…oh right, happy new year!

Do I make this a mad dash to try and fit in everything that has happened and which I have realized, in the last three days?  (As an adult, I’ve never been a person for birthdays or holidays, much…)

Well, for one thing, I have started working on a webcomic script.  It’s not much, but it is pointing out things that I need to know to proceed further.

Everything I’ve read, in regard to comics, at least, says that script format doesn’t matter, as long as I know what’s going on:  especially as the script is not meant to be interpreted by someone else.  I did try and take a scriptwriting class some time ago, if you remember (click my “scriptwriting” tag to see more — not the one populated by the Reader), but dropped it because it was implicitly for filmmaking.  And, because my teacher was biased in a way which conflicted with (okay, was offensive to) me.

I have (very) little interest in filmmaking, at the moment; so while last night I did remember to note to myself to look at some scriptwriting books today at work, this morning I realized that I would run across exactly the same problem with the majority of those books.

Really, I think that if I were trying to get back into writing a script for a webcomic, books on writing stories in general (maybe short stories, in particular) would probably be more helpful than books on writing screenplays.  Books have narratives; screenplays can totally lack this dimension (and in the class I dropped, did totally lack this dimension).

As regards University:  I need to get on working through some things as regards researching future career paths.  This is one thing to do when I don’t know what to do.  (Reading, is another.)

I should not assume that Cataloging is going to work out as well for me as I think it is going to work out; I need to be doing some self-assessments, and probably doing some work prior to (and in addition to) going back to my Vocational program.  This means doing some work over the holiday as regards career path and class options.

In particular, I’m going to at least want to work out a potential class pathway and see if I will need to fill in some gaps as regards the specific Competencies we are supposed to cover through our courses — in addition to my Foundation courses.

I also need to be looking at what job positions I can move into which will help advance my career as a future Information professional.  Right now I am most interested in Academic or Special Libraries — Knowledge Management sounds fun — though narrowing down a search to a new immediate job which will be fulfilling (or, at least, a good experience) should be easier after doing more homework.

There are some optional readings I didn’t do while classes were in, which may be good to follow up on, now.  And I should get back to my co-worker about talking to a Cataloger for an informational interview.

There are two more classes that I can see myself taking out of the Library Science part of the program:  Collection Development, and Reference Interviews.  (The other night, I read through most of the offerings of my school which looked applicable to me…but was on my lightweight computer, so didn’t do as much work as I could have at my main terminal.)  These two classes will very much impact me if I do decide to move on within the Library sphere, regardless of whether those libraries happen to be Public, Academic, or Special.

I also need to pick up a book that I’ve been thinking on, for a while.

Aside from this, I have done some work with watercolors and brushes…but this thing has enough metadata attached to it, as it is.  I’ll post about that, next.

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Thinking ahead: webcomics?

Taking a brief hiatus from my color work to think on something that caught my imagination last night.  This is the concept of publishing:  specifically, a webcomic.  I had (and have) been thinking on traditional printing, but if I wanted to work in full color, the economic barriers are much lower online; and my potential audience, much higher.

Of course, though, I’m planning on becoming an Information specialist, so I don’t…think? I would have to worry much about being paid.  If I learn web coding, I can also publish this in the manner I choose.  If I printed this stuff, though, it would be a financial loss not to charge for it.  Economically speaking, it’s still a loss if I spend time on it instead of doing other things, but if it makes me happy, that’s something else.

Part of what spurred this off was having run across an old posting of my own, which reminded me of a resource I’d forgotten (now found).  It is only a few pages of notes and a false start for something that looked more like creative nonfiction than a script:  but these are enough to spark off that which I did have in mind, back then.  As a note for the future:  I really should have recorded that dream I referenced, close to the time I had it.  Making it public is better than losing it entirely.

From what I can recall, it tied in my old/first fictive story (dealing with kind “demons”) with the latter/newer one (dealing with mental illness), and a few things wandering around my head which have to do with varying notions of immortality, the paranormal, ghosts, and aliens…it’s not what it looks like, let me assure you.  (This is not the one about the ex-Buddhist warlock [that one could be really fun to write, actually], or the one focused on jewelry and environmental exploitation.)

And now, right, I’m thinking that comics publishers must need librarians, too.  The major issue is that I am now on a data organization and retrieval path, not a Special Libraries one.  But we will see what the future holds.

