Distractions, distractions…

I have one day left to do my final assignment in User Experience, and I think the timeline has me freezing up, a bit.  Both today and yesterday, I was unable to go in to work; yesterday, because I was physically sick (any time I moved, I wanted to throw up), and today, because I was running a fever (higher than yesterday’s).  Most of today and yesterday has been spent in the bed.

Right now, I feel more capable of doing things without constantly sweating, and my spine is telling me that some time spent vertically would be a good thing.  Staying home, though, didn’t help me find out what I need to for the basis of my assignment…which, inconveniently enough, is based on interviewing people.  (Working with people is likely the most difficult part of both my job, and this program.)

After this next week, though, Summer Session will be over.  That will be a relief.  I think I should just try and do the assignment as best I am able, even knowing that I do not have the time or information to do things the way I am being asked to do them.

Design Thinking is an entire field; it is unreasonable to expect us to execute the assignment perfectly in one week based on material found online, especially when no lecture is given and we have only been introduced to it within that same week.

I do think that I would be better off working in Graphic Design than I would be working in Design Thinking, that is.  That said, it is good to at least be introduced to the latter concept (and to where to learn more if I so desire).

That said, here are the succulent babies I was talking about last time. 😛 Please forgive the color-fill background; I took this photo at a weird angle, then had to rotate the image…did I crop this before rotating it?  Hmm.  Got to remember that for next time…

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I’m still unsure as to whether to claim my off days as sickleave…though as it is Summer, and I spend more money during Summer and Winter breaks (excluding clothing) than at any other time…(during Semesters, I don’t have time to work on Art), I’m thinking about it.  Right now I’m wondering if I got sick because I briefly touched the neck/cap of my water bottle with an unclean hand, and then drank from it later.  (I thought my mouth did not touch what my hand touched.  Maybe I was wrong.)

Anyway, that’s past.

One of my coworkers brought in some graphic work the other day, as well:  I’ve got to ask them what kind of markers they used!  From the looks of the color blending, I would think they were Chartpaks, but I’m not deep enough into markers to tell.

I am thinking of getting some new Chartpaks and seeing how they perform now (the ink may not be the same, and mine may be so old as to be drying out — they’re streaking, now, but when they were new I could not make them streak):  I got the idea for a graphic art piece dealing with the story that is in my head and not yet solidified enough on paper (or in bytes) for me to have a formed idea of what it will become.

But I was motivated enough to work on it in charcoal, earlier.  And I hate charcoal.  I haven’t photographed it yet because it’s nowhere near being done, and I really dislike working in black and white, anyway.

It is a given that if I work with the Chartpaks, I will have to do it in a well-ventilated area; I’m thinking the garage, or outside.  I’m not sure if the fumes will be strong enough to ignite via the furnace…if this is an issue, I may be better off sticking with Tombows or other water-based markers, and just making heavy use of a blending marker, or brush and water — I don’t know what the difference is, in water-based markers.  (I wonder if charcoal/pastel blending stumps dipped in water would work, or just turn into mush?)

I also have Copics (alcohol-based), but my co-worker and I have been fairly underwhelmed by the markers, at least.  (I like the fineliners.)  I haven’t yet tried using the blending marker, though.  The Copics I have, streak; though I’m not sure if that’s because of the quality of nearly every paper I’ve used (I think translucent marker paper helps, particularly Borden & Riley), or if it’s because I didn’t saturate the paper with solvent (from the blending marker).

I should try blending the Copics first, before going to the Chartpaks, though…the solvent of the latter is definitely something you don’t want to be breathing in for any length of time, or in a confined area; and when open areas have open flame in them…I don’t want to set the house on fire.  I think I could use these, though, in an actual open space — if I taped down the paper I was working on to protect from wind.

At least when I first began to use the Chartpaks, they were formulated with xylene as a solvent, which is carcinogenic; then they reduced the amount of xylene to a level where the markers no longer carried a Caution Label.  Obviously, though…if you can avoid xylene…it’s just one of those things that’s best not to come into contact with on a frequent basis.  I was already used to the smell from using watchmaker’s cement (G-S Hypo Cement, which also uses xylene as a solvent, and which I’d gotten plenty of, on my fingertips:  not good!).

But the Chartpak AD markers (I’m not referring to the Chartpak Spectra AD markers, which I just found tonight) blend and bleed beautifully, or at least they used to.  Like I said:  when my (old formulation) markers were new, I could not make myself get streaks, so what I used them on looked more like animation cels, than anything.

