Thinking on ceramics as a realistic preferred medium?

What I’m about to get into is going to make me sound really Asian, which I sometimes get in trouble for, because I don’t look the part (I’m hapa — that is, racially, half-Asian).  I have a tendency to feel most at home in A/PI communities, though.  I’m not even sure why — maybe it’s just familiarity?  A feeling of fitting in?  Culturally, I was raised with my Japanese-American side of the family, so…well, it’s comfortable for me.  M has told me that sometimes there aren’t reasons for the things we like (I mentioned this tangent one or two posts ago).

There has been so much happening, recently, that I’m not sure where to start.  The major problem that I’ve been having is…well, 1) stress, and 2) confidentiality.  The first just makes things harder across the board; the second causes me not to express why I’m stressed…adding to the stress.  Not to mention, people around me being stressed, doesn’t help.

As regards art…I pretty much haven’t been doing anything freehand, though I have been doing a lot of observing.  I think it’s OK this way.  I do have photos to work from…though it’s difficult in the respect that I’ve never taken a digital photography class…and so I have only gut instinct and fairly minimal knowledge about composition, to work from (my Art degree is only an AA).

As regards the classwork (for the Master’s program)…I still haven’t gotten around to doing that Discussion Post that I never did.  And right now…well, it’s been a while since I read the sections in question, so the longer I wait, the more work it will be to respond.  The positive point is that I’m all caught up now, except for that.  I’m not sure if it’s worth it to go back to at this point, however, and I know I don’t want to just repeat what others have said.

Right now I’ve gotten some quiet, which has not been an easy thing to come by recently, and allows me to…well, relax a bit.  Maybe I should read or do some research or something, and see if that helps.

I could do some art, too, but…I haven’t been in that mode, for a while.  I have been thinking of taking either Ceramics or Printmaking over the summer.  Ceramics would probably be easier to access, given that I have a small college not so far from where I live, which teaches it.  The Printmaking class — the one that I know about, anyway — is at least a 45-minute trip, one way.

However, one of my friends from the Art program was in the Printmaking series, last I heard of him; and unless I’m mistaken, he did like it.  For my part, I’m more interested in the old-style manual printmaking than Digital Printmaking…although the latter seems like it’s where we’re headed.  The drawback seems to be that Digital Printmaking may emulate the style of manual printmaking…without the process or limitations of printmaking, within which the style makes sense.

I also did just see an exhibit on woodblock prints…which was inspiring, to say the least.

Ceramics, though:  I went to a tea shop recently and purchased a small porcelain tea cup…which got me thinking about three-dimensional work, again.  Ceramics would enable me to work sculpturally, and also integrate color into my designs.  There is also that element of randomness which causes …well, it helps one let go of control, a bit.  So far as I know, there is no really accurate way to tell what a glaze will look like once it’s out of the kiln; bisque firing (the first firing after the clay is formed, before the glazing) also takes a chance, as pieces can explode if there are any air bubbles within them.  If they do this, you want them to do it at the bisque phase, not the glazing phase — the latter can cause fragments of a work to stick to everything else in the kiln.

At the tea shop…this is a relatively upscale tea shop…I paid either $15 or $25 (I’m no longer sure which) for a beautiful tea cup in a common Chinese style (where it comes to shape) with a modern twist on blue glaze (or is it something else, like paint?) over white clay:  it’s a linear pattern, as versus figurative.  I don’t believe I’ve taken a picture of this, yet, though that would be something to do.

There was also a red-on-white version of the same style, but for some reason, the red stripes were somewhat in relief, as versus the blue ones, which were smooth.  Texturally, the blue-on-white was preferable to me; I just wasn’t sure, either, that the beautiful red was not cinnabar (mercuric sulfide).  The latter has been widely used as a pigment, historically — though I wouldn’t take that as an indication of safety.

What I realized, though, is that as I have gotten further into tea drinking, I have begun to collect teacups (Asian teacups, more precisely) and teapots.  And I realized this is a niche market which I both might enjoy producing for, and participating within.  One of the Japanese gift shops relatively near me has a section just for pottery; it’s also common to find these sections in Asian supermarkets.  As each piece is unique…and one only has to buy one cup for their collection…price, as a barrier, decreases in importance.  The main thing that I’m concerned about there is lead exposure (most stores don’t mark whether pieces have lead in them or not), though I think that as long as the cups or pots are not exposed to acid, it should be OK.

(And I just now have realized that I can take my skill at painting and do so on ceramics!  I don’t know why that never came to me, before!)

I did enjoy Ceramics when I took the classes in high school (I took Ceramics/Mixed Media twice, then); the main issue I had with the class is that I had untreated OCD and would wash my hands until the skin cracked (which was easy, as clay will dry out one’s skin…think of facial masques made of primarily kaolin [a transparent {or translucent?} Chinese clay], and you’ll see what I’m getting at — these masques are primarily used to treat acne and oily skin, so far as I know).

