Aftermath of the Neocolor analysis…

Today wasn’t so bad.  I picked up some extra hours, and so was able to go and get eight new Neocolor II crayons with a light heart.  🙂  (My extra hours should cover my loan payments for January, and after then, I should be able to defer them.  After Summer, I’m planning on getting an additional job and trying to transition out of college.)

It’s actually a good thing that I stayed up last night analyzing my stash (of crayons), apparently?  I had been torn between the Neocolor I (water-resistant) and II (aquarelle) lines, until, after a lot of work, I realized that it would be better for me to fill out my aquarelle crayon line, as versus my water-resistant crayons.

…I can’t even remember how I got to that point.  What I can recall is surveying the contents of a 15-pack of Is I was considering, seeing which ones I didn’t have, which ones I had extra, which ones within the line of 40 colors I wanted (Neocolor IIs have a much larger color range).  I narrowed it down to about five, which runs about $10.

I also took a look at the Gamsol MSDS…which is not much to worry about (unless it’s imbibed), except for the danger of fire.  Given that I could get the same results with water as with solvent depending on the color lines, I decided to go for the aquarelles.  Then today, I actually went out to the art supply store (I think I was as surprised as anyone else), marking color samples on the way.

I hadn’t surveyed what I had in Neocolor II crayons last night, and I realized I didn’t want any duplicates, today.  Luckily, I wasn’t driving.  🙂  And I remembered that the “Russet” color looked familiar; I had it in IIs, but not Is.

There are three four crayons I’m sure I want to get when I have to go shopping for art supplies in the coming semester:

Ultramarine (Deep? or normal?)
Turquoise
Salmon
Golden Ochre

I thought I’d never want these colors (besides the ochre; I’m having a bit of love for earth tones, it seems), but it seems that they would contrast with what I’ve got now, relatively well…and color interactions may kind of be the lifeblood of color work.  Neocolors kind of beg for pointillism and mark-making.  There are also:

Raw Umber
Burnt Sienna

…which I would think would be basic enough to be included in a small set, but whatever.

Before I went to the art store, I picked up a small sturdy plastic box for the crayons — about $5.  It’s hard to find containers to fit these things!  I had hoped a small Crayola box would work, but the Neocolors are about 1 cm too long for a Crayola box.  I think I mentioned this before.  I spent like $1.50 for a set of 24 Crayolas, hoping to be able to use the box.  (@_@)…

It just didn’t work out…

I’m thinking of trying to build a box on my own…it shouldn’t be too hard.  The problem would be keeping it from unfolding itself.  But!  I found out that the little box I got would also work really well for full-length soft pastel sticks!  It would probably be a pain to get them out, but they should fit.

I am hoping very much that the carcinogen in the General’s White Charcoal is only titanium dioxide.  I was reminded that this is now considered a carcinogen, last night while browsing.  It’s only really a problem when it’s loose and aspirated though (or in contact with an open wound), to the best of my knowledge (though I’m not an expert, so this is just a musing, not advice).

So if I were blowing the dust off of my image and then breathing the air without protection, I’d be vulnerable to eventual lung damage.  However, if I used it more responsibly (tapping off the dust instead of blowing it up into the air, and wet-mopping the work area of excess dust after working with the pastels, also using a particle mask to be safe), I’d have much less of a problem.  There are also other ways to mitigate dust, but I don’t really work with pastels enough to warrant that, at this point.

I’m not sure if the problem is entirely asbestos contamination.  I’d heard of that…but then I also read that the pigment in Golden Titanium White was titanium dioxide from rutile.  If you know a bit about geology, rutile is a mineral that grows in needlelike crystals.  If you’ve ever seen “rutilated quartz,” the little needles shooting through the quartz are rutile.  (There’s also “tourmilated quartz,” which looks similar, but the needles are columns of tourmaline, not rutile.)