And then, there’s the possibility of using colored pencils and liquefying them with a blending marker or Gamsol, or of using aquarelles.  The negative thing about the latter that I immediately land on, however, is that it’s like using grainy (and sometimes dull) paint.  The aquarelle layers just don’t dissolve all the way, unless you use a really light touch when applying the crayon (I’m thinking Neocolor II) or pencil…which I might try, at least if the only other options are Tombows and Copics.  The exception to this that I can think of are the Caran d’Ache Supracolor aquarelle pencils…which liquefy beautifully, with intense colors, but which are also top-of-the-line for watercolor pencils.  (They are priced accordingly.)

Yeah, maybe I’ll try that.  Maybe…I will.  I have some aquarelles I can experiment with, here already.  Maybe I just need to use a light touch.  This — and/or actually using paint or acrylic ink (how could I forget all those FW acrylic inks I have?), seem like better options.

I was probably just wowed by my co-worker’s marker art.  🙂  I forgot that I’ve been building up to this, for a while.  I got out of trying to use markers because it’s so expensive to just increase a dilution level of the same ink, whereas with paint or bottled ink, you just add a little more water.  (It’s been a very long time since I used ground sumi ink.)

I had begun to get into the technique of utilizing transparent watercolor as a ground color for other colored-pencil work, on top of a fineliner drawing; it shouldn’t be hard to lay down initial colors as watercolor (with the option of using acrylic ink, instead), then layer aquarelle and then regular colored pencil over that…though the opacity of those colors is something to pay attention to.  I could wipe out my initial linework, if I’m not careful.  But then I might also be able to wipe out opaque colors on top of linework as well, or redraw them with ink and a brush…(regular colored pencil, being wax- or oil-based, can clog the nibs of fineliners and markers, so I’ve heard).

I’ve also gotten wowed with Derwent Graphik Line Painters, some of which I may have initially ruined in my attempts at use:  I mention them here because they look awesome on top of watercolor, and as they have Japan (hollow) nibs, I have less of an expectation that they will clog.  The problem I’m having is having depressed the nibs too far into the barrels; this means some of them (the ones I tried to use before I knew better), will leak.

I recently found a Strathmore Mixed Media paper (it almost feels like illustration board:  the latter of which I don’t know how to use properly with water-based media, by the way), which I want to try out…and all of this might work well, here.

Yeah, I think it’s time to break out the aquarelle pencils!  After, that is, completing this last assignment…gah…

Okay. Can’t sleep.

I’ve been busy thinking up things to make linocuts out of, and don’t know how coherent I’ll be — sorry!  🙂

I did find my old stash of X-Acto blades and blade holders!  So I know I don’t need any #11 or #2 blades, and I won’t need an extra handle.  There are three types of blades I’ve decided on — the #10 (general, curved) and #12 (detail, curved) for the #1 handle, and the #28 (concave) for the #2 handle.  What I will need help with are biomorphic forms (flowers, leaves, feathers), so I’m hoping that the curved blades will assist, here.  I think that if I sharpened my initial tools, they should work; but as it is, the only knife or gouge I have that is still reliably sharp is my big U-gouge.  And that’s because I didn’t use it in high school.  (I don’t know how to sharpen gouges.)

I still haven’t (“still”? it’s been what, a day?) gone back to my original design — though I did get the idea of printing multiple layers of color, today.  If I can find a strip of wood that is exactly the height of my linoleum blocks, it would help with registering the prints — that is, lining them up exactly so that I don’t miss and get a weirdly printed copy.  I’m not betting on this, though.   I do have strips of cardboard that I’ve saved from old drawing pads, which I can cut to size and then tape the print to (while lining up the bottom edge with the block) — I think this should help, but I haven’t tried it yet.

The thing that I still can’t justify buying is a baren.  This is largely because they’re expensive, and largely, it’s just a flat surface.  The one Japanese brand I’ve found is Yasutomo, and…let’s just say it didn’t feel like anything…special?  On the other hand, it was $10 less than the Speedball one.  The latter, though, will stand up to Western printmaking papers and doesn’t require oiling, to the best of my knowledge.  The Stonehenge paper I’m using is very…tough.  I think it’s a cotton rag paper, but it’s really thick and kind of hard.

I’ll probably end up getting the Speedball one; it just kind of hurts a little.  😉  But you buy it like, what, once, and then you don’t have to do it again?

Earlier tonight I was thinking of stocking up on those little tiny 2″x 2″ linoleum blocks; now I’m wondering if it’s overkill.  I have the receipt next to me and can see that they cost $0.69 each.  So I guess that would be, what…about $3.50 if I got 5 of them?  I had been thinking of doing a color rendition, but at the present moment I can’t remember what that version would look like.

