Minor update: exercise

Not much to report today, but I felt the need to come back here and write. I did succeed in exercising, and have found that the elliptical machine will work well for a full body workout (I get too tired to go on after about 20 seconds on the first setting, largely due to the tops of my thighs. I’m not sure if this is because I had already gone a mile on the Exercycle).

I didn’t record my abdominal routine, but I was working to a count of 16 reps (8 on each side), then resting for a few seconds, then repeating until I eventually counted to 64. I also did leg lifts, which I think helped tighten my lower belly. The other thing I did was concentrate on doing the exercises right (i.e., pull the belly in before doing the exercise) instead of just getting through them.

I also tried jumping jacks in the middle of my mile, which weirdly gave me a rest.

And…I’m tired, and by that I mean I can’t think, so I’ll just go to bed.

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Revisiting gesture drawing.

Seeing that one of the books I had placed on hold was apparently still at the library, I took a trip out there today to find it. I must still be unfamiliar with the Web interface, though, because I neglected to see that the book in question is apparently mis-shelved (a.k.a. likely lost somewhere within the library), this being why it wasn’t pulled with the other books I reserved for myself.

So…I had a bit of time today to study SQL, while waiting for my ride (though I’m really starting to hate the level of complexity of the sentences and concepts within the sentences, in my main textbook). And once I got home, I wasn’t quite in the mood to resume studying on Zen (though I know it probably would have grabbed my interest, had I opened the books).

What I did today as regards school, largely, is begin my peer grading responses. I only have a couple more to go before I’ll be done; I got through four of them, today.

I didn’t realize until looking at other people’s submissions, how thoroughly mine was done! I did fall into the trap of taking some time to review my own submission again, thereby wasting time I could have used to review someone else’s presentation…though that’s kind of like my taking time here to read my own blog.quick, free, loose sketch.

Yesterday, I did get some art done, though what I would show is just a pencil sketch. What struck me about it was the method in which I did it: lots of flowing, loose pencil lines. There is a term for this, it’s called, “gesture drawing,” and it’s what I was doing even though I was working on a small 8.5″x5.5″ journal page.

Normally, with gesture drawing, you’re working with a very large page and it is either on an easel, or on the floor (because it’s too big for an easel). This enables large movements, starting from the shoulder (and hips), and negates any tendency to be fiddly and overly precise (the latter of which, can stunt or ruin a drawing).

This basically came out of a warm-up where I was lettering with my Pitt markers, and started to get bored with just doing letterforms. It is interesting to see how the tone of a word changes depending on how it’s written, but working just with line and color and text is overly limiting, after I’ve warmed up. Breaking out into shapes and blocks of color was next, and after that I started experimenting with leaves.

I was thinking of “Coleus” when I was doing the above, though I can’t claim any sort of accuracy to an actual Coleus! I was more trying just to draw from imagination. It helped to keep the pencil flowing and moving, almost like one of those drawings where you never lift the pencil from the paper, except I was controlling where I added a slight bit more pressure and where I was just gliding or skimming with the pencil point.

I also stopped this before it got too…overworked. I kind of wanted to save it as an example of what I could do if I weren’t too obsessed with details. I know I can go farther, though. For example, there aren’t any really apparent shadows, and there isn’t any color. I also only used HB and 6B graphite pencils for this, and I can go up to 9B (if not Carbon Black) for depth. Also: no background.

But yeah…it was fun. I’m glad I still remember how to do gesture drawing, because it’s a lot more enjoyable for me than what I had been doing before taking art classes (which was very exact, and stressful).

I think I’m going to have to spend more time just dealing with graphite pencil. I’m not used to art being, “fun.” And: I have a battery of colored pencils to back me up, if I want to sketch in color, the way I have sketched here in greyscale.

I think that’s about enough for tonight. I should get ready for bed.

Doing a project on Zen and Art.

Well. I did go to the art store. I also did go to the library…and now I have enough books on Zen and Art, that I probably don’t need to be looking for any more (though it still is tempting to look for more!).

For my final project in Reference & Information Services, I’m making a Research Guide. It began as an investigation as to Zen’s influence on Japanese aesthetics, particularly in art…though it may not end up as I intended. I did some reading last night and realized that my original idea may not have been based on accurate information.

It is, however, still really fascinating. In addition to books on Zen + Art, I have found books describing Zen practice…which is appealing to me, for the reason that it seems to be a religion without “religion.” By that I mean that it doesn’t encourage faith or belief, but is rather an orthopraxic religion instead of an orthodoxic one (i.e., “do the right thing,” as versus, “believe the right thing,” and not, “do the right thing because it’s right,” but rather, possibly, because it lessens pain).

I have a lot of reading ahead of me, though! Right now, I’ve been working for most of the morning, so I wasn’t too eager to jump back into reading…I only brought along my SQL textbook and it’s like (sarcasm) yay SQL amazing fascinating right (/sarcasm).

Anyhow, I’ve decided not to focus on that, right now.

