Working embroidery again

Well, I tried to take photos of what I was doing, tonight; unfortunately, only a few of my shots came out as even passable, because I was too close for the camera to focus. I can try again, another day.

fly stitch sampleI was, however, able to improve my skill with fly stitch, a lot. The image to the left is the culmination of that, for tonight. Essentially, fly stitch is a straight stitch tacked down somewhere in the middle so that it forms an angle.

I had been intending to try and make an image of a fern (thus the color of this perle cotton thread), or of a pepper tree. As I was working this, though, I found that the legs of the stitch looked…like pine needles!

I also learned that not everything has to be symmetrical, though I had been aiming for that, just to gain a decent sense of control. What I ended up having to do was account for the amount and direction of pull the thread (in this case, size 80 H.H. Lizbeth crochet thread) would exert on the underlying fabric.

It’s kind of like archery, that way: in archery, one has to account for the peculiarities of one’s bow and adjust one’s aim away from the target, in order to get the arrow to go where one wants it to go.

In this case, I couldn’t line up the second needle piercing of the fabric with the first one and put the third hole directly centered between the two…because that consistently gets me skewed V’s. I have to aim up and above the first stitch, and make the V wider than I think I need to. If it’s too wide, adjusting tension can help fix that (though I don’t know if that will have lasting effects later on down the line).

Anyhow…it would make more sense if I posted a video, but I’m very new to working with video! The point is, I have to compensate for the give of the fabric and the tautness of the stitch, to make things do what I want them to do.

I was very happy when I made the above little sprig. Before I lay down the stitches, I did a running stitch where I wanted to lay down the twigs, then made a small stitch at the tip of the frond, then did fly stitch until the pine needles would bump each other, and moved on to the next bit. It looks really bad if I put all the needles in, before planning where the branches will be…

…and it does remind me of painting, a bit. Experience in drawing did help me here, too.

tulip edging

The above is an edging sample I was toying with, last night: it’s something I would use to try and reinforce an edge (though I’m not sure it would work!). I’ve started on a different version with light blue crochet thread, but all the photos of it came out wonky. With this one, even, you can’t even really tell that I was making half-hitches with the thread over the edge of the hem, because the white is so washed out, but that’s where the pattern began.

Right now I’m thinking of trying a different camera next time; this was shot with a simple point-and-shoot, when I think a macro lens is called for.

But anyway, those violet things are little upside-down tulip stitches (basically a combination of a petal stitch [see below] and fly stitch). It helps that each one takes up about two repeats of the half-hitch pattern. The white cotton is DMC perle cotton crochet thread (Size No. 20), while the pink and purple are DMC embroidery floss (I mentioned last entry that they behave very differently when stitching over an edge — due to the fact that the perle cotton is round in cross-section, and the embroidery floss, is not).

By the way: I did absolutely make it out to the lace store, today. I have three little spools of perle cotton thread which are somewhere between being like a sewing thread in diameter and the DMC No. 20; and one spool of light blue DMC No. 20, as I’ve found pure white to be harsh. I’m hoping to put a herringbone pattern (and possibly edging) on one (or more) of my collars!

I’ve also found that I have consistent “likes,” where it comes to color and color combinations. I can stick with this for now and then branch out, but I find I’m drawn to green, rose/pink/violet, and blue. (I got some Fat Quarters at a different store [little bits of cotton fabric] and was surprised that I had, indeed, picked coordinating colors!)

And…yes…there are a couple of things about that experience that strike me. One is that it expands my options exponentially when I think about doing things for myself, just because I like to, instead of planning to try and monetize them.

Also, this may fill the hole that was left when my local bead stores went out of business (I picked up a rotary cutter and some templates, which…enable me to work on quilting!). The fine handwork portion is there, and the color play portion is there. And if I get good enough, I can even try to enter the State Fair competitions…

Yeah…maybe I shouldn’t think about that too much right now, and get back to what I’m working on…

embroidered red maple leaves

To the right, is the third photo which came out clear enough (and interesting enough) to post, tonight.

