Mad skillz…or, trying to order chaos

There are two things I can think of to write about, tonight.

Advocacy for the differently-abled

The heavier topic, I’ll (largely) save for another post; I’m not sure I’m up to doing it, right now, especially with the sensitivity surrounding it (both for me and for others).

But that one essentially has to do with taking action against stigmatization, misunderstanding and fear; instead of stressing over being stigmatized, misunderstood, and feared.  That is, instead of worrying about being put into a stigmatized category, work for the understanding and betterment of people who are already in that category.  Once the stigma is allayed, the anxiety will be purposeless.

This has been spurred off by reading material on Accessibility while on the job (about one in five U.S. residents at any moment are dealing with a mental illness), and realizing that more people than anyone would like are too close to homelessness — a quick Google search turns up the statistic that one in three U.S. residents are one check away.  On top of that — at least my own disability is hidden; my recently deceased family member’s was not.  His death was preventable, and what led up to it is something I have heard related to me as “abuse.”  But I’m going to try not to get into that, now.

Organizing collected art @*#&

The lighter topic, which just flashed through my mind, is my freakin’ need to inventory my art materials, tools, and supplies, because I have more than enough art supplies to do what I want to do, without buying much of anything more.  The issue here is that I’ve had them for so long, that I’ve forgotten that I have them, or what I can do with them.  And they’re mostly stashed away where I don’t look.

Case in point:  a bunch of tiny linoleum blocks which I bought at the beginning of Summer, of which I’ve only carved into one.  I had forgotten about them until I picked up a surprisingly heavy little box (not knowing what was in it), and found them inside.

I’ve already begun a small version of cataloging these things, in setting up an MS Excel file with all the paints I have (or had, in December 2016).  That, in turn, was likely motivated by my experience with setting up a database for the first second time in one of my Library classes.  (The first time I set up a database was likely in 2007, using MS Access 2003, which I no longer…ironically, have access to.)  The second time, we were using a Web-based service which, while simple, is apparently more powerful than Access.  (?!)  I’m not sure about that last one…but it simulated the functionality of an OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog).

I just took a moment to do some research on relational databases:  apparently, what I’m thinking of doing, D says, will require months of set-up work.  (Really?)  M has said that companies hire out for that kind of work, which I had wanted to give a good shot.  Well, anyway.  I suppose I can learn it later if I really want to do it…

I was also told that it would be more useful to photograph what I had, where.  My main concern was pulling together records of all my supplies in a central location, so that I could tell what I had, and from that gather ideas of what I could use it for, without digging through everything.  There’s just so much stuff that it’s hard to know on what paper or in what book to put new drawings, for instance; where any given completed drawing is; or what media to use for any given idea.

Marker digression:

I did make a crude but relatively interesting Cubist sketch the other day, trying to capture the idea of a specific kind of “lamp.”  This was done with a (Faber-Castell) Pitt Big Brush pen, which…well, the tip was already blunted, so I didn’t feel too bad about pressing firmly on it.  Different media require different approaches and have different ways of working with ease, which is why I’ve been trying to diversify.

Most markers have a limited shelf life:  they dry out.  This is a reason why I like Tombows (they last longer than most markers I’ve had — I really don’t think I’ve had to throw one out, yet).  Staedtlers are relatively good, too — by that I mean the Mars Graphic 3000 Duo brush pens.  The major issue I have with both are a lack of muted tones, and a suspicion that, like markers generally, they will be prone to fading.

Theoretically, though, both the Mars Graphic 3000 Duo pens and the Tombows are water-based and water-soluble, so they can be blended and drawn out with water.  I just haven’t especially had the will to try it.  However, that would probably be the most straightforward way to get muted tones.  Tombows come in a great prismatic range; the Duo pens are, on the other hand, mostly sold in sets, these days.  (They used to be sold in open stock…they’re really great pens, though — or, they used to be, when I purchased my three, years ago.)

Eh — maybe I should get back to large-format charcoal work and just have at it.  🙂

I guess there’s no reason not to

Experimenting with papers and water-based media:

I think I’m getting better at the digital photography thing.  As I’ve been able to alter my camera settings for the quality of light, I’m having to do less cleanup work in Photoshop.  Even the Photoshop work has become routine, at this point…I should see what more I can do with it (aside from prepping photos for the Web).

So, these two photos are my sketches of a Bok Choy Mue, with color.  I do have lineart photos of these (before the watercolor), but I’m not sure if it would be overkill to post those.

Ah, whatever.  It’ll be good for me to see the bok choy in process, as well.  This is what they looked like before I hit the paper with transparent watercolor:

Really, the point of posting these is to let you see how the paper handled with water.  It does warp appreciably with large areas of wash (like the Payne’s Grey shadows in there), but for small areas of light watercolor work, it does better than I expected.  (I’ve seen worse from papers which say they can take light washes, including another variant of paper produced by Maruman.)  And it’s fairly decent as a drawing paper, as well.

