Being productive (in unexpected ways)

Around the time of my last posting, I did a sweep of the bedroom and vastly decreased the amount of dust, in there. Yesterday, the family got together and sorted and reorganized and cleaned and labeled the art and craft storage areas here. I was pleasantly surprised that I had less stuff than I thought I did…

…and I am now rethinking my plan to give away or sell my Copics. True, I don’t like them that much, and possibly contributing to that is the monochrome nature of my collection (different dilutions of Cool Grey, it doesn’t even have the impact of Warm Grey); but working with markers is a quick way to be able to play with things like the impact of negative painting and negative space, without the nervous apprehension that comes with painting, for me. πŸ˜›

(Speaking of which, I have heard that fear of painting on canvas is specific to me — but it may be easier than trying to do watercolor in a way that isn’t fussy.)

I am also finding myself leaning more to the side of fine art than comics at this time, which is weird when I’m considering going back to using markers. I’m not entirely certain exactly what the removal of the “sequence” from “sequential art” means, but…well. Anyhow.

I’m more drawn to carving out linoleum blocks right now…and I’m not sure if it’s because it’s new, or because I don’t know what the end result will be. It’s also decently “graphic” for me at this point…and I like cutting things. We actually found the other four gouge blades from a woodcarving set while cleaning up, whereas before I only had one. With the handles, these make sizable tools.

Maybe it’s because I took Wood Shop at such a young age (middle school), but there’s some comfort for me in dealing with precision carving. Though…I think I’ve always liked it. I remember doing a plaster carving in Mixed Media class in high school, which I was super proud of until it was shattered by someone.

To work with plaster carving again…hmm. I don’t think I was too concerned with breathing in the dust, before. It wasn’t until I got to the point of casting metal, that I really even started to worry about it. Now, I go to the art store and I see these warnings about powdered crystalline silica and lung cancer and the outside of the bag is covered in powdered plaster, and I’m like, “hmm. Do I really want to risk this?” (not to mention how to clean up without clogging the sink with plaster from your hands!)

But it is really fun! We used empty milk cartons and mixed the plaster in there; then when it was set but still soft, we peeled off the box and carved the block. It’s how I ruined a set of good carving knives and gouges…once the plaster hardens too much, it will damage/dull steel tools.

I am thinking back to that Mixed Media class…we did ceramics, too, and I would think we would have been exposed to vapors from the firing of those (particularly, glazes are molten glass)…but if I knew then, I obviously didn’t care. I’m pretty sure I took the class, twice.

In any case, I’m thinking that block printing is kind of like a step between drawing or painting, and sculpture…which was a kind of odd thought to come to, but it makes sense to me.

And, yeah: I might start carrying around my black Pitt pens to draw with. There are some weird nibs on some of those pens (like Soft Brush or Soft Calligraphy), that handle funny and make unusual marks. They could be useful in designing a print. I think I said that before, though?

There are also the Staedtler Mars Graphic 3000 Duo brush pens, which…well, the ones I have are fairly ancient, but they have gorgeous supple brush nibs. They’re still markers; the nibs have got to be some sort of porous synthetic rubber or something — not fiber — but they make my writing in Japanese look pretty…well, different from everything else I’ve used (and also kind of “better”)!

And I know how to transfer a design from regular paper to marker paper to Saral paper and then cut it out…not a big deal.

Tonight I stayed home and worked on the Wool-Eater lapghan. It’s growing decently, though now I want to make a version which changes yarn color at every diagonal. It’s possible. (I may also accidentally have worked a yarn join from the skein into the lapghan…which is just going to either irritate or sadden me if it comes apart. Still, though, if I made it, I might be able to repair it.)

Right now it’s really just reminding me of a watermelon. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

It’s also warmer than expected, though the temperatures were in the 80ΒΊ F range, today.

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Projects, projects…

Right now I’m here trying to figure out what to write about, which would not be too personal. Or controversial. By surprise, I got tomorrow off of work, so as I spent pretty much all of today dealing with school things…not homework, other things…I was able to concentrate on the experience and not the work that I was missing at home.

There is another group project due in what will be approximately 72 hours. Along with that is a late assignment. I am almost done with the lectures, but will likely need to spend the majority of the weekend dealing with these two projects (same class!), and making a screencast (due in 48 hours). Everything else can wait.

And I am now officially a member of an Honors society. I’m guessing that feels pretty good, though the induction ceremony reminded me of Hogwarts.

