original, then reproduced them on graph paper, and went over them in colored fineliner.  Amazingly, the Non-Photo Blue guidelines on this graph paper are actually (!) almost not showing up in the scan.  I didn’t even set the scanner to erase the background.

This isn’t the final version; it’s just the blueprint.  I went out earlier and picked up some 8″x8″ watercolor paper to trace this onto.  I was torn about what to do with this; I still haven’t used the 12″x12″ pad yet (same brand), so I don’t know how this will perform with my watercolors.  But the 8″x8″ pad cost as much as a roll of 1″ blue Painter’s Tape, so I figured I’d have a go at it.

I wanted to try stretching and taping the paper with Kraft paper tape, as I’d been apprised was an option; but I didn’t have the Kraft tape, and I’ve read online that it’s difficult to completely remove.  Even if the tape is removed successfully by rewetting it (it’s kind of like the glue on an envelope, water-activated), apparently the adhesive still remains on the painting.  The only options then are either to let the gum stick to the painting, cut the taped portion off, or try and wipe the glue off (which may endanger the painting).

I was also thinking maybe I could use 9″x12″ Watercolor paper, mount it dry on a piece of Hardbord, tape it with blue Painter’s Tape, and then paint on it, and after it was fully dry, remove the Painter’s Tape.  (I’ve found that papers that buckle may flatten themselves out again if they’re taped down).  But I may not be going wet enough — or large enough — with this, to really require that.

The reason for any of this concern about mounting is that watercolor papers may buckle if they get too wet…and I don’t want to have to iron my painting.  The paper I got is attached to a block on two sides, but I still read that people experienced buckling with it.

What I did do was get Saral paper, which is a greaseless, reusable transfer paper.  I figure I may be doing enough of these, to merit it.

I’ll put the rest of this in a different post.

Taking care of myself feels good.

All right!  So I’m feeling a bit better today.  🙂

This is due to a number of factors…one, I actually did the load of laundry that really needed to be done.  Two, I helped out majorly with dinner (this was making one of my gigantic salads [some kind of red lettuce that I found a living snail within [!], spinach, carrots, cucumber, sweet cherry tomatoes, and radishes], and prepping potatoes to bake).  Three, I went outside of the house today, meaning I had a reason to take care of hygeine (and did).  Four, I slept with the blinds open enough so that I actually woke up at about 7:15 or 7:30, which is my earliest wake time — and what I’ll need to adjust to, tomorrow.

I actually woke up three times:  about 7:30, about 9:30, and about 1:30.  I was somewhat upset that I didn’t get up when my alarm went off around 9 AM (as I was alert enough to have gotten up then, just not in the habit of doing so), but I still had time to make it to the art store and back.  (Not to mention, we were able to go to a good market and I got a bubble tea.)  I had hoped to get more done with my art project, today, seeing that I have another weekend of work coming up.

I have figured, though, that if I’m going to be spending a lot of time on my blog, it helps to have things to blog about.  🙂  And if I’m going to keep up with an art blog, it helps to be making art!

And like I was telling M earlier, when I hit a spell where I’m a little intimidated to work on art, it actually helps to do chores and cook.  Especially where it comes to the cooking.  I want to learn to do more, as it really helps me out when there’s no one else to prepare food, and it makes me feel good to have the food as a kind of enjoyable creation.  🙂  Plus…I like being able to eat things that are good for me, as versus pre-made stuff.

I do still need to prep the pickles, if I’m going to pickle the daikon and cucumber (there may be too few carrots to do so, now) — but those are ready overnight.  (Not that I should take them to work, or anything… >_>;; …they tend to smell really bad, even though they taste really good.)

The two other major things that I want/need to do relatively soon:  change the sheets on my bed, and do some sit-ups.

But yes, I’m feeling better.  And to the person who posted “Men on Books” the other day on their blog:  thank you so much for that!  It was awesome.  😀

Looking ahead:

Ah, ha.  Yes, I do remember what I was going to write about.

I’ve been reading in a book on careers for Art majors.  Graphic Novelist was in there; unfortunately, the book was not very helpful when it came to what kind of a living one might be able to make out of being a Graphic Novelist.  I can remember:

Salary: $0–$100,000/year

Opportunities for Advancement:  Poor

I should really probably re-read that thing, but I think it does need to be said that if one is a Graphic Novelist and manages to make a living off of it, they’re probably going to become better and more experienced at it as time goes on.  So even if their job title doesn’t change, the work should increase in quality.  However, I have heard that one does need a stable second job to do this.