As I said in a prior post, you’ll likely want to tape these down to a flat surface before you hit them with water at all.  This is something that I didn’t think of doing until I realized that, having taken the paper out of its pad, there was nothing whatsoever to stop it from curling.  By the time I got to these with the Artists’ Tape, though (it’s low-tack and relatively easy to remove), they had already begun to warp — and to dry (to set) in a warped form.  I’ve left the borders around these images visible so that you can see what actually transpired.

I’ll have to see what happens when I tape the paper from the beginning.

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Ah — and, I almost forgot to show you what the cover of this pad looks like.  I bought it from Maido, a stationery store right across from Kinokuniya Books in Japan Center in San Francisco’s Japantown.  Because I had never used it before, I got a small size…and right now I’m thinking that next time I go back there, it will be OK to get this type of paper in a larger pad.  Here is a detail of the lower left corner:

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On looking up what “Zuan” is meaning to refer to, I see a listing on Amazon which says that “Zuan” means “Design,” and is likely the brand of this specific type of paper, while Maruman is the manufacturer.

“Postcard size” means what it says…this is a tiny pad!  Almost too small to work with, and probably easy to blow through, if you’re like me and you find out you like this paper, and you can only fit one object on each page–!!!

What I’m posting below is an example of Holbein gouache on top of Strathmore ArtAgain coal black paper.  This was also a relatively small test:  ArtAgain paper is not cheap!

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I’ve cropped things so that they don’t read as…well, weird.  Hahehehe.

The shine on this paper is also something that I’ve run across multiple times while trying to photograph it.  I’m not really sure what I can do about it, other than use an actual nice camera with a polarized lens…but I’m not that advanced, yet.  Otherwise, I’d have to get away from an angle where the light is bouncing into the camera lens, without blocking the light source itself…(sunlight, in this case).

Everything in this photo that is bright white (other than the “J. Herbin” label in the upper left, which is from a Uni-Ball Signo white gel pen, and the circle at top left, which was drawn with a toothpick used to stir up my Daler-Rowney Pro White), is Holbein Permanent White gouache.  The pink and blue marks are Alizarin Crimson and Peacock Blue gouache, mixed with the white, respectively.  The translucent whites are either Pro White ink (as with the surprised spiral), or watered-down gouache (I can’t remember which one the snake on the right side, is).

And as those of you who can read kanji know, I’m very early into learning how to write these things!  (I’ve written, “Japanese language,” “bright,” “as for I,” and “person,” here…in what makes sense, at least.)  It is much easier to write nihongo with a brush than it is to write English with a brush, though (you can see my jacked “Holbein”), likely due to Japanese language being designed to be written with a brush.  (I honestly don’t know what English language was designed to be written with…)

I think that’s all I’ve got, for now.  Work was positive — they didn’t even expect me to come in!  But it was really nice to get some of the backed-up labor out of the way, meaning tomorrow will be much easier…

I’ve just got to assemble the ingredients for my homework, tonight…

Just trying to work out whatever’s in my mind, here:

I’m going to try to write, even though right now I’m feeling that I don’t have much to write about.  This, in turn, probably has happened because I haven’t been writing, daily.

Watercolor practice

I used some of the pre-mixed greens I had left on my palette, along with Sap Green, to “color in” (or add color to, or apply wash to) a couple of sketches I did of a Bok Choy Mue in one of my Maruman sketchpads…which I was amazed would take watercolor without warping too badly.  (It just says “Sketch Book” on the front, with no mention of branding other than the graphic design of the cover.)  You will want to tape the papers down, though, for best effect.

Although I did these last night, I didn’t take photos of them then, thinking that I would do it today.  However, I had to get up early for an appointment (woke, 7 AM) and ran out of steam at about 3:30 PM, sleeping through until dinnertime at about 7:30 PM.  So I still haven’t taken the photos…I’ll try and get one up of the Maruman sketch pad tomorrow.

I’m still kind of tired, but then:  I did take medications at about 9 PM (on time) because I have plans for tomorrow.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I neglected self-care tonight and got too sedated to be functional in 15 minutes…just a warning.

Ah! But!

I also found that my Strathmore ArtAgain paper (a deep black paper which I used in one of my older posts) is heavy enough to withstand wet media!  I haven’t yet tried to use washes on it, but it’s very apparent that I can draw and write on it with gouache and a paintbrush, and it doesn’t warp with light use of water.  This is an idea I got from Sarah Sullivan, though my approach differs from hers.

Basically, for me, using light media on dark paper allows me to paint in the light, as versus darkening something and progressively preserving the lights.  And using gouache (opaque watercolor) allows me to use Titanium White (also known as Permanent White; contrasted, I am thinking, with Lithopone) without concern of breathing in Titanium Dioxide dust.

Breathing nanoparticles of Titanium Dioxide dust has raised concerns about carcinogenicity, but I wouldn’t have known that without inquiring why so many pastels now had CA Prop 65 warnings, and CL (Caution Label) signifiers on them, even without heavy metal components.  It could be overkill by Prop 65 — but it has made me more aware of how I use pastels in my own work.

In a home environment, I don’t want to get the dust in the carpet and then vacuum up the dust, because all that may do is redistribute the dust, not contain it (I’m not sure if a HEPA filter is sufficient to contain nanoparticles, which are so small that they are transparent).

