Still working on that assignment

I’m writing, right now, to get me back into the mode of writing anything. Last night, I was up working on a Marketing assignment, and didn’t want to stop. Now, I’m having a slight bit of trouble in getting back to it.

I did get a good idea about what to do with it, last night — so I have a plan. The thing is, I spent yesterday (almost all of it) rereading the chapter and rewatching the lecture and taking notes. I doubt I will end up promoting the databases I initially chose…they just aren’t the best fit for the people I want to invite into the Library.

Anyhow, my (hypothetical) plan would be to visit the Art studios with some little handouts, and a card about a few of the databases to which the students have access. The target audience (to be narrowed down) are college students who are visual thinkers, like to work with their hands, and are a bit alienated from computers (particularly, the use of computers for research) and the Library (which most people think is just for text). I realized that I would be marketing digital resources to on-campus students, which requires different tactics for reaching them (as versus distance-education students).

And yeah, I did think of putting posters of that Duchamp piece, “Fountain,” in the bathroom stalls…but that may be in poor taste!

(I’M NOT GOING INTO IT.)

The thing is, since I started reconsidering the path of becoming an Art Librarian (likely in an Academic setting)…I’ve started dreaming again, and it’s distracting me.

Not to mention the fact that I went to an art store and found a new Prussian Blue watercolor (Sennelier brand — in a tube) and now I want to do the freakin’ art but I have to finish my work for this semester, first!

But yeah…watercolor + gouache + pastel…there’s gotta be some great uses I can put those media to, together. I look back on some of my work which I’ve done in ink and watercolor…which, I’m still really curious about, but I may have to try a way of working that I witnessed another student using, which is to do a grisaille (greyscale) underpainting in sumi ink, and then layer color over it. That should be much more flexible than using Microns, like I’m making a coloring book or a comic.

Eh…yes, the sooner I get this work done, the sooner I can stop worrying about it!

And…I actually have been considering going back for an MFA in Art History or Studio Art, to use both for personal fulfillment, and as qualification to be an Academic Librarian specializing in Art…but I also need to earn gainful employment, sometime.

(I also wonder if it would be worth it to get one good natural-hair paintbrush…and see where that takes me.)

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Pushing back: embracing mortality

I’m wanting to do art so badly these days that the thought has arisen: “I don’t even care if it will kill me.” That’s not something that has come up, before. It did come up last night, and I neglected to write it down…but I don’t think the sentiment is an unfamiliar one, to many. (At least, to many in the art world.)

Of course, examples of early death from exposure to artists’ materials abound. I am reminded of Jay DeFeo, who died of lung cancer a couple of decades after working on her piece, sometimes called Rose, or Deathrose, for eight years. (This piece had been repeatedly built up and carved down, which would have created particulates. I suspect but do not know that she may have used Titanium White pigment in this; the photos I’ve seen are black-and-white.)

I have had a number of art teachers who have fought cancer. I knew someone who died in their 20’s from breast cancer, potentially from grinding down car parts (and refusing treatment). My nearest artsy contact has a rattling chronic cough (though I think they have been exposed to a lot of things besides art supplies).

I suppose the thing to do is to know what you’re getting into, before you get into it. One of my previous drawing teachers did make sure to emphasize the dangers of blowing pastel dust up into the air and then inhaling it. Of course, people still did it, which then exposed the entire class…except for those who brought dust masks and respirators. (Tip: turn the drawing board vertically and then tap it on a hard surface to clear the paper of dust, without raising excess dust.)

I was one of the people who did (eventually) wear a respirator…and the difference of the smell from within the respirator, versus the smell outside the respirator, was not at all subtle. I wore it because I was getting personally disturbed at sneezing, then blowing my nose and seeing blue stuff come out of my sinuses.

And this was working with the relatively safe stuff — we were only using NuPastels. Though now, anything with loose Titanium White in it is likely to get a Prop 65 Warning in California (that is, a label saying it carries a recognized carcinogen) even though the danger of Titanium White is mechanical, particularly where it comes to free nanoparticles: not a toxic one.

As long-time readers of this blog know, I have been careful to avoid certain pigments because of their toxicity. By that, I particularly mean cadmium-based pigments. I learned of itai-itai disease while in the Art program, which is a disease caused by cadmium pollution in water sources. The incidence of itai-itai in this example was caused by mine drainage into the water supply people drank, cooked with, watered their crops with, fished in, and bathed in.

This lead to cadmium buildup in their bodies. Itai-itai literally translates to, “it hurts, it hurts.” I read this a long time ago, and the page I read it on has since changed, but one of the main symptoms is bone softening and fractures, even just under the body’s own weight. (There’s also some stuff about kidney [“renal”] failure in there, but I don’t claim to understand that…I just barely took Biology classes.)

