Alstroemeria: drawing from observation

I wanted to post this last night after midnight, but waited until today so that I could photograph my latest sketch in sunlight. Little did I know that that isn’t even optimal, with just light from a window…Accordingly, I have had to apply a Levels adjustment to the drawing you see below:

marker drawing of an alstroemeria flower
It kind of took a lot of work to get to this point! (By the way, the type of flower is called “Alstroemeria.”)

I made some notes for myself on my working process, last night. I think the enthusiasm for sharing them has died down (or otherwise sobered) overnight; I’m not as pleased with the outcome today as I was at around 12:15 AM. However, it’s good to look at things with fresh eyes.

So, the basic technique:

  1. I did a contour line drawing of a flower in (sharp) HB pencil, erasing unnecessary lines.
  2. I added color using Pitt (brush) pens.
  3. I erased the line drawing as completely as possible without erasing the pen.
  4. I added in the background using Pitt pens and minimal pencil guidelines.
  5. I erased the pencil in the background.

I’m not totally pleased with this, looking at it the next day. In particular, along the way I learned how to define relatively-light lines on dark backgrounds using negative space, but that wasn’t something I was even thinking about at the start of the sketch.

If I did this over again, I would either omit the almond-shaped green veins on the flowers’ two side petals, or I would draw them in with a much lighter green marker (relying on the marker’s transparency to blend with the petal and create a new color), or color around them and define the lines with negative space.

I also ran into the issue of not having a delicate enough pink to define the lighter areas of the petals, so I (felt I) had to go darker in order to avoid too much hatching/contour drawing (see the section on negative space, below). This doesn’t seem to be as big an issue for the background, though: where I was working with impressions and not trying to mimic reality so much.

I like the background much better than the foreground — it’s looser and more free and airy, capturing more of the feeling of the blossoms. I was, however, working with the structure I had established with the initial pencil drawing; I wonder how I would do with an all-over looseness (marker-first, or just light and minimal pencil guidelines which are later erased)?

I was also able to define a lot in the background by using negative and implied space, while I wasn’t thinking in terms of defining the light-colored foreground by darkening the background (what it was seen against) until later.

Keeping the white space goes along with this. I’m not used to seeing white as a “color,” but in this case the flowers were somewhat defined by their lightness. If I had planned on adding a background in the first place, I could have avoided over-hardening the central flower with mid-value pinks in an attempt to define its petals.

I’m also not hating that top right white petal with the pink contour lines as much as I was, last night.

There are also a couple of small details I feel like I should have caught, which I took note of in the process…inadvertently darkening a highlight area on the leftmost central petal (reversing the lowlight and highlight areas), and not paying attention to the pattern of veining on the rightmost leaf until it was too late. (In addition…I started off trying to define the veins as dark, when they are not dark; they’re light. Also, they do not branch off from a central, strong vein. They’re more like grass, with parallel veining.)

There are two things I know I can work on, from having done this sketch:

  1. utilization of white space and negative space
  2. layering inks to get unexpected hues beyond what is provided in the markers as used straight.

Also: loosening up.

It helps to have many of these pens with subtle color differentiations (especially, very light and very dark). They aren’t as troublesome in their uniformity of nib type as I thought they would be. It also helped to pick out the main colors in this piece before I even started ([pinks, violet/maroon], greens, yellows). This helped me avoid a lack of color harmony in the piece, though the subject itself had all these colors. Botanical subjects often do seem to harmonize with themselves well, in the first place…probably because they have a limited number of pigments to work with.

D suggested using watercolor with the marker, which would be a good idea with the caveat that I did this in an art journal filled with regular drawing paper. It might be fairly well destroyed by the addition of water.

And yes, I am thinking of a Yupo journal, now, thanks.  😛

There is a lot of work which built up to this, starting off with sketches in the sketchbook with the horrible paper, without any reference. Those helped me get an idea of the concept, but they aren’t really anything I’d like to show. Because of their lack of reference, many of the details are wrong even though the drawings can look pretty. Last Tuesday the 24th, though, I went and picked up some alstroemeria which I used as a reference for the picture, above.