This is the same book I was speaking of, here.  Of course, though, I think I noted that the copyright date was 2006? so it was right in the middle of the manga rush.  I am fairly certain that there were no predictions I read of which passed 2012.

And, I suppose, I do have the advantage of having a Creative Writing degree already.  It would seem that with this and my drawing skill, I should be able to do something well, but as always, I need to familiarize myself with what’s out there now, first.  I do presently have Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi here, so I can start working on this, now.

But, I guess, now I know why my Drawing teacher looked worried when I told her about planning to take Scriptwriting and work on the script produced therein for Special Projects.  I’m thinking that I need to be putting less weight on the name of the class when I decide to take it (as Scriptwriting was scriptwriting for film and animation [not graphic novels], and Communications was talking [not visual communications or nonverbal communications or anything of the sort]).

I do have a couple of ideas for Special Projects; I have about a month to flesh them out.  One of them is an extension of the mandala project.  I’m not so sure about this, now that I’ve found that all the lines I can make based on dividing something by two has the possibility (however hazy) of conforming to Base 2.  I’m not sure, though.

It would seem (to my mind, which hasn’t taken a math class where it knew what it was doing since before 2005) that every possibility for a linear function which may be represented by a midway crease in square paper…would be a function based on multiplication or division by two, if not itself being a power of 2.  (Haha!  Negative or fractional exponents?)  Thus, without going into outright origami, I’m basically much more limited in my guidelines than I thought I was.  (However, I can go into outright origami; I’ve especially considered the bases, like Diamond Base; though Diamond Base is pretty boring, when unfolded.)

Now that I’ve done a tiny bit of research on this, though; Base 2 (or Binary) is also what the Yi Jing is based on, so there’s a possibility that I might be able to incorporate meanings of Yin and Yang into my mandalas via utilizing the Yi Jing.  I’ve heard that the Wilhelm translation is best.

There is also the possibility of getting back into math to the extent that I can decipher the formulae of my creases…if I’m right, it’s all linear algebra, but I’m not sure I have the skills to decode it.  (Graph paper should help…maybe I can make a square based on a power of 2 and try folding it?)

The other possibility, which has been inspired by Kimberly (unbeknownst to her), 😛 is to go into either poetry or prose generation, and work on drawings inspired by the poems.

Then there is also the possibility of developing that original graphic-novel seed with the pearl diver.  That, in turn, is inspired by gem lore, which is one of the things I liked as a kid and which contributed to my mineral collection.  I have done some experiments with psychometry, which is essentially what my pearl-diving character does (not in a carnival sense, but in a sense of gaining imagery through energetically interacting with an item, then giving that imagery form through art).

And just for my own notes, the psychometry is what inspired the interest in paleontology; as I got a hit from a silicic “reconstituted quartz” orb, which was not entirely benign.  I haven’t yet pinned down the cause of it, more than that it may have been made of charged material (fossil) or may have been charged in manufacture (the suffering of the worker[s] who made it); nor do I want to, at this point.

I’m thinking that this may be a bit dangerous to be doing just for the sake of creating images.  I have at least two stones that are intriguing to me because of the effect they’ve had on me, this way.  The first was the above orb; the second was a pyrite sample which I brought home to study.  Both had discordant energy; I assume the second was charged at some point, rather than naturally being “off”.  It was really obviously different from the other pyrite samples, though I suppose it could have been from a different source, as well.

Pyrite itself (iron sulfide) is supposed to be a protective stone (amazingly enough, sulfur itself is supposed to be protective [–! really? brimstone?]), but I can’t remember if that’s because it absorbs and slows down energy, or if it is supposed to work in a different manner.  I’ve got resources I could look at, though.

From what I’ve been taught, energies which may harm me can’t harm me unless I invite them in.  School projects are a relatively stupid reason to invite them in (at least, if the class is not for me, but for a grade), and if any of this is real, the minerals are in most cases much older than myself.  Not really something to toy with.

