a little sick…

I’ve been in bed for most of today.  I got up at around 8 AM and noticed that I had a bunch of stuff in my throat.  Not good.  I noticed while brushing my teeth that my breath smelled like I was getting sick.  Also, not good.  But it wasn’t until getting into the car with the heater on that I realized that my nose was itching and burning, and my throat was sore.

That is, I was not in a good position to be exposed to other peoples’ germs, as well — not to mention that I’m likely shedding live virus.

I sent an email off to my Prof., and turned around to go home.  Granted that I was at work, yesterday, and there are always sick people at the library.  I’m just hoping that I don’t wake up tomorrow with a headache, sore throat, and unable to breathe through my nose.  Especially since I have a dentist’s appointment.

And…right now, I’m getting pretty tired/blank.  I should go back to bed…


Bindings of joy

Before I forget this again, I wanted to note it down, somewhere — where I’ll remember to look for it and see it.

I have the recurring thought of creating a story where my main character is getting married to someone who feeds off of others’ happiness.

I mean, literally:  feeds off of others’ happiness.

This being already has a number of mates, may be rumored to be some sort of supernatural creature.  Cannot survive without others’ happiness, which makes him work hard so that they are happy.  My protagonist is very likely going to be male, but that isn’t going to count for much (other than no possibility of pregnancy).

The main question is whether, when in a situation from which you can’t easily escape, being happy is a fair trade for freedom.

I should flesh this out, offline.  But first, I’ll let you know about my dull, dull day.

Bindings of joy

FINALLY recovered that bit which was accidentally deleted…


Last night, while I was writing my last post, I realized after deleting an extra hard return in the WP posting editor that I’d inadvertently lost a paragraph.  I remembered that before, I was able to access what WP (at least, now) calls “Revisions.”  (I didn’t know the term without researching it off-site.)  The thing is, you can’t get to this screen without going to the Dashboard, first.

If you would like to access Revisions, here’s how I did it:

From the “My Sites” screen, which is the familiar blue one with the intense blue border on the top — I was on the Stats submenu — scroll down all the way on the left until you see a link called “WP Admin”, with an arrow coming out of a square, next to it.  Clicking on this will launch the older, grey WP Dash.

From there, click on “Posts” on the submenu on the left.  Go into the Edit screen for the post you want to see alternate versions of.  At the bottom of the screen, you should see all the “Revisions” which WP has for you, which are basically time-coded multiple versions of your post — which, hopefully, include what you may have accidentally edited out, without knowing.  Clicking on a timestamp will bring up a screen of your post as it was at said time.

This is the paragraph which disappeared on me:

And so it goes; as she relates her story of woe and pain and anguish, she realizes that she has written and said these words many times before.  There are so many other possibilities, though, of stories to tell.

It’s not much, and maybe the post is stronger without it; but it was bothering me to have lost it, all last night.

Once again, that is:

WP Dash -> Posts -> Edit Post -> Revisions

FINALLY recovered that bit which was accidentally deleted…

Wanting to read, again.

Wanting to read…again?!  When did I stop?

Oh, right!  After I graduated with the English degree.

It may have been having had to read a certain story relating to having an insurmountably dull life, the only “adventure” (I hate this word and its seeming embeddedness in colonialist and neocolonialist narratives) being in his head, too many times.  (I can’t remember the name of this short story.  If anyone can, comments are open.)

I think I’ve mentioned before that a lot of the required reading for my English degree made me want to stop reading.  As I’ve written before, I took the English placement test at my community college (I felt like I was missing English I, which I skipped over because of my AP test score back sometime before 2000) and got 98% in English comprehension.

I read too well, or with too much free-association and paranoia, to avoid seeing the twisted mental states of too many authors.  Not to mention the warped politics most of them were influenced by.  Of course, though, that’s assuming that politics now are better, and they’re pretty much, not.  In about 70 years, I’m sure that 20-year-olds will be looking back at our age with judgment for what we’re doing now (global warming, sustainability, race relations, the way gender and sexual minorities [GSM] are treated) which echoes how we look back on segregation.  That still won’t mean that they’ll necessarily be better, though I’m sure they’ll think they will be.  Because they’ll be 20.