Otherwise…I picked up a book on Shin Hanga, or New Printmaking (although it’s called “New,” the art movement seems to have declined in the mid-20th century — kind of like how Modern Art was followed by Contemporary Art, but the title makes it sound cutting-edge [I suppose it was, then]), at a museum store (same museum that had the woodblock prints); it appears as though it will be very inspirational.  I passed up a book on manga to purchase this one, though.

Although I have plans, at the least, to begin Japanese language review and new practice and language acquisition during the Summer…I still can’t read most untranslated Japanese graphic novels or comics, now.  I’ve just realized that maybe this lack of content delivery may be why I am more drawn to color and Fine Arts — I mostly don’t receive any content that’s written in Japanese language.  Add this to the sparing art which constituted examples in the text I was looking at…and Shin Hanga was more exciting.

There’s also the fact that I knew a good number of the authors and manga series referenced in said book…and I don’t necessarily want to duplicate knowledge I already know.  Plus, even if I do or did want to create a graphic novel as an endpoint (which I am not sure still holds as much weight as I’ve considered it to, in the past; given my reluctance to enter into generating narratives [something I’ve mentioned before, here, I’m fairly sure]), it would be best to study what the people I admired, studied — not to study and emulate their styles.  The latter of which, by the way, seems to be a path particularly looked down upon by Western artists.  Though, I’m fairly certain that competition from Japan in the U.S. comic book industry also has something to do with it, at least when we’re dealing with people from the U.S.

I’m going to try and relax, now.  I haven’t gotten to just chill for a while, and I probably need it…

One other thing:  I have realized very recently that a lot of things considered as “crafts” had useful, utilitarian functions, at some time.  Particularly when it comes to things like basket weaving and cordmaking and papermaking and knotting…at one time, these were very useful crafts.  I did take a look into the Western Art wing of a museum recently, and found a lot of “flat art”…and I’ve been wondering about the legitimacy of the valuation stating that arts (particularly the Fine Arts) are more valuable than crafts.  What I’m beginning to think is that this might be the popular viewpoint in this era, but that is by no means an absolute and accurate reflection of reality (and in fact it may have to do with colonialism…and sexism…)

Well, the reasoning behind the valuation of Fine Art is probably something that most people don’t even consider, either…

Thinking on ceramics as a realistic preferred medium?

Trigger warning: mention of past (not present) suicidality

I thought that now would be a good time for me to explore, philosophically and spiritually, at least, barriers toward utilizing the skill I have, artistically.  As many of you know, I’m currently in a Master’s program in Library Science which enables me to use the analytic, text- and logic-driven side of my mind; but this is largely because I am not sure that something like Graphic Design is my best bet, when it comes to choice of occupation.

Behind that, lies a complex web of inhibitions, motivations, and just general lack of understanding as to why I have the abilities I do and what my responsibilities are as a wielder of my skills.  (That, and:  Graphic Design and Web Design don’t pay as much as I’d like, and as a person with a disability, I need a stable job both for health benefits and to give me the structure I internally lack.)

In comparison to this, Library work…does partake of the same ethics and values, but also…would seem to drastically reduce my options.  At this point, I find myself wondering whether my ethics and values — the ones relating to money and economics, primarily, but also relating to social-conservative norms which I fear being judged by — are unduly limiting me from work I might actually enjoy.  The reason I began to question this was, oddly enough, considering going into business, and realizing that if I might consider doing it for myself, maybe not all private businesses are as evil as I have seen them characterized.

I’ve made some notes to myself here which I’ll be referring back to regularly over the course of this writing:  chances are that I’ll delete them before I post this, but I need something to remind me of what I actually wanted to write about.

In any case, I do have a good sense of aesthetics, apparently.  I can draw, I can work in three dimensions with things like ceramics and metal; I am beginning to see that I can paint, as my drawing works its way out into the desire to use large blocks and swaths of mixable color, in addition to the freedom of markmaking enabled by multiple brushes (as versus the small points of contact, relatively limited color blendability, and graininess I experience with things like colored pencils or crayons).  I haven’t gotten deeply into painting yet, however…and I’m not entirely sure what’s behind it.  I think it may be the deeper question of “what to paint?” or, “why paint?”  It does require some funds to start with, to be sure:  but I have a good deal of this material and equipment already.

Maybe I need to go back to drawing:  something that can be smaller, more contained, and more structured; and then when it feels appropriate, move into larger format and color work.

Maybe the problem is found more along the lines of not knowing why I’m doing what I’m doing.  This is the same thing which stopped me from weight training to the point of appearing to be a lightweight bodybuilder…I asked myself why I was doing it.  I actually still don’t know why I like to be buff; I just do.

But this question, on both counts, didn’t bother me for years — then, maybe, I got…sentient?

I was able to reflect on why I was doing what I was doing, but I wasn’t able to answer the question, either through lack of sufficient information, or through lack of processing capability.  I would lean against the latter, except for the fact that, looking back upon myself in my twenties, I realize in my mid-thirties that I had substantial cognitive impairments on top of my other troubles, which I was unaware of until about ten years into treatment.