I’ve had to defend myself psychically before, at least in a subjective sense.  It isn’t really fun.  I’d probably really have to be on it with the meditation, and honing my energy-working skills should help, as well.  (I know that the latter is doing something, because I get psychosomatic effects in body temperature — particularly the hands and feet.)  Problem is, the latter can lead to curiosity from “astral wildlife,” which is probably unwanted.  On the other hand, doing this will likely have the greater effect of reconnecting me with my spirits, and that would likely be good for my art…just not good where it comes to appearing sane.  😉

I do suppose that I could try and counsel with my spirits — I’ve just remembered that I kind of do have a protective team going on here.  I’ve just not really touched that part of my life, for a while.  The first poem I wrote here was the first direct contact with any of my spirits that I’d had in a really long time.  I can tell because it was turned on for the duration of the writing, and then it was turned off.  I have to make the choice to turn the flow on again, if I want it.  That one guy has a really strong presence, though (and I’m pretty familiar with him), which could be why I gravitated to him as versus one of the others.

I am aware that what I could be turning on and off, my reader(s) may call something else…but I’ve not really seen the process of creativity well-explained.  So I basically create my own system.  I’m not really certain it’s better than absolutely not knowing, but it’s probably better than thinking you may be on to something, and stopping yourself from pursuing the idea because of “what other people might think…”

Self care. yes?

Having gone without practice at making art for so long, I’m beginning to doubt myself.  At this point, reading books on color mixing are a bit overwhelming for me.  I have painted before, but this was when I was younger and I was using mostly prismatic colors with limited mixing.  I also hadn’t been exposed so much to super-effective artwork like I have been, recently.  I wasn’t aware at the time that my taking a class in color dynamics (at least five years ago) was as high-level as it registered to my last prof…

I did skim a book on color mixing today which looks interesting, but much above my level.  This is a book by Stephen Quiller, called Painter’s Guide to Color.  A quick check reveals that he’s done far more than this book, but I will probably not get into that, as I haven’t read any of his other works.

This book, however, is more in the line of what I was looking for in the last one.  Speaking of which, I’m about 60% through Barron’s Practical Handbook of Color for Artists, but I decided not to weigh myself down with that one so much, today.

I…am thinking that I may be overwhelming myself.  There’s so much that I could be doing, but because there’s so much, I’m hesitant to start on any of it.  (This is also a perennial trip-up when I fall behind in schoolwork.) There are a couple of art projects in-progress (the mandala project and a monochrome trial in markers that I wanted to do as regards illustration), one recently started jewelry project, working in the career-counseling workbook, reading about jobs in writing, reading about jobs in art, reading about job-hunting, work on the graphic-novel script, and the ever-present Japanese language study.

I had actually thought of giving the suminagashi another try, because I finally did get my Sumifactant, but it was oppressively hot today, and I didn’t have the energy.  I say this even though I did perk up when people were in the house, which leads me to think that a portion of this is psychological.  I’m sure that part of this is linked to sedation, though.  I could reduce my most sedating medication, but it’s a crap shoot as to whether I’d become more active and thus, more fulfilled and happier; or whether I’ve been so depressed already that I’d have a serious relapse.

I’m thinking, maybe, that it would help to have some kind of system for prioritizing what I want or need to do.  The first two things are easy:

  1. change bedsheets
  2. do laundry

    …those two things I should definitely get done before Friday.  I say “the first two things,” but really there are several that come before this.

  3. eat
  4. take medication
  5. brush teeth
  6. wash face
  7. shave
  8. get dressed

    …in that order.  I note these down because when I don’t have anything pressing to do, I often neglect self-care…when I should really be doing these things for myself, not so much for other people.  After these six and the first two are taken care of:

  9. clean bathroom counter/sinks
  10. dust/vacuum computer room, vanity, and bedroom

    This should give me concrete activities I can do to wake up and stay busy, while preparing to do creative work.  I recall that the last time I was stalled like this, doing chores like cleaning and cooking actually helped.

    Now, the difficult part…trying to prioritize which of the “fun tasks” to work on, first.

  11. grate/soak daikon/carrot/cucumber in rice vinegar + sugar (they’ll spoil)
  12. work on mandala project (defining folds; preparing 12″x12″ paper to copy smaller model onto; redraw mandala onto 12″x12″ paper; if this is satisfactory, gesso Hardbord panel; trace linework onto gessoed panel).  or
  13. work on the drawing I started but didn’t finish, which is on my desk right now with all the Copics and fineliners.  Once the underdrawing is satisfactory, use the Marker paper and trace drawing through with Microns.  Attempt coloring with the Copics on the Marker paper.  or
  14. get out the old newspapers, cover the craft table, and play around with suminagashi printing in multiple colors.