It’s not that important to me to get brilliant opaque colors out of cadmium-based pigments (which are, generally speaking, water-soluble; meaning they can be absorbed through the skin). It’s one thing to take the risk of working, and die; it’s another to die slowly and painfully for an avoidable reason that you can foresee and take precautions about.

If you know ways to keep yourself safer, it’s likely in your own best interest to do it. Although I do know about taking on passive risk. I do understand that self-destructive quality that Freud referred to as thanatos. But there’s a reason to protect yourself as much as you can: and that is, to extend your life on this planet. If making art brings you joy, I would expect that you would want to spend as much time making art as you can, yes?

So don’t sell yourself (or the world) short.

My particular weakness on this point are cobalt-based pigments (particularly, in watercolors). Cobalt is another toxic heavy metal, like cadmium, but has a different range of symptomatology on exposure. The thing is that I haven’t found anything with the same colors, or the same working properties.

Probably the worst I ever got from this was contact dermatitis (itching) when I was trying to reduce my exposure to cobalt by wearing nitrile gloves, and in the process got Aureolin paint (PY40, Cobalt Yellow) all over the tube — and my hand, because the gloves smeared the paint everywhere, and I didn’t see it. Or feel it. When I finally took the gloves off to actually take the lid off the tube (instead of just stretch the gloves), I got the paint all over my hand — and had nowhere but my pot of rinse water to wash it off.

I think that was a lesson in not being overly careful, if doing so creates risks and problems that don’t otherwise exist.

At this point, the only major thing I have about the cobalt colors is that 1) I can absorb them transdermally, and 2) I don’t know how to wash out my brushes while never contacting the paint. Everyone says not to touch the brushes. They don’t give any advice on how to avoid doing so.

Though now that I think of it, that would be a good use of those nitrile gloves — provided, of course, that no water gets into them. Which would negate the reasoning for using them, in the first place.

I’m not sure what’s up with me, tonight. I am feeling better than I was last night, and basically, I’m feeling better than I have for the last week. I think I’ve turned a corner where it comes to my health. It is now, though, almost 1 AM where I’m at! (No wonder I’m having trouble thinking!)

I need to get stuff cleaned up. Particularly: books. And changing these sheets, doing laundry, and getting the dust out of here. I also need to re-read Chapter 2 of my textbook so I know what I’m looking for, when I work on my late assignment. I should be able to complete that, tomorrow, if I’m feeling anything like the way I felt tonight.

Once I get that assignment out of the way, maybe I should realistically look at doing something constructive with my watercolors…I see them every day, and they just get dusty because of my hesitation. (I deal with OCD; they tempt me, but I remember that I need to use caution in handling them…which leads to their not getting used.)

Something like recovering from an illness seems like it will make a person embrace life more strongly. Kind of like contemplating immortality, just to get smacked back into reality by a high fever…

I suppose I have the cold to thank for that…

Reviving a distant desire to become an Art Librarian?

Today, I was asked to think about what my plans were for post-graduation life, and into the next few years. I’ve been so busy thinking about how to get through the present that I realized that I had not planned things out, realistically, even to three years into the future.

I know that I plan on getting a job as a Library Assistant after graduation. I know after that lies librarianship, and that I have the goals of learning Japanese language, learning to drive, and learning to cook (more) in front of me. Also there is the possibility of learning to code…though I’m not as excited about that as I used to be.

So…depending on how the coding goes, I’ll know if I want to move further into the technical aspects of Web Development, or just stick with Web Design or Web Production. If I become fluent in Japanese language, I will be able to work with Japanese special collections. Once I can get deeper into my Web Design reading, I’ll have a better idea of whether I want to move forward with that path, as well.

I’ve been advised against Marketing, however (it conflicts with my ethics) — which then might severely limit my Web Design options — and against Web Programming (where making something which is only “mostly” right, is about as good as making nothing). An old acquaintance of mine replied, “but I don’t want to!” when I told her she could always get better at drawing. I kind of feel that way about Web Programming, at this point.

What I have done within the last few days…hmm. I started in on playing with some sashiko embroidery (it’s relatively impressive compared to nothing, but still a little embarrassing — I know, don’t judge first trials harshly), got my sashiko threads cut, bundled and tied, got a couple of Japanese thimbles to practice stitching in a Japanese technique (they fit around the middle finger)…got a hera (scorer) for tracing patterns and some circle templates for sashiko pattern-making, plus white transfer paper. This is with an eye to making one or more furoshiki (wrapping cloths), leaning towards more than one.