Even though it was somewhat difficult for me to get myself to work on an observational drawing (I still get nervous), it was easier than making up details — as I was doing in my concept sketches.

I should likely go and work on my classwork, now… 🙂

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Taking some time out for art.

Today, I took 40 minutes of my lunch hour, and just drew.  For the first time, in a long, long time.

I haven’t taken photos of it, because how well it turned out isn’t the point.  The point is that I took some time out for myself, and I drew.  This was helped along by being frustrated enough by work and school to take my pencil kit with me, this morning, instead of a class reading.  (Of course, I only ended up using one pencil, this being a trusty 5″ long [now] 2B.)  I also took a cheap sketch pad filled with paper which I don’t expect to last — this frees me up to do work that doesn’t have to be worthy of the price of the paper.

(It did come out relatively cool, by the way.)

(Do people still say “cool?”)

The other reason I’m not showing it is that I did all of my drawing from imagination, without photo reference.  This means that I have some imaginary flowers which are kind of reverse of what they actually look like in reality–!

I was going for daffodil and alstroemeria.  Both of these have six petals, in roughly a star shape.  I guess you could say that I was jumping off of the floral block print I did earlier this year.  Daffodils are kind of fun, but I forgot that they only have one flower to a stem.  And there is the entire perspective thing to think about, where the central tubular petal is usually viewed on an angle (making it into a rough ellipse)…not to mention the planes of the outer petals.

Then I remembered that alstroemeria have three flowers to a stem, and started playing around with that — but I forgot that the inner petals are not the wide ones (there are three narrow inner petals with stripes on them, sometimes, and then an outer group of what look like petals but may not be).  I also reversed the concave/convex forms of the outer edges of the curves of the petals.

It’s easier to show you than to tell you, but I want to work on updated versions of these now that I’ve seen what I was trying to remember.  It would probably be best if I could post before-and-after scans.  🙂  And maybe some in-between ones which are mashed up from the “after” concepts with the former ideas…after all, I doubt all varieties of alstroemeria look the same…

And yeah, even though I didn’t remember the flowers exactly perfectly, the images I made still calmed me, and it was fun to draw them.  Even better was the fact that I was doing something for myself…

…and I was relatively good at what I was doing.  It’s always a shock when I get to demonstrate my skill to myself (not to cheer myself on too much, but).

I’ve got to keep in mind illustration (and writing, not to mention design), if I find that the Library & Information Science thing doesn’t work out.  Visual art is something I’m basically driven to do when the medications aren’t inhibiting me…the problem there is harnessing that drive.

Lack of functioning

I officially started trying to wean myself off of Prozac on October 10th, so I’ve been on a half-dose for about 9 days (though it takes about a month for dosing changes to take effect).  Right now I can tell that my brain isn’t working too well.  I want to be engaged in art, I have a group project that I need to work on, I have other schoolwork to attend to.  But it’s hard to commit to any of that.

Although it is very apparent that I need to go through my backlog of digital images and do some curation.

Today I got up shortly after 2 PM, after having gone to bed at 11 PM the night before.  Then I was so cold that I spent another hour and a half in bed, around sundown (the only thing that got me up was that I was being summoned to dinner, though I didn’t want to do that either).  Supposedly, it should have been 74º F in the house at that time, but I was still really cold.  And right now my eyes are burning, even though it’s only 9:15 PM here.

In short, I’m dealing with the same pattern I was dealing with before Prozac (becoming wiped out and going to bed in the middle of the day), only now I’ve likely got some initial withdrawal stuff and stress-related stuff on top of it.  Which is why I wanted to get off six months ago, so I could adjust when I wasn’t in classes.