    If I ask myself which of these I feel more ready to do though, I’d say the marker sketch, then suminagashi, then mandala (I still haven’t gotten the color placement down for that…which I just realized I can experiment with on Photoshop, using multiple Layers.  Prior to doing any of the work on [12] above, I should see what kind of coloring will work out OK).

    After one of the above is done…

  15. Work in the career-counseling workbook (You Majored in What?)…and by this time, I’ll probably have to start another cycle.

I’ll put the rest of this in another post.

Reading an “okay” book…

I’m in the middle of reading a book I found at random a while ago, called The Practical Handbook of Color for Artists.  This one is put out by Barron’s, which is a publishing house I’m familiar with from their books on jewelry making (like The Art of Soldering for Jewelry Makers and The Complete Jewelry Making Course).

Like a lot of these books which seem to promise to cover everything (“the only book on this topic you’ll ever need to read!” — this book doesn’t say that, but the gist is exceedingly common among nonfiction books and nearly always untrue)…the coverage is sparse.  It’s enough to give one a taste of what one may be getting into, but it’s lacking something.  I guess what I’m getting at is that the book feels “commercial”; i.e. meant to sell to a specific target market; not necessarily meant to help the target market all that much.  If you don’t tell people what they need to know, after all, maybe they’ll keep buying your books in vain to try to answer their unanswered questions.

By accident, I ran across three other books in a different area which focus on color for painters.  They’re under a different call number, even though the topics would seem to be the same as the one I’m reading, from the titles.  I’m hoping that the latter will do more to help than just kind of inspire/intimidate/overwhelm, which is the current book is doing.  I’m just thinking that there is a lot of talk about technicalities, but not about why someone would want to paint at all.  Nor are there examples of artwork which I can recall from that book which seem like they mean anything.  The heart just seems to have been stripped out of it.  Neutrality = marketability plus?  (did that Marketing course jade me?)

Given that, the good part is that I didn’t buy the book, and that I don’t have to.

At the State Fair, I was more attracted to the drawings and paintings than to the photographs.  It would seem like photography is a much easier route than painting…but then I’ve just started out with my little inexpensive automatic digital camera.  (I only got into Painting because I’m interested in Illustration, and using paints will save a lot of grief over not having enough ready-mixed colors; plus, it’s a degree requirement.)  This is not the same thing as pro photography.  I’ve seen some highly impactful photography, a lot of it online and in books.  This was largely not what I saw at the Fair.  Most of what I saw at the fair were small black and white prints placed so high that they were out of the general public’s view.

The reference that comes to mind is that people think that shelving library materials is easy, anyone can do it, and they want to save us time, so they try to do it themselves — and extremely often, they put it in the wrong place.  Meaning we don’t know where it is, sometimes they can’t remember where it is, and no one can find it without combing through all of the stacks, item by item.  Eventually the book goes Missing (or Lost, if someone didn’t Return it, and then put it on the shelf in the wrong place), until one of us finds and recovers it, or reshelves it in a findable manner.  We don’t get paid very much for our attention to detail and ability to shelve in numerical + alphabetical order while paying attention to New titles and owning branch, maintaining accuracy for long periods of time…but apparently not everyone has the skill.

All that to say, I know it sounds like photography is easy to do, but in reality I know that there is a lot I don’t know.  I’ve also got to remember that photography is a relatively new field where it comes to the Visual Arts; digital photography, especially.  (For me, this somewhat calls up memories of old-school silversmithing versus CAD/CAM…though there is some other memory that I’m having a hard time recalling right now…possibly Digital Imaging in comparison to traditional media.)

I never took non-digital photography classes, because of concern over chemical hazards…but with things moving digital, I kind of don’t need to have that concern anymore.  I’d still think that large-format images would probably be better handled using traditional media — just because the setup for printing something very large would be expensive.  Utilizing traditional media takes specialized skills…question is, really whether it’s worth enough to me to spend hours, days, years, to hone and maintain those skills.

Like, is it worth it to manually Posterize a photograph?  You know?

I’ve gained one useful bit of information from the book I’m reading now…and that is to lighten (or darken) hues with other hues within the same color family which are lighter (or darker) in value, in order to raise (or lower) the value of the color without decreasing saturation or luminosity.  Only use white or black to lighten or darken as a last resort.

Annnd…I probably just alienated a lot of the non-painters out there.  😛  Unintentional!  Really.

It probably doesn’t matter that much if you know what I’m talking about, though; it’s arcane and only matters if you’re drawing or painting.  I’m likely to explain if you ask in the comments and are probably-not-a-spammer.  😉