I feel silly for posting this, but:

I do keep talking about the Japanese language study, and toying with handwriting, and this.  So…it could be interesting for me to log my progress on the writing front.  Maybe it will help motivate me to keep going back to the books.

vertical lines of Japanese text read "watashi wa genki desu."
(by the way, this just reads “I’m healthy/in good spirits,” over and over again.)

I’m shrinking the size of this down just to make it clearer.  As this is on my screen, it appears to be almost at the size at which it was written (yes I used tiny pens).

I was seeing what I could get out of my pens, in addition to practicing kanji (some of which, like the “-ki” in genki), I’ve not totally gotten a handle on, yet.

And…I’ve realized why nib sizes in Japanese fountain pens run narrower than in Western-style fountain pens:  at a certain point, writing with a thick nib means you can’t write kanji legibly at a small size.

So…I’m pretty sure that the tiniest of these (rose and green) are Copic .003 Multiliners.  Then I tried a .005 and a couple of Microns (the latter of which made the sepia-tone marks on the left), along with an ultra-micro Uni-Ball Signo.

I’ve also got to remember to store my pens horizontally, not vertically in a marker stand as I had been doing.  I had a couple of Pitt metallic markers which totally lost their opacity and sheen (one of which made the aqua-colored writing in the center, there), possibly from the ink separating out.

Also…it appears that Gelly Roll pens have a shelf life (my silver one died and wouldn’t make any mark which wasn’t largely suspension fluid).  And I had to toss a white Uni-Ball Signo because the ink was doing something bizarre (the rollerball would divide all the lines it made).  I’m not sure why.

Japanese writing in light colors on a black background.
Large characters read “Tokyo dialect;” the rest are variations on, “Am I healthy?/Are you healthy?”

The good thing is that now I know what I have, and I still have some sweet stuff.

I tried not to blow up the image to the right too much, because most of it was written tiny to begin with.  This is the back of my Supracolor swatch, which I repurposed into a test paper.  (Trust me, no one will be able to tell.)

And — hey!  The Photoshop Levels adjustment makes black tone appear deeper, too!

I’m pretty sure the four phrases on the right are all Derwent Graphik Line Painters (the ones with the hollow nibs which I’m not sure will continue to be made).  I think “Snow” is the white one and “Fox” is the silver one on far right (I love how opaque that one is!).

As a note, when Japanese writing is vertical, it reads right-to-left, although I was writing stuff down wherever (and tend to still write — and habitually read — left-to-right.  I’m getting better, though.)

The bit saying “Tokyo dialect,” or tokyo-go, as my friend put it (see upper left corner of the above image), was written with one of those metallic Pitt bullet-point markers:  one of the ones still viable, that is.  My teal one turned transparent on black paper, where it should have been opaque, as above.  I didn’t think it was worth keeping.

And then there are a bunch of Uni-Ball Signo metallic gel pens that I have, that still work awesomely even if the gold doesn’t, say, look like it’s actually made of gold.  🙂  At least I don’t get weird ink flow issues like I did with the odd white one, which I think I may have ruined by drawing with it on top of a watercolor painting.

Come to think of it, that could be why my white Gelly Roll pen died, too (I’ve just gotten a replacement).  Hmm.

I should probably do some schoolwork or go to sleep, at this point…although!  I’m nearing the end of Unit 1 in my Kluemper text!  (I found this out randomly last night.)

Yeah, I should study:  I have assignments (that have to actually be turned in) coming up, soon…

But I do want to note to myself:  don’t use water-based marker on watercolor paper and expect it to dry quickly.  That’s what happened with the smudgy section in the first image, which is bordered by red lines.  The red lines are fine; the fact that I got a fistful of ink on my hand when I tried writing on my paper — after a decent amount of time — is not.  I’m just thinking that the paper absorbed the ink so much that it trapped the water and didn’t let it dissipate at a normal rate…

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Toyed with FW inks, last night:

I have a little time to write, here, but am not entirely sure of how much use I’ll be.

Yesterday, my godmother came over for a visit, so most of my waking hours were spent with her and M.  I did manage to get in some time to play with colors, but I ended up toying with the acrylic inks instead of dealing with jumping directly back into the watercolors.  (It’s probably because of the packaging, I’m not even kidding:  the FW inks kind of beg to be used in those little glass bottles.)

fw-play-3706w
Taken in filtered daylight
fw-play-night-3698w
Taken under fluorescent lighting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have done a bit of an experiment, here, though, with the photography.  I took a bunch of pictures of my work (most of which isn’t up here, because all it is, is my practicing Japanese writing [mostly, the same sentence] in multiple colors and nib sizes), and realized today on upload that I used the wrong lighting setting.  I should have used the “Tungsten” setting instead of the “Fluorescent” setting, as the latter leaves a lot of cleanup work.  The former blues everything out, but it doesn’t leave a heavy orange cast over everything like the “Fluorescent” setting does.

