I’m thinking that I actually do have a lot to offer an employer.

Actually.

I’m actually really glad that I’ve been working through this book, You Majored in What?  No, they aren’t paying me.  But I’m actually seeing themes coming up as regards who I am, and what is important to me.  The premise of the book is based on Chaos Theory; basically, that things look disordered from close range, but back up far enough, and order begins to be able to be seen.

What it actually means is that 1) I may not actually need Library school, but if I don’t go, I need to orient myself somehow, somewhere, so that my skills are being put to use instead of being dormant or unused.  It also means that 2) it isn’t the end of the world if I try for the Master’s and don’t make it.  The point is to try, because it will give me options down the road that I won’t have if I don’t.

But it isn’t the end of the world to not be able to be a Librarian.  I can still try for something else.  I do have an identity; I am talented; I have high integrity…which is what has kept me from excelling more at my present job (I try and tell people the truth, as versus say something which I’m not sure is true for convenience).  If I don’t make it with Library Science, I can still try for something art- or writing-related (or art and writing related).

I already know that I’m good at Art, and have proficiency at Digital Imaging.  I also know that I don’t want to have my works wholly produced upon the computer.  If I don’t get a job at the Library, Digital Printmaking and Digital Imaging are both tracks which could lead to a job (though, I’m thinking, probably not a steady job, at least for a while — unless I work for a Graphic Design firm).  Or I could be a staff writer, while I build my skills in Art.  As things stand, once I find groups I’d like to work for, based on my own interests, it should be easier to see where to go from here.

And I should note that my last entry will work very well for a portfolio piece.

I do also note that I know a lot of people who are underemployed…

I think I’ll get offline now and work some more in this career book.  It’s already 9:30, and although I don’t have to be out early tomorrow, I should start settling down…

I’m thinking that I actually do have a lot to offer an employer.

Why college?

It’s a big shift from going from just working part-time to doing that and schoolwork on top of it.  At a certain point, one does question why they’re still in school…like, why put oneself through the pressure?  But as writing this has shown me, I actually have gained a lot from being educated that, I suppose, I haven’t seen the absence of in others to the possible extent it may exist.

On the Art topic?  I have five days to complete what I will complete for my first portfolio in Special Projects in Drawing.

I’m in the process of finalizing a pretty beautiful mandala, and am kind of itching to post it online, once I’ve presented it.  The reason I haven’t posted it yet is that I’m not certain whether what I turn in has to be work which is not yet copyrighted, or not, though as I’m the copyright holder…yeah, you can see where I’m at.  Probably the only thing I would need to do to clear that up would be to log into the platform at which I published it, but I’d rather just…wait.  I guess.

I also (!) just realized that instead of embarking on a third design, I can polish up the first one.  With the second mandala I am in the process of making, I’ve begun to use colored pencil to alter the hues laid down from the watercolor paint in the background.  It’s turned into something I never really considered or dreamed of making, though this is a good thing.

I’m thinking that both of my Painting sessions next week will be taken up with field trips.  I meant to confirm today whether they would both be to the Arboretum, or whether one slot goes to the museum I visited last week (with a different class).  I know we have to visit both; I’m just uncertain of the timing.

And, really…something’s been on my mind, recently.

This has largely been the, “why am I still in school,” question.  Right now I have a Bachelor’s degree — after Spring I should have an Associate’s — and after that, within three years, I’ll need to obtain my Master’s (if I don’t want to repeat my original classes at Library school).  I have also been working in the career workbook that I keep mentioning here — which is honestly really helping, even though I’m 10 years away from the awarding of my Bachelor’s, at this point, so I don’t have a clear idea anymore of what my specialization specialized me towards.  Literary analysis?  Critical thinking?  Attention to detail?  All of these things factored in.