This means that if I use pastels — which I kind of don’t like to do anymore, given that it isn’t even good to get the pigments on one’s skin (and certain pigments do stain the skin and likely are absorbed transdermally [if one can’t get them off or out]), and I hate having to seal my drawings (which under normal circumstances can be very toxic — even using Aqua Net as a “non-toxic” cheap alternative in volume enough to seal a pastel painting smells noxious) — I would want to do it somewhere away from air intake vents and over a hard surface, so that I can mop up the loose dust.

To be clear:  the danger of cancer from Titanium Dioxide is not a toxic one, it is a mechanical one.  Loose airborne particles of Titanium Dioxide can get into your lungs and just never leave, and over time that can cause irritation (at least) and leave you at risk of lung problems…but just read your MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheets) to be sure.

It is nice to be able to manipulate pastels with one’s fingers, but it…just seems hazardous, right now.  Especially as it is very…apparent when in a classroom with a lot of kids using pastels, and wearing a dust mask, how full the air is of pastel particles when one removes that dust mask (I can literally smell the pastel dust, though a particle mask will block the smell).  I started wearing a dust mask, in turn, because I kept sneezing and smelling pastel for hours after a painting session.

If I were going to work with the broad sides of sticks of color, I might want to try the Prismacolor Art Stix — they’re colored sticks made of the pigmented cores of Prismacolor colored pencils.  I haven’t used the Art Stix yet, but I would expect them to have a different working method than pastels (even Prismacolor NuPastels — a hard pastel which is relatively nontoxic).  And, no, Prismacolor isn’t paying me, here.

For the record, I am not sure if coming into contact with colored pencil colors is hazardous or not (though I think the pigments are bound in oil or wax, and thus not hazardous…but I don’t know what happens when that stuff is hit with Gamsol [“odorless mineral spirits”], just to let you know that this is an option and that I haven’t tried it, and don’t know its hazards.  Gamsol, used primarily in oil painting, is used to liquefy — at least oil-based — colored pencils in order to get them to look like aquarelles, or watercolor pencils.  Prismacolors are wax-based, though; whether this works with oil-based pencils only, or both, I don’t know.  Also, I’m fairly certain Gamsol is toxic, but it’s supposed to be better than regular “mineral spirits”).

I do know that there is nowhere near as much dust with colored pencil as with pastel or pastel pencil.  There is some dust associated with colored pencil use (especially when applying heavy strokes), but I haven’t found it to be more than a small nuisance.

But anyway — I tested out two white inks on ArtAgain paper the other night, and found that both J.Herbin (?  I don’t know this brand; I just had a bottle of their white ink) and Daler-Rowney Process (“Pro”) White absorbed into the paper and faded.  Holbein Permanent White gouache, on the other hand, stayed on the surface of the paper and actually brightened as it dried.  Other colors can work as tints with white, but may not show up on their own against black (for instance, Alizarin Crimson).  There’s an argument for getting the 40 ml tube of Permanent White…(no, I’m not doing it yet)…

I would post my test paper, but I got into practicing brush lettering in Japanese, and it probably looks horrible compared to native calligraphy and says things I didn’t intend it to, so I…think I’ll save that.  ^_^;;

That aside, I now know why one of my books tells me to write “mu” in a way different from that in which I learned it:  it’s just too complicated to work with a brush, otherwise.

I’m getting a bit frustrated with not moving forward more quickly with the Japanese; then again, it isn’t my top priority.  Work, school, and keeping myself balanced, are.

Speaking of which, I’ve got to decide whether to do homework tomorrow, or not…

Update (after a while)…kind of long ^_^;;

Really?  I finished my work early???

(How…)

By Friday night/early Saturday morning, I had finished my classwork.  The weather forecast had put our temperature into the high 90º F’s for Saturday and Sunday daytime temperatures, and I know from experience that my computer doesn’t like being on, when it’s that hot.  I scheduled some offline time, then, even though I didn’t know what I would do with it.

Right now it’s a bit more comfortable, but still warm.

Because I finished my work early, I basically had 1.5 days free.  Yesterday, especially, I had a hard time deciding what to do, with no demands on my time.  Although my memory of what I did for most of the daytime is hazy (I can guess that I slept), I do remember that I finished the kana workbook associated with the Kluemper text, last night.

Japanese reading and writing…

I’ve also realized why it was difficult for me to get back to facing katakana:  I have a hard time writing a good 15 out of 46 of the katakana syllabary, because it’s hard for me to remember what they look like.  (Comparatively, I have a hard time recollecting 2 out of 46 hiragana:  “se” and “nu”.  Though hiragana “nu” [I would write katakana “NU” in capitals; katakana are used for emphasis like ALL CAPS or italics] does remind me of a Japanese dog [like a Shiba Inu or Akita] with a curly tail [“inu” = dog].)