And yes, it is possible that I’m attracted to art because neurodiversity is not looked down upon in the field.  As, with Librarianship, being female is not looked down upon (by one’s peers, at least).  I’ve tried to strategically orient myself towards places where I won’t have to worry about certain of my most vulnerable statuses.

As well:  art, writing, and librarianship are all spaces which (ideally, at least) value, and to some degree depend upon, freedom of expression.  This is important to me for more than one reason.  Having run across some people who are more militarily Leftist than myself, I can see that it actually is important to be able to speak one’s mind without fear of emotional or physical or economic harm befalling oneself just because one dared to speak something someone else didn’t agree with.  (This maxim is not true of all Leftist enclaves.)

However, there is a difference between saying something someone else doesn’t like, and encouraging prejudice and harm towards members of groups which one (usually) does not belong to, or from which one separates oneself.  This is called hate speech; which, in my opinion, does not deserve a platform in an egalitarian, democratic society, or in a society which aspires to the same.  But that’s my opinion.  You don’t have to agree with me.  Nor am I speaking from a position of authority because of my professional aspirations.  I’m just speaking as a human.

In any case…

I started learning to draw at about 14 years of age.  Why?  I can no longer remember, but I know it had to do with art books coming out of Japan, in relation to manga and anime.  I probably just thought it was “cool,” (whatever that means?) and wanted to do it, too.  I probably didn’t think in-depth about it, at the time, though now I know that my motivations probably related:

  1. to pride in cultural heritage;
  2. to being awed by work which came out of a society different than my own; and,
  3. to an acknowledgment of gender variation, at the time, condemned in my own society.

On top of this was my first exposure to a language very different from English, which to me was fascinating, both in its beauty and encoding.

It became apparent that I was picking up skills in drawing fairly quickly, and I was encouraged on in this, whenever I created something which advanced visibly from my last work.

For a fourteen-year-old, this is great; but what it does is lay a foundation for future work.  It’s hard to continue on in fourteen-year-old mode, indefinitely — at least in my case, I eventually stopped growing, and became bored.  This is when I stopped drawing.  Sometime later — recorded on this blog, in fact — I became re-interested in creating a graphic novel (see the link there between sequential art initially inspiring my own work, and it coming up again so many years post-graduation with my Creative Writing degree?), but I didn’t know if I even still liked to draw.

I am leaving out some information here, I just realized:  I had tried to create sequential art (that is, a comic) as a youth, including many pages (multiple pads) of artwork.  This eventually led me to start working with word-processing, as I could write by hand faster than I could draw, but I could type faster than I could write by hand — and at the time, I was having racing thoughts (though I didn’t recognize them as such).

I’m fairly certain that my obsession over my first “novel” project was what encouraged me to learn to touch-type, and to gain in speed at it.  At this point, if I already have the content written out, I can type around 74 words per minute — if I’m recalling right.  Of course, though, word-processing from handwritten copy doesn’t happen that often:  more often, my written work is born-digital, though I have been seeing the benefits of working in hard copy, recently.

But even this:  this doesn’t carry the same weight for me that my artistic and aesthetic skills, do.  I don’t look at my wpm speed and say, “wow, I really have a gift with my typing speed, and because of my speed and accuracy which comes from an unknown source, I have a responsibility to use my gift for the betterment of the world.”  It’s just not mystified in the sense that my skill at art, is.

Maybe it’s because I don’t understand how or why I even have any skill at art.

And, I mean, I know it isn’t rational…I’m very aware of that.  But parts of human life, aren’t rational; and that doesn’t mean that the irrational is worthless.  It just means that it doesn’t make sense, and the more we can acknowledge that it doesn’t make sense and that it still has some kind of value (because we are not wholly rational beings to begin with, nor do we ever have enough information to draw satisfactory conclusions about anything)…it seems we would make some headway, then.  (The problems seem to come in when one group’s irrational value system overpowers another’s, in lack of individual consent…but that’s politics.)

Of course, it probably doesn’t help that in my last severe bout of illness, I gave myself a life position of “Creator” (I had been reading Nietzsche…probably anyone who has read Nietzsche knows what I’m talking about) in order to give some meaning and direction to my life, and that to the end of keeping myself alive.

I haven’t always kept a record of my bouts, so I really can’t remember how many I’ve had, or at what time in my life they struck.  What I do know is that I’m lucky not to have ever given in to the urge to end my own life.  Up against the wall like that, I can utilize my creativity to invent reasons to survive, even if they don’t make sense…and I don’t think any person who would matter to me would think less of me for it.

This “job position” was taken up in light of the fact that at the time, I was in a very spiritual mindset.  My problem is that I can get so far into the spirituality that I lose contact with this world, and any desire to keep going, in this world.  Over the years, I’ve had at least several…I suppose they can best be called “muses”.