Ah, wait:  nah.  My current path looks hella more adapted to me specifically.  😉  I’ve actually gotten a bit distracted by this at the moment, though.  It would seem “fun” to work as a librarian for a publishing house, especially where it comes to comics, but I am guessing that those jobs are few and far between.  I’ve also read that traditional publishing is shrinking due to Web influence (not to mention self-publishing), but I can’t recall where or when I read that.

Especially because I’m more of an indy type (when it comes to my own interests)…I think…than a DC or Marvel type…and as the print commercial comics world would seem to be dominated by males (even, it seems, when the target market is female — which doesn’t…really make sense), I could foresee some challenges (not least, being called to represent “women” when I don’t consider myself a woman).  But I’ve been the first female to do a lot of things, which is probably why I needed the shelter of Library & Information Science in the first place.

I have a couple of pages of little scribbled notes here from about 2 AM last night; I’ll see what I can make out.  The first portion of it is a thumbnail for a drawing/painting which I didn’t get to work on, today (I didn’t really wake up until 2 PM, which left me with three hours of daylight).  I had been thinking of working that painting on a small tile and seeing what became of it, but I think it is better to work with the precision of watercolor, as versus acrylics, right now.  Acrylics don’t require masking, but detail can be difficult to obtain on a small scale with heavy-body paints.

Anyhow (this does relate to my notes), through the rest of this week, Blick appears to be having in-store holiday clearance sales.  I’m pretty much too sick to risk going (I’m hoping to be healed up enough not to be immediately infected by something else, by the weekend), but it did get me thinking on what I might try out if I could.

At the beginning of last night’s “trying to go to sleep” stint, I was trying to figure out how to do layout without resorting to my Wacom.  There’s nothing wrong with it; it’s just old and kind of awkward to use (where do I put this when I’m not using it?), and without Adobe Illustrator or another vector-drawing program (or maybe the Pen tool in Photoshop CC, which isn’t available in Elements), its uses are limited where it comes to comic production (scribbling in color fills on Photoshop is less than ideal, though I wouldn’t know about this unless I had been exposed to Layer Masking some years ago).

At some point I did realize that I could outline a selection, then use Paste Into Selection in order to insert a scanned drawing into a page that I could later publish, maybe as a .PDF.  Thus, there is no need for me to make a completed page, then scan it in and only do cleanup on it.  So long as I have a template or rough draft of what I want, and keep the images I’m inserting to the right ratio, I should be able to scale and insert the image, and assemble the page using software.  This basically negates the need for a translucent painting foundation like Yupo (of which I had been thinking about getting a tiny pad [should it exist] to try out).

Basically, last night I was trying to figure out how to transfer knowledge of a finished layout from my layout paper over to Bristol board or hot-press watercolor paper for coloring, in some way so that I wouldn’t be drawing the same thing three times:  one rough, one on Layout paper for inking, one which would allow water-based coloring media (though the same is possible by scanning the lineart and then adding color at 100% transparency on the computer).  Yupo would solve this problem by being the paper used both for inking and for coloring (there is a translucent variety), but it’s pretty expensive.  I also don’t know if the inks will stay put on it.

LOW-TECH, BABY.  😉  Well, kind of…?  Not really.  Yupo is polypropylene.

I probably should have marked the time that I realized that I didn’t have to pre-assemble the images, but I didn’t.  😉  In any case, I can create the images separately, even if on Yupo (allowing for disastrous failure) and then assemble them on the computer.  This method also allows for higher-resolution scans, though I’ve experienced my last instance of Photoshop (not the current one…yet) to be a bit irregular where it comes to what resolution anything is kept when imported into a new file.

I should also consider utilizing my Wacom with Creative Cloud services…(or saving money for a newer Wacom, with Creative Cloud services.  The biggest issue for me is whether they will stop billing me when I tell them to stop billing me, and what I can do if they don’t.)

I am also in the process of realizing that there are a number of possible visual formats one could utilize to publish a webcomic, and at the moment, I’m not sure which is best — or which will utilize the least amount of programming knowledge!  Today I started looking through the Reader here for examples, and found a really nice webcomic, Brainchild by Suzanne Geary.  It seems to fall in line with something I would like, at least aesthetically (I haven’t gotten the chance to read much of it, yet, so the story is a bit beyond me at the moment).