Anyhow, I already had a precarious mental state at the time I was reading and analyzing texts in University.  I didn’t want to be immersed in others’ records of pain and imbalance, as well…

But yeah, that’s me, being delicate.  Like when I had to read Ceremonies by Leslie Marmon Silko and Beloved by Toni Morrison (both in high school; alas, University was not as worldly), and I was already depressed.  These books did not help.  It’s like taking a distressed kid into a haunted house.  Just, no.

(Which, then, calls up the fact that my teacher probably couldn’t tell that I was in severe distress that was triggered by the readings…probably because I couldn’t show emotion on my face or in my voice anymore, and I didn’t have memories of happiness anymore, so I had nothing to compare it to.  It’s like what happens when a person with hypothermia stops shivering.)

I think it would have been okay if they were not required (i.e. forced) reading.  Or if I had actually had my depression at a stable state further away from the extreme of “trying to wait out high school so I can get away from these bigots and actually start a real life,” at that point in time.  Then again, I’ve always been a bit more intelligent than average (and have noted myself for my venomous potential), so I’m sure my words of condemnation would have been a bit more scathing than what I relate above.

I really can’t remember the last work of fiction I’ve read.  Nor have I written much, in a while.  The last attempt to do so was Scriptwriting class (which I dropped out of, because of race tensions), and that wasn’t good.  We were drawing on autobiography, which is OK if your autobiography isn’t full of pain like mine happens to be.  I’d say that I lived for about a decade (14-24 years of age) with low-grade depression.  It wasn’t under control until after I got out of college.

It’s still an open question, whether and as to what degree that which one produces ought to be based on life experience.  Don’t tell anyone, but she was writing love scenes and death scenes before she was old enough to see them in the movies.

It’s very obvious, at least now, the fact that most of her material would have come from the soap operas which played during the day when she was stuck at home.  Now, as a person about to enter her mid-thirties, she can see how incredibly ridiculous most of those depictions are.  But they played, then, as she puzzled over homework that might not be completed until 2 AM, through tutoring and tears.

(Her school was known for its rigorous coursework.)

Going to bed at 2 AM and waking at 6:30 AM, night after night; and being isolated for hours doing homework, day after day; is not a recipe for an emotionally healthy, fully awake, or tall, scholar.

One of the reasons she focused on Creative Writing in the first place, is that it was one of the only constants in her life.  It is the same here:  the only reason this method of relating to the reader continues at this time is that something feels incomplete and as relating to a gap in consciousness, if no writing occurs.  What she hasn’t told you is that her teacher in 5th grade recognized this trait of hers — to describe everything in full and fine detail — and told her that she would remember it, on the last day of class.

Of course, that teacher told everyone one thing she would remember about them…

She was like that.

Stories to tell.  There are so many stories to tell.  Why realism?

The form of writing she trained in was essentially Literature, though she has had aspirations to work within both Science Fiction and Horror.  (Horror, just because she likes to freak people out sometimes, and it seems rather droll to purposely avoid it.  It’s probably akin to sadomasochism in that one must find those who want to and consent to being freaked out, and then freak out those people, as versus others.)  And then, there is the ever-present specter of the possibility of both writing and drawing the same story — or stories.  It’s natural, given that she used to work out her stories via images.

This was back when Sailor Moon was on the air — she didn’t tell you she had a dream where she inhabited Sailor Uranus this morning, though?  She still can’t figure out what it meant, only that the proto-Mistress-9/Sailor Saturn was, for some reason, a purple iridescent crystal contained in a vial, ready to consume Pure Hearts.  And Uranus and Saturn were the only two missing from the group.  Oddly — or appropriately — enough, Uranus was busy swinging back and forth over a chasm between two worlds.  (It was a long swing.)