I also got to visit the University library for the first time, which was almost overwhelming. Because we arrived for the ceremony early and looked lost, one of the librarians also gave us a tour…which was really nice.

At this point, I’m trying to keep my head together and wondering if I should be in bed already. After the ceremony, we were able to go to a tea shop and I got a diffuser…and a couple of new teas (this place is way out of our normal sphere, so I got what I could when I could). There was also a Japanese bookstore in the area where I got a couple of books on Shinto (this material has been hard to find in English, even within Japanese bookstores), and one on Buddhism.

I’m wondering if these can be of use in my final project for Reference Services…if I haven’t done it before! I know I wanted to do it before, but I wasn’t able to because of the constraints of the class. I just don’t know if I’ve done it since: I’ll have to look through my archives.

Ah — I see now. I set it out as a proposal for a website, but it was beyond the scope of the class. Before then, I set it out as a proposal for a study guide, but it was again, beyond the scope of the class. I also may have some constraints here because I may have to use sources from within libraries to which I have access.

I’ll have to look at the requirements for the assignment. If I use InterLibrary Loan, I might be able to work something out as regards art and design, as well — which might be more fun, particularly if I narrow down my search to something like a particular form of the graphic arts I’m thinking of now…I just have a choice between taking an art history angle or an art practice angle. Or a philosophy or cultural angle…

That’s not due for a while, though. I’m also thinking that my angle may depend on what’s available to check out.

I’m also looking at the subject of “composition in painting and drawing” right now…which sounds fun! It would also get me out of what I already know (or have more of a good start on knowing).

Weird…I’m starting to know how to research and present this stuff…

What if (things had gone differently)? Math and Design:

I know I was told to stop blogging late at night, but it’s hard when you feel like you didn’t wake up too long ago. I did finally accomplish that shower, though, and I have taken medication already; so I should have a limited amount of time between now and the point where I can’t think in words, anymore.

Right now, I’m wondering how my proficiencies might have been different if I had continued within the Graphic Arts program, as versus the (Fine) Arts program, in community college. I am aware that the Master’s program I’m in now features various Design possibilities, but this is high-level stuff, and not all of it is related to Graphic Design.

For example: Instructional Design, Database Design, Web Design, Interface Design, Interaction Design, Design Thinking…

That’s much broader than I think they would have taught me at the place where I first started looking into Graphic Arts. There were three things that discouraged me from following through with it:

  • A comment from a teacher stating she thought I, “could do more,” than being a Graphic Designer. (I believe she meant Fine Arts or something along that line; by the time I was in her class, I already had a BA in Creative Writing.)
  • My then-dislike of dealing with people; I was told that what people ask you to do is generally not what they actually want done, and it would be my job to find out what they actually needed (much like the premise of a Reference Interview, but I wouldn’t know that until later).
  • The fact that I was told I would either need an apprenticeship or a graduate degree in order to be successful as a Graphic Designer.

And then, there was this bit:

  • Being harangued off of a (supposed) Graphic Design email list for not using my legal name.

At the time, I was not thinking about graduate degrees at all. My prior undergraduate experience (in Creative Writing) had been so stressful — mostly due to the fact that I had a disability that I was only beginning to realize the scope of, and treat — that I didn’t want to deal with the stress of assignments, grades, and tests, again.

Of course, though, work was a scarier prospect, especially as I knew I was starting out from a (theoretically) compromised position. (I have a bunch of intersecting minority statuses that together, well, they work out in the form of my being underemployed, now. Statistically, it’s not surprising.)

I did end up going back to school, but that was to community college. Initially it was to a bunch of art and computer-related classes. Then I got into a Vocational program because I wanted to be employed. I started the Master’s program in Library and Information Science, got culture-shocked, and withdrew for three years (it’s also likely that my symptoms flared because of the stress, now that I think about it).

During that time, I completed an Art degree from the aforementioned community college district, and made decent headway into a General Business certificate (which I decided to pull out of, after Microeconomics and Intro to Marketing caused me to wonder if my business model was actually viable, and what I was actually selling, if I was selling jewelry. At the time, I hadn’t done the introspection on the latter, and as for whether the jeweling angle was viable…it might have been, for someone who didn’t need health insurance, and was working in metal).

With support and about ten years down the line, I did go back to the Master’s program. I’m hoping to graduate this December. This is expressly for my own financial independence, leading to my physical independence. But I am finding that I like the, “Information Science,” portion of this, more than I expected. At this point, I’m wondering whether I will want or need further skills, and if so, in what?

Web Design? Information Science? Computer Science?