I’m also not sure, now, whether to make pants with my ikat and/or batik, or to make one or more skirts (that fit) with it. I’ve been appreciating clothes that fit, better, since I got up to size 16. There is beauty to being heavier; most of the aesthetic issues I’ve run across deal with being without clothes of the right size, or only having clothes which don’t fit well.

Today I also went and got a larger stake for my tomato plant (it decided to list heavily to one side, recently), and repotted a bunch of succulents (which, amazingly, didn’t seem to need it; their root systems were still very compact. Either that, or I accidentally broke them off). I haven’t shown any pictures of what the succulents look like, now. Generally, the stems have gotten longer and the lower leaves have begun to die.

Also, I’m not sure if it has to do with limited sunlight from being indoors, but the special colors that some of them used to have (yellow, maroon, violet), have faded into more greenish shades.

The stalk that was on one of them (the one which used to be silvery blue) flowered, and is now dying. I think the plant itself is an Echeveria because the stalk came from the side of the main stem (not the center), and the rest of the plant seems as healthy as ever. There’s another type which flowers and then dies (Sempervivum, I think, which is ironic given the name), but my plant doesn’t look like the photos of those.

I’m not sure if I’m transitioning into a person who has a “real job” and “hobbies.” I really don’t know. Especially since I’m not sure I’ll want to continue on in the Library field. I’m completing the degree so that I’ll have the option to have a gainful career: the window in which I will have the luxury of the possibility of extended schooling…won’t last forever. At least, unless I’m gainfully employed. Even then, I can’t imagine being able to save up enough money to take two or three years off for study, again. (Unless, that is, I became a Professor.)

The plants are good as pet surrogates…it gives me something to care for and watch grow, which in turn helps me feel better about the passage of time. Though yes, they were cuter as babies. 🙂 I also now have five empty small pots in which I can put new plants. 🙂 I should wash them out on the porch, tomorrow.

I’m pretty sure M is looking forward to my being able to go back to my art, but at this point…I’m not sure of the value of it, unfortunately. Though I have envisioned making some posters — or paintings — for my room, now that I’ve begun to hang some of my work. I see the value of covering blank walls now, that is.

I just get frustrated with working only in 2-D. There’s also the subject matter issue. If I do get the chance to take art classes again…Painting (and not just the skill of painting, but philosophies behind why to paint, and why we paint what we do) would be something I’d be interested in. My community-college Art program was relatively light on Art History and Art Criticism. I might have the chance to go for an MFA, but that’s a best-case scenario…one which I was engaged with at the beginning of my Library Science program.

It is possible for me to go back for an MFA and then become an Academic Librarian at an Art College, a specialist in the Arts for a Public Library, or an Archivist or Special Librarian for a Museum. I mean…if I had an MFA, I would actually be in the running for one or more of those jobs. With an AA (as I have now), I just don’t have the subject-area expertise (although I’m told I don’t need subject-area specialties, necessarily; but why would someone hire me over someone who has a BA or MA level degree in the Arts?).

Maybe I should be giving that more thought. I would likely need Library experience (greater than I have now), and I need more breadth of skill if I’m going to run all aspects of a Special Library. But classes to expand the latter are attainable, and so is the possibility of the former. If I keep up with my studies…I also may be able to get grants to finance my way through school (especially as I’m already in an Honors Society).

Then, I would just have to choose between an MA in Art History or an MFA in Studio Art. By the time I’m done with this and become established in a Special Library job…I might be towards the potential end of my career.

But maybe I should set my sights high?

I’m reminded again that I am an Arts and Humanities person, not a primarily technically-oriented one. Maybe the passing on of culture is something I’d like to get involved in…and I wonder if I can bring my interest in, “publishing better on the Web,” into this, somehow?

Deadline closing in:

I meant to write this entry last night, but at 3 AM I realized that it was probably better to give it a rest. Or, give myself a rest. Little did I suspect that I would sleep until 1 PM.

I have wanted to get away from dealing with the subject of my Research Guide (Zen and Art) sometime today…I just don’t know if I’ll have the time. I have a few tasks clearly laid out before me, and they need to be done by Wednesday night. I also have work on Wednesday morning and afternoon, which I don’t want to miss; also meaning that I won’t want to stay up until 3 AM again, tonight.

That’s if I want my immunity to be high enough to be around patrons.

The major challenge is integrating all the information I’ve found on Zen and Art. I have narrowed my scope down to 12 books I can review on the subject.

Right now, I kind of just want to bliss out on some knitting or sewing, or something. I also need to do some laundry, and take a shower.

Maybe I should make a schedule? Or say, hey, I can start my laundry and sew until 4 PM or something, and then I need to get back to work?