This set of circumstances — particularly, living at times on the edge of death, and also perceiving beings around me who are trying to help me and keep me alive — lends an ethereal flavor to my work, both in writing and in art.  I don’t suggest anyone try this method of inspiration — it’s too dangerous to keep up when you don’t know what you’re doing (I have 20 years of outside assistance, from multiple sources, helping me keep a foot in this world).  And then, there is the fact that when this is the way you have worked, it can be more difficult to write, or draw, or create, when you’re in a period of relative health.

I’ve heard that my position is not an unusual one to be in:  that is, it’s common for people who have my illness and who are on medications like mine, to lose contact with their creativity while medicated.  (I don’t think this was a side effect I was warned about, either.)  However, I can do things now — particularly, where it comes to functioning in the world — which were more difficult for me previously.  In light of this, it’s hard to think of going back off of the medications to regain the other kind of easy functionality I had, where it comes to creativity.

So we have a set of circumstances, as such:

  • I have artistic skills (that is, I’m apparently “gifted”)
  • I want to utilize my artistic skills (my “gift”)
    • in order to give myself a reason to survive
  • I have created a requirement for myself to utilize my artistic skills for “good,” in light of the spiritual nature I have encountered them within
  • This narrows the acceptable range of expression I can perform
  • (Which runs against the idea of freedom of expression)
  • Therefore I become blocked
    • because of my self-requirement of creating “good”
    • when neither the world nor experience are all good
  • And I wonder if this requirement is a cop-out because I’m scared to utilize my skills because I don’t understand them, they show up most vibrantly when I am ill, and they become severely more important when I am closer to death.

I could utilize my skills for something like Industrial Design or Graphic Design, but putting money first goes against my ethics.

I could utilize my skills to produce Fine Jewelry, but the gold industry is particularly harmful to the Earth.

I could illustrate graphic novels, but I fear the emotional depths I would need to tap as an illustrator of drama.

I could write novels, but I fear tapping what is inside me right now (I do not control it, and I have had a longstanding question as to whether what is in there actually is “good,” when I want to put out “good” — an issue that I haven’t seen many others face).

What is “good?”  A question for another time, perhaps?

A…good…question for another time…

Trigger warning: mention of past (not present) suicidality

Notes to myself

Alright, so…a few things.

One:  I have found that planning out work to be done on each day significantly helps.  What also helps is stating to myself, “I will get X and Y done tomorrow,” as versus “I hope to get X and Y done tomorrow.”  It’s a little difference in phrasing, but it makes a large difference as to my motivation and expectations of myself.  The latter phrasing more often than not, leads me to rest in bed instead of work.

Also, while I’m on this:  when I lie down during the daytime, now, it has helped very much to set a time as to when I’ll be okay with getting back up.  Usually I don’t fall asleep, so this helps set limits on rest, which allows me permission to rest but ensures I don’t waste too much daylight.

I’ve also realized that taking notes during lecture really, really helps.  When it comes to completing Discussion Posts on, say, two out of five readings and one out of three lectures, I can actually remember the lectures pretty well, if I’ve taken notes.  (And $1.50 notebooks from the dollar store are not inferior to the $7 notebooks from the office supply store!)  What I’ve found with the reading I’ve been doing is that, I think, just highlighting the text isn’t enough.  I’m thinking that it just doesn’t get into my brain as well, when I don’t write.

When I was in high school, I’m pretty sure, I would take notes on the readings, because the books weren’t mine to mark up.  It’s the same thing I’m doing with Research Methodologies, where I don’t own my book.  The other two classes, though…hmm.  It would take more time to take notes, and it might feel extraneous, but maybe it would help with recall when I have to do things like papers.  When I’ve taken notes, it’s like I’ve written things out beforehand once, already, and so I kind of know what I read and how to regurgitate it.  (It probably doesn’t hurt that I’ve been hardcore studying for Metadata for a while, now.)

As for my position in regard to my work:  I’m caught up with Cataloging, though there could still be some work in regard to the results of that.  I haven’t seen the new lecture posted yet, either.  I’m almost entirely caught up with Metadata, though I still have a Discussion Post which I haven’t done, and I’m not sure how long ago it was that I skipped it.  …Ah…I see now.  It was during the third module, and the (long) reading was in my textbook.  And right now I’m two weeks behind in Research Methodologies, but I have a break coming up to catch up with it, so it shouldn’t be too hard to re-sync.  The only irritation there is that my book is pretty gross because it’s a rental…

Otherwise…I had been on the fence as to whether to cut my hair off or not, given the fact that the cold season is ending, here.  I had wanted to take the bulk of it off, given that it is voluminous and unruly when it’s combed out and unbound; then I took a shower and deep-conditioned it, and it’s much more manageable.  (I was actually able to crush it down for the first time in months, without it being strawlike and stiff.)  I’ve got to remember that conditioner — and wet-styling, including combing things out with my fingers and conditioner in the shower — makes a world of difference.  I may get the damaged sections cut off soon, but I think I’ll try and hold on to most of it, so that I can eventually braid it.  The braid is coming sooner rather than later, it’s a sure thing.  😉

What I am still considering is the possibility of getting bangs cut…especially given that when I try and wear a mid-level or higher ponytail, it stresses my hairline (my hair is thick, dense, and heavy).  This means that the weight of my hair is pulling on my scalp so hard that it’s hurting the follicles right above my forehead.  If I do that too often, my hairline will recede (not to say it hasn’t already minorly recessed).