The positive thing is that it’s raining outside.  This means that it wasn’t just me; it actually was dim and likely cold inside the house.  The thermometer, unfortunately, isn’t great at relating when it’s 74º F inside and 44º F outside (thus heat is escaping from the house), and when it’s 74º F inside and 88º F outside (thus heat is radiating into the house).  The two extremes of temperature feel different even though the thermometer says they’re the same.

I’ve also heard that I may have been cold because I was tired (though this usually doesn’t happen for me unless I stay up until 2 or 3 AM).  I guess I did wake at 7 AM yesterday, got up at 7:30 AM, and didn’t lie down until 11 PM.  I usually don’t run for 16 hours straight — even on a work night.  Or, I don’t think I do, at least.

And my weight is still going up, but I’ve been hungrier than usual, for some reason.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it was medication-related, but I’ve got to be honest with myself in that it also may be overwork- or depression- or stress-related.  (I gained 7 lbs. in my first semester of the MLIS program, which is part of why I initially said I wouldn’t go back.)  It could also be related to genetics, in which case I’m not all that upset.  I’m only upset if it is related to being on medication (as the medication can also trigger insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes related to weight gain).

Anyway…I am tired and I should likely get ready for bed, even though I just got up about two and a half hours ago.  I ran myself too long last night and so didn’t get to take care of hygiene before passing out — meaning it’s relatively vital that I at least do so, tonight (no, I didn’t brush my teeth when I woke up at 2 PM).

In other arenas, I am really tired of my Digital Archives class (which is making it clear that I don’t want to become an archivist [too many rules, reminiscent of Cataloging], kind of like my management class made it clear I wouldn’t want to be a manager [managing people] and my public service classes made it clear that I don’t want a public-facing job in a Public Library [managing people]).  The problem is that it’s a group-work class, so other people are depending on my doing my part on time; therefore, pressure.  And I don’t get any time extension on group assignments…I think if my classmates had been paying attention, though, I remember mentioning that I had a mood disorder.  Which is majorly what I’m dealing with, right now…although I haven’t consciously felt very bad.

Seriously…Web Development and Web Design look much shinier.  So much ******* shinier that it’s hard to believe.  I just don’t know if I’ll need even more specialized formal training in order to do it…and to be honest, even the math I might need, isn’t looking that scary, at this point.

(By that, I mean dealing with math is likely less frustrating than dealing with people…)

Just because it’s believed, doesn’t mean it’s real.

I know it’s time for me to start preparing for the night, but I’ve actually had some interesting thoughts to share.  One of them, is how much easier it is to talk and define oneself when one isn’t aware of exactly how crazy one sounds.  🙂

I have a tendency — a strong one, on reduced medication (I’ve started to get off of Prozac, which historically has helped clarify my thoughts) — to be creative and define myself in creative manners.  However, what has become clear to me is just how many versions of myself I can have…and that none of them may be entirely accurate.

It’s actually really easy to define (or redefine) oneself (especially if one is delusional; meaning that no matter what evidence is presented to one that the belief is untrue, one will continue to hold the belief despite it).  And it’s easy to believe these definitions of oneself are true:  it’s the brain’s way, to believe itself.

The hard part is sticking to these definitions, because when you’re trying to be anything you can conceptualize, there will inevitably be holes (the true self may be beyond conceptualization).  And after a while you realize that all these outgrowths are symptomatic of a deeper reality, which is that your tendency is to create and that given no creative outlet, you rewrite and re-iterate yourself, as versus your art projects or your crafts or your writing or music…or apps… 😉

(Water has been a strong theme in my life.  It will seek out holes and burst dams.  The more I try to hold it back, the more catastrophic the floodwaters can be.)

As I’ve moved forward in life, as versus paused to ascertain whether and how to just hold steady and avoid despair, I’ve not had time to devote to things like energy work or spiritual topics which may only hold a side-benefit of (supposedly) better health.

When I was a youth, I was drawn to Buddhist philosophies, because having a philosophy which recognized the existence of duhkha (popularly translated as “suffering,” but this is an inexact translation), and was based around relieving it, gave me some comfort.  It meant I wasn’t alone in my pain.