When I was younger, I did well in Math until doing well in Math contributed to making me a target of harassment and group exclusion. Because my experience was so horrible (it was: I would literally dissociate staring at my homework), I really didn’t want to take Math again in undergrad work (this is why I didn’t major in a Hard Science). I have dealt with Math four times since high school:

  • In Statistics (completed)
  • In Accounting (dropped)
  • In Calculus (dropped)
  • In Database Design and Implementation (in process)

…And I’m wondering whether to go back, in order to further work with computers.

As I’ve mentioned before, I only dropped Accounting because I got seriously ill during the class (I’m pretty sure it was the flu, and that I was not only sick but contagious) and did not feel I could catch up. I dropped Calculus because I had no idea if I was doing things right (and was too shy to engage the instructor for help during Office Hours).

It doesn’t help that I’ve been used to having so much Math homework that it was impossible to complete and check it all, within a night’s timeframe; so for a number of years when I was in Math, I just didn’t check my calculations. I’m also not certain I remember how to, anymore. (In addition, the utility of what we were being taught was never divulged; and I learned to play before working because the work would never end, otherwise. Not a great program.)

At this point I can see the usefulness of taking a gamble with one’s GPA in order to actually learn new things. But it feels easier to play it safe than to risk a poor grade. Of course, though, risking a poor grade also means that I might surprise myself with a spectacular performance, and I’d learn something I didn’t think I could.

I do suppose it depends on what I really want to do (or who I really want to be or become). Or what blocks I want or need to burst through.

I did just remember that there are a couple of places online where I can brush up on my Math skills. Plus, I work in the Library field: we have resources. If I want to enter a program on Information Science alone, I can see that I would need to work on this before taking a graduate entry exam. But what would I do with those skills? I can see being a Full-Stack Developer or something, but…

Hmm. I haven’t thought about it…

A use, a frame, a narrative

A family member once told me that when they were in art classes, they could copy what they saw, but when they tried to draw from imagination, it was very hard for them.

I was thinking about this last night, as the image of an Artist Trading Card featuring the Golden Gate Bridge came to my mind. Some of the details of the insight that came along with this have been lost to…well, melatonin, let’s say…but I realized that having a use for my art would be one thing to motivate me to do it.

As well, the image was at least setting up a narrative, if it were not a narrative itself. That narrative framed the scope of the project. I did see the use of the bounds of the image as in some way a metaphor for the frame of the message it was intending to get across (even though I envisioned the interior of the design extending beyond the literal frame).

On top of that, the narrative takes precedence over realism, meaning that I don’t have to copy reality in order to get my narrative across.

I’m not sure if I’m making sense, here, but the idea for the image came from questioning if I had hot-press or plate watercolor paper on which to draw comic illustrations. (If not, I know I have Bristol board.) I think I need to lighten up on myself about whether I’m doing things “right,” and just start to do them. Then I can see where it goes, instead of stopping before I start because I don’t think I’m doing it correctly.

But I think having a use, a frame, and a narrative will help me narrow down the scope of what I do. I remember now that I had been considering using my steel-nib dip pens and black ink, and I thought that maybe having a constraint in my technique (such as: no pushing the nib forward to make lines, unless using a cartooning or calligraphy nib) would cut down on my creative options enough so that my content would be easier to express.

I’ve also wanted to get back into calligraphy. Not Japanese calligraphy, but English-language. There is one beautiful red-orange calligraphy ink I saw the other day, which piqued my interest (it looks as though it will contrast well with black).

I had one calligraphy book I was working through, which actually did improve my regular handwriting, as well as my decorative handwriting. And I can practice on top of translucent Layout paper, which will likely be a good solution (I used to send out letters to friends, written on translucent papers — it was just my style).

I also have an Ames Lettering Guide, from the time I wanted to work on comics.

I think I am just wanting to combine text and image, and text and narrative, again. The major thing that has stopped me in my studies of comics, and graphic novels, have been the dispositions of the comic authors I’d likely have to study to learn the craft. There’s a lot of politics, there.

Though I generally consider myself open-minded, sometimes things are just offensive to me — particularly historical work made for a nationalistic, non-minority audience (if you get my drift). I’m not entirely sure what to do about that, except limit my exposure to just reading more recent works and international works, to which I’m not so emotionally tied.

Anyhow, I have a thought of where to start.

Finally getting back to watercolors; also, toying with Digital Imaging again.

Hey!