I’m not sure of rutile’s directions of cleavage (I’ve never thought to look it up before), but I’d suspect that it might fracture into fibers, and might break into small, microscopic needles — akin to Kyanite.  If that’s the case, then I can see why titanium dioxide itself could be considered a carcinogen — I’d parallel it with fiberglass, in that it can get into one’s system and just not get out.  With fiberglass, it’s not that the glass is toxic, more than that it just wounds you over and over again and might not get fully out of the body.  So it’s mechanical damage, not a toxin.

On another website (which I may have linked to on a prior posting), I read that the damage was linked to whether the titanium dioxide was “bound” or “unbound.”  I’m thinking that something like pastel dust would be “unbound” and thus a hazard (in contrast to when it’s in sunscreen, when it might be “bound” — except with open wounds)…though again, I think that the only danger is through breathing the dust.

To be a responsible internet poster, I should give a disclaimer that I don’t really know what I’m talking about.  🙂  I have a bit of a clue, but don’t know if I’m fully right — in fact, I generally assume that I’m in some way wrong on a daily basis, but unless I said that, you wouldn’t know it.  So again:  don’t rely on what I say to save your life.  It’s the Internet.  Anyone can say anything.  Your health is your responsibility, no one else’s.

But anyway…I was looking at Rembrandt pastels last night, having toyed with my Titanium White one after I got off the blog.  I still really like it.  It is listed with a Prop 65 Warning, but I know that there’s no cadmium or lead in it (hence no soluble cadmium or lead), which puts my heart a bit at ease, given that cadmium, lead, and chromium are three of the top pigment-constituents that I watch out for, and none of them are in that brand.  (It seems like there was one more besides mercury [which everyone knows about and which doesn’t seem to be on the market, as a result], but I can’t recall what it is, now.)

I think I’ll use that one for Figure Drawing, in Spring.

I guess, you get older, you find safer ways of doing things, eh?  I’m wanting to work at least monochromatically with the Rembrandts (white plus a deeper color on a tinted ground), but they’re really expensive, and so color decisions must be made before investing.

All right, I’m getting really tired.  Need to hang up, now…

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Succulent; to kalon

Back to posting what I did over the last few weeks, eh?

I largely didn’t have enough time to write reflective posts on all of these images when I made them.  I did have time to write a four-page essay on my experiences, though.  Having some place to write and record this (when I could) was invaluable.  I have been moving from most favorite -> least favorite, though, over the course of my having posted these things.

IMG_1710-ccr72tw
Rosette (succulent) — I really want to work on this again and try and capture what I missed.

The image above was my first shot at trying to generalize enough so that I wasn’t overwhelmed, and yet still be specific enough in order to get across the certain essence of the image.  I still have the printout, so I can work from this again, relatively easily.  For my own reference, this image was generated from the prompt to kalon; a Greek ideal of beauty.  I kind of feel like not going into it right now, though it does fall back on the world of Forms, mathematics, and intellectual insight.  I chose this image because it looked very “fractal” and like simple rules repeating to make something very complex.

One of the biggest things that is different between this and the photograph is that there are a lot less leaves in the image above than there were in life.  There also seems to be some flattening going on around the center of the image that I’m not totally in love with.  The center of the rosette was much more dimensional, in the photo.  But then…I was working from a photo, wasn’t I?  (Not that this image could have come about any other way, other than my having drawn it on location in Los Angeles over a year ago.)

This was the first time I tried out this charcoal paper; it’s the one with 25% hemp content which I mentioned, before.  Let me find the pad…it’s Strathmore 400 series, 6″x9″, 75% post-consumer fiber, other than the hemp.  “Acid free,” though what does that mean with post-consumer fiber, really (especially when it’s unclear whether it’s paper fiber and/or cotton)?  What I can say is that it feels nice under my fingertips — I had to do a lot of rubbing and smudging, with this piece.

I used willow charcoal, almost entirely, in the above.  The dark lines are either fine willow charcoal, or General’s Extra Soft charcoal pencil (6B).  The light areas were erased away with a stick eraser.  The areas which look bluish are the places I tried to add in light by using General’s White Charcoal, but the effect is not something I find I like.  I might try for a buff chalk pastel, next time.