It never really made sense, why Sailor Uranus would be happy to wear that outfit…especially as Uranus wore male-gendered clothing most of the time.  “If I’d made Sailormoon,” she would say, “Uranus would be in a #$&@ing tuxedo, just like Tuxedo Kamen.  I can’t imagine that she would be happy to wear that miniskirt.”  Maybe it just made everyone else look better when she threw her attack?  Kamen wouldn’t look upstaged, and Uranus looked powerful compared to all the other women?

In any case, the stories she used to write actually came out first, in images.  They only took written form when she couldn’t draw quickly enough; only became typed when she couldn’t write fast enough.

Maybe we should play with this, Uranus, though.  Only — it might make more sense to take the idea of her, not the character of her from within Sailormoon — but that awesome butch person from the dream — and work somehow with the idea of balance and of swinging between two worlds (though, I’m aware, there are probably at least three in play, here.  One, the world of women; two, the world of men; three, the world[s] of queer people, including not-straight women [Neptune], and trans* men, and genderqueer people, which are often enough separate).

Yeah.  Maybe I’ll make a story about a queer female person….keeping in mind that I shouldn’t make her ideal.  After all, Uranus had a big issue with xenophobia…

Wanting to read, again.

Minimal work done, today.

That is to say, I went to a gallery showing and an artist supply store.  The former was really nice; the latter…well, I found out that hardly anything would be opaque enough to use with the black paper I’ve done my underdrawing on, other than Neocolor crayons or my Drawing Pencils.

The kind of awesome part about the art supply store is that I got out of there only paying like $16 for seven Neocolors and a large piece of yellow pastel paper.  The drawback is that since that time, I’ve had to think on a plan relating to how I’d use the Neocolors.  I was originally planning to use pastel — Conté crayons and Prismacolor NuPastels both will cover the black of the paper, but they need to be fixed before transport.

Given how cold it has been (for us in California; it’s probably mild to most people elsewhere), I’m kind of not looking forward to spraying fixative…I’d have to do it outside and away from heat sources, to avoid the danger of fire.  Then I’d have to leave it out there until it dried.

I have an idea as to what to do with my drawing, which is to make the succulent leaves diaphanous and with a lighter crayon, draw in veins (which I couldn’t see in the original, but hey, artistic license).  The actual difficulty of this is how to get them to look like they’re glowing, as in the photo I have of them, they’re backlit — so the sun is shining through them.

I should get on top of the next two readings.  I know my prof didn’t want us to read later chapters before finishing the current one; but I’m seriously behind, at this point, and I only have three more weeks to complete the portfolio.  I suppose the good part is that I’ll have Fridays clear, now, to work.

Minimal work done, today.

Finally moved on from freaking out, into working…

I have been through the wringer today trying to figure out how to approach this assignment I’m working on.  Basically, we were given a word relating to “beauty” from another language, and have to integrate its meaning into one of our pieces.

Granted, thanks to the cold snap, I am getting a bit sick.  I’ve been in bed for much of today…but really, this assignment should have been done last week, last Tuesday at the latest.  I think the specifics of the assignment are a bit…well, I probably shouldn’t publish my prof’s lesson plan, but I think the specifics of what I’m approaching aren’t so important.  My process is.

What I’m looking at, in my case, is the amount of time I’ve had to let this stew before taking a crack at it.  (Mixed metaphor.  Sorry.)  Yesterday was the first time I was actually brave enough to even take the piece of tracing paper I had and trace over some of the outlines of my source photo, just to see where things were positioned.  I’m working at drawing some form of succulent or ice plant, I’m not sure which.  The forms are organic, repeating, and multitudinous.

I’ve had those papers out on my bed for at least a week.  And, hey, it’s just tracing…it’s not like it’s hard.

But from there, I was able to have ideas come bubbling up as to how to approach making the finished piece.  My first idea was “why realism?” and realizing that what I was thinking of doing was photorealism.  This, probably most, was keeping me from working on the project at all.  I got the idea to start out with photorealism, then as the eye progressed across the page, go more and more abstract.  Same subject matter, different approach.