These are those maple leaves I was talking about before, which grew out of an attempt to make a six-petaled flower, until I made two petals different sizes and just decided to go with it. So the points are individual petal stitches, arranged in a circular fashion around a central point.

I’m pretty sure that these leaves were made using all six strands of the DMC embroidery floss, meaning I had to use a large needle, which made a large hole in the muslin. I’m pretty sure that there is a large danger of ripping through the fabric at the center, there.

I can see that the botanical theme I’ve been drawn to in Art, is also working itself out, here…I’m kind of wondering if it would be worth it to research floral patterns and nonfigurative art, in light of that.

Anyhow, tonight was…just really kind of awesome, especially when I figured out how to fix the problems with the fly stitch I was working!

I also did some work on re-teaching myself slipstitch, from my hand-sewing class, a long time ago. Right now I am not sure if I want to do quilts or embroidery or garments, more (or all three, meaning I’d have to shift energy and resources): there is a couture sewing book I have right now which is awesome for learning to construct garments by hand (no machine stitching). I’m not sure if I should try and find a copy to put in my permanent collection, or not, or just read it and Xerox what I need to remember.

Of course, a lot of that hinges on whether it’s even available…


Back to the needles

…There is a now-sealed hole somewhere in one of my fingertips which proves that I was doing something creative, tonight. ๐Ÿ™‚ Particularly…I was toying around with edging/reinforcing hems, and embroidery.

I seem to be particularly good at fly stitch, petal stitch, tulip stitch, buttonhole stitch, blanket stitch, and whatever that variant is which has one making larks-head-knots over the edge of a hem.

I also find it very interesting how embroidery can be like drawing, with mark-making and linear elements being key. There is also the fact that difference in line weight and color are the main ways to vary certain stitches, and that whenever I make a design unit one way, alternate ways to do them, present themselves…

…like the first time I had a go at this and tried to make a daisy, and instead got a maple leaf. Or the time I tried blanket stitch and realized I could write yama, yama, yama over and over again in kanji by varying the height of the anchor portions!

Not to mention that my stitches are like my handwriting, and they are characteristically mine right now in, say, the way that I tend to slant things that shouldn’t be slanted (or at least, aren’t ideally slanted). I’ve been having a bit of a time with keeping the legs of my fly stitches even: I’m having a hard time gauging how much the fabric will “give,” or distort, with a stitch.

I also find it very interesting, how often strategic needle entry and exit points, and wrapping of the working thread around the needle tip, are main components of the stitches I’m dealing with, now.

Right now, I’m trying to get better and more consistent at what I can do, rather than trying to do everything at once. For instance, I want to try feather stitch, but it’s kind of out of my comfort zone right now. Not to mention, I’m not sure I understand the instructions. I’m sure once I get good at and bored of straight fly stitch, feather stitch (like fly, but staggered) will be a welcome bridge into further designs.

I just stopped playing around with this, so no photos, yet. I’m sure that even though I was under a torchiere lamp, the light would have been sub-par for making an image of what I was doing. And some of it is really delicate, using only one out of six strands of DMC embroidery floss, which I’ve found is then broken down into two more filaments…

I do like the delicacy of using one strand, but…doing anything that could be seen, with that, would be a lot of work! (Detail of repeated fly-stitch elements [chevrons] on a collar, though, is something I’m thinking about.)

I find the repetitive work calming, though not boring or stressful (as versus knitting, for me. I don’t knit well). I have to pay attention to make sure the stitches turn out right, because when attention isn’t paid, it shows. What’s weird, though, is that when you’re paying attention most of the time, that shows too, and the errors fall into the background.