So I finally cleared all the sewing stuff off the craft table and started on my lightfastness chart. I’m not sure how I’m going to go about this: I have space for 60 swatches, and at least 35 or so transparent watercolors to test. I have far fewer colors in gouache, though still a substantial collection.

This is kind of sad because the gouache doesn’t get used very often: it’s not the easiest medium to work with. Not that I don’t want to use it, I just haven’t taught myself what I can do with it yet. (I already know a bit of what I can’t do with it!) It seems to require an approach I haven’t been thoroughly exposed to. Besides this…is the fact that it doesn’t seem to be an entirely popular (or understood) painting medium.

There is, however, the possibility of searching for a bit of this information…sometimes I forget that there is information readily available if i know where to look (and that I can look).

I have only had time to get through the first three or so cool (as versus warm) reds, so far as swatching goes, with the transparent watercolors. What I can say is that Alizarin Crimson, although I loved it before, doesn’t look all that great next to Permanent Rose, the latter of which is just a gorgeous violet-leaning pinkish red which blossoms much more easily, wet-in-wet. In comparison, Alizarin is brownish; though I don’t know if this is from degradation in the tube, or if it was always like this.

I’m not entirely certain how much of the differences will be apparent on photographic upload, though. The last time I tried this with blues, the camera (or my monitor?) couldn’t distinguish the subtle chromatic differences that I could see in real-life. There is, for instance, a notable difference between the character of Phthalo Blue and that of Prussian Blue (Prussian appears more muted and redder to me), and a large difference between Cobalt Blue and Phthalo (Phthalo is greener and more intense), but I don’t think that’s easily distinguishable, from the image below:

swatches of blue watercolors

I’m not sure if the problem lies in inadequate lighting, in the encoding of the data itself (e.g. camera lighting presets), in the inadequacy of my monitor, in the limitations of my present skills with image-editing software, or in the fact that computers just can’t display all the colors humans can see (the last of which, I know is currently true, regardless of any of the others).

If I couldn’t see the differences on my screen, I don’t know how well they would transmit to any of your screens (which are virtually guaranteed to be set up differently). There is the possibility of playing around with photographic enhancements, but I’m not realistically sure of the feasibility of that β€” my monitor hasn’t been properly calibrated to display images in as close to true-color as possible, and I’ve long since forgotten how to do it (if I ever did). It’s been a decade since my last Graphic Arts class, that is.

In any case, it’s a much simpler task for a computer to work with colors it innately understands. I’ve been toying around with a couple of programs which work with touch-screen capability, as regards writing notes, drawing, and digitally painting…which has been fun! Reading the End User License Agreements has not been fun, but toying around with this stuff, is. It took me a bit of time to realize that apps are there to be used and aren’t necessarily out to exploit me (in a harmful way, at least).

It’s just kind of interesting to think that I could take my tablet, take photos of the world around me, and draw from those photos on the same machine — and see what I’m doing as I’m doing it. A short time ago (say, when the Cintiq was the go-to option for a tablet where you could actually see what you were working on as you were drawing it — for however many thousands of dollars, I forget) this would have been prohibitively expensive. With the development of hardware and software to support it, though…working digitally has more of an appeal for me (especially as it would be unwise to take toxic paints, good brushes, etc. in to work, as I’ve mentioned before).

A couple of big advantages to digital art are that it’s portable and clean. I also trust that my colors will come out closer to what I intend if I code the color in hexadecimal, as versus creating something the computer doesn’t know how to interpret.

I think that most of all, I need to give myself permission to just experiment and play around — and try some approaches I haven’t, so far.

Release

Today was my first day of freedom from classes and Finals. I did still go to work, but I was also happy that I got to do whatever I wanted on my lunch hour! Nothing hanging over my head with some due date that I had to work on in order to alleviate my anxiety and boost my GPA!

Just think: in one more year it can be like this, permanently. Not to say that I would stop learning, because I can’t afford to do that, ever; but I will have obtained my first professional degree.

It’s also not lost on me that this “vacation” time I’m entering into, with Winter Break, may be one of the last extended periods of lack of responsibility that I’ll be able to have, unless I save up vacation hours at whatever job I’ll have in the future.

Because of a number of issues, I’m not entirely certain it is even possible to expect to retire once I reach a certain age. I haven’t gone in for financial counseling or anything, but it just doesn’t look good for me, due to the age at which I began (or am beginning) my career. The institution of retirement itself doesn’t look good, as regards what I can see ahead.

However: there are some bright spots. A lot of them, actually…though elucidating that, right now, may be a bit much. And, I can’t expect to live to old age, anyway…that’s kind of not guaranteed.