This is…especially so, as there is a Prop 65 warning on General’s White Charcoal in Blick’s database, and the MSDS from Blick is essentially no help, as it’s for regular charcoal, not “White Charcoal.”  I just visited the General’s website where one can download the MSDS for their products, and White Charcoal is not one of the products they provide an MSDS for.

Of course, the Prop 65 warning could just be there because no one will say what is in the White Charcoal sticks or pencils (as noted here), and Blick might just be trying to cover all its bases, just in case there is something carcinogenic in them.

This…doesn’t really make me feel much better, as when I went out looking for a Zinc White paint by Liquitex recently, I found “Transparent Mixing White” (their Zinc-Oxide-pigmented white) which contained lead.  Then I went out again, after realizing that I didn’t have to get Liquitex brand for a Zinc White, found Golden brand Zinc White, brought it home, and found online that it contained cadmium (even though there was no CL label on the packaging).

Seriously.  Seriously?!  What is up with zinc oxide that it requires heavy metal additives to make a good paint?  What are the cadmium and lead doing?

So anyway…I probably won’t be using the General’s White Charcoal without a glove on, in the near future; though I still might get lazy, say “to hell with this, I can afford some potential mutations” and take the chance again of working with my bare hands.  But hey — if I’m going to be wearing a dust mask anyway (I don’t like getting pastel dust stuck in my sinuses, it’s kind of freaky to still smell them five hours later), why not gloves?  …

Or, why not switch to my Rembrandt soft pastels, which I know contain no cadmium or lead?  (No, Rembrandt is not paying me.  I just had to use their white soft pastel in one of my past drawing classes, and loved it; replaced it after its remnants shattered seven years later.  It doesn’t behave the same way as General’s White Charcoal, though; it’s creamier and less “dry.”)  Maybe I’ll play with my Rembrandt now, now that I’m thinking of it…of course, though, it’s coated in White Charcoal dust…

As an aside, I do think that heavy metal salts aren’t necessarily acutely dangerous unless burned, sprayed (or otherwise inhaled), ingested, or in such a form that they can dissolve and thus be absorbed transdermally…but I’m not a doctor or a toxicologist.  It’s on all of us to protect our own health and judge our own risk-taking.   I’m just thinking that it is specifically the soluble salts (which can dissolve into something [like water or turpentine] which can pass through skin) that are the major problem — unless you’re an airbrush or spray-paint artist.  Insoluble salts are probably not as big a risk — even though they would still get a Prop 65 warning for the metal being present at all — though that would seem to most heavily impact transdermal absorption.

But yes — I did post a very long time ago when I was first playing around with this method (subtractive drawing).  Remember the pineapple?  This time, I was working from a reference, though loosely so.  Still, I wouldn’t have been able to make this drawing without it — I haven’t studied succulent structure enough — so that’s saying something.

Oh — and one last thing I discovered in postprocessing.  I didn’t adjust the Levels on this photo, because I found that it made the image too extreme.  The original doesn’t have an extreme-black-to-extreme-white range of tones; it’s actually much softer, as shown in the photo.  It’s something to keep in mind, for the future…

Trying to figure out how to approach scheduling my own work hours…

I’m actually feeling much better today.  There was an extra helper at work, so things were nowhere near as bad as I was expecting.  I’ve also learned that rehydration helps a whole lot when I start feeling weird in the afternoon.  I’m not sure whether I drank one or two bottles of water after lunch, but…I must have been really dehydrated.

So…as regards the school stuff…I’m planning to hang in there for this last required semester, possibly take that one Art History course (Modern Art) in Summer, and then try for a better job.  Or maybe I should say, a different job.  One where I’ll have different experiences than I do, working at the Library.

The most obvious slot to filter into is customer service.  It isn’t something I adore, but I do like to help people.  The biggest reason I kind of don’t like to be faced with this problem at my present workplace is that I have to tell people they’re talking to the wrong person, and then redirect them.  I’m not all that great at telling people things they don’t want to hear.