It may not be overkill, though, if it will save me a trip.  Speaking of which, I did just check — and I’m not sure the little store carries the blades I want.  This will then require locating other sources.  I should call ahead.  I think I have the phone numbers of all my regular art supply stores in a case…aha; found them.

The other irritant I’m facing is how many inks to get.  I know I should not go all out and invest in too many at once; on the other hand, this art store is not a convenient place to get to.

Ah, hell.  I’ll get a magenta, a blue, yellow, and brown, plus extender (which may be more interesting than diluting colors with white).  I have three prints that have come to mind…and this should give me the widest possible color range (even though I have wanted to buy violet and orange).  The first print to try or retry is the flower thing that looks like a crocus.  Then — I want to try a gingko leaf (3 blocks required), and the idea of a hummingbird has also come to mind…though I should be able to print that with these colors, I now realize!

I’ll just get the three tiny blocks instead of more…the gingko thing and the crocus thing should keep me busy for a while.  After that I can practice some more and work on my key block for the hummingbird thing…some time will have elapsed, by then.

It looks like the printing inks are cheaper at the big store, but not by much.  The baren is not, and I don’t see how the linoleum blocks could be.  Maybe I’ll hit the big box store, get the X-Acto blades and ink, and then hit the small store for the baren and linoleum blocks…and look at their selection of gouges.  There are two Speedball kits which contain gouges…I’m thinking of using a very small gouge for the leaf, but am not sure if it will even help, as the veining has to be in reverse in order to print (unless I make the veins lighter than the leaf).  The benefit of a gouge here is that it removes material in one swipe, but that’s really suited to later projects (feathers) than either of these two.

And then…do I want to get an X-Acto gouge set instead?  I’m pretty sure they exist.

Anyway…I’m now getting tired, and I have a plan now.  See you in the morning!  I mean after the sun is up!

(almost the) First linocut done since high school!

I am trying not to title this post “Bahaha,” though I’m sure you’ll be able to sense my excitement!

I was able to take a trip out to the little art store I wished to go to.  Amazingly — I got out of there with a bunch of linocut supplies for under $25.  It probably has to do with the fact that I got a bunch of little tiny linoleum blocks — the one I’ll show here is one of the smallest, at 2″x2″ — and the fact that they were having a sale on the hard pastels I bought — which were the most expensive thing, at under $5 for a set of 12.

Last night after getting home from that trip, I honestly felt like going to bed, but I interrupted myself.  I didn’t want to go and get the art supplies and then never use them, so I started looking through my cheap little notebook at my designs.  I realized fairly quickly that the way I had been sketching was suited to linework, but that printing would probably require a different approach, utilizing blocks of color or tone.  With that in mind, I started sketching — in pencil, albeit in 8B pencil.

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My initial design is at the top of this photo.  Below are iterative versions of it, on tracing paper (center), translucent marker paper (left), and Saral (carbon) paper.

I actually surprised myself with my initial design, as I’d somehow managed to draw a diamond shape which had a little less than 60º as the angle of the inner corner, making 6 petals totaling 360º.

This is the actual first transfer of that image to (translucent) marker paper, on the right:

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I used marker paper because I felt it would hold up better under fineliner (I used a 0.1 mm pen, here), and I intended to fill in areas with black to see what the design would look like in high contrast.  As I was doing this, I remembered some examples in a Dover book on the principle of Notan (balance between positive and negative space), and was curious about what would happen if I introduced shapes pushing from the negative space into the positive space — this is why the petals are notched.  I also realized in this iteration that I needed to pay attention to the center of the star, because if the petals didn’t have a coherent center, it could throw the design off.

I also realized that I didn’t have to echo the almond shape throughout each petal, and wondered what it would look like if I added a recurve to the outer edge of each white area.  So I traced over this shape with the tracing paper (first image, below center), using this idea — and trying to fix the center of the design.  I did this first in 2H pencil. Then on the tracing paper, I went over the lines with fineliner again (so I could see them) and traced over that on the marker paper (first image, below left).  At this point I could color things in without losing any precious underdrawing, so I did.  I had intended to divide the outer rim of each petal into two and let the white space part the outer edge, so that the petals were implied but not fully stated — but when I filled the space in, this detail was not visible.  I also joined the positive space on the outside of the petals to save myself a headache.