What I’ve had to do as regards this is factor in all of my postsecondary schooling, not simply my “English — Creative Writing” degree.  Before I was an English major, I was a Social Sciences major, specifically within Sociology, so I had to take Statistics, and there were other Soft Sciences courses in there, as well as courses that had me doing things like reading The Communist Manifesto.  (This was more political than not, but then, Sociology is really very political, as it examines how the mechanisms of power constrain a society and how individual agency can morph it within those constraints.  Probably because it causes people to question the structures of power, there aren’t many well-paying jobs in Sociology.)  Before that, I believe that I was aiming for Geology.  I was into Earth Sciences as a kid, but ducked out when I realized that the high-paying jobs in Geology were with Big Oil.

I wouldn’t say that my time in school has been wasted, though my own gains have likely taken place through understanding better the society that I live in.  I think I have, and am gaining more of, a view of my society which causes me to question things like the centrality of television, and the prison-industrial complex, and politics writ large (and small).  If I hadn’t tried to major in American Indian Studies (I couldn’t, it was too painful), I wouldn’t have known about all the ways the U.S. government has %#$&ed people over, and not cared that they were doing so.  Then, I would not have been prepared to hear the voices of Latinx people in my own society, or prepared to have heard stories about the U.S. involvement in the politics of Latin America, which is very likely the key reason why people from the U.S. aren’t respected very much there.

I’m not even going to get into the U.S. occupation of Hawaii…I seriously have no idea why the country would find the most beautiful and pristine places on the planet and then test nuclear bombs there.  It’s just really angering.

If I were going to get deeper into this, I might riff off of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and say that it’s possible that Christianity, with its belief in a paradisaical afterlife (or alternately, everlasting damnation) which is SOMEWHERE ELSE than this Earth on which we live, does not prepare people well to care for the Earth past the point at which it can be exploited for present-day gain.  That is, cultures which believe that we will continue to exist upon the Earth — or not, whichever we choose to grasp — have more of a motive to care for the planet than people who think it’s a temporary holding cell to be discarded forever after this lifetime.

Okay, so yes, I am a little bit angry.  I watched a good deal of A Fierce Green Fire in my Art class, today, and I know from having been around — especially having been around the jewelry community — that this stuff is real.  It’s the reason that the group Ethical Metalsmiths was founded, because metal extraction, particularly gold extraction, does horrifically bad things to the environment, though other metals are implicated there, too.  Particularly gold extraction, though…gods, do I even want to get into it?

It might be dangerous for me to get into it, here — but here’s a link to the organization that got me in on this.  I’ll leave it there for you, with the note that it’s possible to find a lot of information on this in library subscription databases.

But yes, my work in Creative Writing and my work in the Art program are overlapping a good deal, though there is more critical thinking done in the Art classes than was required in Writing.  Amazingly.  I should say that Creative Writing is more like a Studio Art concentration, whereas English is more like an Art History concentration — I had to take both.  Both Studio Art and Creative Writing hinge on what the author or artist brings to the table, and neither are worth much, by themselves.

What I can see happening with my current Art practice is a reinforcement of what I learned in Creative Writing, though the mediums are very different.  I’m still learning idea generation and nurturing.  I’m still practicing at bringing something to the stage where it can be presented with some modicum of skill.  I’m still practicing freaking revision, for crying out loud.  Seriously, the fields overlap.  And just as there is storytelling in Creative Writing, there’s also storytelling in Art — it’s just sent and decoded differently.  Art is on a much more primal level, and a much more immediate one.

Whether or not someone can read in English; if they can see, there is a chance that my message will get through.  If I were a sculptor, so long as someone could touch and feel, there would be a chance that the message would get through.  I can see art made by people who likely (or definitely) did not speak English, and I still feel things.  You know?  It feels much more democratic to me.

Though — as versus English — with Art, I do have an interest in the medium, itself.  English is useful where it comes to conveying ideas within English-speaking groups (who do not have the last word on what is true about the world, let me make clear).  However, I don’t have an attachment to the form of it.  Art, for me — there is a kind of fascination with the form, and how the message gets across.  It could be that I’ve just polished my English skills so much that it isn’t difficult for me anymore, and so the challenge isn’t there (except when I try to read Judith Butler, or something); and without the challenge, the interest wanes…though I am not certain.