So…I’m thinking of putting in applications for some art supply stores, and craft stores.  I’m pretty sure I don’t want to work in a Downtown area, because it’s a bit seedy for me.  I’m not all the way hardened, yet.  😛  I could always try, though — and then if I don’t like it, go back to my first job.

There’s that, and the possibility of working in a bead store (again, hoping to avoid Downtown if I can)…I know of several local bead stores.  The main drawback of the top two I could work for is that both are in urban areas.  However, I do have a good eye for design, and I’ve been working with beads since I was 11 or 12 (summer before 6th grade).

Then, there’s the possibility of volunteering.  There is one craft society that meets near me, and the Bead Society is fairly open — though I’d probably need to become a member again to really know what goes on there, and what skills they’re in need of.

Now that I mention that, though — there are a couple of classes I can look at, which could help me gain a foothold in the working world.  The first is Art Gallery Management; the second is Artist as Citizen (where artists are paired up with local nonprofits).  I had totally forgotten about those, until now.  They might be good first steps.

I’m thinking that, even though I’ve worked in a Library, it is probably not a good move to try and work in a bookstore.  I just don’t read enough to have the breadth and depth of knowledge I’d want and probably need, to help match people with books.

And, again, the easiest thing I could do would be to wait for Clerk positions to open and then try for those.  The reason I haven’t wanted to do it is majorly because it is public service; however, I’d also have the option of working outside the Library system, and that could turn out really nice.

Then, there’s the option of freelancing.  I have more of a clue of how to do this as regards jewelry, than art, though.  It would be possible to remain an Aide and take the money from that, use it to buy materials, use the materials to make jewelry, sell the jewelry at one or more boutiques, farmer’s markets, flea markets, online, etc.  If I do that, though, I’ll want to set up a P.O. Box, not to mention read up on pricing and taxes.

Isn’t it weird when your handmade jewelry seems easier to sell than your handmade art?  Hmm.  Maybe it’s just because I’ve been at it, longer…

In any case, I started out this post thinking about how to organize my time so that I actually end up getting work — whether that’s artwork or beadwork or both — done.  It would be good to set up an intention of working on a specific project (cyclamens?), then divide that into steps, and spread the steps out over a number of days and work times.

What’s nice about having kept up this blog is that I have records of projects I was working on once, and would like to continue (like suminagashi); so, I’m not starting from scratch.

(And I should remind myself not to worry about screwing up the cyclamen painting.  Gah.  It’s just a piece of board.  If I screw it up with impasto, I can always either paint the back side or use it as a mount for spraying fixative.)

I do have a time chart that I made up one or two semesters ago, in which I can block out my salaried time, and then my art and craft time.  Doing this, in this way, might also show me whether I enjoy the art or the beading, more — though I’m pretty sure that what’s going to happen is that they will feed off of each other.

Beading is a bit less threatening because it gives me a chance to play with little “jewels” with holes in them.  They’re already pretty, they just have to be arranged to maybe become even prettier.  Even though most of them are glass, it’s fun; it’s like playing with the fake jewels in the LEGO set I had, when I was a kid.  Everybody knew they were plastic.  But still…

And, I’ve got to be sure to balance out challenging and new techniques and subjects with things that are more comforting and known.  If I try bead embroidery with cabochons, I should also work at something that isn’t as new and/or hard, at the same time.  This will ensure I get to work on something instead of freaking out about bead embroidery and doing nothing.  Even if I work on a tested and true pattern, it’s better than stopping.

YES! YES! YESYESYESYESYES!!!

HAHA!

I’ve been able to update my schedule so that I can take Watercolor painting in the Spring!  This is really awesome!

(The watercolor class — plus Contemporary Art History — was the reason I was planning to hang in there past Spring 2016.)

Right now I’m at 7 units…enough to keep me from having to repay my loans for another several months, while I’m in classes.  I’ll just have to make sure both to talk to DSPS, and keep ahead of my classwork.

Coming up for air…

So I’m pretty tired, and fighting off a cold (still)…plus, work tomorrow (catch-up from the two days we were closed) and a little post-holiday depression.