Earlier, I was telling D that I feel like one of the differences between the arts and crafts is that crafts are more obviously community-oriented. I have to learn technique from somebody, and heavily rely on skill and technique, so nothing I make is ever fully “mine;” there is always a debt and honor to those who taught me for having passed on the knowledge. (Kind of like martial arts…)

But that (the difference between art and craft) is a question, you know, that I keep going back to and which hasn’t been fully answered for me, yet. I should probably run some more searches on it. I’m wondering right now if there is a difference or if the difference was invented recently for some historical (likely money- or prestige- or sex-related) reason.

Anyhow, it was nice to just be able to work with my hands tonight, and not worry too much about the intellectual content of what I was doing. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m hoping to be able to find colored perle cotton tomorrow (No. 20), at the cute lace store that I found not so long ago. They had tons last time I was there, so it will probably be good.

Speaking of which…I opened the pattern I obtained from that store, tonight. The monpe pattern is extremely simple — so much so that I’m considering machine-stitching the trial pair in muslin — though I’ll have to enlarge it a bit because I’m apparently very curvy for someone who might wear Japanese clothes. ๐Ÿ™‚

And, I have plenty of muslin with which to practice embroidery. Not to mention, a few plain mens’ shirts of which I bought duplicates (they were $5 each, on Clearance). I’m not sure if I do still fit them (they’re “Slim Fit”), but I can practice stitching on the collars (collars and cuffs seem to be the first places to get worn through, and if I can edge them, I can protect them and extend the life of the shirts. These shirts, though, are short-sleeved, so I can focus on the collar and plackets first).

The biggest concern I have now is the colorfastness of the embroidery thread, and whether, if I start hand-stitching my own items of clothing, I’ll end up with a bunch of stuff that I have to wash on Delicate or hand-wash or dry-clean (though it probably wouldn’t be as big a deal if there were a lot of it).

There’s that, and the fact that perle cotton and embroidery thread work up very differently…one is round in cross-section; the other, flat. This has a strong effect in how they behave when stitched (particularly in edgings and very very much so in buttonhole and blanket stitches, at least), which is why I’m going to try and get some perle cotton (in a color other than white, black, or ecru) tomorrow.

Also, no: I really have no idea why I like to work with needles. Except, maybe, I’m precision-oriented and highly attentive to detail? That could have something to do with it…

I’ve gotten the idea, also, that if all I want to do is hand-stitch (and also because I love playing with color), it’s possible that I might enjoy quilting. I’ve had the idea before…we were researching it for a bit, and then I laid off of it for some reason that I can’t remember. Was it because I was lacking a cutting mat? I have that, now.


Breaking out of the narrowness, for a bit:

For Christmas festivities last night, I cleaned off the craft table and stowed some stuff away. When I was putting it back, I used a little miniature set of…well, organizers, which helped very much! I am planning on expanding the organizers soon, which is why I’m not saying what they are, ๐Ÿ˜› but…I would hope at least to clean up that area. I would also like to arrange things so that I don’t forget about the resources I have, while chasing after new ones.

For instance, in addition to the drawing and painting which I’ve done and which I have resources for (and which are difficult for me to start, not kidding — though I have been doing some visual research and started with a different method of approach to the painting I mentioned last post: color blocks as versus contour-line drawing), I also have wanted to do embroidery, sewing, and beading, in the recent past. I also have tools for wirework and crochet. And…bead embroidery, now that I think about it. (Also, knitting: but I’m unmotivated at knitting.) ๐Ÿ™‚

(EDIT: Oh, and collage and block printing! I entirely forgot about that!)

These things fall into a rather unattended area of intellectual property law, as I would be creating things with the help of others (in the form of instruction in technique). However, they aren’t particularly novel inventions (thus the technique can’t be patented), and don’t fall under copyright, so long as I don’t resell the physical patterns themselves as my own. What remains is down to friendliness, honor, and often-unspoken community norms. That, my dears, is Craft, and it is ruled by “managed openness” (not my term, but I can’t find the reference right now).

