Engaging with the process?

I may have come to a mini-breakthrough.  Is that called a realization?  Maybe that’s called a realization.  😉


Today I was getting into gear to take my origami paper off of my desk in the bedroom if I wasn’t going to use it.  Then, I was looking at one of my sets, which I picked up because I liked the patterning on the paper.  This, and it is almost (but not quite) 6″ square.  When I got it, I was planning to (and did) use it for mandala generation.  (The patterns on the papers didn’t help, there.)

So anyway, I was getting ready to put this stuff away, and then I realized I wasn’t even using the origami paper for its intended purpose.  I got the brief flash of trying to fold something out of the small, pretty paper; and then also got the brief flash of “what will I do with it once I fold it?”  But then, that’s not really a thought that will get any paper folded, right?

So, I started out with this little one.  It’s just a standard crane with some minor modifications (I used to know a way to make them into dragons, but then forgot)…and I came to the realization that with origami, the end result is not as much the point as the process.  If the process is not careful, though, what you get at the end shows it.

After that was done, I was minorly lamenting having gone out today instead of staying in and doing some art.  But there was my little pad of hemp-blend paper, and a piece of vine charcoal on my desk.  Then I thought to myself, “but I don’t know what to draw!”  Then I thought back to myself, “just draw what’s in front of you.  What you see.”  And I got this:


Sorry about the lighting; I had two of three lamps on in the room, plus my halogen desk lamp, and things still turned out a bit dim.  I might be able to fix that by messing with the exposure time, though…maybe?

In any case, a quick view of Auto Levels in Photoshop just made it look artificial (there were no pure white tones anywhere, here), so I left it alone…as versus try and tinker with the color channels.  It might have been easier if I had the option of CMYK (subtractive color) alterations, but all I’ve got with my version is RGB (additive color)…which is still kind of a mystery to me.

The carton used to contain coconut water (I drank it); what it’s sitting on is the tin that contains my Monolith graphite sticks.  Behind it is said halogen desk lamp.  Lower right corner?  That’s a drawing from an earlier post.  😛  But I’ve found that I make more interesting drawings when I try and draw (or interpret) things that I actually see, as versus things that I totally make up.

Then there is the feeling I get when I am literally letting other people see what I see, and how intimate that is.  It is kind of scary, especially when you really don’t want to be famous, and get kind of paranoid that people will know where you are if they know what you see (no).

Basically everything you see in the upper left photograph is from one stick of vine charcoal, a paper, my fingers, and a kneaded eraser.  I know I have said I hate charcoal, but it’s really not terrible when I don’t deal with any white tones.  Using white means that I either have to use a white pastel, the White Charcoal which is notoriously of unknown composition (but which works, arguably, very well if not best — I’m not sure why), or a white Conté crayon (which won’t blend as well as the White Charcoal, as it has more wax or oil or something in it — it binds to the paper more directly and makes a more permanent mark).

White pencils are kind of not in the same category, which I know now.  Even a General’s White Charcoal pencil will make a narrow mark which can be hard to see from a distance; and building up a drawing using something like a Derwent White Drawing pencil is an entirely different process than using chunks of pigment which can be applied in broad swaths instead of points and lines.  But — both white pencils and charcoal pencils are excellent for fine detail and intense tone (a small point of contact means that more pressure is applied [force per unit area] to the juncture between pencil tip and paper, than would occur with a larger point of contact — unless you seriously lean into that charcoal).

Any of the above non-pencil options will expose me to Titanium Dioxide (a standard white pigment), which is relatively safe — unless you breathe it in (and even then, I think this is a chronic exposure risk), or it moves into your body through your skin (a more recent hazard indicated specifically with nanoparticles — which are transparent).

And what that means is that I probably don’t want to introduce white pastel dust into my sleeping quarters.  Which is kind of …well, when it’s right next to my bed, I am more likely to use it, and I am not in the habit of utilizing the drawing table…it’s probably outside the range of my “territory.”

Speaking of drawing tables — I now have an easel.  A very light — aluminum — easel.  I haven’t unpacked it yet to make sure it’s undamaged, but if it’s in good condition, it will be a very cool thing to work with.  I went out there with the thought in mind of spending around $120 for an easel, so when I found this one for about $60, and it will support anything up to 34″ tall…not a bad thing.  I can imagine working up to 24″x36″, but not with that oriented vertically!  If I get much bigger than that, I will need bigger brushes!

I think the largest canvas I’ve ever used was 24″x30″; mostly, in class, we were working with a max size of 18″x24″ for both drawings and paintings.  Then again, we also had to carry these things back and forth between classroom and home.  24″x30″ was about the most I could do without falling over myself.

But the nice thing now, yes, is that I can paint and draw while standing (or sitting), and not have to make weird adjustments to my arm movements because some parts of the drawing or painting are farther away (or distorted because I see them as receding).  I’m fairly certain that this will make it easier to paint on canvas — if not make large drawings, more generally.

I also saw more Daniel Smith watercolor paints at that store, today, whereas I thought they were on closeout — maybe they’re just so desired that they’re almost never there?  Maybe someone is buying them in bulk and peddling them on the street?  I don’t know.

In any case, I think that if I’m going to continue to make art, the motivation for doing so needs to come from wanting to engage with the process, rather than wanting to have a “good” work to show off, later.  Charcoal actually really helps with this.  I’m not totally sure if newsprint does; but I have at least one pad of Sketch paper I can use to draw with, which is otherwise being used as a tablecloth, right now.

It’s kind of funny, how much I’ve migrated away from colored pencils…


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Haru ("Codey") is a second-year Master's student in Library and Information Science, hoping to find a way to fuse their desire to make the world a better place and to finance their art.

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