By now, I have integrated parts of Buddhist philosophy which can help:  but I don’t really think it’s…true, anymore.  (Pretty much, nothing classified as, “metaphysics,” “spirituality,” or, “religion,” fall into the “undisputably true” category, with me.  Even the category of “philosophy” is questionable [if you start out with the wrong givens, in philosophy, you can’t hope to follow them to truth] — although I do realize that this post is in essence, philosophical.)

People are creative — is something I’m taking as a given — and many more things can be thought of, than are true.  Buddhism is a creation which has been co-created by many people over more than two millenia, which has likely helped sustain a large number of lives over the years it has been in existence…but its functionality (its usefulness) doesn’t relate to its truth value.

That is, something can be useful, and not be true.  I may have, on this point, come to the realization of what is meant by the Buddhist concept of upaya (usually translated as “skilled means”).  Although all explanations I’ve heard of this concept seem condescending — I’m kind of understanding, at this point, that this is both an admission that doctrine itself may not be founded on truth, and that it is still important to address duhkha in life.

Earlier tonight, I realized one thing:  that people in certain spiritual communities (myself having been included among these at multiple times) have felt relatively free to say things, precisely because they felt those things with such certainty.  However, my experience with mental illness has made at least one thing clear:  a subjective feeling of certainty is not a determinant of truth value.  What do I mean by that?

I mean that just because we think and feel and “know” something is true, that doesn’t mean it is.  It’s the brain’s nature to “believe in” what it tells itself.  Now it is possible to have subjective (or internal) dissonance, and that also needs to be attended to:  oftentimes, it has been feelings like these which have let me know that I didn’t have both feet in reality.  (There does seem to be a spectrum of, “More True”-to-“Less True,” when it comes to seeking out who one is.)

And once you’ve been around long enough, it becomes apparent when others are attempting to manipulate you for their own gain.  (It’s one thing for a person to choose what to believe; it’s another for someone else to try and choose what they believe for them, in a manner that benefits the one doing the choosing and not the disempowered subject.)  Just because I recognize that I cannot fully grasp reality in my mind, doesn’t mean that I think anyone else can, either.

This has been the largest reason I’ve stayed away from spiritual institutions.  Although I do admit that I am now curious about attending Buddhist services.

The priest at my family member’s funeral was from a Pure Land sect:  Jodo Shinshu, to be exact.  But he seemed to have his head on straight, and to know what efficiently and urgently needed to be addressed.

It’s apparent to me that we tell ourselves what we need to tell ourselves in order to simply function and stay alive.  In this sense, creativity in humans functions as a survival mechanism.  And is this why so many creative people deal with mental illness, as well (only the most creative, survived)?  I’m not sure.

It’s apparent to me as well, that religion is an outgrowth of creativity.

I’m not certain exactly what will happen if and when I succeed in entirely kicking Prozac.  What I do expect is that my creative faculties will become less muted.  In turn, I’ll probably become more eccentric than the way you’re used to seeing me behave.  I hate to say I can’t help it, but…it’s just the space I normally inhabit.

I just have to make sure I don’t box myself in too tightly with definitions and proclamations of “truth”…because words don’t matter where it comes to what’s real.

Loneliness?

Right now, I’m wondering if I’m actually just really lesbian, in a genderqueer way.  I generally don’t call myself “lesbian,” because to me that implies a “woman” gender identity…which I don’t have.  I’m gender-fluid with notable forays into femme presentation, but to me “femme” could be applied to persons of any sex status (femme men exist; but I don’t consider myself a man).  I have also been thinking about gender transition to trans* male, but I’ve been weighing that over about 15 years at this point.  I’m not doing it unless I have to, and I don’t think that social reasons are considered valid where it comes to gender transition (as society changes).  I could be wrong, though.