What I know is that prose fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry (at least some of it; I’m not too well versed in poetry!) — they all hinge on narratives.  The active element is the character on the page, in their world.  The story — the narrative — of what happens to that character, and how they respond, forms the basis of interest in the story (to me, at least), and as such, it is the action of the protagonist(s) through which meaning seems to be conveyed.

Art — at least, non-sequential art — curiously, seems to divulge meanings in very different ways (and yes, very much in more than one way).  This is the major reason that I’m looking at going into Fine Art or Illustration at this point, with my main job being somehow library-related.  It doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on narrative fiction or on the idea of being a Graphic Novelist, but I am not sure I have the nerves to convey meaning through drama.  I identify too closely with (all of) my characters (though it would only be the dullest who would suggest that I actually am them.  I am actually them in the same way as I am actually you).

In contrast, conveying meaning through art draws me into a more peaceful space, as versus the agitated one I seem to get into when I try and make everything about “action,” and every action about “conflict.”  Because then, what happens is that I am putting myself into imaginary conflict to make an imaginary choice that has imaginary consequences, and I have enough to deal with without engaging that engine.  Seriously, I don’t know why anyone would do that to themselves; like just living doesn’t have enough problems on its own, gotta make some more.

Not to insult the authors on my list.  🙂  But I find I can’t tolerate it, at this point.  Maybe others have different understandings of the dynamics which are not so harsh.

But anyhow, I’ve gotten to the age where I’ve realized that I don’t have to engage this engine, just in order to say something.  And maybe, just being more direct about it is the superior option, for me.  At least then, I will know what I’m doing, and why, and what my actual foe is, and why.  And the battle will be real, not imagined.

I’m going for the Library Science Master’s in order to be able to obtain long-term gainful employment in a field I can believe in, though it is very apparent that it is a field that needs thinkers like myself.  Without people like me within the ranks, the system will not evolve, and it will remain a middle-class white woman’s job, with the perspective of same.  Which was, in fact, a large part of the reason I withdrew.

But what is the path laid out for people of color?  Hey, you can be a janitor or garbage man?  You can take care of my kids?

Anyone who says the caste system does not exist in the U.S. is lying.  It’s just that the rules of who is in which caste are not hard and fast, and they seem to be defined by intersecting oppressions, not simply one alone.

Not surprised that the teachers and librarians are the first to be killed in a revolution.

Why college?

Using digital proficiency to support fine art…the computer is a very useful tool.

Work on the mandala project has been proceeding slower than expected.  In large part this is due to having had the greyscale painting due, last week.  Because I’m still a little skittish after having posted my initial one or two mandalas and actually inspiring people (it was kind of scary, I’m not kidding), especially with the copyleft thing, I’m going to keep what I’m working on offline, at least for now.  After I submit it, I may post it; that should be in two weeks.

What I can talk about, though…there are a couple of things that came to me last night, which I probably should split into different posts.  As things stand, I won’t be able to speak about them all tonight.

The mandala I’m working on is…interesting to me, kind of content-wise and process-wise.  Last night, I finished the inking on it and erased the marks of the Saral (in my case, graphite transfer) paper away.  I nearly started to fill it in with graphite shading, then remembered the incident with the acrylic painting I posted a day or so ago:  that is, not having a record of the most basic stages of composing an image.  So I erased the little bit of shading that I’d started (I used a relatively new Prismacolor kneadable eraser, though I really like the General’s brand better — they’re just harder to find), and got my camera.

This image is on 14″x17″ paper, so it was too large to fit on my scanner.  What I did that night was photograph it, upload the photos, then copy the easiest photo to edit.  I found the “Skew” tool in Photoshop and was successfully able to use it to even out the slightly odd camera angle at which I took the picture.  This was actually really great, because it’s still hard for me to get a flat-on, nondistorted shot.  What I was able to do was use Skew to un-skew my image.