The largest issue I can see with web publishing is the scale factor:  how to make sure that the text in my images is actually of a size that is readable, and that the images are actually large enough to appreciate, even on a tablet.  It isn’t so much of an issue when part of an image is given and then the reader scrolls down to get the rest of the panels, but putting a complete page onto a computer screen…may be different.  It would also be different if I designed the pages to be able to be printed and bound, as versus simply read online…which, I’ve gotta say, at this point I’m leaning against, if only because it will make it more difficult to rip off.  😉

Well, yes and no.  🙂  Not only will it make it more difficult to print, it will be vastly easier for me to produce.  ^_^;;  (Yes, I have indeed tried to use bleeds and gutters…the post-print binding and trimming of which, is probably the biggest pain about any of this.)

Gah.  I’ve got to find some way to learn to code…

Couldn’t help myself: FW acrylic inks vs. watercolors, probably Part 1

I’ve waited quite a while to write this post.  Between wanting to fit in a visual comparison of the FW acrylic inks versus artist-quality tube watercolors (I’ve given up on the image editing, for now:  my digital photography skills are not as honed as my drawing skills), having come down with a cold over the holidays, and it being…well, the holidays, I haven’t gotten around to it until now.

I had intended to do a test to see if I could get the FW acrylic inks to bleed like watercolors, but unfortunately, I haven’t had the energy.  What I have been doing is swatching out watercolors over black fineliner to see how transparent they are.  Although while I was in the process of painting, it became difficult with some colors (like Cobalt Blue) to see the lines, after things were dry the transparency of (all) the paints was much more apparent, and with all of the ones I have (save heavy applications of Lamp Black), black ink underdrawings should be visible.

I should note for newcomers here that I’m not using any cadmium colors, which are known for their relative opacity, even in watercolor lines which otherwise tend towards transparency (note that intentionally opaque watercolor is called gouache and isn’t what I’m talking about now); I tend to shy away from cadmium pigments for health reasons.  There are other pigment families which also require caution in use, one of them being the cobalt salts; though I’m less wary of these (whether that’s deserved or not).

There are three cobalt pigments that I have used:  Viridian (a bluish, granulating green), Cobalt Blue (a sky-blue type color), and Aureolin (a cool yellow which leans green, and is said to darken over time).  There is at least one more, Cobalt Violet, which I’m curious about but haven’t tried yet…though I certainly shouldn’t go around collecting toxic materials for the hell of it.  In any case, all of the ones I’ve listed have seemed a bit…desaturated? to me.  I’ve been using Winsor & Newton, and almost scrapped Cobalt Blue from my palette because it’s so weak in mixes when trying to make green.

However!  There are uses for these pigments which don’t appear on the surface.  For example, Viridian mixed with Permanent Rose Red (a violet-leaning, delicate red) makes a really, really nice violet-grey.  (At least, I’m pretty sure that was Viridian I used, and not Viridian Hue — which is Phthalocyanine Green.)  Don’t ask me how.  It would be hard to explain.  😉  I might have been up for it if I hadn’t read parts of Blue & Yellow Don’t Make Green, by Michael Wilcox but I did, so…I can’t unsee it.  😉  The book I mention is on color theory and the physical aspects of pigments’ light absorption properties in relation to what colors we see them to be; I have the 2009 version, which is, of course, very dated by now (at least some of the paints tested in the book have changed formulation since 2009).

The short of it is:  it’s hard to explain how green plus red equals violet under traditional color theory, except that the green leans blue and the red leans violet…then the yellow in the green would mute out violet, and the red mixed with blue leans violet…but then there’s still green…AAHhhh…okay.

It’s…it’s just hard to think about, and I’m no longer sure that the color wheel is even a viable system, at this point.  For instance, is green GREEN, or is green blue plus yellow?  In the prismatic spectrum, there are pure greens…so where does the notion of green being “blue plus yellow” come from?  The point is that many yellow pigments eat blue light and many blue pigments eat yellow light, but they both reflect green, so green is the dominant frequency of the light that is left over and reflected.  It’s not the only color, though, as is visible when chlorophyll decays in maple leaves and you get spectacular yellows and reds reflected which were there all along, but dominated by the green light.

It’s because of this that I wonder whether any grouping of colors turning to “mud,” (dull, nondescript color) can be reoriented in some useful direction with the addition of one or more of the right colors.  After all, “mud” is basically…just a neutral, yeah?  That means it should have a lot of different colors in it being reflected all at once, with few dominant.  Take out what you don’t want, add what you do:  it would seem to be possible, at least?

