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 painting—!! 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!

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Images to go with last night’s post:

Alright. So at this point, I’ve been able to think things over a bit, as regards school; and have a default project for my Web Usability Final. Also, I did photograph those little sketches I did last night. Though the photos came out fine, applying Auto Levels in Photoshop did make them look less grey, so I’ve left them that way.

And to reiterate and continue from last post: I was drawing from imagination, with the goal of testing out a color; I wasn’t trying for photorealism (and in fact intentionally avoided photo reference until completing these three sketches). Apologies to people who have monstera deliciosa direct reference! Even though I am based in California, and I’ve read these are endemic to Mexico, they’re relatively rare, in my location.

monstera-1-2

These are the first two attempts that I made in trying to draw and then color, using Dr. Ph. Martin’s Radiant Concentrated Watercolor — which, by the way, is only the green hue in this image. I mixed it with Holbein Lamp Black; and Winsor & Newton’s Winsor (Dioxazine) Violet tube watercolors, in the background.

The Radiant (dye-based) watercolor lends itself to very delicate work — more delicate than I could get with the tube watercolors alone. (With the latter, I had trouble in accidentally pushing the pigment around on the page.)

monstera-3

This third attempt was done entirely with tube watercolor. I’m not as happy with the “feel” of the leaf, as it’s more angular and shield-like than I would like. Upon viewing a reference at the end, I’m thinking that this one is the farthest from the actual “feeling” of a monstera deliciosa leaf, although the flow of the veins from the center (but not the patterning of the veins) is more on-point.

But back to the colors: I used Winsor [Phthalo] Green (Yellow Shade), which is the blue-green; Green Gold (which is the yellow glaze to the right), Dioxazine Violet, Permanent Rose (fairly invisible here; it’s mixed with the black at lower left, but there’s so much black that it disappears), and Lamp Black.

For an explanation of why I was comparing these colors, you’ll want to see last post, and the post before that (for context).

So…yeah, this is what I was doing last night, after a 5-hour near-marathon of trying to get work done for Finals. (I took a break of about an hour in the middle, in order to make a salad.)

Which reminds me, I should be doing some work. *sigh*

Though I am looking forward to continuing to try and draw these leaves…I can see where it could turn out really nice. In any case, I’ve only got two more weeks of the semester left (!!)…

…which means that I need to get on it.

Alright! The watercolors *are* usable!

There is a difference between using Dr. Ph. Martin’s Radiant Concentrated (liquid, dye-based) Watercolors and (pigmented) tube watercolors. But the difference largely is in the randomness that comes with the flow, spread, and drying of pigmented watercolors, as versus the smoothness and fineness of gradation that can come with water-soluble transparent dyes.

Drawing from imagination

Today, after about five hours of homework, I let myself do something to relax. I followed what I had been doing with the flowers, and just started drawing what I had in my mind’s eye. I essentially drew what I thought what I wanted to draw looked like, which, of course, isn’t what it actually looks like. But it’s an interesting exercise to undertake which gets me away from attempting to reproduce things photorealistically, and lets me use more imagination in the process.

Because I only have one vial of the Ph. Martin’s Radiant — which I bought…probably back when I was in high school, or around that time — and this in “Calypso Green,” I decided to try drawing something I met up with last time I was in Hawaii. This is a plant colloquially called “Swiss Cheese Plant,” a.k.a. Monstera Deliciosa. The leaves of these plants are commonly used as fabric motifs.

In any case, I was intentionally working without a reference, so I didn’t recall that Monstera leaves are actually greener/less blue than the bluish-green color I had. Luckily, working without a referent, I had little reason to worry myself with this…especially as Hawaiian fabrics which showcase motifs of these leaves, often change the color schema totally away from what’s seen in reality (or at least, what I have seen in reality!).

At this point, I haven’t done scans or photographs, though there is a very visible trend that I can see through the progressive versions (three) which show the development of my thought of how to draw and paint this thing. And, having viewed references tonight, I have an idea of what I got correct (what I took away from my memory of these leaves which was most important) and how to tweak minor things to look more lifelike.

The watercolors are great for fine art; maybe not as suited, to reproduction work.