I do have the Japanese for Busy People Kana Workbook, however, and I can work through this in order to build vocabulary and word recognition.  Writing is included here, too, though sentence structure isn’t emphasized in the workbook — meant, as with the Kluemper text, to be completed possibly before one starts in reading kana in the first book (though there are two versions of this text:  one in romaji [Roman letters; i.e. English letters], and one in kana).

I opted for the latter because romaji are misleading where it comes to pronunciation, and basically almost useless if one wants to read in Japanese.  They’re a stepping stone, but lack much of the obvious grammar, etymology and sentence structure conventions associated with kana (syllabary) combined with kanji (imported Chinese character) use.

It will at least give me more words to practice with — even though the Japanese for Busy People series does seem as though it should be titled Japanese for Business People (a reason I picked up the Kluemper and Hasegawa texts in Honolulu [both published by Tuttle], when I had the option.  [The Kluemper texts are meant to be used as high school AP Japanese textbooks; the Hasegawa texts are meant to be used as first-year University Japanese textbooks, or for self-study]).  But that’s just me.

If you’re in the area of San Francisco, though, Kinokuniya Books at Japan Center has a very wide selection of Japanese-learning texts; much broader than the Barnes & Noble in Honolulu (which I am told is one of the few bookstores on Oahu).  The major disadvantage at Kinokuniya is that the books are just generally sold wrapped in cellophane — meaning that you will very likely get a very clean book, but there may not be a display copy available for you to read, in order for you to see if you actually want it.  (Sometimes people buy the display copies.)

I’ve never asked to see if I could open the packages, and don’t really know if there is a protocol in place that says when it is OK or permissible to do so.

If you’re in the South SF Bay Area, I think there is also a Kinokuniya in San Jose’s Japantown, but I’ve never been there, so I…really don’t know much about it!

Anyhow…I did finish the kana sheets last night, though I am finding that very often I have to make a conscious decision to do something other than go to bed.  This was not an exception.

Wanting to restart painting

I also want to start on a painting — I just am not entirely sure what size canvas to use, which I know isn’t the greatest reason not to have started yet.  🙂  But I’m thinking of going back to the 30″x30″ canvas, even though I know I don’t yet know what I’m doing.  Or I feel like that, anyway.  The thing to do would be just to push myself to start it, even if I’m uncertain or feel unprepared.

The first step, if I were being careful, would be to prime the 12″x12″ canvas with a mixture of gesso and Phthalo Blue.  Then I would go in with white pastel and try and make a loose drawing of the photo I gained from so long ago at the State Fair — which will be much easier on the gigantic canvas than on the small one.

My major hangup is that most of the main colors which I want to use — violets, roses and blues (with yellow highlights — maybe something like an Expanded Complementary palette) — are largely transparent colors (except when mixed with more opaque colors like Titanium White), so I might trip myself up if I do something wrong which I then can’t cover.  Which, in turn, is the reason to start on the small canvas, first.

But what’s the worst that can happen?  I dislike it so much that I gesso over the canvas and use it for something else?  I waste time that I could be using to sleep?  😛

I’ve also got to be aware so that I don’t block the drains with acrylic paint (easy to avoid, with disposable palette sheets), and avoid getting the paint on my hands…and getting pastel dust on the floor.  Maybe I should just use vine charcoal, instead.  That sounds workable…I have become a bit wary of pastels, particularly since that Titanium Dioxide scare a few years back (with free nanoparticles leading to concern over carcinogenicity…nothing of the sort with vine or willow charcoal).

But if I use the tiny canvas, I can see if this works, first, before using the big one!

I just don’t want to get sick of it in the small version and then never go on to the big one…

If what I can predict will happen, happens, though:  I’ll probably have ideas on where to take Version 2 that won’t be apparent until after I’ve gone through the process of completing Version 1.

And I do really want to paint, again.  I want to make something colorful and pretty.  🙂  And I can’t do that if I’m too intimidated to approach my easel (I did get an easel, a while back:  it was the only thing my Studio Art classes had, that I didn’t have.  Well, besides company, and a mentor).

And work on…Bullet Journaling?

I also have my little dotted notebook here (it’s from a company called Kyokuto)…and it’s weird? but I don’t want to stick to any rigid format for its use.  I’ve been looking over the Bullet Journal website, and…I’m thinking that it really isn’t like me to follow directions to get to a predetermined endpoint.  Maybe I can use the principles behind the Bullet Journal system, but really…heavily tweak it, so it turns out being something that’s mine.

And I really wish I knew how many pages were even in this notebook:  I don’t.  But it is really elegant, and I want to use it.  My problem, I think, is planning and attempting to look ahead at what I’ll have to do (when I don’t fully know, yet).

I also…think maybe I’m throwing out the baby with the bathwater on this one, and — looking at a past post — maybe I do have some idea of what has to be done.  Maybe I just forgot, because I didn’t look at my notes from before.  🙂  (Why do I blog, again?)  I think that something like a Bullet Journal could seriously help me organize my time when Fall Semester starts, and I’m carrying nine units, again — in addition to possibly having a new job.