I then cropped the image, and probably straightened it out (the crop area can be rotated by hovering near one of the corner crop marks).  Today I had to do some work to avoid “Snap to Grid” happening at the crop marks (which is what it’s called in MS Excel; I don’t know what it’s called on Photoshop), by expanding the canvas size to a slightly larger number of pixels and then cropping.  After this was done, I saved the image as a separate file to avoid damaging anything else.  (Today, when I retried this with better light, I used the smallest grid size to center the image as perfectly as I could — something I was concerned about because when I copied this image over by hand, I wasn’t thinking of using the whole page.  Then, later, I wanted to — when it started to grow beyond its bounds.)

Then I started playing around with Levels — I had not ever worked with the individual color channels the way I did last night.  The black point and white point are best set at the very ends of the graph curves illustrated, and I did this separately for all three channels (R, G, and B), and then tweaked the default grey points to achieve the most neutral tone I could.

After that was done, I could tweak the main channel (RGB) and make sure the image looked OK.  I ended up screwing around with this for a while, trying to eliminate excess color on the white background.  After a while, I just stopped and moved on to Brightness + Contrast, which enabled me to darken my ink marks and try and lighten the remains of background color as best I could.

Save again.  Different file name.

Then it was time to resize the image.  I set this to 600 dpi (dots per inch; a print variable, or a resolution variable where it comes to ppi [points per inch] — they’re the same thing, but print and web resolutions are vastly different), and resized the image (under Image Size) to just under 8″x10″ (though I forget the exact dimensions).  “Image Size” resizes the entire working area.  “Canvas Size” resizes the viewing area.

After that, I saved again.  Different file name.

I believe that at this point, I modified the Printer properties to “Best” quality and to print in Black and White using black ink only, and printed.  AMAZING.

AMAZING.

I had used a (heavily used) Micron 005 pen to ink the finest lines in the center of this image, with my heaviest lines being a (non-broken-in; it matters, I found) Micron 5 at the edges of the page.  I didn’t think they would turn out to be as freakin’ delicate as they did when I ended up resizing the image to fit on an 8.5″x11″ piece of paper.  Remember, this is something like 14″x17″ sized down to nearly 8″x10″, so it’s really appreciably shrunken.  Everything looks more delicate.  My inking looks more precise.  You can’t even tell that the Micron 005’s tip is widening with use.

Though I should note, that I also realized that inking just to one side or another of a line does influence how the finished line aligns with the rest of the drawing, without showing (at least at this point) how much any misplaced lines were edited at all.  I’ve been concerned about incised lines (from tracing on top of my original, through the Saral paper, with a 2H pencil) showing up in a final colored pencil drawing, so this was something I was watching for.  But even the slight misalignments (from my paper shifting during the transfer process) were really not visible once I’d downsized the image.

As I said above, I tried this again today with natural (filtered, evening) lighting, and it turned out better, for some reason…the focus of the camera was different.  The image was sharper.  I’m using my camera on “Auto”, and did not think to check which mode was being used when the picture was taken.  In any case, the image was much clearer, especially around the edges.  After altering the Levels and Contrast + Brightness and then printing, it was also apparent that even with the remains of color that I saw in the background (I couldn’t eliminate them all…I might be able to, though, if I mess with the Levels enough — I wonder about Curves, but can’t remember what they do), the daylit image is much sharper and a little brighter than the artificially-lit one.

At this point, looking at what I can do this way with linework, and having seen the outcome of my most recent attempts at using transparent black watercolor to create a monochrome, shaded image (which may be called “grisaille”, but I’m not sure), I’m really thinking that I could work at this if I wanted to make a ‘zine or comic, draw it large-scale, then photograph it and tweak it in Photoshop, then print and bind it at 8.5″x11″.  It’s this that has got me thinking about taking InDesign next semester, which would replace Modern Art History for that one open slot.  I have experience with both Photoshop and Illustrator, but not InDesign, and I’ll need all three of them if I want to make a ‘zine and not make it hard on myself.