Anyhow…I did the above play last night and was curious about what it would look like under daylight today, so I took a second set of photos.  Both of the photos above have had Levels adjustments applied to them in Photoshop, though surprisingly, the night photo appears a bit clearer in relation to color.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t take the daylight photo under full daylight?

In any case, these are FW acrylic inks, as mentioned above.  I started out playing with “Rowney Blue” (PB15) + “Yellow Ochre” (PBk7/PY1:1), then — if my memory is correct — expanded to “Dark Green” (PG36) plus “Brilliant Yellow” (PY3/PY83).  There is probably a definite reason to use Brilliant Yellow over Yellow Ochre, given that the former is a slightly more brilliant hue than the latter, and that I’ve read that PY1:1 is to be avoided, as it’s apparently fugitive.

But anyway, I was curious as to what would turn out if I started blending colors which were not adjacent on the color wheel.  Rowney Blue is the nearest FW ink I have to Cyan (though they do make a Process Cyan color) — that is, all the other ones are either more green, or less saturated.  What I did find interesting is how quickly the blue ink tinted to deep green on contact with the Yellow Ochre ink.  I’m not used to a yellow reacting so quickly, visibly and strongly with a blue.  My gradation in this respect is found in the marks which appear to look like a tail, in the above photos.

I also did find with these, though, that if you want a stronger green, you may have to pull in a different pigment.  This is why I started using Dark Green, as I could make some nice greens with the former colors, but they were slightly grayed out.  Dark Green added some vividness, and along with Brilliant Yellow, made some really high-key greens that are visible above the “tail” section, above.

I did find, though, that like acrylic paints, these things dry extremely quickly; and so if you want to get color bleeds like you can in watercolors, you have a very limited time frame (seconds) to do so, before the first layer sets (at top left in the photos, I was moving too slowly).

It’s surprising to me that I was able to get such nice greens out of these colors.  Usually when I think about colors like Hansa Yellow Deep, I don’t think of making excellent greens with them.  To my eye, the yellow leans towards orange; however, maybe my eye is a bit off? and orange-leaning yellows can make saturated greens.

Anyhow, got to go…

Giving myself a break

The time crunch is loosening up a bit.  I don’t know how long it will last, but I’ve got some breathing room, now.  Tomorrow, I want to work with my watercolors a bit in the daytime.  I have that one abstract plaything that I never finished…

3513w
I’d like to pick this work back up again.  From July 5, 2017.

I was thinking about going off tomorrow to take a three-hour impromptu workshop on watercolor fundamentals, but realistically…well, there are other ways to get that information (and save the fee).

Also:  I just took a look at a different set of watercolor workshops, and the workshop I was thinking about attending tomorrow is relatively overpriced (about $23/hour?).  For $5 more I could get two extra hours of assistance, and not deal with being given supplies that I don’t need.  My major issue at this point is how to envision things that don’t exist, not how to copy things that do (although I’ve gotten the point that the latter may be much easier using blocks of color rather than line).

I also need to work on my use of positive and negative space.

I have a rough idea of how I want the above play to turn out, but the thing is, I could do a series of these and have them all be different.  That is, the patterning isn’t hemming me in, here.  And I can see some of the next steps, already (though granted, I saw some of the next steps a few days after reaching the point you see above).  The reason I stopped here?  I felt I might have been overworking things, and I ceased to be able to see what would come next.

Relatively speaking, the ability to “see” where to put my next mark is a bit frightening for me, but now that I have some study of creativity and the brain under my belt, I think that the issue is that I get into a “Flow” state and don’t understand it, so I tend to avoid it.  It isn’t necessarily that I’m being directed by something invisible (other than myself); it’s that I’m tapping into a brain-state that I normally don’t experience…which can lead to the explanation that I’m doing something metaphysically-based, when I may not be (or probably am not, but I’m leaving some wiggle room for the unexplained, here).

I just seem to be one of those people who enjoys using their creativity, but is always scared when embarking.  For me, in a sense, it’s like skydiving (not that I’ve skydived, but):  it may be exhilarating on the way down, but I’m scared to get on the plane and I’m scared that my parachute may not open.  Even though it’s been OK, pretty much every time so far.  And I’m not going to die if I can’t solve a creative problem during whatever time I’ve allotted myself to solve it.

My actual problem seems to be in using my creative faculties to whip up reasons not to use my creative faculties.

(*cough*)

In other…arenas, I took a sketchbook with cheap paper (which I had been journalling within) to work, today.  I felt a little disappointed with myself when I started practicing kana with my Pentel Pocket Brush Pen instead of designing a block print, like I had intended (although I realized I again lost offhand memory of some of the kana — though I would probably recognize them if I read them)…but then I started writing a new journal entry to myself.  That book has been with me for years — the better part of a decade, I’ll say — and the entries are sparse but intriguing (to me, at least).

I’m not sure what the draw to language means, if it means anything.