I also need to start wearing earrings again, if I want to retain my piercings…

I’ve also (re)started using a prescription medication for my face, but I’m going to try using it only once every two days, and see if it still irritates me to the point that I can’t use it.

Creatively, I haven’t been able to get much done in the past couple of days, though that’s understandable, given the circumstances.  I should probably try and schedule in play periods as well as work periods and rest periods.  What I’ve been doing is basically working all day at my schoolwork, but casually, so that if M needs me to do something or if I get hungry or thirsty, I can stop what I’m doing and take care of it.  I’m…not?…entirely certain that’s the best way to go about things, though, because that can lead to guilt about doing things that I obviously don’t have to do, but which I want to do.  It’s different when I obviously can’t work, then there’s no loss in doing something else; but when I’m fully functioning and I know it may be temporary, it’s hard to get away from the obligations.

And…the issue about being unable to write fiction without triggering myself…I need to bring up with someone, because I really do want to try making a webcomic, and I don’t necessarily want to make it epic or dark.  I understand I may have little choice about that, but maybe I can try not writing about my trauma, you know.

Of course, maybe it wouldn’t be trauma if I could avoid it…

One more thing, before I forget:  I did substantially better on the last Cataloging test than I did on the assignment right before it.  Although I made a lot of errors, still, they’re minor.  I’ve found that maybe I don’t have to give up entirely on becoming a Cataloger; however, I’m going to have to teach myself what I don’t know.  As for Digital Services…to be honest, I don’t have enough data to permanently aim myself down either track, right now.  I need to see what happens over the rest of this semester.  I should remember, though, that I do have a printout where I was comparing both paths, and if things happen next semester as I’ve planned, I should be taking two classes which apply to both tracks.

I honestly don’t know how that’s going to work out.  I feel like I’m just getting a taste of things, here — and I don’t even know if I’m using the right format to archive my work — and I don’t know who to ask about it…but, well, maybe…maybe it’s OK?

It would really be nice to know what I was doing…

Notes to myself

Ah, right. Tests necessitate review.

And…I didn’t really do that great of a job at taking notes on the Cataloging lectures; I just read and highlighted them.

Positive point:  I’ve made it through all the Metadata lectures, to date.  Now, for that class, I can focus on just the 1-2 Discussion Posts to complete.  I’ve also located the necessary lectures to answer the Cataloging test questions, and have labeled what I could label.  So this should help between now and Monday morning, when I’ll need to submit my answers.  I’ll want to review the sections in question tomorrow, after work.  This will free Sunday to do the actual answering (though I should make notes to help myself as I review).

(I forgot that there is a Help session I can watch, though I can do that — and maybe read the Dewey manual — after my lecture review.)

On Sunday, I should try and assemble my thoughts on the Discussion Prompt and then write out an answer and submit it.  If I get this out of the way first, I will have the rest of the day to refine my answers for the Cataloging test…on which I should aim for a high grade (that is, I should try and care about it).  Last time, I wasn’t aiming for a high grade, I was just trying to get it out of the way, and it showed.  I wasn’t betting on all grading being tougher because I’m in a Master’s program, but at least I avoided getting a 0 — which some people did get (I’m not going to get into the bizarre box-and-whisker graph which showed the grading statistics, but let’s just say the statistics broke the graph).

For reference, the grade was a reflection of the massive drama which is my Cataloging course.  I don’t want to get into it, but I will say that I got an extremely bad grade and my prior GPA was 3.7:  higher than normal for me, but I usually hover around 3.4-3.6.  Below 3.0, and I will get put on Academic Probation and kicked out if I then get a B- or below.

It doesn’t help when, out of self-protection, I start telling myself that my grade doesn’t matter because this situation is ******, because getting below a B average can get me kicked out of the program.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  It will require rethinking my career path if it happens, which is what I’m trying to avoid (though because of Metadata and the introduction to programming I’m getting, I’m now thinking of training in Web Design, and moving up from there.  It’s less lucrative, but it might be less bizarre, or a better fit).

So, I didn’t get any creative work done today, but I did get 5 lectures out of the way, and as such have significantly narrowed the gap where it comes to catching up.  I’m now only one Discussion Post behind in Metadata (I was freaking out so much about Cataloging that I got a week or more behind in my other classes — to say the least.  The stress triggered an episode of mental illness which I’m still recovering from, which for a couple of weeks prevented me from concentrating, which meant that I couldn’t comprehend what I was trying to read).