The last bit always happens, even this year when we didn’t have a big celebration or strange people or problems with others’ lack of boundaries and respect for our boundaries.  We didn’t really have gifts this year, either, which took a lot of stress off of us.  But with this, things boil down to something like…one more day of the year.  Nothing special.

I think it was supposed to be better that it was nothing special, but at the same time, I am not sure what I feel.  I do feel a bit like I have let down some people due to my reduced capacity for being social.  I wasn’t able to say much when we did video chat with family, or after we ate dinner, today.  I kind of hate these feast days, too, because I end up starving for hours before everything’s ready (when no one else appears hungry) and then my whole eat/sleep schedule gets thrown off.

I didn’t get to see my friend before they left, and I’m feeling kind of “off” about that.  We didn’t see extended family for multiple reasons.  We did meet with family friends, but I wasn’t fully capable of engaging with them.  And after I ate (after being hungry/borderline angry for most of the morning/afternoon), all I wanted to do was go to sleep.

If Xmas hadn’t been today, I probably would have either been making art, writing, reading, or asleep.  I did get some artwork done, but I didn’t have the extended time and full space I’d need to really get down to work.

I have noticed, however, how much easier it is to take photos of what I’ve done and write about the process of making these things and what I’ve learned while doing them, than it is to make more.  Today I was working in pencil — just a simple HB, wood-cased pencil (which I’m really wearing down)…and I think that what I need to be doing, in order to grow, might be not to work with pencil as my mainstay, anymore.

It may be too precise, and encourage tight, heavily detailed/ornate drawing, at the same time as it kind of intimidates me at the prospect of feeling like I have to be so exact.  Pencil is fine for laying in faint, thin guidelines.  It’s probably worth more if I use the softer grades.  But right now, I think I’m leaning on it too hard, and it’s not giving me what I want.  The image in my last post would not have come about that way, had I used pencil instead of ink — unless I used a blunted woodless graphite stick or something, but, that doesn’t really behave like pencil.  It’s actually more responsive, and easier to see.

Before anyone came over, I did, somewhat, organize the craft table (so someone other than myself could use it).  In doing so, I was able to take note of the different media I had been using, or wanted to use.  I was able to put things into multiple piles; media, and papers…I have tons of colored pencils which needed to be put away.  These are what I’ve used since I was a teen in order to add color to my drawings.  It can be really nice, but there is a delicateness and lack of boldness when I use them.  Which…the medium encourages.

Then there were the oil pastels (Niji) that I’ve wanted to use, but just haven’t, yet.  And, the Neocolor Is and IIs.  I really do enjoy working with the Neocolors; I’m just not certain at this point whether to get the water-resistant or water-soluble ones.  Eventually, it would be nice to have both, but I’m sure that it will take some time to get a full collection (especially with my income level where it is, now).

Maybe I should be looking for a different job.  I know I won’t really be free until after Spring semester; and maybe not even then, seeing how things are going.  I’m no longer certain that I want to be in Digital Printmaking, because I started trying to read a graphic novel today and realized how not into it, I was.

I am just largely not into fictive storytelling at this point in my life.  I’m not entirely sure how or why I lost it — other than that I’ve had to unlearn that skill in order to get along in the real world (I’m better off leaving things alone instead of trying to explain them when I can’t) — but…I’m thinking that there are better ways for me to approach things.  That is, there are ways I hadn’t thought of when I was a young adult — other than straight literature or straight graphic-novel — to approach expressing what I need to express.  Poetry, essays, creative nonfiction, illustrated books, blogs, articles, paintings, scrolls, etc.

(Yeah, like who is going to buy a scroll?  –well, maybe that’s not the right question.  Who is going to sell a scroll?  Boutiques?  Galleries?  Hair salons?  Restaurants?  Bookstores?  Anime fan stores?  My cousin suggested bars.  I suppose anyone who would sell other forms of fine art — or Asian art — might sell it, if they could install or hang it.)