I’ve still got a bunch of grading to do for my Instructional Design class…and a little bit of homework for Database Management. But after that, this is all Finals. I’m going to try and not be frightened about that, and instead, look forward to what is going to be happening during Summer. I may get time to work on my arts and crafts, and it’s possible I could have a really good time in the two classes I’m set up to take.

I know, I know. But it’s just four units. 😛

If it were harder…would it be easier?

Hey. It’s a bit early for me yet, but…I’ve realized why I’m hesitant to paint: it is truly creative work, and I don’t understand it. That is, I don’t understand how I paint.

On top of this, there is a major, “woo,” factor in the way I’ve explained my own talent to myself, which isn’t helping me, but I have no other way to conceptualize it. I think maybe I’m avoiding the, “woo,” by not practicing.

I’m not sure if, “woo,” translates well internationally… 🙂 I mean that painting brings up for me, thoughts on spirituality and metaphysics, which are things that I used to be heavily involved in, but with which I scared myself.

The way I paint and draw is to visualize my next mark…and then mark, “over it,” with my hand. My hand, at this point, is relatively steady and accurate. I don’t know why. I also don’t know why or how I visualize the correct place for the next mark, and I don’t know how I seem to be led step-by-step through a process to create something I didn’t know I could or would make in the first place.

So I guess a lot of fear of my own creativity is fear of the unknown.

Also, I think my level of, “talent,” puts me in the, “gifted,” range, but I’m afraid to use that gift because I don’t know why I have it or where it comes from. The only way I’ve found to explain this is spiritual…and I can get crazy spiritual, both literally and not.

I thought I should record this before it goes away…I can expand on it later.

School-life tension? :P

All right, I’m set to go out tomorrow and blow $30 on some paints. 😛 (I feel silly going all the way out to the art store and spending $5. Even though that may be the sensible thing to do.)

I’ve checked: I have more weeks in the semester than I expected! So now I for real have three weeks left of classes! And I should get started on my peer grading.

I think Database Management will be…manageable, given that the work I’m doing for the last group assignment seems easy enough. Then there is the Final, which…I’m not really sure I’ll do well on, but I think it will be OK (as a co-worker of mine is fond of saying). I have a tutoring session scheduled for tomorrow morning; I’m hoping that this will make the Final easier.

And then there is improving on my Instructional Design proposal, and dealing with the Research Guide for my Reference course. Not really liking that last class, right now (perceived interpersonal friction because I was stressed, and now the Prof thinks I don’t care; and I’m wondering if I care enough to explain to her what was going on, which isn’t her business), but I might be able to do something with the last project which will make it worth my time.

The other day…I did get out my colored pencils. Like the archive of colored pencils going back to 1994 or whatever…

They work well, still; they just aren’t suitable for reproduction work (which is why I started in with the watercolors in the first place)! I have found, though, that some of these pencils are actually using pigments which appear very similar to what’s in my paints (like Cobalt Turquoise).

The major issue I have and have had with these is that it’s difficult to cover the paper 100%. The workaround I found for this is to paint the paper first, then color it with the pencils, so that what shows through is not white, but something else that adds some kind of depth or contrast.

I mean, that’s old news, but if you haven’t been following this blog for years, you might not have found the information. (I need to work on my organization of past posts.)

I also have too many colored pencils. I need to choose one or two of my repeat colors and then give away (or at least put away) the rest. It’s just annoying when I’m trying to match a color and I have more than one that look very similar…

…and I should aim to get rid of the older Prismacolors, first (some of which may be older than some of my readers).

Hmm. Well, aside from that, work was…tiring. And I still have yet to decide on my topic for the Reference Guide.

I’m thinking that color dynamics aren’t an “academic” enough topic, and that I would be better off going with something like an Art History angle where it comes to Japanese woodblock printing. I mean, it’s niche enough that I probably wouldn’t have to worry too much about narrowing my search…whereas color dynamics would have me sorting through masses of shallow books.

They’re not all shallow, just most of them don’t touch on what I want to know. At all. Like, I don’t care about interior design…or picture books…I’ve tried researching this before, but maybe my mistake is trying to use my home library system instead of one that has an effective OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog).

On the other hand, I’ve been reading handprint today…and that site has a wealth of information on watercolors. I’ve mentioned it before, but I haven’t until now just read it for kicks. But if I did want to do some work on pigments and watercolors as regards a Research Guide, I think there is a page there somewhere with an annotated bibliography, from which I could start.

Actually, that sounds a bit too hard to risk an assignment on it.

I’ll think about it.

Recap of the past three days

I’ve been told to go to bed, but I know I won’t remember what happened over the past three days, if I don’t record it. I’m pretty sure I made the last post in the early morning (i.e. after midnight) on Tuesday.

I think I was able to go to the Japanese market for foodstuffs that day (soba noodles, senbei)…I know Wednesday, I worked and went out later. I also started designing quilt layouts.

Thursday, I saw a professional in the morning and then…either Tuesday or Thursday, I went to the fabric store, and either Tuesday or Thursday, I went to the produce market. (It’s all kind of blurring together.)

Today I was mostly asleep until evening, but I have started working on assignments, again.