Once I was happy with the design, I traced over — I think the tracing paper copy — over carbon paper (Saral paper) with a 2H pencil, on top of my 2″x2″ linoleum block.  On the first image, lower right, you can see what this did to the Saral paper:  it’s translucent where I transferred the carbon onto the linoleum.

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I did not take a photo of my block before carving, but I was very happy with the line transfer.  What I was less happy with were the performances of the carving tools I mentioned before, which are from my high school sculpture and relief-printing days.  Because they didn’t perform all that well, I ended up using an X-Acto craft knife with a #2 blade to do most of the image cutting.  The area around the image was cleared out with a large shallow gouge, however.

One thing I did find to my surprise was that the little subtlety of the curvature of the white area was not immediately apparent in cutting.  I also found that small circular cutouts are difficult to do in linoleum, and that I would have been better off doing something like I did in the outer petal ring and just cut out an almond, without trying for a circle.  When I did try for circles, I ended up cutting out more positive space than I intended to.  This will change in the next iteration of this project:  almonds all the way!  😉

After the cutting was done, I started looking around for my acrylic plate and the hard rubber brayer.  I couldn’t easily find that plate, though — I know where one used to be, but since we’ve cleaned up, I’m no longer sure where it is.  But apparently…we had extra picture frames, and I was able to take one apart and use the glass that would have protected the picture, to roll out my printing ink with the brayer!

This is water-based Speedball printing ink, which came in a small tube.  I’m really thankful that I didn’t have to buy a 1 lb jar to get any ink at all — at first, all I could find were the jars, but then I found the little packs of ink hanging up in the same area.  I picked up a black, then later realized at home that I probably should have gotten white or a color in addition to the black, so I could experiment with duochrome.  But — next time.

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One of the nice things about this ink is that it cleans up very easily with water; on top of that, it seems to be nontoxic.  It also has good tack, meaning that when I put the paper on top of it (I used Stonehenge, which is designed for hand printing), the paper did not move, even as I burnished the back with the back of a spoon to transfer the image from the carving to the paper.

There were barens at the store to accomplish the same thing, but I felt they were overpriced for something that is basically just a flat surface.  Of course, if I’d used a baren, it would be less likely that I would get those surrounding marks on my print (see above) which resulted from both tipping the inked brayer as I rolled it (it’s a tiny print, okay) 😉 and pushing the paper down into the background with the spoon during the burnishing process.

In high school, I think we accomplished the pressing by rolling a clean brayer over the back of the paper.  And, of course, if I used something like a small press, I wouldn’t have to worry about the stray marks at all…although one of the reasons for starting out with block printing is that you don’t need a press.

And, well, now — I have a good bit more insight than I did before on how to do this, and want to retry the carving process.  I have one more little 2″x2″ block of the same type, and found an old opened (throwaway) linoleum block today (it feels like an eraser).  Seriously, though, these things aren’t expensive, something I had to remind myself of before I started carving!  I think the block I carved today cost $0.66 or something like that.

It is pretty cool to see your work result in something, though!  And that’s not a bad try for being (almost) the first time I’ve worked with this technique in 17 years…(and yes, the BAHAHA moment when it works is great…!)

Anticipation: one more thing to go…then, 2 weeks of (relative) freedom.

I wasn’t able to bring myself to do one of my readings earlier today, or tonight; what I was able to do, was get a lot more readings lined up so that I possibly do not have to do the one I printed out, the other day.  I’m looking at 10-12 papers to read, at about 12 pages each.  It’s not hard; it just requires focus and commitment.

I have been wanting to get these out of the way as soon as possible.  Because of that, I didn’t maintain a social commitment tonight, opting instead to stay home — where I had the possibility of working on my last assignment.  Unfortunately, reruns of Futurama are more entertaining than my readings!

*sigh*

Anyhow, I’ll try and get as much done tomorrow and the day after, as I can; even though I know that may only be six articles, total.  But basically, what I have to do is scan and/or read the articles and provide a 100-200 word commentary on each.  I’m going to try and get this done before Saturday, though I’m not sure how realistic a goal that is, at this point.  (It probably depends on what I choose to read and how deeply I choose to read it — scanning first is probably the best idea I’ve had.  Other than, that is, reading the introduction and conclusion of the paper, and first and last sentences of every paragraph, prior to scanning.  I may not have a clear idea of what these things are about, because I gathered them so quickly.)

I should probably also put the files on a flash drive and transfer them to my secondary computer so that I won’t have to worry about not having anything to read, if I get stuck somewhere after the funeral on Saturday — my little tablet lasts about 4-6 hours on a charge.  And I can take with me, the notebook I intended to use for Cataloging and then mostly didn’t — it will work for notations on the readings, which should help summarize them later.  It will probably be simpler than trying to compose notes in a word-processing program.