I have been using a split-primary system (a modified color wheel which at least gives some direction)…but at some point randomness helps to find those gorgeous colors that you can’t get without mixing some colors not traditionally combined.  Mixing several steps further than the point at which a more cautious person (or brain-voice) would have told you to stop, can also be really fun (for example, mixing black is, generally speaking, a blast).  For me, at least.  I still don’t understand how my brain perceives color, but I think that it is in some way my thinking/language-oriented mind doesn’t know how to comprehend…like seeing what is not there rather than what is.

In any case (that was a long tangent), what I can say is that the watercolor paints I have, in comparison to the FW acrylic inks, display much more randomness when it comes to where on the image the pigment dries.  I’m not entirely sure if this is simply a quality of high flow with the watercolors, or has something to do with acrylic resin’s famed quick-drying ability.  (Those who have painted in both acrylic and oil paints tell me that acrylic dries very quickly in relation to …well, maybe anything would dry quickly in relation to oil…but I wouldn’t know firsthand.)

I have also noted that although the acrylic inks appeared more saturated than I remembered my paints being when I first used them, in one of my photos, the watercolors are clearly denser.  I’m not sure if this is an artifact of the camera, lighting, LCD display, or what.  I can get back to you on it, though.

By far, though, the biggest difference between the FW acrylic inks and the watercolors I have (mostly Winsor & Newton, with a few exceptions), is the fact that the watercolors move, after they’re laid down.  Particularly, Grumbacher Vermilion Deep (it isn’t actually technically mercuric sulfide, don’t worry), and W&N Viridian, Sap Green, French Ultramarine, and Burnt Umber…all show a tendency to highlight the texture of the paper (unless I wasn’t paying attention, this is a rather heavy Canson Montval cold-press).

Vermilion Deep, Viridian, and French Ultramarine, I would say, are all definitely granulating (or “flocculating?” hm, new word); that is, the pigment particles seem to cluster together as the paints are drying, which gives the area a distinctive texture — which, I’ve gotta say, is probably nicer in a Fine Art context.  If I were creating something to be reproduced, like a comic page, though, I might want to use the FW acrylic inks, just because they give a lot more of a reliable (though less exciting) outcome.  😛

And please, PLEASE remember to wash your brush frequently when using the FW inks!  I got a little happy and acrylic resin dried around the end of my ferrule on the first day of painting with these!  (I’m just lucky I didn’t use the one with real hair…)

Up next; unless I forget about this post entirely:  working wet-into-wet with both the watercolors and the FW acrylic inks!

Yeah…sometimes spiritual talk does help.

This piece, I suppose, explores something tangential to me…in the New Age ideal of Ascension.  Though let’s face it, many things are tangential to me.  I have so many tangents that my location based on their point of intersection is fairly clear (and while I am tempted to intentionally run off on a tangential diatribe to poke humor at this, I’ll spare you).  😉

Tonight, I had the experience of accidentally clicking on the Reader Tag, “psychometry,” through which I found a blog, interesting enough to me, if not to you.

Based on its location in my Tag listing, I assume that I have spoken about this before at some other time, probably years past.  Actually, Googling myself brings up at least two separate instances of this, neither of which look content-rich.  Psychometry…is a name given to the ability to discern information from an object based on its “energetic” imprints.  I have what might be considered the beginnings of this…I don’t know how to zero in on specific information, but I do get clear “feelings” when I touch certain objects which are not explainable by ordinary means.

As I may have said before, however, the ability to feel things based on sensing something (what?) which one cannot quite put a name or definition to, in my family, crosses over into various other unusual responses to reality, and the realm of having a hard time staying grounded in “this” reality.  Without saying too much; if I am energetically sensitive, this comes along with my creative abilities, which seem to also come along with my own mental troubles.

In The View From the Studio Door, Ted Orland quotes James Lee Burke’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek comment that “God might choose fools and people who glow with neurosis as his partners in creation — but he doesn’t make mistakes.”*  (83)  What I find interesting about this, as it reflects back on my life, my studies, and my work, is that a great number of neurodiverse people seem to be attracted to the arts.