In any case…I did do some drawing at work, earlier. No photos or scans, yet, though I did learn one thing: don’t try to alter a pencil image at the same time as you’re inking it. (I had forgotten how subtle changes severely affect expressions, in images of people!)

I should be heading out to replace some art supplies that I’m running low on (yay for using up art supplies!). This is, specifically, a type of marker paper I picked up a long time ago (Borden & Riley) which is particularly useful both because of its degree of translucency, and the fact that markers tend not to bleed through it. (New Chartpak markers will still bleed, though, as will new Copics [unless I’m mistaken].) Because the paper is so translucent, it allows for tracing and inking of linework.

The major drawback of any of this is that then the inked illustrations either need to be transferred to a digital file for coloring (which means I will need to learn how to digitally color), or they need color added with dry media (I have never tried this paper with watercolors…it would be an interesting experiment, as this is cotton rag paper, but…I wouldn’t set my hopes too high). The alternative is using Saral paper, a.k.a. making a carbon paper transfer, which makes inking the original, redundant.

Or, I’d just have to stick with using pens and markers for all of the art. It’s not a best-case scenario, largely because I’m not great with markers…though I think I am better than I thought I was. The limited work that is still inside the cover of the pad isn’t awful, even though at the time, I was fairly disappointed.

Maybe I just need to become skilled with a blending marker? I don’t know. What I do know is that this is the first pad of paper I’ve almost-used-up in a while (unless we count the small pad of ArtAgain coal black paper, which I found can take wet media [in this case, gouache]).

It is possible to work out small comics with the marker paper, as well as play with layout, generally.

The largest issue with trying to practice illustration at this point, for me, is either creating a story or finding a story to illustrate. I may be able to work on this over Winter Break, though, too. Hopefully, the last decade or so has calmed down some of the issues I was going through, last time I was intensely involved in fiction writing.

(I can’t help but think that it will attempt to reactivate some of those old dysfunctional neural pathways, though…)

And if I’m going to write, it would likely help, to read (which I have time for, now). The other main issue is that I overwhelmingly read nonfiction…maybe a short story would work. That way, the research wouldn’t be overwhelming (I can read short fiction I like), and the writing wouldn’t be overwhelming, either. This could then lead to a short tale that I could illustrate…

…though I honestly think that project would take up more than the time I’ve got over Winter Break. I have about a month, off. I’m sure I’ll get around to figuring out what to do with my time (other than this), in the near future, but right now I’m just looking at the next 2-3 days.

I did unexpectedly use a bunch of Marker paper for my Web Design project. I have 5 usable pages of this stuff, left. I think I’ll get the 9″x12″ size again, as it is small enough to fit into my work locker. Plus, I can’t scan anything over 8.5″x11″, at this point, so getting a larger size would be relatively useless unless I started hard-core doing comics, and needed to tape up page roughs to my wall in order to read their composition.

(I don’t want to scan these things at an office-supply store. I’m not going to get into, why. I’m sure it’s obvious enough.)

That actually sounds really fun–! It also gives me an excuse to pick up a gouache color that I’ve set my eye on (Quinacridone Magenta). This last color-experimentation phase (for the website) has got me using gouache again, which can make gorgeous opaque colors. But I can’t think about it in the same way as I would think about illustration. It pretty much has to be looser than that.

I had also been thinking about painting with gouache on board…meaning that I’m looking at the use of gesso and Golden Absorbent Ground, to prep the surface. The biggest thing I’m concerned about there is the possibility of destroying my good (soft) watercolor brushes by painting on top of a rough surface.

Now that I look at it, I would be just as well off by mounting a paper to a piece of board, painting it, then removing it to frame.

Hey, wait: it’s also possible that I might be able to permanently mount a paper to board by using an acrylic medium, like maybe Glazing Medium…hmm. Didn’t think of that, before. Then I’d have the durability of the board, and the softness of the paper. I also have a brayer I can use, to push down the watercolor paper (I will just need to interleave a clean sheet so that I don’t mess up the surface of the paper — or the painting, if it is finished).

Looks like I’m going to be experimenting.

The hardest part of any of this, though, is settling on what to paint! I do have a lot of nice botanical images, though…I’m just not quite a master at composition, yet.

Maybe I can try that one image I wanted to use for the 30″x30″ canvas, as a way to break out of photorealism…

2808w

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 β€” which I bought…probably back when I was in high school, or around that time β€” 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 β€” 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 β€” 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. πŸ™‚

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… πŸ™‚ …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.)