And yeah, being ****** at the Cataloging Professor isn’t going to really help me, here.  I’m in school for me.  I’m not there to let his issues obstruct my goals, although I know now that my past aim of becoming a Cataloger is laughable, so long as I train at this University and don’t go out of my way to learn elsewhere.  And as I’ve heard, there is another Professor teaching the same course who is even worse:  not in the manner of being unreliable, but in the manner of being cruel.

Anyhow, I don’t mean to stew, but I should record this somewhere.

I also have work, tomorrow.  I’m wondering if I really need to stay in my current position:  I feel like I’ve learned what I can, and that if I’m going to have to do customer service anyway, maybe I should look for additional experience that differs from what I’ve had to deal with for the last six years.  The sweet part of this job is the scheduling flexibility…but there are a lot of little irritations.

What’s ironic is that my vocational program may be holding me back from moving forward (by limiting my options and encouraging me to commit to something in which I had no prior experience), more than it is helping me.

And…now I’m just really angry again.  But it could be the illness.  Chemistry, you know.

Maybe I’ll try and do some art before bed, and see if it helps…

Ah, right. Tests necessitate review.

Just another assignment-related post

This is mostly for me, so that I can try and keep things straight in my own mind.

I’ve started to let go of the grade thing, but I am still going to try and get both my test and my Discussion Topic in on time, this time.  For my various classes…

Metadata:  I have two Theme 3 lectures to watch, which I hope to get done tomorrow morning (it seems like the Themes build on each other, which is why I’m organizing it this way).  Then I can work on my two readings for Theme 4.  After that, I have 3 Theme 4 Lectures to get through, which I’m not certain I’ll be able to wholly complete tomorrow.  After all that is out of the way, I will be able to complete my Theme 4 Discussion Post (which takes priority), and my late post.  The latter of which, I may not get credit on, and which takes last priority (it’s already late):  but it will be a useful exercise, anyway.

The Metadata class takes top priority for me, as I’ve basically decided to aim myself down a Digital Services track, and this class applies to that.

Cataloging comes in second.  I don’t have to worry about questions of the type on the exercise I bombed.  From the looks of things, I should be able to assemble a set of answers before…wait, I think it’s due Monday morning.  That gives me some extra time.  What I really had trouble on were the Subject Heading questions, not the categorization questions or the MARC questions.  After that, there are two essay topics I can address, which should help.  I can also watch the two Help sessions I missed, if I need it Actually, one of the Help Sessions is probably entirely useless for the test, as it’s on Subject Headings (what I bombed and will not be tested on, this time), and I think I have extra exercises I can try, to test my skill and the systems’ logic (or to use as refreshers).

I also have a guide to one of the systems printed out…it may be good to read that before attempting the test.  I’d have to do this, probably partially on Saturday, and then reserve the rest of Sunday to complete the test (after completing the Discussion Topic for Metadata — I’m not sure I’ll be fully done with all the lectures by Saturday night, and I want to get the DT out of the way, as it’s a small assignment which will distract me).

After that, I need to finish reading Chapter 4 in Research Methodologies, then read Chapter 6 and view the two lectures I haven’t.  If I get tired of the other two classes, I can also try switching modes to this, as it also needs to get done, sometime.

And…Spring Break is coming up, so I will get a chance to rest!  I normally don’t pay attention to special days, so I didn’t even know I’d get a break.

The last thing I’m thinking of is a Discussion Post on survey questions — if I’m going to use the survey format, which…I didn’t know that I didn’t have to do.  Interviews and focus groups sound much more on-point for my project.  And I only have about a month and a half to assemble the thing before classes are out…I’ve gotta remember that.

Today it was easier to work on my assignments…somehow, I was ready, and I was able to feed myself some good stuff while I studied.  I had to get up and out early for an appointment, then came back and successfully tried not to go back to sleep by exercising a bit and drinking some soup to warm myself, plus brewing some green tea.  Tea freakin’ helps.  It didn’t hurt that we had senbei, either.  I’ve just got to be sure not to overeat when studying near the kitchen…but I had a number of nice quiet, sunny hours in the morning where I could watch the poppies open and have things silent (or alternately, with family, which did make things less lonely).

Just another assignment-related post

More acrylic inks, you say?

There is a lot which has happened between my last post, and now.  Significantly, everything which was not already late was turned in on time.  I got the technical exercises out of the way first (including a botched Cataloging quiz — I’m not sure to what extent I’m concerned about this, anymore), then spent all of Sunday on my Literature Review for Research Methodologies.  The day after was mostly spent asleep (I felt like I earned it), though toward the end (my memory is fuzzy, but I think this is right), I started experimenting with the FW Acrylic Inks, again.  I think that’s what this was:

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From 3-13-2017, lest I forget.

This was just mostly playing around with color.  I meant to post about it yesterday (Monday the 13th, I mean), but I didn’t have the energy.