There are a few things going on here:

  1. Being irritated at men coming on to me (largely because they expect me to be a woman for them, and/or that the way I look says something about who I am).
  2. Experiencing strong feelings of attraction for someone I don’t know (repeated shock at their beauty every time I make eye contact:  maybe I’m not asexual; just “asexual” in a heteronormative context?), and not knowing what to do with them.  Also, I’m trying to deal with “what if’s” around whether I’m being perceived as predatory simply because I don’t know what to do in this situation, and I’m not perfect and I feel like I’m messing up and this is different if I’m being seen as male (or queer — I’m using this term in the U.S. reclaimed sense) as versus not.
  3. Not wanting to have my sex status shoved in my face, particularly where it could be used as a tool to try and subjugate me.
  4. Dealing with the after-effects of decades of sexual harassment.
  5. Trying not to take rejection as a personal failing or throw out vibes of frustration built up over long periods of isolation and unrequited crushes.
  6. Wondering what it would be like if it were OK for me to freely flirt with women on an equal-power basis, and about how my life might be different if they felt the same permission towards me.
  7. Wondering if I am socially lesbian (want an escape from heterosexual gender norms in my relationships) but not fully biologically lesbian (can still be attracted to men and masculine people so long as they don’t enforce or expect heterosexual gender norms in my relations with them).  I haven’t heard anyone express this point of view before me, though it could explain multiple phenomena.
  8. Identifying strongly with Vegeta…which probably won’t mean anything unless you’re a Dragonball (Z/Super) fan.  I’d probably have to explain it, anyway.

I’ll stop there.  I don’t think I’ll be able to touch on all this, tonight.

I haven’t been to my regular gender group in a while, so this stuff has been building up over…at least two weeks.  Chances are that I won’t be able to make it this next time, either.  The full version of this likely won’t get a chance to come out IRL, for another little while…so I thought that writing some of it out, would help.  I’m not sure at all, though, that actually publishing it will help…

I did talk to my folks about this, recently; they say that most people go through this stage (learning to deal with feelings other people don’t want to know you experience [in regard to point #2]) in high school.  I didn’t have the chance to go through this stage because of the massive sexual harassment and isolation and, pretty much, hostility that I had to deal with in that situation.  It just basically wasn’t safe for me to develop these skills, because it wasn’t safe to be anything other than cisgender+heterosexual.

Noting everything above…kind of explains where I’m at, right now.  I’m not sure if I need to go more into depth with it right now (it took enough effort to dig all that stuff out of my memory), but I will want to come back to it, later.

There is one thing that has come up, though:  and that is the possibility of trading out a gender-group night for a Ladies’ art night (I’m applying the term, “Lady,” loosely).  Right now I am not sure which I might need more…

I also think there are two separate Art Nights I can go to; one at a nearby cultural venue (much closer), and one at an artist-supply store.  I just am coming to feel like I need women, and I don’t know what that’s about.  I’ve never felt it, before.  But I guess I am getting into middle-age, and I do need to meet new friends, and rekindle old friendships…

General update:

Yesterday, I realized that when I am bored and not knowing what to do, I should likely fill that time with work so that when I do have an idea of what to do, I will have the time to do it.

Right now, I’ve only got about 15 minutes to my name; apologies for this post not being entirely well thought-out.

I was able to organize a good deal of the paper storm in my computer room.  I think there was stuff lying around in there that dated back to this time last year.  I also was able to reorganize the tall bookshelf in there, and moved a bunch of the New Agey/energy work stuff to a smaller bookshelf.

I had the idea to play around with watercolor paint…but couldn’t think of any subject matter, so I went back to my Web Design homework.  Accordingly, I’m almost entirely done with my readings, there.  I should be able to complete my homework for that class, early:  then I can focus on my other two classes for the rest of the weekend.

Also:  I keep learning things about how to write and lay out and organize Web pages which let me know that I’m not doing it in an optimal manner (though how could I, really, without knowing this information?).  I’m concerned that all this knowledge will slip past me; so I’m considering creating a book which will hold notes containing “best practices” which I find in my readings.  As far as I know…that will date back to this last Summer with my User Experience class.  (I don’t think any of that information goes farther back than that.)