One of the main reasons to gravitate back to the Fine Arts, for me, is that the Intellectual Property slog is much clearer, even if so hard to enforce that it’s almost useless. In that case, I’m making images or sculptures or prints from my own mind that would normally not be reproduced by anyone else (until uploaded to the Web, that is, where anyone can download and use my unique contribution without my permission. There is no Universal IP Law that applies globally; it depends on international contracts which no one has to buy into).

And yes, I do believe I’ve talked about this before (possibly not in such detail), under the tag, “copyleft.”

I had entirely forgotten that I have a pattern for monpe (Japanese field pants) and the fabric to make them with (and wanted to make them)! I also forgot that I have plenty of needles, at least one good thimble, hand-sewing thread and basting thread, and sharp scissors ready at hand!

And I want to get back into hand-sewing. I really want to get back into hand-sewing, and I don’t even know why. There is just a thrill in making things, you know?

Maybe one of my gifts to myself this Christmas will be allowing myself the time and freedom to do this. Do anything I want, regardless of whether I can sell it or call it fully “mine” or not.

I also want to read and practice and write, at least a little, in Japanese. For now this will be limited to my textbooks, but I have enough books to give me a good variety of beginning approaches and reading material.

My biggest hurdle at this point is kanji (Chinese-based characters), though the book Beginning Japanese by Kluemper, et. al, starts out teaching kanji along with syllabary (as it’s geared toward AP Japanese students — it seems to move faster, even, than Elementary Japanese by Hasegawa, et. al, though they look like they cover the same material). I need to practice and reinforce what I know and what I’ve forgotten, so that I can move forward.

Maybe tomorrow, I can mop the kitchen floor and lay out, pin, and cut out my pattern on muslin. I know by now that I’ll need to make it a Size 16, which is the largest size available for this pattern. If things go how they may, though…I may start dropping weight on my own relatively soon, because of going off of a medication which causes weight gain. I still haven’t made that last jump to not ever taking it, but right now I’m on a half-dose of normal, and have been for a while.

I do think that it would be foolish of me to state, though, that the weight gain is entirely due to medication; genetics are also playing a role, as is lack of activity. My appetite hasn’t been as much of an issue since I started probiotics (amazingly enough). But since I will need to take a shower soon anyway, it wouldn’t hurt tomorrow to get in some physical activity.

See, I knew that I would get around to articulating my priorities over Winter Break! …about midway through Winter Break, yeah! ๐Ÿ˜›

Re-entering acrylic painting

I did start on a painting in acrylics, today. It’s a small (4″x6″ canvas board) work, very much in its natal stages, but it’s something. In the process I started playing around with mixing (canvas pads are handy), as I had a couple of ideas as to where to go, color-wise, but needed to work out whether or not my choices would be feasible.

One thing I can say: Cerulean plus Phthalo Blue make a really nice blue base to work from, together. I didn’t print out a color version of the photo I’m working from…I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not, frankly! I may be edging more blue-green and red-orange than the original photo, but then, I don’t have to make it like the photo.

I might try redrawing the original photo in my art journal in a number of different compositions, to see what is working in that photo that I like, and what’s unnecessary. I have already started this, in a way, by redrawing the image on the canvas board. I have wanted to do this by just marking out areas of color with brush pens, and then seeing where that leaves the composition.

(There is another use for that Marker paper I was talking about!)

The image I’m working from (in this case) is below. I do have a good number of these little canvas boards (they were sold in a 5-pack), so I have room to experiment.

orange bell-shaped flowers on green stems with a bud
I’m pretty sure I took this photo at a Garden Center.

As it was, tonight, I started out by drawing from a grid, then gessoed over that, then painted over that. My lines are fast disappearing, though I have a tendency to use even heavy-body acrylic paints like watercolors. So I have a couple of thin layers of gesso and paint, on top of the underdrawing. (If I had thought to do so, it might have been better to make an underpainting with pastel, seal it with Glazing Medium, then work on top of that, instead of using pencil for outlines — which, in practicality, doesn’t tell me much.)