I found it a little odd that my creativity would be circling back around to language (particularly writing), stories, and books, but I guess I am planning on being a Librarian, so…maybe I’m just overlooking the obvious?  😛  Learning to write in Japanese language is one of those things that ranges into calligraphy (or would, in an extreme case — right now it’s just “learning to make things look correct”).

Fiction progress

Writing in English…has stalled a bit, but it’s interesting to see what my mind does when it’s let loose like that.  🙂  It actually isn’t stressful for me, anymore!  It can be fun, because I actually have complete control over the situation (relatively speaking) — which I did not sense, before — and I can make things as serious or light as I want.  I’m very, very new to “light” writing!

But it’s nice to know that I don’t have to dive into my history of trauma every time I try and create a narrative.  I think my main character is helping with this, as well — I’ve started the narrative about 2/3 of the way through the story, and added a couple of extra layers which are helping things along, I think.

It’s also really nice to not absolutely know where the story is going to go, or all the facts that are associated with it — it leaves things open for experimentation and adjustment.

Heh — I think I’ve written enough (?!?!) — and…I see it’s now after midnight.  Well, that was a good 3-4 hours spent here (?!?!) …but not wasted.  I feel a lot better now that I’ve logged what’s happening — writing nearly always helps me get my thoughts together.  I’ve also noticed that a lot of people I follow have been quiet, recently, so here’s to adding one more leaflet to the Reader pile!  😉

Publishing less, doing more

Today, for the first time, I went to a Japanese tool supply shop with an extensive selection of woodcarving tools.  Although it was partially to fulfill the requirements for a UX exercise, and took about 10 minutes (not counting commute), I was excited to be able to go in there.  I have known about this place since high school, and apparently know the owners (somehow), but today was my first chance to look at their wares.

Another chance to use my Japanese skills.

Or, it would have been, had I enough kanji and word recognition to be able to actually piece together meaning, here.  Basically, the clerk’s first language was not English, there were a number of people seated in the back eating and speaking in Japanese, and just about everything in there was in packaging (mostly cardboard boxes) which were labeled in Japanese.  Helpfully, price stickers were language-neutral, though!

It was fairly dim, which is something I’ve learned to expect from…somewhere.  I think I remember it being part of a Japanese cultural aesthetic, to have the insides of rooms be enclosed; close, dim; womb-like.  But I can’t remember exactly where I read that, now.  I just know it’s a specific aesthetic which I’ve seen applied mostly in restaurant environments.

What I was after was a slip stone (sharpening stone), particularly the kind used to sharpen gouges with water-only as a lubricant.  While I do have Western-type gouges myself (I got them before woodblock printing was ever on my mind, easily before 2010), I’m not familiar with sharpening techniques using oil (which seems to be the predominant method in the U.S., but I can’t be sure).  It’s important to keep these sharp, because a dull tool can easily slip, which can easily lead to a fairly nasty stab wound, in turn.

I had found something like what I was looking for, online — however, this was from a large corporation which does not specialize in Asian tools (I was getting the slip stone to hone tools for woodblock printing — which I wouldn’t even be interested in if it weren’t for the Japanese history and tradition and aesthetic of these:  that is, I’m interested in mokuhanga, specifically).

Also, it seemed that I would then be using materials I was unfamiliar with (said setup included a bar of polishing compound, whereas I’m more familiar with blocks which are made of things like ceramic or aluminum oxide, themselves.  I have used polishing compound before, but that was in relation to jewelry production, and that in relation to compound-impregnated cloths, and rotary tools).

I’m not even sure if what I was looking at online was a slipstone or some kind of leather tool, or made out of wood, or what.  Nor was I certain whether or not it was a Web-only product (I’ve run across trying to buy these in-store, before).

And anyway, I’ve wanted to go to this shop for a while, so while I was out, I dropped by.  The clerk wasn’t too friendly (possibly because the first thing I did after walking in was ask if it was OK to bring in my gouges from home — I needed to make sure they would fit over the slip stone), but he did help me.  (I’ve had my share of being interrupted by people who have just walked in the door and the first thing they do is talk to me, so I can sympathize.)

After returning home, D found my old aluminum-oxide waterstone, which I had purchased to sharpen a high-carbon steel vegetable knife that my grandmother bought me sometime earlier this century, or late last.

High-carbon steel is supposed to keep a sharper cutting edge than stainless steel.  Its brittleness, however, combined with its lack of rust resistance, means that it needs more upkeep (particularly, drying, oiling, and honing), which (except for honing) is not an issue with the more popular stainless-steel knives.  And none of that would be an issue with a knife I prized and wanted to baby.

However, I realized that this knife’s blade was chipping (metal fragments in the food?!), which caused me to stop using it, lacking confidence that the place we bought it from sold quality goods (this was a large Asian supermarket).  If I had bought it from Soko Hardware, or Hida Tools, or something, it would be different.  But I bought this from 99 Ranch Market.