The clearest takeaway is that I do not have to buy the Ph. Martin’s: I was working, tonight, with five colors, and all of them were pretty much entirely transparent, so far as I could see. Those colors were Winsor [Phthalo] Green (Yellow Shade), Green Gold, Dioxazine Violet, Permanent Rose, and Lamp Black. All of the non-black colors were Winsor & Newton brand, while Lamp Black was Holbein. (I am aware that there are “transparent” watercolors which feature opaque pigments, such as Cadmium Orange; my task will just be to figure out which those are, via research or experience, and avoid them if I want to preserve underlying linework.)

In the test which I made with the Calypso Green, I also mixed in Lamp Black and Dioxazine Violet, from my tubes. I started adding more and more different colors, though, after I saw what I could do when not working monochrome (or duochrome — I don’t think black is technically considered a color, here).

What was surprising, was the intensity of color I was able to get out of my tube watercolors, and that it surpassed what I had done with the liquid watercolor (though I’ll have to do more experiments to see if this is a fluke, or due to my differing approaches in each attempt). As I hinted at earlier, the tube, pigment-based watercolors leave a textured look after drying, which is not as apparent with the liquid, dye-based watercolors.

I am very, very certain now that the dustiness I was getting with my watercolors has to do with the fact that I was trying to use them from a semi-dry state, and not right from the tube. I also very likely was not using enough paint. This is something that my last Watercolor teacher got on me about (…before he messed up my Aureolin pan and left it so brown that I just forgot about ever salvaging it).

Tonight I used the paints straight from the tube, diluted with water, of course, but not washed out with water; at least in the third leaf I painted, which was wholly tube paint. I wish I would have taken my time there, and gone in with 2-3 layers of dark color, as versus having too much paint and water in my brush at the same time and making blotty uncontrolled marks. But maybe that was also me, being used to using natural hair (sumi brushes, tiny hybrid brushes) as versus full synthetic…

I also opted, tonight, to stick with Microns for linework, instead of going in with my Ph. Martin’s Bombay Black India Ink — which I know works beautifully, but I doubted my ability to use a steel dip pen at this point in my work, and if so, which nib; and will I have to burn it first and will I have to soak it in ink remover later… My point was to experiment with the Radiant watercolor, not to experiment with everything.

A last note on this before I get into geeking out over paints: the Radiant watercolor from year 199x, which is the only vial of this I’ve ever bought, also smelled of something which I think might have been…ammonia? The only caution I found on a lookup for the new version was to avoid getting it in one’s eyes, so it’s possible that my nose was accurate. But then, I hardly ever smell ammonia, anywhere, to the point that I’m not sure I can recognize it. The smell reminded me of weak vinegar, actually. And considering how old it is…the fact that it’s viable at all is surprising.

I’m not sure if whatever is making this scent, would interact with other paints. In any case, the new versions of this are said to be fairly safe, according to the MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheets).

Trying Green Gold (PY129)

It was my first time using Green Gold (Pigment Yellow 129, or PY129) in a mix! I got this a long time ago, but had never been able to play with it. I had read over at handprint.com that it is very useful for making greens more yellow-leaning, and…I actually do really love what it did. I just feel hesitant to make greenery too yellow-looking, as it can read as dying vegetation.

As a note, though: Green Gold as a pigment is way more affordable in watercolors than it is in acrylics, probably just because the sheer amount of pigment you get in a tube, is less. I was working with a 5 ml tube of watercolor, instead of a 2 oz. tube of acrylic (as is standard for a tube of Liquitex Heavy Body paint, which is normally what I would use for acrylic painting. It’s good, but not quite on the level of Golden paints).

According to a quick conversion by Google, 5 ml is equal to ~0.17 US fluid ounces…which probably accounts for the difference in price! (I’m sure that the watercolor version is much more concentrated, though.)

In acrylics, I’m pretty sure that I opted to mix the shade instead: the only difference seems to be in price and opacity. A 2 oz. tube of Green Gold in Liquitex is around $19 MSRP (as of this writing). Of course, that price is mitigated with discount art stores. A 5 ml tube of Green Gold in Winsor & Newton tube watercolor is around $11 MSRP (without discounts).

In contrast, a 2 oz. tube of Liquitex Bronze Yellow (a good start to reproduce this color, along with an orange-leaning or earth yellow and a blue I’m uncertain of, right now [it has been a while since I’ve been mixing acrylics]) costs less than half as much, even at full price.