When I showed a couple of paintings and drawings to one of my old team members, noting my illness at the same time as I felt inclusion in the arts community despite it, he noted that I had “Mad Skillz.”  This, and “glowing with neurosis,” kind of shed a different light on what otherwise might be seen entirely as an illness, as versus one aspect of a larger human survival strategy.  Other components of this strategy might include irrational hope and unshakable faith.  After all, the first trait qualifies as delusional; and the second trait only evades that status because the facts regarding the actual situation can’t be proven, therefore one cannot technically be proven wrong.

I’m not sure if Van Gogh is entirely “to blame” for the humanization of those of us who at times (at least) feel otherworldly, but for some reason, there are a collection of us in the arts community.  I am also certain that I am not alone in having my spirituality feed very much into my art, which in turn (along with the fear of having an effect on my society which is unintendedly deleterious — likely instilled in me from peers assuming I was subhuman, growing up), is the main thing that scares me away from it.

But it’s fairly evident that most people aren’t scared of doing the wrong thing for their society — especially those who clearly are doing the wrong thing.  It’s also fairly evident that my creative drive is likely what has sustained me to this point.  Hence, why I try — even if wobbling a bit — to return to the sheer joy and power and terror of creation.

Though it is still just weird for me to see things develop as I work on them.

Last night, in particular, it seemed as though I had been revving the (metaphorical) car in neutral, and then suddenly engaged the gears.

I don’t know how this creativity thing works.  I have been given some tools to help me harness it, but knowing how to drive a car doesn’t mean you understand how the car functions.  It means that you can get from Point A to Point B by using it.  That doesn’t mean that it’s easy to block out the noise which comes when either you do well, or don’t.  Nor does it mean that you won’t suddenly engage a gear and lurch forward and freak yourself out.

The easiest way to block a person from being creative is to convince them not to begin; beginning is the hardest part.  After you have something to work with, even if it’s just a scrawl…you can start to see things in it, and what it might become.  But beginning?  It’s a leap of faith, and when you know you’re going to be terrified either way at the outcome (“oh no! it’s horrible!”/”oh no, I’m being reminded of my life purpose! [now what?]”), it’s hard to take that leap.

The difference is that one terror is the terror (or relief) of failure.  The other terror is the exalted joy of success, and accompanying sense of direction and responsibility, which requires (guess what?):  CHANGE.  Bravery, direction, and purpose are not easy burdens to bear, but they become far easier when you’re committed to them, and embedded in the work already.  Past a certain point, there is no going back.

Of late, this has weighed on me; particularly within the last 15 years, in trying to figure out what to do about my embodiment…though I realize now that there is no, “best-case scenario,” for me.  I am not a, “‘woman’ who ‘wants to be’ a man,” or a, “‘man’ who ‘wants to be’ a woman,” and whether either of those things are even accurate ideas, is an obvious question.  What my life is has gone far beyond black and white dichotomies; and maybe that is my choice, made while I was unaware it was a choice:  to live in full color (yes, with yellow, in addition to red and blue [or magenta and cyan:  you pick]:  you get many more colors that way) in a society that has historically largely seen in greyscale.

Surgery would be superficial, for me.  Hormones would require never-ending care.  I’ve been in the transgender community in one form or another for at least the last 15 years, and I know now that I am clearly not transsexual.  Remedies made for them will not work for me.  At the same time, I doubt I could be happy in relationships where the fact that I don’t identify as a woman would be unknown or disrespected.

Particularly, I don’t identify as lesbian (to be lesbian implies, to me, womanhood; it doesn’t to all, however), and could likely partner with a man — but that man would have to respect me wholly, including the fact that I don’t see myself as a woman, and cannot bend on that point for his benefit.  I stopped seeing myself as a woman as a matter of survival, and my survival comes before my relationship with him.  (I’m thinking that this is a new flavor of genderqueer.)  The same point stands for a significant other of any gender, by the way.  Men are only the most commonly occurring options.

In talking about gender and sexuality and how I want to shape my future, I’m talking about self-actualization, which is another aspect of creativity.  It is, to be certain, one of the clearest points I could assay to support my hypothesis that to change…is scary.  Especially when what you’re considering changing is something that will alter your life from the ground up.  (Yes, art does that for me.  It changes me as I work on it.)  But sometimes we change and we don’t know we are changing until the process is already well underway.  Sometimes we take a third or fourth or fifth+ route that we didn’t originally see as an option, but which is the only way to survive while keeping ourselves somehow intact (that’s not meant to be a commentary on surgery; I can’t speak to the feelings that cause one to feel enough stress at their embodiment that physical transition is the only option).