And I don’t even know where my waterstone came from, but it’s really pretty coarse.  I didn’t know just how coarse it was until I unwrapped my 1000-grit slip stone and felt it in comparison to this other waterstone.  The other stone really feels like coarse (maybe 350 grit) and medium sandpaper, which is fine if you’re working chips out of a blade, but — as I found online, today — if you want a fine edge, it isn’t what you need.  In addition, this was a Chinese waterstone, with labeling in English, and no grit number marked anywhere.  Not…really confidence inspiring…

On the other hand, the 1000-grit stone feels really smooth, in comparison (and that is not even the finest manufactured by the company NANIWA, in this form).  I’m trying to recall if I’ve ever felt 1000-grit carborundum paper; I’m not sure I have…and I’m not entirely sure exactly where my sandpaper is, now, for that matter.

Publishing less, doing more

I have been writing, only part of that is simply having broken back into fiction writing.  The other part of that is having to write for school, which isn’t really…fun?  But it’s time that I have to spend at the computer; and I seem to be beginning to ration computer time, in order to save my neck and back.

I’ve run across a good number of cases of people with disabling injuries lately, which I would suspect are Repetitive Stress Injuries.  I haven’t verified it with everyone, though.  In any case, I’ve been trying to use my tablet more, though that thing is really cheap…I didn’t realize the impact that its weight would have on me, long-term.  (And I know it isn’t going to help if I keep using it in bed — scrunching my shoulders up is the main thing that bit me last time.  [Speaking of which…*relaxes shoulders*])

Then again; it was my first tablet computer, other than my e-Reader.  I’ve been thinking of trying to find something better, but haven’t been certain which company to go with.  I suppose I should read some reviews.

And also:  I’m pretty much over the “convenience” (novelty) of a touch-screen computer.  It’s just way too easy to touch something that you didn’t want to, and every time that happens, there’s a risk of getting infected with something.  It works with an e-Reader…but really, something to read from is a much different tool than something to write with.

It also (somewhat) works with Mobile — but that’s because the screen is so small that a keyboard is not feasible.  In addition, smartphones and e-Readers can be easily reformatted and repopulated with essential apps, as there isn’t a lot of irretrievable information stored on them.  Something you’re using to write with (outside of cloud storage), though…?  That’s an entirely different thing.

It’s an entirely different thing which may be better handled in hard copy, as well.  But I’ll have to wait before forming a definite opinion, on that one…

Anyhow, I have begun to write again, and am having to resist the urge to publish my rough drafts.  Intending to share is the major drive to write any of this story down, at all, but there’s also the secondary benefit of having it in some concrete form where I can play with it and edit it and work out story continuity, etc.

When I was a kid, I was adamant that no one read my writing.  Now, I’m reaching the point of realizing that the main reason to put the story into language is to share it.  Otherwise, it’s just a living part of me…which, like so much else of my experience, most people don’t see, or even suspect exists.  If I didn’t want to share it, that is, then there is no reason to write it.

But that is getting into philosophy.

Speaking of which…

If art isn’t meant to be seen…is there reason in making it?

I went against my normal tendencies today and did try carving a basswood slat to see what the experience (of working up to woodblock printing) was like.  Ironically, I think I should have done this before I went to the Japanese tool store.  I knew that I would not be able to carve with dull tools, but I hadn’t given thought as to whether I would even like carving into wood.

Quite plainly, I don’t know what I’m doing, yet.  😛  Particularly, I’m unsure how to get tiny bits of wood out of the matrix without lifting splinters…I’m used to wedging things out, which may have worked with plaster and linoleum, but it really doesn’t work with basswood.  I’m going to have to figure out how to do this, if I want to print with my gouache (which has been the main goal of all of this, secret [or unstated] as that may have been).

And it’s very, very much more apparent to me, now, that the level of skill which I’ve seen examples of in my books is basically master-craftsperson stuff.

I did try some more freehand cuts, as versus slicing into the wood and then carving around the line — what I can see is that anything remaining flat will print.  This kind of goes against my aesthetics (oboy! flat!), but…I didn’t have a design or drawing worked out ahead of time, but I do now have kozo paper, nori glue, and sumi ink — and a baren — so I can…if I want to…actually try working at this for real.

I’m thinking of doing something with koi.  I’ve been playing with sinuous lines which remind me of fish.

Also, registering (aligning) the prints is something which I think I will have to work at via trial-and-error.  It’s certainly out of my comfort zone as things stand, but then, it should be:  I’m a total beginner.

And I hope you all will forgive me if I write less, here, and work on gaining more quality experience — and generating more quality content — to bring back to you.

Japanese language study

This has basically stalled.  I’m fairly sure that it has to do with trying to relearn katakana.  The rows read, moving from left to right and top to bottom (it just seemed easier to format it this way because of the directionality of the text on this blog):

KANA TABLE

I’ve stalled at NA.  It’s just frustrating to have to relearn this stuff over and over again.  This will be at least the fourth time I’ve tried to memorize this.  (Once in Middle School, once in Beginning Japanese at University, once when I first tried to relearn Japanese outside of University, and then, now.)

And a lot of it is memorization — which is hard for me to wrap my head around as something which will assist me (of course it will assist me!  I can’t read if I can’t recognize the characters!).  But I have also found my “Kana Workbook” for the Japanese for Busy People set, so maybe I should look back at that, if I’m just burning out on copying katakana.