As for artwork…I drew a border for my relative’s funeral program.  It was nice to be able to do something with my hands, again, though it wasn’t under the best circumstances.  Right now, though, I’m anticipating that program being thrown out by near relatives (different from nuclear family) because of others’ desire for control.  What is positive is that I formed the page I worked on in Photoshop (I did what I thought I had to do and composed the front page as one flattened image, and so the cover is not editable unless it’s totally scrapped, or someone knows how to work with digital images, besides myself.  (Not betting on it.)

My grades are looking relatively good, considering.  I’m looking at a C+ in Cataloging (I PASSED!!!) and A’s or A-‘s in my other two classes.

Also…on Monday or later, I’m hoping to take a trip to the smaller art supply store near me (at least), to pick up some materials for linoleum block printing…which may make working through the grief, worth it.  I found my carving tools, and I was mistaken:  there are no burrs on my knives.  At least, not on the straight ones, or the large oval gouge.  This is good!  I will be able to see if I need to sharpen them, once I start cutting.

(Some of my spiral patterns, or the mon I designed, would make a good first project.)

One thing I’m unsure of, though, is how to make a method of image registration, so that I’m lining things up on my paper the way I want to — a relative necessity in duochrome (two-color) printing or above.  I’m not sure how to do this, yet, though April Vollmer’s Japanese Woodblock Print Workshop seems to briefly go over how this is/was done in Japanese woodblock printing.  I suppose I can see if I can adapt that to linocuts…though Japanese-style printing uses different basic materials than Western-style printing.  Still, though:  I only have four more days to get through in which I’ll have to deal with this last semester…I can make it.

Two weeks after that, my User Experience class starts up.  I took it in part because I wanted to do all the reading (as bizarre as that sounds).

I can also try and do some reading in library books, the two printmaking books I have, or my future textbooks, if I’m at a loss as to what to do.

And ah — right!  I wanted to get back on with learning Japanese language!  That should be fun!

Lest I forget, as well:  I need to back up my files to my Portfolio.  And maybe get a cloud storage account, or something.  I have what I can download, downloaded, and backed up; I need to work online for this other part, though — and I will not have a long time to do so.

I’ve been offered more hours, but really I’m not sure I want to take them — especially because I’m uncertain as to how much of a time commitment UX will be…and it’s rare to get two weeks off with minimal work.

Anyhow, I should likely get going.

I also want to get bocha, but I am not certain where that desire is coming from…I already have another kukicha; two others, in fact.  It’s just that drinking a twig infusion sounds rather earthy, I guess…

Maybe I can make a trip to the tea store in my two weeks off of school…

Bahahaha

Okay, so I learned how to use the scanner to upload some black and white drawings!

Shiitake capShiitake sideEnokidakeOnigiriSwirly

Bahahahaha!30 mins

Alright, I’m working on that multiple-spiral form I mentioned to you all before, though it’s still generic enough that I haven’t played with it as much as I’ve wanted…so I’m not releasing my in-development toying-around, yet.

Yesterday I was able to turn in a couple of things (including an 18-page paper worth 30 points), which was a big weight off of me.  I did just find out tonight, though, that one of my professors has something due during Finals week!  😮

I’m pretty sure I’ll be okay, though.

These sketches are from the little moments in time between studying that I’ve allowed myself to doodle.  In particular, the mushrooms are from yesterday 😛 and the “30 mins” image (along with the two on the far right) is from that day when I was “mindfully wasting time.”

The far right image is just something that I did to show myself the difference between a Lumocolor marker and a black Copic…I’m fairly certain I used the 100 (Black) Copic marker right there, and then drew over the top of it with a Staedtler Lumocolor.  (I haven’t yet tried the 110 — “Special Black”, with the Lumocolors.)

Similar things happen with Sharpies, though I try not to use Sharpies for anything I want to last.  They’re pretty notorious for degrading/yellowing paper (among other surfaces — they’ve actually seemed to eat through some tape I marked on — not only did the writing seep through to the surface below the Artist’s Tape, but the plastic below yellowed; though that was over about seven years of aging), and fading.  But pretty much all markers are notorious for fading; it’s just that some won’t damage the paper as much, or the ink will last longer (pigment inks are said to be more lightfast than dye-based inks, though I’ve never had an image on my wall in the sun long enough to notice).