Anyhow, yes…I’m…I’m thinking a bit on dropping Digital Printmaking.  One of my friends took actual Printmaking last semester, and really loved it.  And I don’t think it’s a mistake that when we had our flash-gallery showing, almost none of the digital art was being noticed, even though there were exhibitions going on in the same building.  I’m not sure what it is about handmade art as versus digital; but I know that some people — including M and myself — respond to digital art really differently than handmade art.

For me, there’s just something about digital art which looks really slick and refined and high-tech, perfect verging on spun sugar — but having taken Digital Imaging classes myself, and having known some people who could draw on computer but not by hand…I know that there are different skill sets which go into utilizing physical media as versus digital media.  It’s easy to look at digital art and see effects which could not have been achieved by hand.  At the same time…maybe that’s the turnoff?

It’s super easy to take a digital photo, load it into Photoshop, and print something at a higher precision than one could ever achieve without a computer.  But maybe part of the draw of handwrought work is its divergence from reality — the places where human interpretation, and the work of a human mind, shines through.  Maybe it’s the imperfections that are the draw.

I’m not sure.  What I am sure of is that I made the right choice for myself in going for the Fine Arts curriculum instead of the computer-aided graphics curriculum.

But I’m still freaking myself out with my own work, particularly given the context that this is what I’ve chosen in order to have a reason to continue to live.  I’ve got to get past being freaked out by this, somehow…it’s just that every time I have a drawing that turns out well, it’s like, “yes, this is my reason to survive,” and…maybe constantly being reminded of my situation (that is, having a tenuous link to the world of the living) isn’t the easiest thing.

But I do always get that flash of, “if I’d chosen a different path, this beautiful thing I’m holding would not exist,” and that is nearly always…profound.  I’m not sure of an English word for it.  Melancholy?  Kanashimi in Japanese language kind of strikes close, but then again, I don’t know all the variants of cultural meaning with that word.

Maybe it would do me some good to get back into contact with my spirits.  It may help.  My job is to bring things into being which have never before existed.  I get the sense that there is a group of beings supporting me in this.  It might be of benefit to me to take the chance in believing in them again, and see what comes out of it.

One more from my last portfolio…

…in which it is observed that my theme was plants and flowers, and that each image referenced itself back to a word from a specific culture, referencing differing concepts of “beauty.”  I used plants, largely because I’ve got a fairly decent library of different types of plant images.  I just figure that something has to be there, when I have more images of plants than I do of humans…

Today, I picked up some more flowers — both the live, cut kind, and the silk kind, before I realized that we would be visiting the produce market.  I spent about $12 on silk flowers, and my godmother bought me a bunch of Mini Gerbera daisies, which was about $6.

It was upon bringing these home that I realized that whatever it was that I drew in the below, wasn’t exactly a Gerbera daisy:

IMG_1716-ccr72lw
Daisies in water (by the author), ~7″x10″, sepia ink on Mixed Media paper

This aesthetic didn’t appear in our text, however.  It’s a result of our final assignment, which was to find an artist whose work was different from our own, and after studying their aesthetic, integrate some aspect of that into a drawing.

I chose Van Gogh, for his directness and liveness of line and mark.  It was interesting.  I’m not sure I have the energy in me to detail what I found out about his work at the moment, though I know it will be invaluable to me to have recorded that somewhere, in the coming years.

I’ll try.

Basically, in one of the books I found on him, it was said that Van Gogh considered drawing as fundamental to painting.  In a different book, I found reproductions of his letters to his brother, Theo, who supported him financially in his later years.  The words, in either sepia or walnut ink (I’m guessing from the shades — he used quill and reed dip pens regularly in his drawings), were interspersed with images done entirely in this red-brown color against the tone of the paper.

The style which reads to me as unmistakably Van Gogh has strong elements of linework and markmaking, which together create texture and dimensionality in his images.  I realized that, before the very end of his life, in which his style was beginning to change and develop into something else; in the middle to late parts of his career as an artist, cross-contour lines featured very heavily in his paintings.  It wasn’t until I undertook the process of trying to integrate this in something like his style that I realized why, though.