Wow.  Okay.  Can’t believe I got all that out.  If you made it this far, congratulations.  I wish I’d done this before as regards the process I went through to make the original image, in the first place…  Right now, what needs to be done?  I’m in the process of shading in one of my printouts with graphite in order to create value placement (I needed something to do that was portable, today), and I need to decide what colors go where — and then put them there.

I still have my original master copy of the mandala that I traced onto the Wet Media paper (this is the large, 14″x17″ paper).  I’m thinking of working this one in ink pencil (permanent once dry) and watercolor pencil (not permanent once dry), turning that into wash, then going over the top of the washed areas with colored pencil.  The thing with the Wet Media paper, though, is that it really obviously buckles with too much water.  I can try to control for this by taping it down to a piece of hardboard…but I don’t know if it will work.

I’m thinking of taking my original and re-tracing it out onto the 12″x12″ watercolor block for hardcore work with watercolors.  But I really only have about 1.5 weeks to work on this, prior to critique.  As things stand, I may only have two finished pieces to critique, because so much of my work has been working out how to do the process, and how to get to the point I want to be at.  There is also the insane amount I was sleeping because of the sedation issue, about two to three weeks ago, as well…but I’m very certain my teacher understands.

As things stand with the medical stuff — I am really wanting to get off of the medication that’s making me gain weight (it’s the same one which is supposed to help me stay awake), and see if I can control the oversleeping via just taking my medication at, say, 7 PM instead of 10 PM.  Now that I know that there’s a world of difference between the two, it’s possible that I’ll be able to handle it by just not giving in to the urge to stay up late…

Using digital proficiency to support fine art…the computer is a very useful tool.

Assignment #2, Painting, finished.

Nominally finished, but needs some work.
30″x24″; acrylic on canvas.  Nominally finished, but is obviously, to me, imperfect.

I suppose I can write a little bit about this… I’ve realized that when working with still-lifes, it’s best to take my camera every session I have.  This composition sprung out of a one-time-only combination of lighting and arrangement.  Trust me — I tried to reproduce it at home, and couldn’t.  I kept arranging things differently without noticing (particularly the orientation of the jewelry), kept lighting things differently (my closest photo is lit from the other side), etc.

I thought I would be able to work off of my thumbnail drawing/watercolor:

Watercolor version of above still-life.
Watercolor version of above still-life, probably close to 11″x9″.

…which captured what I saw which would be effective, but happened to abbreviate certain key details (like the exact reflections on the paintbrush and jewelry).  I actually forgot to put the reflection of the captive-ball-ring into the paintbrush, in the finished image.

The background is actually the cover of a journal, though the pattern itself is recessed — not raised, as I thought it was.  If I’d had a good photo, I probably would have been able to differentiate between what is different just to mark a difference, and what I was actually seeing.  The cover itself is black-on-black, and I changed it in the final painting because…well, black-on-black.

Luckily, my noticing of all the errors will probably help me going into the future, so long as I can avoid being pessimistic about them and about my ability.

As a note to myself, I have several other watercolor thumbnails that I’m not posting, because any one of them could be turned into a pretty good painting.  I’m just trying not to give away all my good stuff, here.  🙂

The major thing I took away from the critique was to add texture in the background and to the flat areas, as I think the reviewers (one student and the prof) were thinking that the watercolor was stronger than the acrylic.  I’m fairly certain this is the case, as well…large canvases are more difficult for me than small works, and I was painting from the watercolor, not from reality or a photo, when I did the canvas.

I’m also getting way better at watercolor, and this is likely nothing but a good thing…

Assignment #2, Painting, finished.

This project is nearly finished, thank the spirits.

Quick note:

I realized that it was my method of application, and not the inherent opacity or translucency of the Titanium White that pretty much made the difference as to whether my whites-over-Slate-Grey turned out weak and thinned, or dense and opaque.

I used a hog-bristle flat brush which was between 3/4″ and 7/8″ long, yesterday, and a different method of application.  I wet the brush, then picked up the white, then worked the pigment on the palette so that it wasn’t goopy (I have Heavy Body acrylics), then applied the paint, then repeated the process once the brush ran dry.