I’m not sure what will happen with the Lumocolors — they were a gift from a family member.  The pens say that they’re refillable, which is probably why my family member bought them.  The Copic SP Multiliners are supposed to be refillable (I’m using the disposable version), but I don’t use them hardcore enough yet to have to refill them, replace the nibs, etc. (though it might not be a bad idea for those super-fine nibs like the 0.03 and 0.05 that can easily kink).  Rapidograph (technical pen) is also an option, though I’ve never tried one, yet!

And, right!  The varied-width lines in the mushrooms I drew (from imagination, it’s probably obvious) are from a Pentel Pocket Brush pen.  It’s really sensitive to pressure and flicks of the brush tip, and is ideally held upright to take best advantage of this.  The hatching and cross-hatching of uniform width is with a Copic 0.03 Multiliner, although there is very slight line width modification even with a fineliner.  It’s just not obvious like with the brush pens!

The grey on the musubi/onigiri (rice ball with nori, or the triangular spiral, fourth from the left) is some kind of Copic marker (I honestly wasn’t paying attention to which one I used), while I’m pretty sure the linework was with a Fine-width Lumocolor pen.

And the lettering…was just me messing around!  I have been trying to find ways of incorporating ideas from other scripts into play with English lettering, though I haven’t shown it much, here.  The “for art” text in the lower image is in Medium-width Lumocolor, while everything else is in Fine-width (except the wavy line under “Lumocolor”).  I find that because of the way this ink pools (and the tips may as well be felt), the two pens I used weren’t as good for varying line width.  However, they’re good for consistent line width.  One annoying thing, though:  I found that the Lumocolor Fine pen tended to catch on the page and spatter.

Oh, right! and I wanted to mention the paper!  I got the pad which these were drawn on for notes in a class.  It was a really inexpensive pad I got from Barnes & Noble (the brand is “Piccadilly”).  It looks like the MSRP is $12.95, but B&N almost never sells them at that cost.  I’m sure it was likely around $5 or less — I got it because it was a cheap enough experiment.

There are issues with bleed-through — the inks (particularly the Lumocolors) can seep through one page and onto the next.  (You can see this in my first Shiitake image, upper left corner of this post.)  That wasn’t a large issue with the Copics or the Pentel; though Copic markers will likely bleed through given heavy enough application.

The reason I like this pad, though, is that the surface of the paper is very smooth and very white, kind of like opaque marker paper; and the proportions of the working area are interesting.  It’s spiral-bound at the top, meaning that I don’t have to worry about compensating for binding issues.  And — it was really inexpensive, so I don’t have to worry about destroying or blowing through an expensive pad of paper (which is sometimes something that can inhibit me).

I am hoping to get what I need to get done, done sooner rather than later — though I’ll try for getting everything done in a week, I can’t guarantee it.  After that, I will have plenty of time to play!  Well, until Summer School starts.  :/  🙂  But actually, I do think I do better with something to do.  It’s amazing what I can get done when I focus!  (And yes, focusing does involve, sometimes, taking five or 10 minutes to draw mushrooms!  Or lying down for 15 or 20 minutes.  It doesn’t have to be a marathon, I know that now…just so long as I can concentrate…)

😀 😀 😀

(And before anyone says anything:  Yes.  Yes I am thinking of working in black and white and scanning it.  I don’t know if it will be a comic…but it’s fun!)

Yeah: getting out from in front of the computer

So, I ended up signing up for an LIS class, for Summer.  There’s a weird story behind it, but basically…I found out at 2 AM last night that I could register at 7 AM, and picked out a class.  When I got up…whenever I did (?) I was able to grab one of the three seats (out of 30-something) left in it.

DID I SAY “SERENDIPITY” LAST NIGHT, OR…

This class is on User Experience, which I hope will be engaging.  It’s also a 10-week class, so it shouldn’t be too compressed.  Why am I taking it?  Web Development is my aim after and if I attain the Master’s.  At least now, that much is clear; and UX should help with that aim.  At least, I’m hoping.  I don’t know the intricacies of the different job titles surrounding Web Publishing, yet.

In other arenas, I also forgot to take medication until 2 AM last night (I was reminded at 9 PM, but forgot), so I was fairly wiped out, today.  I did listen to two lectures today — er, yesterday — anyhow, and got a good survey of what needs to be done before next Monday (it just keeps coming).  The major problem is that I have days when I do a lot of schoolwork, and then days following where I don’t want to even think about schoolwork.  The dynamic then states that the work gets backed up and the cycle repeats (when, that is, I don’t miss an assignment entirely because I stubbornly refuse to acknowledge college at all — it wouldn’t be as possible at a traditional school).