In other words, I’m just frustrated at not knowing as much as I want to, and it’s putting me off.  Maybe I should just move forward with the Kluemper text, even though I haven’t yet memorized all the katakana (I can still read most of it — katakana are not frequently used, and as in English, there are certain kana which are rarely used, meaning that less-used syllables [lookin’ at you, “NU”] will be harder to remember).

And I’m going to choose not to write too much about school or work, right now.  But I have taken on extra hours…and school is doable, even if unpleasant.  It’s just what I’ve got to go through if I want to have a chance to work in an American library…or so, I’ve been led to believe.  Hawaii doesn’t even require an MLIS degree to work in the public sector.  Then again, the cost of living is high, there…and if it’s anything like the San Francisco Bay Area…well, I don’t have a husband or children to support, that much I can say…

At least I have a full life…who knew that would happen, eh?

Thoughts on re-entering fiction practice

Today has not been too eventful.  I opened up my tablet tonight to find a couple of small deposits of story ideas from late last year.  Also — I picked up lamination supplies (for bookmarks — this will enable me to use paints and at the same time protect the bookmark users from exposure to those paints) and a clipboard which should work for half-sheets of paper.

I have a binder for half sheets (5.5″x 8.5″), which I was forward-thinking enough to fill with graph paper:  this means that it is super-easy in which to practice Japanese writing.  (Please excuse my attempt to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition.)  What I wasn’t aware of was the fact that the ring mechanism would produce a lump under my writing area.  The clipboard should help with this — in addition to helping me plan a Bullet Journal layout.

I haven’t been brash enough to start planning the latter in my actual nice imported dotted-grid journal.  It will likely take a while for me to plan out what I actually want in there, and utilizing throwaway sheets to plan the layout is probably going to be more useful than not.

The good thing is that I already have multicolored fineliners and bullet-point felt markers, in addition to my Tombows.  How long the color in that ink will last is another question (though I do have Staedtler and Stabilo pens), but…the colors should help in organization.  I’ve got several things to think about, now, all of which demand time:

  • exercise
  • schoolwork
  • art/self-care
  • work
  • blogging

And, somewhere on the back burner:

  • nihongo study
  • healthy food preparation
  • driving practice
  • job research
  • organizing the Bullet Journal 😉

Over the last week, I’ve realized that I really do need to keep up my (English) writing habit either here, or somewhere else.  Because I’ve been reading nihongo (Japanese language) and not writing so much in English, just very recently, I’ve been experiencing the phenomenon of having a thought and not being sure how to express that thought in words.  This was something that only had recently happened to me in trying to translate my thoughts into nihongo — only now, both of the languages are being impacted.

In particular, Japanese and English syntax (word order) are nowhere near the same…so I’ve been trying to write in English and the words are coming out in an order that doesn’t make sense.  I’ve found that trying to get the content of my thoughts out in notes (not sentences) helps, here.  I think that not being stuck with a linear format (as I am, relatively, on a keyboard) also helps.

And…it’s kind of odd, but I’ve been feeling a draw back towards working in Creative Writing.  I know this thought comes up from time to time, and I also know that doing art spurs on doing the writing.  Loosening my own restrictions on my creativity is probably the only way things are going to get done, as “Little Squares” is teaching me.  I now have a vision of where to take that painting next, but it took a good two days to figure it out.  (Normally, when I’m working something like that, I can visualize where to put the next mark…when this got hazy or unknown, I stopped.)

And…I am having some good thoughts on where to take my current pet fiction project.  As usual, it’s a psychological story…and it’s turning into a paranormal/science fiction one as well.  I haven’t really learned too much about sci-fi, beyond being certain that this is soft sci-fi (focusing on the characters) and not hard sci-fi (focusing on technology).  I just wish they had given “Age of Science Fiction” when I was in undergrad work…I did do some research on it on my own, back then:  apparently Frankenstein was likely the earliest science-fiction story.  At least, in English.

There is the “worldbuilding” thing in relation to science fiction and fantasy which I learned about when I was younger, but really, that was a relative turnoff:  I wanted to write a story, not construct a world.  I just don’t want to get into issues with the fictional government, military (and how do you do that when there are aliens, eh?), or get into an X-Men-type place where genocide is unavoidable because of the unchanging quality of the surrounding culture (which seems to be stuck in the 1950’s).

Although if I did something like Ghost In The Shell where Section 9 was essentially independent and the government quixotic, corrupt and unreliable, it probably wouldn’t be too bad.  (Sorry about the GITS reference, for those who haven’t seen any of its iterations.  The recent live-action movie was just one example of the retelling of this, and to my mind, not anywhere near the best.)  Then there was Neon Genesis Evangelion, which also dealt with military, but ultimately wasn’t about the workings of the government — or about the aliens (which were, at least in the anime, never really explained).  Then there was Avatar, which was pretty much about the military-industrial complex; something I want to avoid.

I’m not sure at this point whether to work this entirely in prose, in prose with illustrations, or in a graphic format — though I’m thinking that the story itself will tell me this, eventually.  I do have some unread Gaiman here from the library, which would probably help widen my range of psychological possibilities.  (For someone who likes to write, I don’t read many stories.)