I will also, soon, have to figure out what classes to take in Spring…but that’s not terribly urgent, at this point.

All right, I should sign off right about now…

Finally got caught up!

I’m caught up with my studies!  😀

Earlier tonight, I lay down in bed to warm up and didn’t get back up until about 9:30 PM, meaning that it’s very possible that I won’t be able to fall asleep until after 2 AM.  😛  Given that, I’ve decided to let myself have a break, and chill here with my anti-blue-light glasses.  Of course, I’m kind of fragmented at the moment (too much chocolate, and disorganized sleep), so I keep moving in and out of this room to talk with people.  🙂  And playing around with my SUPA-cheap sketchbook.  😉  (Which I have some idea how to use, now, thanks to a lecture by Bill Buxton!  Again, I’m shown the difference between Art and Design…)

I know that I really need to clean and reorganize my office, and then clean and reorganize my bedroom.  Both spaces are very cluttered.  Though I roughly know what is in each pile, I may not remember where they are after I put them away!

I also need to reorganize the shelves in my office (not to mention, my files — I suspect there is much in there which is unnecessary to keep, at this point; and many folders can be migrated there).  I have been keeping copies of my textbooks…and the collection is growing.  It’s starting to get me to think that I’ll need to move some of the more esoteric stuff onto another shelf.  And I’m sure the receipt litter will get to me when things are mostly clear.

What’s really striking me, though…is that I’m really enjoying my Web Design and Web Usability classes, and have been able to cross-fertilize that with my Digital Archives class.  Not to mention, I’m fairly certain that keeping up this blog has prepared me for writing with relative ease, when I need to.  The difficult part of that is editing my copy down to something others won’t be too intimidated to read.  🙂  (I recently wrote 2+ single-spaced pages for an assignment on which most people spent two or three paragraphs.  No one commented; this is likely because no one read it.)  😛

Classes for next semester aren’t set for me yet, though I have some idea of what I’ll need to take if I want to be a competent Librarian, in addition to having Digital proficiencies.

Kind of a pain around this, though, is that I get the sense that one is never fully prepared to take on a new job when dealing with cutting-edge technology.  It seems there’s always something new to learn…not that this conflicts with my tendencies, but when foundational/recommended classes are changed out from under you, it’s kind of annoying.  (What would people graduating this semester in tech-heavy specializations feel, I wonder, knowing that people who came in later will learn something they won’t?)

It’s all relative, isn’t it?  Maybe I shouldn’t be too upset, and just plan on continuing education.  I did enter the program quite a while ago, after all…

The thing I had been upset about:  one class which has been recommended to newer admits into the program is inaccessible if one needs financial aid from the State to cover tuition and fees.  It just isn’t given to people who don’t have independent sources of cash.

I already have two classes lined up for next Summer (when the rules are different and I can take classes from this category); and they’ll likely be kickers.  I don’t think I’ll have the time to take a third (and still stay employed)…although I might be able to swing it in the Summer after graduation, before I’m too settled in a permanent job.

I do need to be thinking ahead to employment, though.  There is some more material I may have to give, here, but it’s on sketching and Design (quick/dirty/fast/iterative), and I’m not sure I can articulate it at this hour.

And then there are books…which I check out from the Library and then don’t read, because I’m too busy working through classes.  The nihongo-learning ones and the sewing one…I might be tempted by, but I am realistically not sure how much time I’ll have for either Japanese-language acquisition or sewing, until the start of Winter Break.

Well, I guess it isn’t as though I’m wasting my time.

I think the brain-fog is hitting me, so I’ll sign off, now…just a note, though:  I haven’t been able to keep to the schedule I’ve talked about recently, and still get my work done.  It’s ideal, and it works when I’m not busy…but I’m busy!