When one is drawing with a dip pen, monochromatically — everything about the image which one wants to get across has to be encoded in two colors:  the color of the paper, and the color of the ink.  There is no shading without moving into brushwork or dilutions (I saw another example of this in a Rembrandt ink drawing at the Legion of Honor), though there is hatching and, as I’ve said earlier, cross-contour line, stippling, etc.

If you believe drawing is fundamental to painting, and you’re really trying to get drawing down, to really know monochrome and use it well, what you learn in drawing is going to overflow into your painting.  Each line drawn in sepia, then, indicates the directionality of the brush stroke used in each painted mark, laid onto your surface.

There is also the possibility of differing nib widths, which I didn’t take advantage of in the above; I had enough on my mind, trying to get through this assignment.  (As a note, I was using a mid-sized, somewhat worn [I’m trying to save it], bamboo dip pen and sepia ink.) However, once started, I realized how direct and easy it was to draw “what I was seeing”…given a caveat.

In the above image, I wasn’t literally trying to draw what I viewed.  There are a lot of elements integrated in there of what I did “see” — that is, what made this flower different from all other flowers, what made it have the character it did, what it simply was giving me in terms of “feeling” and emotion — the latter of which is what I mean when I talk about thinking in terms of art, and my reasoning behind wanting to keep an art journal.

As an aside:  After two to three quarters of Japanese language lessons, I found it easier at times to think in Japanese.  After however many of these art semesters I’ve been through (I can’t recall anymore, and they’ve been spread out over the last eight years), I’m learning to think in terms of wordless emotion, feeling, and expression.  It isn’t encoded verbally.  The way it gets out is through image creation…a rather slow process, at least at first.

In any case, I’ve read that Van Gogh always saw nature in the context of humanity, and I tried not to stray from that.

So instead of drawing what the flower might objectively be, what it might be to itself; I drew what I allowed it to let me feel.  This priority, even though it might be a bit existential (with meanings possibly unknowable to any other human, and all — which philosophy may account for some of Van Gogh’s troubles), meant that I did not have to hold tightly to photorealism.  Instead, when I got to a certain part of the daisy, I would look at that part of the daisy and see what was going on there, and integrate notable elements of that into the work.

This is without worrying about whether the petal was in perfect position relative to all the other petals, or whether there were the right number of petals anywhere in the drawing, or how closely the drawing matched the literal image at the back of my retinas.  (This is after having drawn in the basic shapes very lightly in pencil, as I’ve seen traces of in Van Gogh’s drawings.  I didn’t erase the pencil.  Can you see it?)

I’ve learned that a photograph — which all of my other drawings for this portfolio were based on, sans the purple silk rose I posted earlier, and this one — isn’t a perfect representation of what it makes me feel.  The two things aren’t remotely the same; the effect is magnified when doing photo editing and having a plastic version of the image.  The photograph simply is a reminder — of what I want to say, is almost all of an essence of what one felt the first time one saw it.  But it isn’t all; there are major issues with viewpoint, time, dislocation, and dimensionality, not to mention scent, temperature, what happened to be on one’s mind at the instant the photo was taken, etc.

Hopefully, the photo can be a reminder of this, but without being critical about our own photos, we — or perhaps I should say I — am led into photorealism, where I try to record everything exactly as it was, because I don’t know what caused me to feel what I felt, so I painstakingly denote everything in the hopes of feeling that same thing again.

But, at this point, I think that it isn’t necessary, and it isn’t worth it.  I’ve seen the same thing happening with mindfulness training, where people know that it works, but they don’t know how it works, so the program basically includes everything a certain Master taught — even if it’s irrelevant (or unnecessary; or in the worst cases, harmful).

What I have to do is find what I’m feeling upon seeing, in what way the image or the setting is speaking to me, where it’s speaking to me from, and then in some way be faithful to those elements (and perhaps magnify them with other elements of the composition).  That is, I have to use my critique skills to analyze the photo before embarking on generating a drawing from it.  What works, what could be better?  How?  This is, even if what speaks is a constellation and not a single star.  Being faithful to the rest of the “reality” of the image is not as relevant as gaining those psychological “keys.”