Watercolor-like use of the paint isn’t intentional, on my part. If I continue to do it, I should probably use Glazing Medium so that the paint doesn’t just come off. I’ve never had it happen (aside from when one of my instructors scrubbed through my paint film), but I’ve been told it can happen.

flowers in greyscaleNow that I see this photo again — maybe I should print it in color. It will, at least, tell me what tones are where, and the color and value juxtapositions make up a large part of what I find appealing, I think. Plus, without color, it’s hard to tell leaves apart from flowers, since they’re both near the same values (“value”=the lightness or darkness of a color or tone, as if the image were a black-and-white Xerox copy).

I have come to the place where I’m fairly certain that I want to work with abstraction, now or in the future, but I’m not sure about how to do it. I do have one book which may help me (Abstract Art Painting: Expressions in Mixed Media), which I suppose is a start: but I can’t let it be an end.

And yes, I am looking at this image and realizing that I can likely add some color information and make it into a duochrome (instead of monochrome) image…I just don’t know exactly how I would do that, yet, or if my version of Photoshop supports that capability.

I can see that the juxtaposition of areas of high and low value at the top (and minorly, bottom right) of the image make it stronger. I love the orange against the yellow-green tones, and how that makes the blossoms step forward. I also love the diagonal alignment of the orange flowers, and the globular forms created by the converging petals. I’m not really crazy about the green bud in the center (I think my camera must have insisted on making that the focal point), but I have noted that I like to paint living flowers, as versus cut or silk ones. The diagonal alignments of the stems move the eye around the page…

…and I think that’s a good start as to what draws me to this photo.

There has been other stuff that happened today, but I’m just now realizing that it’s nearly 12:45 AM, and I should be getting some rest (I’ve been trying to keep my immunity up!).

I should note, though, in closing: tonight, I realized that acrylic paints are very up to the task, if I want to work abstractly. I think I just have to be brave enough to do it. The worst that can happen is that I get a painting (more likely, paintings) that I don’t like…but I have to go through those to learn how to make the ones that I do like.

One week since the beginning of Break…

It’s only today that I realize it’s been about a week since my last posting. I’ve been busy moving things around, and cleaning. (By “moving things around,” I mean sorting through all the papers in my office, and sorting through everything in the bathroom. Also, going through the books on my main bookcase to organize them by approach and theme.)

This started with my cleaning and organization of the craft table, because I needed space to cut a sheet (or roll) of tinted acetate and didn’t have room for the cutting mat or the roll. Right now things are OK down there — space is usable — but it isn’t optimal.

I also went through everything in the drawers in my bathroom, and beneath the drawers in my bathroom. Anything which could spoil, which I couldn’t remember buying in the last 6 months, I was told was fine to throw away. Particularly, used makeup, which can cause infection if there have been bacteria growing in it and then one applies it to one’s face. (I also shaved down my old eyeliners [which I hadn’t been using], and threw out what had dried out.)

The only reason I started thinking about makeup is that I did have a job interview, a couple of days ago (which was the last big thing to get out of the way before I could have true relief). I did mostly go to the interview in order to gain practice and not be kicked off of the qualifying list, but I am not certain what I would do if I were offered the job. Nothing to do but wait now, I guess.

And I have realized by now…that having expanded piercings is kind of like having tattoos. I didn’t really “get it” until a couple of days ago, though.

I was able to get that Quinacridone Magenta paint I wanted! (I haven’t tried it out yet, though.) I’m hoping that it will give me clearer violets than either Permanent Rose or Alizarin Crimson. There was a complicating factor in that I went in to buy a tube of Winsor & Newton Quinacridone Magenta gouache (opaque watercolor), and they were totally out of that color!

I did recall that W&N’s Quinacridone Magenta’s pigment code is PR122, though, and that I did have a backup choice in Holbein gouache. What I didn’t know is that Holbein’s “Primary Magenta” color is PR122 (I found this out at the store) and at least from what I’ve seen online, is extremely close to Winsor & Newton’s “Quinacridone Magenta.” The major difference is that the W&N Quin. Magenta is bluer than the Holbein Primary Magenta, so there may still be a use in waiting for the W&N at another time.