You can see that I had started to make marks over the top of the acrylic inks with the colored pencils.  Those are my Progresso Woodless colored pencils…where the marks are bold, I was pressing pretty hard.  Anyhow, this was just me messing around with four to five colors.  (Crimson, Purple Lake, whatever they call Phthalo Green [I think it’s “Marine Blue”], Rowney Blue [Phthalo Blue] and a yellow which looks like Hansa Deep…I just checked, it’s called “Brilliant Yellow.”)

Of note, I have seen no evidence of an Ultramarine equivalent in the FW Acrylic ink line (which would make more vibrant violets) — and I just went to the art store, today.  It’s very probable that it isn’t made because they want all the colors to harmonize, and the palette of the FW inks leans toward warm tones.  (It’s really easy to make clashing colors when the original colors are not well-coordinated…)

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it causes the color mixing range to be limited.  With Daler-Rowney making so many of these colors, though, I can see where they would like to limit their financial risk in color production.  Especially since it seems like many have trouble mixing colors as it is, without venturing into “mud” territory (I may have said this before, but I think mud — dull color perceived as “lifeless” — can be rescued).  But maybe I’m just spoiled on the good stuff…

I have gotten pretty tired color out of Prangs (note that some people can make gorgeous art with Prangs — and they aren’t really bad for what they are — nontoxic, inexpensive colors that flow well and wet easily and have comparatively good color strength for the price range), but that just caused me to stop using Prangs for colors that Prangs aren’t strong in (for example, cool red).  The problem is that when one starts out with a dull color, it isn’t necessarily going to get stronger with other colors added to it, unless those other colors (or hidden hues in those other colors) dominate the first, or can mute a dominant hue and support a hidden hue.  (I can expect someone to ask me what I mean by this, and the truth is that my left brain [words] doesn’t necessarily know how my right brain [art] does what it does.)

Let me get off of that.  Anyway,  😉  playing around with this stuff caused me to go out to an art supply store and replace my two broken Progresso pencils — which, finally, they had.  $0.74 each.  While I was there (first time to the art store in a couple of months), I picked up some hot-press watercolor paper (I have been after this for ages, but this is the first time I actually bought any:  it requires a special trip, as I haven’t seen Blick to carry many inexpensive [read:  not Arches] hot-press watercolor pads or blocks), and I also picked up a variety of earth-tone FW inks, because I may be using these for cartooning, and in that case, I’ll want consistent color and color that doesn’t move when it’s re-wet.

Neither of these things are going to happen with watercolors, unless I mix large batches of skin tones and let them dry in a palette.  Even then, there is the risk of movement when subsequent layers of color are added, though I’ve heard this can be mitigated with the addition of clear acrylic glazing medium at the time of painting.  (I haven’t tried it, yet — but be aware, addition of acrylic medium will make anything mixed with it not able to be reused, after it has dried.)  The FW inks don’t seem as intense as artist-grade tube watercolors, but they feel more controllable, and more suited to reproduction work.

(I go back and forth as to whether these inks or watercolors are more intense…after some experience, I’ve got to say that it depends on how much you thin them!  When I first used these inks, I was thinning them way out because I didn’t want to waste them.  In short, I was skimping on them [you basically have to lay out all your colors before painting in order to have them quickly available for mixing and altering other colors — and you have to say goodbye to all of what you’ve laid out at the end of a painting session, with acrylics], and it is obvious when I look at my first attempts at using these.)

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On cold-press Canson Montval paper.  Ink is from a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen.

The above image is something I was messing around with…as I realized at home that two of my colors (Yellow Ochre and Red Earth — neither of which are constituted as one would think they would be) were both rated as opaque.  Obviously, though, this is relative.  For example, with Payne’s Grey (though it may be due to the fact that it is blue-grey), you can’t really tell that it’s overlaying the black, here.  Pure Burnt Umber, as well, goes on and does not mask the underlying black drawing at all — you can see at center right.

However, you can see a tiny bit of overlap in the foreground here with the Red Earth (the only red used here) and Yellow Ochre overflowing their lines in the center swirl.  It also happened in the thing that looks like a tree trunk to the left, which I am fairly sure was a mixture of multiple colors, including red and yellow earth tones.  Possibly also white.  (I’m not sure, but I should add that last bit.  White is obviously not transparent, though be aware that the FW acrylic white, isn’t a dense white.  Daler-Rowney Pro[cess] White, though?  I’m not sure about that — I’ve seen it used as correction fluid and for highlights.  If I ever reach the finishing stages of a piece of art with this stuff and actually use the Pro White, I’ll let you know.)

What this means is that I will have to go back in and touch up areas where I have painted over lines which I need — if I use heavy coats of color.  (The colors being bound by acrylic resin, helps ease my concern of clogging nibs, in this regard.)  Pale washes, on the other hand, don’t really fade the linework noticeably (to me, at least).  One of the things I did realize, though, is that it is WAY easier to work with these super-fast drying acrylic inks on a small scale.  If I had wanted to, I could have avoided overpainting these lines, because my brush was that small and the shape was that small…but this was a test.