Anyhow, I was talking about Ascension, or the evolution of our collective beings to a higher level of functioning (as I presently understand the term).  It will be interesting to see if any of this works out in the ways I’ve seen predicted.  I know (and know that I know) little enough about the universe and my own existential existence not to have ruled out messages of hope.  After all, it’s one of those survival mechanisms.

*Orland, Ted.  (2012).  The view from the studio door:  How artists find their way in an uncertain world.  Santa Cruz, CA & Eugene, OR:  Image Continuum Press.

late night color play…

It took me until 5 PM today, to fully wake up.  Accordingly, even though I am tired now…I know I should go to bed; I just don’t want to.  I did, however, get up the courage to play around with some colors.

3114-doodle
My one pearlescent FW ink is at center bottom — it’s the one with the glare.

Long story short, all of the non-glittery FW acrylic inks I have at the moment, are transparent, and neither my Micron nor Copic fineliners bleed under them.  The glitter in the pearlescent color I’ve got, however, blocks some of the underlying drawing, even when there isn’t that glare off of the surface (the glare is illustrated above).

Though I’ve tried to color-correct for this, all of the photos in this post were taken under artificial light.  Therefore, some of the more delicate aspects (like the differences between those three yellows up there) are probably not going to be as apparent as they would under full sunlight.

3118-doodle
Don’t let the water pool and dry, or you get this:

So, up next was the attempt at color blending.  These guys do a decent job of blending wet-into-wet if you drag the colors into each other with the brush (and not so much water), as indicated on that inside corner between red-orange and yellow-orange; they don’t do so well if you let the water and pigment pool and then dry on its own.

The latter technique was what achieved the blot in the upper right corner of this photograph.  I’m thinking it would have been alright if the amount of water had been far less.  But it’s an obvious difference from Western-style watercolor paints, which would probably not have dried like that.  You can see as well that glazing appears very effective.  I was working on Canson Montval cold-press paper, here.

Drawing a new color into a brushstroke which has already been laid down has the same subtle effect, as seen here:

3121-doodle
doodle.

…and I can actually somewhat see the colors separating out in the bluer “tail” of this doodle.  I’m not sure if that’s due to incomplete mixing or to the pigments actually settling out.  In any case, I’m really surprised that some of the color mixes I’m showing here look as decent as they do, because they looked pretty bad on my palette.  I can just say that.  🙂

At one point I did get the urge to see if these things could work wet-into-wet like regular watercolors.  The short answer to that is “no,” at least not when using staining colors, and at the same time having paper which is not fully saturated with water.

3120-doodle
The result of attempting to drop pigment straight onto wet paper.

The image to the right is the result of attempting to drop a few different colors into what was essentially water which I had spread on the paper, but not allowed to soak in.  The stain in the center-top area seems to be the result of Phthalo Blue working its way into the paper itself, as the paper absorbed the water that had been laid on top of it.

I kind of wonder if things would have been different, had I allowed that water to soak in fully before adding in the ink.  It would likely have changed the response a bit.  I notice that neither the green nor the yellow which I dropped in did the same thing, though, so maybe the difference can be attributed to Phthalo Blue being a staining pigment.

And, right:  that same pooling and settling thing happened in the snakes on the right side.  I’ve got to remember not to let that happen again, unless I want the effect.  🙂  (It really didn’t look that way when it was wet…then again, I saw a lot of subtle variations when the inks were wet which became difficult to see after they had dried.

Okay, see, and now I want to do a comparison between these and my true watercolor paints…soon, maybe.  What I can say is that I have got the saying in mind to let paintings be paintings, and drawings be drawings…I don’t remember who said that, but it is surely difficult to wed the two.

Having said that, I went out on a limb and tried drawing a person tonight.  Right now, she’s kind of a wireframe and difficult to see, being totally in pencil.  But if I were going to work in illustration, as for a comic book, I really do think that this media would be ideal for that.  The transparency of the inks allows inked underdrawings to show through, easily, and the acrylic component in the color allows lower layers of acrylic ink to stay put.  However, there is also a bit of an issue in my recording tools not being able to pick up the full spectrum of the light which I can see reflected off of the paper.