Anyhow…I wish I had written down more notes last year, but I think I’ve got enough to work with — especially if I look through my image archives.  I started writing this entry thinking that if I were to work on fiction at all, I’d need to warm up, seeing how difficult it has been for me to get my words out in English, in recent days.  Right now…I’m thinking that it may be worth it to use my tablet to write this stuff and just periodically back it up.

And, right, get that Bullet Journal started!

Finally done filling the palette.

I wish I had the skills to make a graphic which would provide tooltips on mouseover.  It would just make things so much easier!  In the meantime…the palette is filled…just…OUT OF ORDER!!! D:  😉

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Blues and greens, starting at top right, and moving down:  Cobalt Turquoise Light, Cobalt Turquoise, Indanthrene Blue.  Middle row:  Winsor Green [Yellow Shade], Winsor Green [Blue Shade], Sap Green.  Left row:  Indigo, Prussian Blue (Daniel Smith), Cerulean Blue Chromium (Daniel Smith), Winsor Blue [Green Shade], Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine.  Payne’s Grey is also in there with the Earth Tones and Blacks.
These are the colors that I…FINALLY…put in the freakin’ palette.

The right side of this set of swatches is at the top of the photo…after I started getting “weird” colors (like those), things really got interesting.

For some reason, I have less of an aversion to Cobalt colors than I do to other toxic colors (particularly the Cadmiums).  Maybe I’m just familiar with Cobalt through my work with glass beads…(Cobalt provides a rich, deep violet-blue in glass.)

Right now I’m watching out for this, but mostly the routes of cobalt uptake seem to be through ingestion and inhalation — neither of which, I have to worry about.  (I’m relatively fastidious where it comes to after-work cleanup, and I don’t use an airbrush.  If transdermal exposure were more of a risk [there is still some risk], it would be different.)

I do have a large number of Cobalt colors here.  It’s a mystery to me just how one can get so many different colors out of the same metal.

(Cobalt colors range from Cobalt Violet, through Cobalt Blues, Ceruleans, Teals, and Turquoises, to Aureolin, or Cobalt Yellow.)

I am right now just hoping that I can keep all of these straight…I’m getting kind of tired of painting color chips.  I can see why people use the modular pan setups, now:  because sometimes you really want to shift the placement of colors around, after the fact.  Ideally, Indanthrene Blue would go in between Dioxazine Violet and French Ultramarine, here; I would put Indigo over with the Earth Tones on the right side; and Winsor Green [Yellow Shade] would switch places with Winsor Green [Blue Shade], so that the Yellow Shade would be closer to the other yellows and further from the green-blues.

I’d still be at a loss as to where to put weird colors, though (like the two Cobalt Turquoise paints).  🙂  I got those because I wanted to be able to paint warm greens, as versus cool ones:  I think I’m off to a good start on this.

And…yeah, I did break down and get Indanthrene Blue (Winsor & Newton).  I mixed up a batch of Phthalo Blue and Permanent Magenta, as suggested on handprint.com, but I think the fact that I had Phthalo Blue [Green Shade] (as versus [Red Shade]) caused my mixture — a nice, inky blue-violet — to dull a little.  The Indanthrene here is slightly more vibrant than what I mixed, that is.

The Cerulean Blue Chromium is actually a really useful color — I used it a bunch in my last still-life study.  It’s blue, but not violet enough to take the life out of greens.  I also ended up using Hansa Yellow Light and Deep to good effect, in the last still-life.  From before, I remembered to dull colors with their complements, so violet would grey out yellow, for instance.  And then there were the highlights (save the white space) and the shadows (add an adjacent deeper-valued color).

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I think it’s time I get some rest.  But before I go, I wanted to mention one thing that I need to remember, the next time I fill this palette:  stir the paint with a clean toothpick until it’s smooth, before it dries.  I stirred a few of these, which universally look better than what I did not stir.  In particular, Vermilion Deep, Prussian Blue, and Burnt Umber all cracked pretty badly as they dried, with Burnt Umber actually separating from the well — see below.  (Burnt Umber was, I suspect, the first color to fall out of the lid of my Mijello Silver Nano palette, prompting me to get a palette where nothing was stored in the lid.)  I think that if I had stirred these paints to evenly distribute the gum arabic and release air bubbles before they dried, I would not have had this problem.

Above, I didn’t stir any of these paints except for Burnt Sienna, in the lower right corner, which had separated.

Another problem I’m having is dust and lint collecting on top of the paints when I leave them out to dry after a painting session.  I’m not sure what exactly I can do about this — I don’t want my paints to mold, but getting lint stuck in them is also not ideal.  Maybe if I used a piece of paper as a permeable membrane…

AND…the Mijello 33-well palette is, I’ve found, prone to getting stained, as regards the removable white tray.  I have modded mine to make the wells easier to lift out (tabs of Artists Tape will do the trick), opening up a potential mixing area in addition to the lid and the removable tray, but I haven’t yet tried to mix on anything but the latter.