I don’t anticipate falling asleep until 1:30 AM tonight — it’s what happened the last time I stayed up until 3 AM the night before. That gives me about 10 hours to work with…

Today’s work.

Today was spent exchanging research materials at the library, and studying for the Database Mock Final…which is not difficult. I am very glad. In a few days, my Art + Zen Research Guide will be due. Though I wanted to study for that, I found it more important to focus on the Database class, because Database Management is basically the hardest course I’ve got going this semester. And the Mock Final was due tonight.

Luckily for me…I took a lot of notes. I have an A4 notebook for class with 40 sheets of paper which is basically full from the first page, to about 40% of the last page. I was actually kind of flabbergasted that I filled it up almost exactly (I was scared of having to double-back and write on the backs of the pages).

But I think I’ll be using these notebooks, again: they’re much better for what I need them for, than buying American-sized notebooks (which can go 60-80% unused, and have worse paper, if you’re using pen). This is not to mention that the American-sized notebooks generally cost about 5x as much (I’m getting my stuff from a Japanese dollar store). There are the 8″x10″ things for ~$1, but I hate the texture and absorbency of those, so…

Also luckily, the nonfiction books I’ve been looking in for my Research Guide seem fairly well-organized, so it isn’t difficult to locate needed chapters or sections.

I have gotten to the point where I believe that when some of my sources refer to “Void,” they’re referencing sunyata, or Emptiness, the realization of which is key to understanding “Buddha Nature.” How I’m going to explain this is yet to be determined (and I suspect Zen would probably approach this from the angle of not trying to explain it), but I know that I need to toss sources which refer to Zen being based in nihilism. I read at least three different sources today in the Reference section, which dispute the nihilist claim.

Actually, as a matter of fact, the first book I picked up on Ch’an Buddhism has a first chapter which is about sunyata.

So…there is something in this that is causing me to feel the spirits are with me. 🙂 And…yeah, there is a bit of stuff in there about, “wait, I thought things were without soul/self (anatman)?” But that’s only partially correct; things are without self-arising self-identity, but phenomenal self, exists. (It is also implied that clinging to a phenomenal self gives rise to duhkha, or “suffering” [which is a poor translation].)

And I’ve read that psychic phenomena and the ability to undertake sorcery do arise on the path, and just to ignore them and keep on doing what you’re doing.

Well.

I guess it’s like being reborn in a more fortunate position than many can cause one to crash back into lower Realms, because it’s too easy to get lax in one’s conduct and mind…

I’m not certain at this point how I’m going to put this all together, but I should probably start diagramming on something. I have several different sections I could use, though it might be more useful to combine some of these:

  • Japanese Zen (Bodhidharma, on)
  • Ch’an Buddhism
  • Taoism
  • Emptiness/Void
  • Satori
  • Zen and Brush Painting
  • Zen and cha-no-yu
  • Philosophy
  • Wabi and Sabi as aesthetic principles
  • More aesthetic principles
  • Introduction of Zen to the West
  • Distortions (nationalistic, linguistic, etc.)

I would be more readily accessing the template I’ve been provided, but I’m unsure as to how to delete things once I’ve created them…

Study is going well.

Yes, I am up at 1 AM. I lay down sometime around 8 PM, apparently woke at 9 PM, and slept through until about 12:45 AM. I had planned to get back up to study, but I even slept through DragonBall Super, which isn’t quite like me.

I’ve been doing some hard work on the Zen + Art Research Guide. I am scheduled to go back to the library tomorrow to see if I can find further information on the concept of Void (or shunyata/sunyata), as approached by the Ch’an school (which preceded Zen).

It also wouldn’t hurt to find some books on Taoism, as the latter has had such a heavy influence on Zen.

I know enough to know that books referencing Zen’s, “nihilism,” are likely off-point (Void/Emptiness/Shunyata is not the same thing as, “nothing,” or, “the Abyss”), but I need to confirm. At this point I’m not certain if Void is equivalent to interdependent arising [Indian origin], or to Yin [Chinese origin].

And I still haven’t begun to assemble this (I will need to break things down into conceptual chunks), but I have until Wednesday to do so. In the meantime, what I have to do is the Mock Final for Database Management: which I’m trying to convince myself, isn’t a big thing (as no one will see it, and it’s just a study aid). I don’t expect it to be easy, though…and I dislike seeing myself perform poorly. Even on a study aid!

Aside from that, work is fine. Although I keep having random sneezes, and I’m not sure if it’s allergies, or if it’s an illness I’m fighting off.

I know that after this semester is over, I’m likely going to want to check out some books on quilting. But after this. Maybe when I return my Zen books.

🙂