I wonder if maybe I should look forward to a dedicated scanner, if I’m going to be doing this stuff seriously (no, that is not a dare)…I just don’t want to deal with public machines where it comes to scans…

International influences make me feel better :)

I have noticed something about my taste when taking photographs:  I very much prefer images which are not totally man-made.  I realized this first somewhere along the first time that I went to Las Vegas and did not take pictures of the extravagant ornamentation, not even the ones which seemed set-up for great picture-taking.  Now I realize that this is because those images were artificial.  Not just in the way that photos cannot help but be artificial, but in the way that these images that I avoided recording were created just to be seen.

Taken, actually, a number of years ago; but I revisit this site regularly.
Probably a Coleus.  Taken, actually, a number of years ago; but I revisit this site regularly.

In contrast, the images I take of plants, and which I took at the last CA State Fair, had an element of chance to them.  Even when the images taken were obviously human-arranged, such as the images of a small garden full of Coleus which I took — there was a non-human element to them which was dominant.  As versus the plants within one of the mall displays at Las Vegas, which were placed and then left to die, it seems, the ones at the State Fair were obviously well cared-for, and center stage.  That is, it was their beauty we were looking at; not an entirely artificial one.

It reminds me of a time when I was at the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens and was trying to take a picture of a flowering tree…the flower I was focusing in on had a small green bug on it which kind of looked like a green ladybug.  At the time, I felt like the green ladybug-thing was keeping the photograph from being “perfect,” but later on, and especially now, I realize that this was an element which individualizes the photo and makes it a portrait of a specific time and place (now gone).  As I age, I realize that art pieces I make — or that anyone makes, really — are records of the times they originated in…and if there’s one thing to note about time, it’s that it always keeps going.  🙂

Yes little bug, I see you.  :)
Yes little bug, I see you. 🙂  I know you don’t care I’m here.  It’s OK.  🙂

The other thing I realized about myself, as regards my reading habits, is that I have a very large tendency to want to read things which are new to me.  That is, I dislike reading a chain of seven different books which might as well have been one — which has been a big reason why I haven’t read broadly (in fiction) after University.  The perspectives I tended to find were both broadly distributed and relatively unitary as regarded their philosophies.  Now that I look back on it, the books which I have most appreciated have been books from authors who had at least dual-culture experience.

From Articulations of Difference:  Gender Studies and Writing in French, which focused on explorations of gender and sexuality in French literature, and which was my first major foray on my own into literary criticism; to Essentials of Buddhism:  Basic Terminology and Concepts of Buddhist Philosophy and Practice, which is translated out from its original Japanese; to The Hell Screens, written by Alvin Lu, who questioned why he didn’t write the book in Chinese…through to my experiences in my English education where I appreciated a few of the translated works by Russian authors much moreso than books written by native English speakers (though unfortunately I cannot remember anymore which specific authors I appreciated; this was at minimum a decade ago)…not to mention the translated manga I have read but not gotten all the way through (Blade of the Immortal comes to mind)…I have a pattern of appreciating international thought; specifically, international thought which doesn’t try to assimilate to thought structure typical of writing in the English language.

And this last book I’ve been reading, on Chinese Painting Techniques for Exquisite Watercolors, by Lian Quan Zhen, and how it can translate over to influencing Western-style watercolors, is really eye-opening.  It reminds me of what I had been told about Picasso’s study of African artwork — that is, that it revolutionized his painting technique and helped to usher in a new era (for the time) of Modern Art, which in turn blasted open the ideas of what art could be, in Western circles.

I didn’t get to work on my painting today because I am trying to avoid getting sicker than I already am (going out to work did not happen either); nor did I get to work on reading anything.  (And certainly, I should get back to bed after writing this!)  However, the memory of having read what I have, of Chinese Painting Techniques, is sticking with me.  It’s just really, really interesting to me to read thought which I have not heard expressed to me, before; along the lines of hearing about Best Maugard’s Seven Motifs in my Painting classes, which was brought to me by a teacher fluent in Spanish.

As for how that translates into my learning other languages…I know that language acquisition will open my world, at least one culture at a time; maybe more than one at a time.  This possibility draws from the example of learning an Asian language which has authors who then touch on cultures I know much less about — like Essentials of Buddhism by Mizuno Kogen (Mizuno is his surname), who goes into some lesser-known sects of Buddhist practice (out of South Asia, unless I am mistaken) which are no longer extant — that is, they either are no longer practiced, or have morphed into something else.