I’ve ended up not doing this, so far.  What I did do was take a cue from the Japanese stationary store that we visited the other day, and alter the dimensions of the paper (I was interested in the scroll format of ink drawing and calligraphy).  Just because I may only have 18″x24″ or 19″x25″ paper, that doesn’t mean that I have to stick with that ratio.  I can cut the paper down, that is.  What I’ve ended up doing is working with a 15″x24″ area, which is approximately 5x the size of my original print after cropping.  (I didn’t print out a full-size photo because I wasn’t sure I’d even use the image.)

Now that I write that, I realize that I may have made a math error — the original image is 3″x5″, which would size up to 15″x25″, not 15″x24″.  Guess I wasn’t paying close attention.  I know that I can’t remember what size the paper actually is, and would need to measure it to be sure.

In any case, I now have a line drawing on black paper (it’s too faint to photograph), and am hoping that my colors will show through if I end up having to use pastel pencil on them.  Of course, the best coverage would be with a cadmium pigment, but cadmium is so toxic (and pastel dust so persistent) that I’d need to be really careful.

Or — hey.  I just thought of this.  Earth pigments.  Conté crayon?  Hmm.  There isn’t any reason why I have to stick with the color this plant was in life, after all.

Or — hey!  Oil pastel!  I never use them, but I bet they would be great for this!  I wouldn’t have to use fixative, and I’d get the color density of pastel.  And I have two sets already — Sakura and Niji.  I can also try Neocolor I crayons, three of which I have.  (I have an extra sheet of black paper which I’ve been testing colored pencil and soft pastel on, too.  No reason why I shouldn’t test out these ideas…)

There are also my Derwent Drawing Pencils, which I just remembered I had.  They’re all earth tones, but their coverage is very good, and they should be able to cover the black of the paper.

The other option is trying out an oil-based artist-quality colored pencil, like the LYRA option…though I think I’ll try oil pastel and the Drawing Pencils first, at least.

Anyhow, I’ve been questioning my assumptions as to what it is that I would be doing when working on my art.  The last assumption that I found was the idea that I’d need to transfer over all of the photograph to the final drawing, but I don’t have to do that.  In fact, it may be more effective not to do that.  M said that she wouldn’t even have assumed the entire drawing would be transferred, in the first place.

I did try and loosen up with my hand in this piece, as well.  I had a really tight approach, measuring my lines in divisions of space against a grid, and moved into using a more gesture-drawing approach.  The latter made things a lot easier, and I think my accuracy improved when I stopped measuring as obsessively, ironically.

Okay.  Enough time out of bed.  I need to brush my teeth and get some sleep…

Finally moved on from freaking out, into working…

More on drawing vs. painting…

I started, earlier this week, to brainstorm topics to write about.  It actually wasn’t a brainstorm, though, so much as noting what I could write about, next.

What I’m finding is that I’m experiencing a relatively natural-feeling transition from drawing, to painting.  This is to the extent that I’d actually forgotten some of the media I have which I can use to draw with.  The most obvious of these are:

  • colored pencils
  • markers

…though I do also have graphite, charcoal, water-soluble crayons and both oil and soft pastels, though the latter media, I’m thinking, do bridge into Painting.  (Not to mention aquarelle pencils.)

The other day, I saw part of an exhibition of a specific artist’s pastel paintings.  I can’t remember the name of the artist, as I saw her work in passing…  In viewing them, it became more or less apparent to me, why pastels — especially soft pastels — were considered a painting medium, rather than a drawing medium.

One of the other professors in the Art Department, whom I don’t know very well, has said that in painting, there is a total absence of line.  I’m not sure if this statement always holds true, but I could apply it to what I saw of the pastel works.

There was a lot of emphasis on areas of color, color relationships, and very little to no expression of an area of color being bounded by any line.

I tried to straighten this (the ongoing question in my mind about the actual difference between drawing and painting) out in my head by comparing a charcoal drawing to a pastel painting.  In charcoal, there is an emphasis on value, or areas of light and dark.  Sometimes there can be line, which seems to blur into markmaking.