The hog bristle was much softer and more absorbent than the synthetic I was using the previous day (I think it was my 1/2″ flat), and because the bristles were longer and more flexible, they held a better pigment load.  The only drawback is that that brush is better used in a more expressive and loose manner; because of the flexibility of the bristles, the flat fanned out relatively easily, when pressure was applied to it.

I’ve also found that acrylics don’t like to come out of the “flags” (split tips) of hog-bristle brush hairs.  I’m told to save hog bristle brushes for oil painting, because acrylics eat up the brushes, but I’m not sure if the person telling me this differentiated between the ground being painted on (she favors plywood and murals) as versus the formulation of the paint used.  Time will tell, I guess — because I’m not jumping to oil paints any time soon, unless they’re water-soluble oils.  (Such a thing does exist!)

I am very nearly finished with this painting.  The only things left to do are to add a highlight where I forgot to replace it after overpainting, and to continue the painting around the sides of the canvas.  Originally, I was irritated when I gessoed this canvas, because I was a bit too fast and flipped it over while the gesso was still damp.  This caused debris from the school easel to become permanently affixed to one edge of the canvas.  However, after painting over the edges of the thing, I also painted over the debris, so it really isn’t visible anymore, anyway.

I would have taken a photo, but the paint was still too wet, and I’m kind of not loving this project.  In the next project we get to use color again, though, so there is that.  Sometime later this week, I will definitely have to photograph my work, and at this point I’m not feeling too bad about it (unlike when I brought the sketch to work on it in the studio, on Monday).

I also got my image transfer worked out where it comes to my next mandala; I can work on inking it after dinner, I think.

This project is nearly finished, thank the spirits.

Still-life in progress…

The still-life painting I’m working on, which must be finished by Wednesday morning?  I took a photo.  Let me show you it.  😉

Greyscale still life, in progress.
Greyscale still life, in progress.

It looked a lot worse this morning.  At that time, I had the background covered in gesso and a sketch mostly done in white charcoal, plus some of the whitest areas painted in, but that was all.

I can see why our professor wants us to work on easels instead of on a flat surface, like a table — it gives much more freedom of movement.  There are some distortions here which I can see, which probably came from sketching the underdrawing out while the canvas was laying down.  Easels allow the canvas to be laid out in front of one’s body, so that the arc of the sweep of one’s hand doesn’t have to interfere and be corrected for, when drawing straight lines across the canvas.  If I’d done this on an easel, I would have been able to move my entire body so that my lines wouldn’t be unintentionally altered by working flat.

I can also see some errors that are jumping out at me here (particularly with perspective), which I didn’t see in the watercolor version.  (Our prof has us make at least 3-4 thumbnails playing with layout, viewpoint, lighting, etc., then develop one of those thumbnails into a watercolor painting, then take the watercolor painting and transfer the underlying drawing to prepared canvas, then seal the underdrawing, then paint the canvas.)  If I had been thinking, I would have photographed my watercolors at the same time as I photographed this, as it does have to be recorded.

One of the things I did notice with the lighting is that the areas of light and shadow do unify the composition, at least if done correctly.  Everything that’s laid out on the canvas is reacting to the same light sources.

Anyhow, I’m tired.  It’s hot.  I think I’ll go drink some water…

Still-life in progress…

Crunch time

It’s…looking like I’m going to spend the vast majority of my waking time for the next two days, working on my Painting project.  Maybe I really shouldn’t have gone to the food festival?  Or slept in late, today?

As things stand, I probably shouldn’t stay on the computer too long, given that the temperature is in the upper 80ºs F.  I’ve been on my feet for the last four hours, though, and am not looking forward to standing more, right now.

Neither am I sure that I want to put my 24″x30″ canvas on the drawing table in order to paint it.  The shelf at the bottom was meant to keep papers from sliding off, not huge heavy canvases…

Crunch time