It’s magnified as things are now because I do have one significant assignment to do (I can’t just let it slide like the Discussion post; it’s worth 15% of my grade), the material for which I’ve forgotten:  so I’ve just got to re-do some readings (these were readings I did in Hawaii, and I was so burnt out from Hawaii after getting back, that I couldn’t do the corresponding work on time [my brain was not functioning adequately.  I guess you could say it was off-balance]).

So today has mostly been spent in front of the computer — like yesterday — and I know that’s a recipe for depression.  I probably shouldn’t even be awake now; it will soon be 1 AM.  Because I seem to have cheated myself out of the relaxing art class I wanted to take during the Summer, I’m also now a little irritated with myself.  I have a couple of weeks to back out; but it was necessary to reserve a space in this class, if I wanted to take it.

My major issue is that on one hand, I have a limited amount of time to fit all this training in; on the other hand, I’m a bit…angry that I have to grow up?  Finishing the Art AA did give me a sense of completion; on the other hand, if I had dropped everything to re-enter the MLIS program as soon as I thought of it, I’d have a bit more wiggle room.  Right now I should be taking three classes per semester until graduation.  If I had started a semester prior, and worked through Summer Session, I would only have to take two.

I’m also a bit irritated that the Art degree seems relatively worthless, although I obviously invested in it and enjoyed it, and respected it.  I still respect it.  It’s just really…it feels not-right that Art can’t be a way of life.  My valuations and broader society’s valuations do not match; I might be wrong, but it seems like, at least in the U.S. — and at this point in history — the only thing that’s important is money.

Tonight I did do some reading in the book on mokuhanga — which might be interesting even if I don’t intend to make woodblock prints.  It’s much more specialized knowledge than I got from either of the books from the Honolulu Art Museum.  One of them in particular…it’s kind of like, “Japanese Art for People Who Know Nothing About Japan.”  But I didn’t have time to read that deeply into it, at the Museum.  It’s just weird that there’s this cultural divide where I can’t really see how a lot of the information in that book would be new to anyone.  But then, there are people who think that the only kind of ramen that exists, comes out of a $0.90 package.

Anyhow:  mokuhanga.  I’m not sure if the book is topical enough to my interests to buy (although it is indeed beautiful), but it would make a nice companion to Shin Hanga, depending on the content.  But then, why would I have it, if I wouldn’t use it?  (or is it just that I don’t actually want to mix rice-starch paste?)

Yeah…I’m a bit concerned about bugs eating the colors…

Right.  Anyway, I also did go looking through my (art) archives, if they can be called that — they haven’t really been organized.  I found my good markers, as well (the Copics, along with some Staedtler Lumocolor drawing pens).

So I was looking through that stuff and thinking back on what drew me away from fantasy storytelling:  there is a lot of work building up to a graphic novel project there, which was abandoned at one point or another, for reasons I can guess at, but which I don’t fully recall.  Chances are that I was thinking about it too much, or it was getting too real for me…or I realized just how big a workload it would be to write and draw a comic.  Or, it could be, I began medication and it quieted all of that.

I did want to say something about how I don’t know how learning works.  Particularly, reading.  I know that my life is a lot better in quality because I read, but that doesn’t mean that I know how information gets into my brain and stays there.  That, though…could just be me tripping out, like I trip out over being embodied, and why anything exists, and this.  I just don’t entirely “get” why or how language works.  I’m sure that studying XML may do that to a person, though.

So now I have some old drawings to work through — I’m not starting from zero, I had to remind myself.  Particularly interesting to me are the possibilities in abstraction, and what might happen if I use full value ranges (almost possible with markers, but not quite:  it’s hard to get a very “black” black, but I do have some jarred ink which may work…it’s also possible to use a carbon black watercolor, which I might try on hot-press watercolor paper and/or Bristol board).

I decided to hang back from the sumi ink and watercolors, for now…I’m going to try drawing again.  At least, that’s the plan.  (Even my Neocolor II and Prang drawings looked nicer than I remember them, but I’ll try and stick with dry media, for now.)  After that, I’ll work back into sumi and the soft-hair brushes, and then try watercolor again…maybe.

Maybe something will strike me, in the next two weeks…and cause me to maybe drop UX…it’s just that it seems so much like it was meant to be, though…

Feeling better, a bit.

So…it’s now officially midnight and I’ve been awake for 14 hours — doing required work, some of it late.  And I was able to concentrate today, even with all the external noise.  That means there actually was something wrong when I was constantly distracted.