I say this while being very early in on my journey, though, so if it doesn’t work for you, don’t feel bad.  I’m just trying to express this somehow…

What I was doing was a combination of generalization, and expressing the feeling I gained on viewing my subject (but which I should make clear, is distinct from anything the flower may have “caused” me to feel — it isn’t universal, and I need to own my own feelings).  After all, it’s the feeling and the captivation that kept me there and made me want to draw this, of all things.  The physical form is just a key to get to that state.

This means, thus, that even though I did feel that something with actual life energy in it would be the best subject for this drawing, it isn’t necessarily the case that I would need a living subject to be my key.  (Hey, I just saw what I did there.)  What I seem to be responding to, as in the variant aesthetic to kalon, may be something more along the line of the world of Forms…or Archetypes…?  Hmm.  That’s something to consider delving more deeply into…

Notes on “Yapha”…

Not sure how much time I’ll have to write, here, but I thought that as I had enough time to play around with photo-editing, maybe I could post a little more.

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Inspired by the prompt, “Yapha.”  15″x24″.

And, well, yeah; given that there’s a casserole in the oven that is like magma if it doesn’t cool off for half an hour, maybe it’s a good enough time to do this?

I took this photo this afternoon.  It was being a little stubborn and didn’t want to uncurl from the poster tube (I didn’t force it) so I weighted down the corners with clips.

Also, even though the light was decent, I got a lot of glare on this piece.  I was able to adjust things back to what it looks more like in actual life, by altering Levels.  The hues themselves seem a bit stronger than in life, though.

This is the piece I began all that time ago, which I stalled on out of the dread of doing photorealism (it’s not photorealistic, though, not really), and ended up taking three weeks to make.

The night before the critique, I was also busy deepening the chroma on the areas of the image I wanted the viewer to focus on.  That process was done entirely without the source photo.  I do have a closer detail image, though I’m not sure 72 dpi does it justice; I do know changing the dimensions through WP causes things to go fuzzy:

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“Yapha,” detail.

I’m pretty sure this was on Canson Ingres paper, Stygian Black.  Almost all of the strong hues are Neocolor I.  I started with all warm tones — reds through yellows — and then found that I had to go back for cool tones, especially of red, violet, and yellow.  This is when I made that trip to the art supply store and found the crayons for a little under $2 each.

Earlier on, I did work with laying in a base coat of the Derwent Drawing Pencils, particularly in the lower right of the image; but even though they were decently opaque, the color saturation wasn’t close to what I had envisioned.  It makes sense, because the Drawing Pencils are basically all earth tones.  I just hadn’t really imagined that they would look as faint as they did.

The way those pencils did help, though:  the white was very useful to brighten areas prior to laying in more color, and the black was useful to cause things to fade back into the background.  They have a more grainy texture than the Neocolor Is, though.

It was kind of …different to my usual working method, where I found that the more I laid in color, the brighter the drawing became.  It makes sense, because the crayons were nearly all lighter than this black (I think I did resort to black Neocolor II some time in there), but as in that post I made about my Figure Drawing assignment…I was essentially drawing or painting in the light.

I also found that as good as the Neocolor I crayons were at showing up on paper this black, they also were just a slight bit translucent.  What this means is that even in areas which had been repeatedly coated, almost saturated, with crayon; I could still see the black of the paper showing through just a tiny bit, through — not just between gaps in — the wax coating.  It’s something to keep in mind.

Really, the only thing I think would have done what I wanted, which I’ve ever used, is likely a cadmium-pigmented paint.  But of course, that wouldn’t be safe; and I was doing this on paper (a kind of thin one at that), not canvas.

The only reason I used black for the background is that it was the only large-size tinted paper I had which seemed remotely decent for this drawing, and I really wanted to get to work on this on Thanksgiving, while I had the time (but not the choice of paper, apparently).

This is one of the images that I would really wish to frame.  It’s also one that makes me wonder what would happen if I used a solvent to liquefy the crayon…but I’m not going to touch this one with it.  Not right now, anyway…and not without a lot of experimentation to get my sea legs, first.