Anyway, this is just a continuation of the Color Dynamics website that I wanted to put up on the Web (but which was much too voluminous in scope and content to use simply as a final project in my Web Design class).

It’s fairly apparent by now, though, that if I want to publish a full site to the Web…I’ll have to rent some server space, which is not something I’ve arranged yet. It would also help to know what I was doing when setting up that server space, though I have been doing some study to prepare me for that.

I had wanted to continue working on this project to help me build skills in Web Design! Now that the pressure’s off, though…hmm. I haven’t touched it in at least a week. But during that week, well…I’ve been going to work, organizing stuff, cleaning, and shopping.

We did go to Nihon Machi (Japantown) recently, where I found a retrospective book on Emigre (the “type foundry”) which goes back to 1986. It cost a bit, but I was like, “when am I going to find this again,” and I didn’t want to buy it from Amazon. (It does seem that having an in-person storeย is a service.) I’ve read that experience with typography is one of the only things I need to know that I don’t know, if I want to be a Web Designer. I don’t think that knowledge of typography is one of those things that goes out of date, though.

I also found a book called Everyday Watercolor (from a different bookstore), which looks really interesting! I haven’t been able to look deeply into it yet, though, because I’ve been cleaning. What’s annoying is that in my cleaning the bathroom, I apparently disturbed something that was hungry (likely a spider) that bit up my legs and caused an emergency cleaning of both my bedroom and my office. So I haven’t been able to get as deeply into things as I would have liked.

I also replaced the Borden & Riley marker paper that I’ve almost used up. On the trip, I should have taken something printed, if not the old pad itself — translucency is key to this stuff being of use to me. If I had something to view through the paper, it would have made my choices easier.

The marker paper I had was like a very high-quality tracing paper. What I found at the store under the same name, however, was not the same product. The type of paper which is under the same brand name now seems to be different (more opaque, thicker, whiter) than it was when I bought my last pad.

Because of this, I did a slight shift and got two pads of paper which I hope will replace the Marker paper qualitatively (as I don’t really care if the markers bleed — but the fact that they had “No Bleed-Thru” paper that bled, is likely why they decided to sacrifice transparency). Borden & Riley is relatively inexpensive, which actually helps me be creative (because I don’t especially have a fear of wasting materials).

One of the pads is Borden & Riley #110M Technical Vellum (which is sized to be easily Xeroxed, at 8.5″x11″); the other is #37 Boris Marker Layout, 9″x11″. The new #37 appears more translucent than the old #37 Layout paper.

I’ve also been going through my photo archives, and have a couple of images that would be nice to work through in painting, both variants of the same basic photo. One of them can be a 4″x6″ panel in acrylic…unfortunately, these dimensions (2:3) are not common in larger sizes, at least here. However, I can do a larger version in 11″x14″, easily — and I’m thinking of doing that one in watercolors. The major issue with the latter is paper buckling, so I’m going to have to figure out how to map a 10.5″x13.5″ space out on the photo (0.25″ will be masked out on all sides to hold the paper down)…ehhh…

Yeah, that’s not going to be the most fun thing ever. But it will give me some Photoshop practice.

And yes, using inches as measurements is a pain. I haven’t yet done the research to answer the question of why letter-sized paper is 8.5″x11″ (I have a feeling it’s some historical quirk), but it’s been bothering me recently.

Also…I have a very good library to go through if I ever get bored. I’ve just got to remember that it’s there. I’ve also got to filter out things I will likely never read or reference. In particular, I have a couple of books on HTML and Web Design which have got to be fairly dated by now (they were bought by a family member, a while ago: copyrights 1998 and 1999, to be exact).

Yes, I think that if someone could have been born and graduated from high school in between the time those books were written and the time I’m looking at them, it may signal that an update is needed. The HTML book is on Version 3.2. We’re on HTML5 now.