I had decided prior to skip the Easter visits today, that wasn’t a big decision; but I also didn’t realize that I’d be cutting it so close with the amount of work I had, and the time in which I had to do it.

I did just realize that I inadvertently skipped a lecture, which — along with a project which should be relatively simple, for the same class — I can tackle tomorrow.  I can also see if I missed anything for my Research class, though I think that’s all done (except for filling in the remains of a chapter, from last week).  Otherwise, I think we’ll be moving on, starting tomorrow morning.

I’m actually pretty proud of myself for getting four different graded assignments tackled in the same day.  I’m also really glad that I’m in my Metadata course, as it shows that things actually can (!) get easier with the advent of computers!  I’m not sure what kind of grade I’ll get in Cataloging, but hey — at least now I know not to be a Cataloger, that much is certain.

My goal for that course now (as versus learning the material) is to get out with a C- or above…somewhat sadly, but not really sadly.  It’s gone there.  Right now my best option is to mitigate the damage that course will do to my GPA, and I only have one graded assignment left, so…it’s water under the bridge.  Right now I kind of wish I had held onto my test so I could check my answers with the various scattered data about this class (some in the lectures, some in the Discussion fora…), but again, water under the bridge.  It isn’t due for another nine hours, and I could have held onto it, but it would have stressed me.  It’s more my style these days to just do it and let it go, although that might be a liability (though not necessarily, as when I “corrected” one of my answers away from the right one).

And…you won’t particularly believe this, but I was able to gain access to the one book on Japanese woodblock printing (i.e. mokuhanga:  moku = wood, hanga = print) existent at my location, the other day…so I now have that to peruse, in my off hours.  It’s kind of weird.  I didn’t go there looking for it, I looked up the subject on the OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog) on the spur of the moment, there was one book in the system, and one copy was on the shelf — and it was filed correctly.

Speaking of serendipity, I’ve had that word strike me from three different places within what seems like the last three days.  I am feeling a lot better with Cataloging now, though; to the point that I’m considering taking an actual LIS course during Summer Session, as versus Ceramics.  D has stated that it’s hard to make a living as an artist full-time unless one gives up one’s autonomy in the process, and sometimes people have big issues with the latter.

I figure that I only have two more years to cram everything in, in regard to the LIS program, though (I think Ceramics will still be available later — and if it’s not, maybe I can buy or otherwise access a kiln), and I haven’t even factored in the class, Issues in Special Libraries.  Given that I’m hoping to enter a nontraditional field upon graduation, that class becomes an unofficial priority.  However, I’m looking at my documents now, and that class isn’t even listed as core or recommended…and why would I take that if I could get deeper into XML or another tech-oriented course instead…something that will actually help me get a job, as versus knowledge I can (or will) acquire in the field…

And yes, I…if I can stay in the program, I definitely want to aim for Web Development as an eventual goal.  It’s probably better to say that now and mean it, than to be wishy-washy about it and not tell anyone that I want to work in tech because then I’d lose my Library cred, or something.  If I’ve got an idea in mind and a direction in mind, I need to just go for it, even if someone will finance my schooling if I say I’m into Library Automation (…I am not even going to get into that).

In my Research class…I’ve been investigating why people in positions similar to mine either leave the Library field; or never enter it, after graduation…and it doesn’t paint American Library institutions as particularly healthy in regard to retention of bright, qualified, excellent candidates (as I’ve read).  Not to say I necessarily am that (maybe I am), but…it’s a known pattern, and I have some idea of why the pattern exists, because I almost never came back from Withdrawal status, and with the exception of Cataloging, I’ve been doing relatively fantastic.

Right now my degree should help with Digital Services and Digital Library work, and help me get my feet wet with programming and User Experience.  It’s not a usual use of the skillset — in fact it isn’t a traditional skillset for Library Science at all — but I like it that way.  Otherwise, I’d likely be attempting to learn how to code, however I could (if I was even aware of that as a valid employment option, and if I could get beyond the gender stigma/barrier/stereotypes I’ve read about in the male-dominated tech field).  In that sense, it is good I am in LIS, (Library & Information Science) or at least, in the IS part of LIS — it allows some comfort of being in a relatively safe, traditionally feminized field (where there are more people like me) at the same time as it opens doors into a more cutting-edge field (perhaps made more cutting-edge by the inclusion of people like myself).

And…I’ve only got two years to go (!), though I hear that in the old days, a Master’s degree only actually took two years of training…