I’m not sure if it is the fact that I can see the colors of these inks through the bottles that makes me want to use them, but I’m sure it’s related to that.  I’m thinking of clearing out one or two of my small palettes to use for everyday watercolors (that is, not the specialty ones which I have to think about including, like freakin’ Aureolin).

Freaking Aureolin.

Okay, I’ll stop.

Oh, right.  I also have been trying to work on drawing people again, though they’re imaginary people.  I do have some photos of these, but to be honest, they’re pretty horrible (middle-of-the-night) photos, and I’m not even altogether that proud of the work anymore.  It was fun last night, then I looked at it again today and realized my character had Vegeta proportions, so…

Right.  I think I know what’s wrong, and it should be easily fixed.  It’s what happens when you draw the head before the body.  Still, though:  I would really like to photograph this in daylight, rather than releasing it to the wild and *cough* messing up my *cough* reputation *cough* 😉  Hehe.

We all screw up sometimes, it’s part of being human — and being an artist means you screw up OFTEN and REPEATEDLY until you can learn other ways.  😉  So the best thing to do is be gentle on yourself, and maybe not even call it “screwing up,” but “having a learning experience”.

(When is the Internet ever gentle, though?  SHUT UP ANXIETY BRAIN.)

Okay, I’m being told to get some rest now.  I do have to get up in six hours.  JOY.  JOY OF JOYS.

Eh, at least I should be able to get some (home)work done at lunch…

More acrylic inks, you say?

Winding currents, and anxieties.

In the last post I mentioned the two non-technical electives I’ve taken, plus Beginning Cataloging, to have been a waste of time, but right now, actually — I’ve realized that they aren’t/weren’t, because they have directed me away from fields that I have found I have no particular…zeal for.

In the case of Cataloging, it’s a lot easier than I had suspected, and it’s easy to feel good about something at which one is competent.  It’s not that cataloging is tiresome; but the major crestfall about that class has been the fact that nearly none of the readings have directed us to the right chapters…we’ve just had to take it upon ourselves to look up what we think will help.

And, again, I have been dealing with intimidation around the hands-on work I’ve had to do for that class, but getting the hang of it is nice:  especially when it looks complicated, from a distance.  I’ve learned to keep scratch paper nearby to work out problems by hand, and it helps a good deal.  As does having multicolored bold gel pens.  🙂  Right now I’m using Pentel EnerGel 07 pens in bright colors (one of them is even fluorescent pink), and it actually does help.  Color coding, and smooth writing.  It’s just…comforting.

(And yes, I know that I’ve already used up one of these from last semester, but not any of the colored ones.)

I know I should get to bed, but I’ve only been awake for 12 hours…

Tomorrow I’ve got to work on more:  I will try and tackle the next two practice exercises for Cataloging, leaving the last one (which is about MARC coding) until after I turn in the graded exercise.  I’m sure that’s going to come up on the (actual) quiz, which I’ll get next week.

On Sunday, I’ll have to deal with writing a short paper segment:  a Literature Review.  Though I’m not done with my review yet, I can turn in a response to what I do have (I’ve read at least eight articles, and have two more lined up), and do more research as I look over my notes and highlights for keywords and references.

I will also have to turn in a short assignment for Metadata, though I have looked at the assignment, and it doesn’t seem at all hard (though it may require topical review).  And actually, it would seem that I should prioritize this and the Lit Review ahead of the Cataloging work, as I get an extra 10 hours to turn in the latter.  My biggest concern about that, though, is oversleeping — or being too wiped out to focus on Sunday night.  I can write while tired with little problem; but cataloging while tired just doesn’t seem to be a good combination!

Yeah — I should probably get the Metadata and Cataloging projects out of the way, then turn in what I can eke out of a Lit Review.  Plus, doing that will ensure that I don’t have a small project (or two) hanging over my head while I’m trying to focus on writing.  I can try and get both of those little things done first thing Sunday, then use the rest of the day to focus on my Research class.

The Lit Review has to be 5-6 pages, but I know that at least one of those will be taken up with a list of Works Cited, leaving me with about 2.5 pages of single-spaced text to write.  It really probably shouldn’t be that hard, given that I’ve written about…two pages, double-spaced, so far, here.  More, if I include the text I wrote earlier.  If I cut and paste both of these entries, yes, I have already written five double-spaced pages, tonight.

I suppose the main issue is addressing what is asked for…

And come Monday…if I haven’t completed my late Discussion Topic, I should; I can also try and catch back up to the next Metadata reading, and read over the lecture due on the 20th, as well as finish reading Chapter 4 for Research Methodologies and watch the three or so lectures I missed.

On Tuesday, maybe, I may be able to do something creative — or, I may have my time taken up with doing new assignments…and finishing any old ones I’ve forgotten about (like the two readings I am still in process on for Metadata, which I’d forgotten about).

And we wonder why I write…

Winding currents, and anxieties.