Yeah, I…am not sure how much help those will be, except as historical artifacts…


Today was my first day of freedom from classes and Finals. I did still go to work, but I was also happy that I got to do whatever I wanted on my lunch hour! Nothing hanging over my head with some due date that I had to work on in order to alleviate my anxiety and boost my GPA!

Just think: in one more year it can be like this, permanently. Not to say that I would stop learning, because I can’t afford to do that, ever; but I will have obtained my first professional degree.

It’s also not lost on me that this “vacation” time I’m entering into, with Winter Break, may be one of the last extended periods of lack of responsibility that I’ll be able to have, unless I save up vacation hours at whatever job I’ll have in the future.

Because of a number of issues, I’m not entirely certain it is even possible to expect to retire once I reach a certain age. I haven’t gone in for financial counseling or anything, but it just doesn’t look good for me, due to the age at which I began (or am beginning) my career. The institution of retirement itself doesn’t look good, as regards what I can see ahead.

However: there are some bright spots. A lot of them, actually…though elucidating that, right now, may be a bit much. And, I can’t expect to live to old age, anyway…that’s kind of not guaranteed.

In any case…I did do some drawing at work, earlier. No photos or scans, yet, though I did learn one thing: don’t try to alter a pencil image at the same time as you’re inking it. (I had forgotten how subtle changes severely affect expressions, in images of people!)

I should be heading out to replace some art supplies that I’m running low on (yay for using up art supplies!). This is, specifically, a type of marker paper I picked up a long time ago (Borden & Riley) which is particularly useful both because of its degree of translucency, and the fact that markers tend not to bleed through it. (New Chartpak markers will still bleed, though, as will new Copics [unless I’m mistaken].) Because the paper is so translucent, it allows for tracing and inking of linework.

The major drawback of any of this is that then the inked illustrations either need to be transferred to a digital file for coloring (which means I will need to learn how to digitally color), or they need color added with dry media (I have never tried this paper with watercolors…it would be an interesting experiment, as this is cotton rag paper, but…I wouldn’t set my hopes too high). The alternative is using Saral paper, a.k.a. making a carbon paper transfer, which makes inking the original, redundant.

Or, I’d just have to stick with using pens and markers for all of the art. It’s not a best-case scenario, largely because I’m not great with markers…though I think I am better than I thought I was. The limited work that is still inside the cover of the pad isn’t awful, even though at the time, I was fairly disappointed.

Maybe I just need to become skilled with a blending marker? I don’t know. What I do know is that this is the first pad of paper I’ve almost-used-up in a while (unless we count the small pad of ArtAgain coal black paper, which I found can take wet media [in this case, gouache]).

It is possible to work out small comics with the marker paper, as well as play with layout, generally.

The largest issue with trying to practice illustration at this point, for me, is either creating a story or finding a story to illustrate. I may be able to work on this over Winter Break, though, too. Hopefully, the last decade or so has calmed down some of the issues I was going through, last time I was intensely involved in fiction writing.

(I can’t help but think that it will attempt to reactivate some of those old dysfunctional neural pathways, though…)

And if I’m going to write, it would likely help, to read (which I have time for, now). The other main issue is that I overwhelmingly read nonfiction…maybe a short story would work. That way, the research wouldn’t be overwhelming (I can read short fiction I like), and the writing wouldn’t be overwhelming, either. This could then lead to a short tale that I could illustrate…

…though I honestly think that project would take up more than the time I’ve got over Winter Break. I have about a month, off. I’m sure I’ll get around to figuring out what to do with my time (other than this), in the near future, but right now I’m just looking at the next 2-3 days.

I did unexpectedly use a bunch of Marker paper for my Web Design project. I have 5 usable pages of this stuff, left. I think I’ll get the 9″x12″ size again, as it is small enough to fit into my work locker. Plus, I can’t scan anything over 8.5″x11″, at this point, so getting a larger size would be relatively useless unless I started hard-core doing comics, and needed to tape up page roughs to my wall in order to read their composition.