I also did check that lightfastness chart on Tuesday, but I haven’t made photos yet. There are about 6 or so paints that I now know fade after about 4 weeks of direct sunlight, and a few others which are also starting to do so, but it’s only barely noticeable. (On the other hand, the difference between Winsor & Newton Yellow Ochre and Yellow Ochre Light has been magnified: Yellow Ochre Light is yellower and less red than regular Yellow Ochre!).

I need to re-swatch Scarlet Pyrrol (from M. Graham & Co.), because it looks like it has been altered, but I don’t know from what; if memory serves, it is different underneath the covering paper, as well as on top. This could indicate heat or atmospheric influence, or some kind or corrosion, as versus just light…it looks grittier than I remember.

Of course, no one hangs their paintings in the window in direct sunlight, but it’s meant to replicate advanced wear.

Aureolin is still holding up fine (surprisingly, given its reputation), as have a range of pink-magenta-red paints. I may want to go and get W&N’s variant of Scarlet Pyrrol (it’s called something else, like Winsor Orange Deep, but I’d have to look at my archive or look it up online to be sure what it is). [EDIT: It’s called “Winsor Orange (Red Shade)”.]

Okay, I need to brush my teeth before I totally conk out. But yes, apparently I’m doing very well right now…

I get a little free time, and I stay up ’til 3 AM…

I now have free time…and I’m not entirely certain of what to do with it! The last few days have just been crammed with the Instructional Design work plus the Database work, plus the Honors initiation. And before that was the Reference Sources writeup, and my trip to Southern California. And before that was trying to get things out of the way so I wouldn’t have to study the whole time I was in Southern California.

So I suppose it has been a long run of stress.

I have books I can read — lots of them, and reading might help me prepare for my upcoming Research Guide assignment (which is due in 3 weeks!). I also can check on my lightfastness samples — it will be about four months since I’ve set those paint swatches in the sun, and I do want to see what they look like!

Speaking of time elapsed, I should also note that in about two weeks, I’ll be able to go up in gauge to 12g earrings…which has got me thinking about what I want to do with my ears. I know I don’t want to expand my piercings to the size where I’ll be wearing plugs, and I’m fairly certain I don’t want to go over 9g-10g. The thing is what to do with them if I won’t be wearing anything over 10g.

The thing I can think of, besides getting some tunnels so that I can put fine (easily torn) thread through them and from that, hang drops, is to get a second piercing on the left side. Probably a lobe piercing — I do not have enough trust in my environment and hygiene to discount the possibility of infection over (or within) cartilage, which can seriously (and permanently) deform the tissue.

Not to mention that I can’t bet on antibiotics working, which is the major concern. Even if I could, I don’t want to wipe out my beneficial gut bacteria (I’m the only person in my immediate family without stomach troubles).

So I do think that I’ll be looking at the color chart. I wonder if I should try something with watercolors again, or drawing, or playing with beads (the last sounds easiest, for someone who hasn’t been doing art regularly, but the first sounds most potentially rewarding, for a color fiend).

I could also play in my Art/Design journal with markers, which was really enjoyable the last time I was doing it. (There’s something just comfortable for me about experimenting with graphic text.) This might be fun and relaxing, just because it’s informal.

I should note as well that I have a couple of books here on watercolor that I could read if I were too scared to pick up a brush (which is silly, right? It’s just a brush…and they’re just colors! Stop thinking about how much they cost!).

Then there are the 5 Persian cucumbers which I need to pickle, a bunch of spinach which still needs to be eaten, and I have to pick up some more soba. Not to mention the two separate bags of radishes, one of which can go in with the cucumbers (though pickled radishes smell awful, just as a warning! I submerge them sliced and raw in a 1:1 mixture of cool unseasoned rice vinegar and sugar. They take a few hours to macerate. Cover them so they don’t stink up the refrigerator too much).

And then I can get back to trying to read in Japanese again, or maybe review the xeroxes I have on composition in Chinese brush painting. I actually do have ink (and brushes) for Sumi-e…not sure how related those two are. But if I wanted to work monochrome and nontoxic, there is a very good option.

Not sure if I should try and buy the book I got from the library on Chinese brush painting techniques. Looks like it’s out of print.

And oh! I totally forgot about the sewing projects! And the embroidery stuff!

Hmm…I did get a book just to learn new embroidery stitches. And I have the two new books on Shinto and one on the Atthakavagga…the latter of which may inspire at least one new story.

Which I can write in (or make notes on, in) my Art/Design journal as it arises. That sounds good!

So, tomorrow:

  1. Go get some more soba (and some kamaboko) so that your remaining two days of the soba tsuyu isn’t wasted. (It only stays good for three days.)
  2. Pickle the cucumbers and radishes.
  3. Eat soba with the rest of the spinach, kamaboko, and pickles.
  4. Look at the lightfastness chart and photograph for reference, if the sun is out.

And maybe:

  1. Play in your Art/Design journal, or
  2. Read in The Buddha Before Buddhism: Wisdom from the Early Teachings (by Gil Fronsdal, 2016, Shambhala).
  3. Write in your Art/Design journal.

I think that’s enough!