How much canvas or paper each of them will cover, is uncertain to me: some pigments mix more strongly than others, and I haven’t used up a tube of either of these Green Gold paints. I do think that $19 for a tube of paint is kind of a bit much, however; and in some (many?) cases, having to buy paint in 2 oz increments, is too much (especially if you’re like me, and your paints last so long that the tubes biodegrade and force emergency measures to either save or throw out what’s inside).

That is: getting a 1 oz tube of an expensive pigment for half as much (or a little more than half as much, to account for packaging, shipping and distribution costs), is much more reasonable, to me (especially considering that I haven’t used the paint yet, and thus don’t even know what it can do).

Anyway, that was kind of a dead-end tangent (though empty paint tubes are sold for just such emergencies as the neck of a paint tube peeling off), but it was fun to get into, at the time. 🙂

And, I found…

…it’s much nicer to work on large sheets of paper, than it is to work on smaller sheets. I’m not entirely certain why this is, yet, but it does allow “breathing room” for my images, and room for them to grow. Right now I’m using a watercolor notebook…I’m pretty sure it’s Canson Montval watercolor paper.

Tomorrow, I’ll try and take photos and upload some of the work I did tonight, though I know it’s going to be difficult to do without going back in to try and correct things! I suppose I’ll just have to apologize beforehand for not remembering what a Monstera Deliciosa plant looks like… 🙂 …which will be all too obvious to people who actually live with them!

(I’m just trying to use a visual adaptation of a free-writing approach…where [generally speaking] we aren’t always experts on what we’re imagining, but the products of the exercise can seed new work…but to get into explaining that would likely take another post. It’s almost 1 AM my time, as well; I should turn in.)

Wanting to work in an illustrative style.

transparency with intensity.

I realize now, that what I’ve been looking for in watercolors, acrylic inks, and inks is the strength and intensity of color I’ve found in heavy-body acrylics and gouache, but transparent. The transparency feature is mainly to allow me to take an illustrative/drawing approach (with visible lines instead of only blocks of color), so that I can scan the images and it will still come out looking alright.

One of my last art instructors said that the difference between drawing and painting, is that there are generally no lines in paintings, only blocks of color; which is the clearest definition I think I’ve heard.

digital media.

I think I know what to do at this point; which is to work with transparent, fluid inks (such as Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks), or transparent liquid watercolor (such as Dr. Ph. Martin’s Radiant Concentrated Watercolor), and just resign myself to the fact that the inks are fugitive (will fade/change color over time), and my scan (a high-resolution uncompressed TIFF file) is likely going to be the archival copy of my work.

This also means that the archival copy is going to be digital…making multiple and regular backups useful, if not necessary. This will also necessitate migrating my work whenever older formats become obsolete…and I have some experience with that from my Digital Archives class.

painting surfaces and supports.

It also means that, if I’m going to scan these things, I’m really going to have to watch for cockling (warping) in whatever I draw + paint on. I might be moving to Mixed Media paper for this, though; instead of cotton-based watercolor paper, which is intended to be archival. (There’s no point to painting with colors that are expected to fade, on top of a surface made to last hundreds of years.)

I haven’t tried Bristol board for this, either. It’s worth a shot. And I haven’t tried Illustration board — to be honest, I still don’t know how to use Illustration board and control its warping with water, at the same time. (It tends to expand and contract unevenly, depending on what area is wet, and how wet it is. The wetter it is, the more convex it becomes.)

Also worth a shot are a couple of QoR mediums which could allow me to draw and paint with watercolor on board, as versus paper, but that’s probably further than I need to reach. If I stretch (or tape — I’m not sure Mixed Media paper can stand outright wet-stretching) paper onto Masonite and then shear out the final copy with an X-Acto and straightedge, I should be OK. I just can’t bet on using the entire sheet up to the true edge of the paper.

Of course, Masonite itself…likely isn’t the best substrate (it begins to fall apart on me when I pull the tape off). D suggested acrylic sheet as a backing, while I was thinking along the lines of a flat sheet of melamine. I don’t know if either will work, but I know what I’m doing now is (or would be, if I were painting a lot) kind of wasteful, as Masonite isn’t all that strong when it comes to working with water and adhesives. At least I would be able to remove tape from acrylic, without damaging the acrylic.

dusty watercolors. import, optimization, display.