How are these things related?  Probably via my art practice — what there is of it, at this point, anyway.  Where it comes to painting, Chinese Painting Techniques, has been really refreshing.

Through this book I have found more of a focus on nature, less of a focus on the human body as a subject of art (I have not understood the Western focus on the human body as a subject of art, but suspect it has to do with seeing the human form as a mirror of the Christian God — which is irrelevant to me); and a freedom to imaginatively describe subjects as versus copying them from reality.  I was just kind of blown away when I looked at this book and found that it was OK in some traditions to describe things intensely by linework, or to describe elements of reality in an imaginative and still elegant way, as versus a literal way…or to incorporate poetry with art (though granted, I knew the latter already).  In particular, the section on composition, along with drawing inspiration from reality but not copying literal reality; these things have opened up a new way to thinking about image-making, for me.

At this point, I am very much inspired by this book.  I am unsure about buying it, as it seems the only options to get a paper copy are through used book sales, and I am not planning on switching to Chinese watercolors anytime soon (which behave differently than Western watercolors).  However…just to know that there are alternate accepted ways of working out there, is really nice to know.  That is, it’s nice to know that doing things differently is not necessarily doing them wrongly.

And how this ties into my desire to learn other languages…?  It’s a relatively new viewpoint for me, but I will keep trying.  It’s just strange to notice the lack of exposure someone who only knows English has to the knowledge of world civilizations and histories and cultures and arts, etc…almost as though this knowledge is commonly seen as irrelevant or optional.  (It’s not, when we live with people who have backgrounds from all over…)

This is to the extent that I know my English grammar skills are lacking (I was supposed to be taught this when very young, but apparently no one wanted to teach it), which cannot help but make the later acquisition of other languages, more difficult.  However, it’s been clear that my grammatical knowledge has been built on and reinforced both by Spanish and Japanese, even though I am not yet to the level of full functionality in either language.  It wasn’t until I started work, though, that I realized that my six years of training in Spanish amounted to very basic Spanish knowledge, which could maybe allow me to understand the gist of a kid’s book or an advertisement.

(I wonder how I would have done in Ethnic Studies, or a foreign language as a major; as versus English…?  Would it have been so conservative?…)

Yes, in Art, books do (actually!) help.

I’ve heard it said that one can’t learn Art through reading books, but sometimes those books actually help urge someone into action.

I’ve been reading in a book on Chinese ink painting techniques…and may just have gotten the inspiration to work on a painting (I’m not giving away the title until after I’ve decided whether to buy it or not).  This is on the canvas I intended to start on last semester when I got my easel (the canvas is 30″x30″, just under the 34″ maximum height my easel can take), but a different image than originally intended/settled for.  If I can pull it off, it may turn out to be a beautiful, wonderful painting.

I think a large part of the reason I haven’t started on this yet (besides time pressures) is the fact that the canvas is square, and so it isn’t entirely straightforward to think of a way to make the composition dynamic.  Though, it is possible.

I had wanted to work with an image of this plant before, but I thought that maybe I should work on something less…daunting? perfect? instead.  What I’ve done is taken one of my second-favorite images (not the most-favorite one, which this one may be a prelude to) and cropped it down in Photoshop, then printed it.  Next step is to gesso the canvas with a base color, then work loosely with vine charcoal over the surface to draw in the shapes.  After that comes glazing over the correct lines, wiping everything else away, and starting in with color (which is where I may want to bring in the colored pastels — given that I have no time limit).

I might want to do one or more practice versions of the drawing first, though, just so that I know where everything is…though that will mean working on not-so-great paper (full size is…pretty big, and the only thing I’ve got in that size is cheap butcher paper that’s kind of irritating to work with; moreso than newsprint).  Or — a better idea.  I could do a smaller version of this on one of my square watercolor blocks, though…the methods differ.  I would need to mask some areas, if I used watercolor.

Hmm.  I think that what I’ll do is work at about 2/3 scale on a newsprint pad, first, including value renditions if I can (including white as well…I am not sure if I want to go into colored pastel on newsprint); then go into drawing on canvas (given that I haven’t worked in charcoal for months).  Watercolor is just going to be tough…unless I do it loosely, and very small.  Also, that method seems to work best when one hasn’t decided on a layout yet; I have my layout already.  What I need to do is figure out where everything is placed, and get my arm used to the directionality of the lines and forms.

At least I’m getting back into the art…