On a field trip earlier in the week, I saw a Van Gogh charcoal drawing in which there was a use of line to outline objects, but there was just as much, if not more, use of marks to create texture and motion.  You could tell it was a Van Gogh.  It was like “Starry Night,” but a different scene and in monochrome.

In drawing, the primary relationships seem to be positive and negative space, value, texture, and line.

In a pastel painting of the type I saw recently, though; the primary relationships are shape, color, value.  The image is primarily made up of blocks of color, and the interactions between the hues and their variants are the primary interest.  Texture also has a place here, which leads me to the point that markmaking also can or does have a big impact in painting.

It’s harder to discern positive and negative space, as then we have to define “positive” and “negative”, which is not easy with more than two tones.  In painting, though, it’s clear that line can be totally absent.  Implied lines exist, definitely; but outlines are not there.

In any case…

I’ve reached the point of finding paint to be more versatile, permanent, and economical than trying to produce my work using the stuff which I’ve been using for the last 20 years.  Just being able to mix different hues and apply the same hue with any shape applicator I can find, is different.

However, drawing feels simpler, to me, than painting.  This is even though it can be harder because of the restrictions of the media — such as the inability to paint over mistakes, and the permanence of the live mark.  Drawing feels more spontaneous and like I’m feeling my way out of something.  Painting feels…just, more fun.  Contributing to this, could be the fact that my style in painting (especially while sketching) is much looser than my style of drawing.

An acquaintance did ask me whether it was better to take Drawing classes before Watercolor Painting.  What I did say, though I feel like it may have been a bit imposing, at the moment, is that I’ve been told that in Art School, drawing is taught as a foundation to painting.  In the specific program I’m in, however, Drawing is not a prerequisite.

This means, though, that sometimes people take Painting classes without knowing how to do basic things, like draw in perspective.  When that happens, it’s really apparent to everyone who has been through Drawing that the person who drew the Picasso chair may never have taken a drawing class.

(Of course, there is the allowance that we may just be with an actual Picasso or Basquiat.  Really, it doesn’t matter so much — except where it comes to not being able to express what you want to express because of never having practiced [or been taught] the skills to do so.)

But at this point — I’m having a bit of trouble in Drawing, because I’ve been in a Painting mode, and I have to try and restrain myself from making everything a painting.  If I could turn in a painting instead of a drawing for this last portfolio, it would probably be a lot easier and more satisfying for me.  But, as I recall, my Drawing professor says she draws the line at acrylics and canvas.

What I found last semester is that the vibrancy that is in paints exceeds anything I’ve found in any other media, save markers; that the covering power of paints, especially when applied with large brushes, enables one to lay down areas of color very quickly, when contrasted with something like colored pencil.  And as I said earlier, the diversity of marks one can make with the same color by simply using a different brush is really awesome.

And even though the start-up costs can be high, and paints require more skill, in the long run it’s probably easier and cheaper for me to use paint instead of trying to buy a new marker for every new color and dilution level I want to use.  The last thing I’ll mention is that when using opaque pigments, it’s really a gift to be able to block out and paint over something that you don’t like.

Maybe I should just add:  there is a part of me which really does want to take Watercolor, as I recall what the acquaintance I mentioned above asked me.  What has been holding me back is really the fact that in my view, watercolor is really hard to control.  It’s probably one of the most difficult media one could choose to start out with (even though we start kids out with Prangs, probably like we also start them out sometimes with violin).  I’m nearing the end of my program, and I’m still intimidated by watercolor.  (Transparent watercolor, I should clarify. Gouache is something different.)

That doesn’t mean I’m not getting better at it; I’m getting worlds better.  But going from a full stop (though I’m not sure whether or not she actually was practicing art and just didn’t tell me) directly into Watercolor, sounds to me like a recipe for a lot of stress.

And, of course, at this point I’m feeling the stress of trying to move back into Drawing with the aim of making final drawings, not prep work for paintings.  I did come up with an interesting solution to my current problem, last night.  I can see what I can do with that, today.

More on drawing vs. painting…