(I don’t want to scan these things at an office-supply store. I’m not going to get into, why. I’m sure it’s obvious enough.)

That actually sounds really fun–! It also gives me an excuse to pick up a gouache color that I’ve set my eye on (Quinacridone Magenta). This last color-experimentation phase (for the website) has got me using gouache again, which can make gorgeous opaque colors. But I can’t think about it in the same way as I would think about illustration. It pretty much has to be looser than that.

I had also been thinking about painting with gouache on board…meaning that I’m looking at the use of gesso and Golden Absorbent Ground, to prep the surface. The biggest thing I’m concerned about there is the possibility of destroying my good (soft) watercolor brushes by painting on top of a rough surface.

Now that I look at it, I would be just as well off by mounting a paper to a piece of board, painting it, then removing it to frame.

Hey, wait: it’s also possible that I might be able to permanently mount a paper to board by using an acrylic medium, like maybe Glazing Medium…hmm. Didn’t think of that, before. Then I’d have the durability of the board, and the softness of the paper. I also have a brayer I can use, to push down the watercolor paper (I will just need to interleave a clean sheet so that I don’t mess up the surface of the paper — or the painting, if it is finished).

Looks like I’m going to be experimenting.

The hardest part of any of this, though, is settling on what to paint! I do have a lot of nice botanical images, though…I’m just not quite a master at composition, yet.

Maybe I can try that one image I wanted to use for the 30″x30″ canvas, as a way to break out of photorealism…


I think I can relax a bit, now. Just a little.

I feel like I should write something, but at the same time, what is there to say? Yet. I’ve completed two of three Finals, and the third Final already has hours of work put into it, from earlier in the semester. I’ve got some minor tweaks to do, but mostly things are looking good, there (unless I change something and everything breaks).

I’m talking about my Web Design Final; oddly enough, it looks like the majority of my work for this one will be paintingโ€”!! Which, you know, isn’t a bad thing. But I keep feeling like…there’s something else I should be doing on the computer. It probably comes from sitting here too long, and losing touch with reality.

Kinda…kinda half kidding, kinda not…

As I was setting up a page on my website…I realized (again) that most of the work which I’ve done (on paper) and liked, has relied on transparent watercolors, not gouache. So now I’m wondering again if gouache is the optimal medium for a website on color dynamics.

Gouache is really great for building clear, pure, strong color…but to use it and not have things come out looking chunky and blocky requires skill…that I don’t have at the moment?

In any case, I can rework the color wheel from 2007…it’s still readable, it hasn’t faded badly at all; but I was totally lacking in mixing skill at that time (this was towards the beginning of the class). What I mean by that is that I jumped from prismatic colors to chromatic greys with mostly no muted colors, in-between.

I can forgive myself for that because…well, it was a decade ago, and I hadn’t yet taken a real painting class. But when you’re youth and bold, and you don’t know how much you don’t know what you’re doing, there’s nothing to stop you from forging ahead.

Maybe as I got older, I got more cautious. (But if I illustrate that point, I’ll go off on a martial arts tangent which will require explaining…)

In any case, I can do the color wheel. The major issue is that it’s probably the hardest way to effectively mix paint, that is possible. It also uses up a lot of paint. But it may/will be a good exercise, I think. And paint is there to be used, you know? Not to sit there until it becomes dried cakes inside your tubes.

Yes, that…sounds like a plan, at least! I’ve just got to figure out whether I’ll be tweaking the image later in Photoshop, or whether I should just go buy some tinted acetate…

…yeah, I’m being cryptic again. Apologies…

I’m just thinking it will be easier to mask out irregular parts of an image before importing it to the computer, rather than dealing with odd-shaped selections in Photoshop (unless I just used circles to highlight the colors I’m talking about). Hmm.

Well, anyway. I’ve got a project for tomorrow!