One sad thing about importing photos onto my computer is that the chroma (color intensity) always looks stronger on the screen, than it is in reality. I’m not entirely sure why this is.

But then, I’m not entirely sure why color distortions happen in my camera, in general. I mean — I know it has to do with the lighting, and probably the specific wavelengths put out by whatever light is being used, and the camera accounting and compensating for that (or something like it). I just feel like I need tighter control of the photography angle of this.

The problem is that I don’t know much about digital photography — or, traditional photography, for that matter. I do know about Photoshop, but it’s knowledge that is very practical and not anything that lets me understand what I’m actually doing when I edit the Black and White points on a color channel’s Histogram.

But like I said before — I have a working color scanner that can encode into TIFF, so improving my digital photography skills and getting a better camera isn’t urgent or necessary at all to publish to the Web, at this point. It’s pretty much taken care of.

I just ran across someone online mentioning that colors in her watercolor paintings tended not to look as intense over time as she would like; and though I’m mostly dealing with paint swatches at this point (my watercolor painting time pretty much ended in Fall 2016), I can relate to a dusty, faded look in watercolors. It could be because of the fact that I’ve been trying (note, trying) to use them from a dried-and-rehydrated state instead of a moist (fresh from the tube) state, or it might have to deal with formulation.

branching out. watercolor brands and mediums.

Right now I’m primarily using Winsor & Newton, with one Grumbacher and one M. Graham (which I love — I’m just not sure if the ❤ is a property of the pigment [PY3: Arylide Yellow] or the rest of the paint! This is a brand which uses honey in its formulation as a humectant [do NOT eat it!], which could be why the color blossoms so freely).

I’ve also relatively recently gotten a couple of Daniel Smith colors and two Holbeins (Lamp Black, and Isoindolinone Yellow Deep [PY110]), but I haven’t been able to play with them decently, yet. It’s possible that a bit of an added watercolor medium (Ox Gall? Gum Arabic?) might be able to at least help the paints adhere better, let alone be more brilliant. But I (obviously!) haven’t researched this, yet.

Cerulean Blue Chromium (PB36) from Daniel Smith, in particular, granulates really strongly when mixed with Winsor Yellow (PY154, Benzimidazolone Yellow). I threw the test page out because there was too much risk of the [toxic: cobalt-based] pigment falling off and scattering, plus it looked horrible. I have photos of it, but they’re not great, and I’m not sure I knew what I was doing in the first place.

I’m also thinking that I will likely want to branch out from Winsor & Newton Professional grade. They’re fine to learn with (their tiny [5ml] tubes mean a lower initial investment for higher-quality paints than student-grade), but there are other brands and colors which could be more pleasant to work with, and to view over time.

And you can see my endless search for useful yellow pigments from the above (not to mention my initial green-leaning yellow: my Watercolor professor had us get Aureolin [PY40: Cobalt Yellow] which I hate largely for its toxicity and impermanence combined with its cost…though it does make nice graded mixes, in the short term).

don’t judge me 😀

thought shift: from permanence to ephemerality

I just have enough experience to know that if I’m working in Illustration or in an illustrative style, I will probably want to go for colors which are vivid and truly transparent…but that transparency comes with a price, which is the potential of having artwork that only exists temporarily, in the non-digital world. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful, online (or in print).

At the same time, I still feel that this hybrid approach is more flexible than a born-digital approach, but I don’t want to alienate people with my feelings on that. They’re largely based on personal experience, and I’m very aware my personal experience has bias. Maybe if and when I can compose a defensible argument to one end or another, for a reason that is important enough to broach, I might say something, but otherwise, I’m not interested in causing disturbance.

It’s kind of interesting, though: shifting from a mindspace of “will this painting last for the next 600 years?” to “am I OK if this thing I’m working on biodegrades soon?” I mean, it’s kind of a different approach! But then, in my Digital Archives class, I’m learning that digital information is ephemeral by nature.

I wonder how long I’ve been working on this draft? 🙂

Alstroemeria: drawing from observation

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

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

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

So, the basic technique:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also: loosening up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking some time out for art.

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

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

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

(Do people still say “cool?”)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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