And the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen is vastly better for Japanese writing than is the Sakura Pigma Micron Brush Pen.  The former has bristles; the latter…I’m not sure, but it’s stiffer and squeakier, with less line-weight variation.  The big drawback to the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen is that it is so incredibly sensitive that you need a light touch and almost need to hover over the page (though there is still some tactile feedback of the bristles).

I should get out of here and get ready for bed…

Okay, I think I’m feeling a little overburdened…

…Thank all the people who worked so hard for ADA accommodations…

I’m not entirely sure what’s going on except that I’m getting tired of treading water and am starting to sink, a little.  Well, that; and I had surprise group work for one of my classes, which feels like it took up two free days.  I can’t tell exactly, though, because I’ve been too occupied to keep records.

I do remember, however, that Sunday I had a teleconference; then next day (Monday) I had surprise study time because of surprise group work from the teleconference; that same day, my glasses broke and I had to get them fixed; then the next day was a group meeting (Tuesday), after which was grocery shopping plus fabric and lace stores (see below), and coming home to bed.  Today (Wednesday) was work plus sleeping.

It doesn’t help that the death in the family which I spoke about some time back is still being worked through — I had surprise family obligations after work on the previous Saturday night, and worked on Friday, which I shouldn’t have done, as I didn’t have energy to do much when I got home.  I also shouldn’t be working into my breaks and lunchtime at work — this cost me time I could have used to get caught up on homework, today.  That left…what, Thursday to do a week’s worth of actual solid-deadline assignments?  (I was working last Wednesday, and Tuesday I had likely spent working on last week’s Web Design homework.)  I also spent some time in there trying to plan out classes for the next three semesters.

Realistically, writing here (conversation, not so much posting) has been one of the only things I’ve been doing for myself — although I did manage to snag some stuff for a sewing project, which I should not forget:  my fabric and pattern are stored with my yarns.

So, the fun thing:  I visited a lace-making supply store for the first time, yesterday.  That place is a wonder!  We were in the area, so I dropped by a local fabric store to pick up a pattern (which they didn’t have).  I was able to find out that the lace store carried the pattern I wanted, by going to the pattern homepage and finding out all the places that carry the brand.

The person who helped me was very kind.  I’ll be going back, if I have the option.

I think a big issue that I’m having is that I have commitments and deadlines that others in my household don’t have to deal with.  And I know it’s my job to keep on top of them, but when most of your down-time has been spent, literally, asleep (because you’re worn down) — meaning you have had little time and energy to do anything you actually have wanted to do (and you feel guilty for doing things you want to do, which makes it easier to spend time asleep) — sometimes you don’t want to actually look at your obligations, and then it becomes too late to do the prep work so that you can respond appropriately.

So I am behind, a bit.

I am, however, optimistic that even if I can’t be a Librarian (I am questioning my ability to keep up and not drop below a 3.0 GPA right now — albeit somewhat foolishly [I have good grades and accommodations in two of three classes — I haven’t touched the third yet]), I can be a Web Designer.  (I doubt I need a graduate degree, for the latter.)  It isn’t that hard for me, even though we are moving quickly.  Right now I’m in the middle of learning HTML5 and CSS3…which is like…magic.  😛  I had an introduction to XML via my Metadata class last semester, and these are, so far as I know, the three things one needs to make functional web pages and sites.

I still need to work out what to do for the next two semesters, at least:  some of the classes that I was told to work into my schedule are no longer required; and there is at least one new class which is “foundational.”

Seriously.  Right.

Anyhow…I went to bed earlier tonight because I couldn’t concentrate on my reading.  Tomorrow I should work on my Web Design homework (I think I should be able to get to it after the reading), plus the reading and lecture for my Usability course.  It will probably be much easier for me to work on it if I do it in a place where there is not a TV on.  Meaning, not in the kitchen…and not around family.

It’s kind of a surprise to find getting lonely to be a problem, for me.  Usually, I’m OK.  Then I work too hard and miss people…

Sewing…? who knew I’d have fun at that…

I’m still getting used to the practice of writing in multiple different places, online.  It’s kind of hard to keep track of everything.  It seems that I’ve been able to keep up decently, but I’ve still got a lot of work to do within the next two days, for one of my classes.

Anyhow, this is the art and design and creativity blog, so…yes.  Well.  What have I been doing as regards art and design and creativity?

Recently, a lot has fallen by the wayside.  Out of all the things I listed before which I wanted to do, three four things have I continued doing:

  1. Sewing/Embroidery
  2. Homework
  3. Work
  4. Blogging (not so much, here, but for classes)

And I looked up the statistics on income levels for tailors and dressmakers, which has again…gotten me a bit ticked off with the economy.  It seems that people who do work which actually is important on the level of survival and necessity, in this country, are the people who are least compensated for their labor.  I have a feeling that if I investigate why this is, I’m going to come up with something ugly.

But I’ll try not to get into a diatribe.  It’s too late/early for that.

One of the things which I really enjoyed doing, over the weekend, was re-teaching myself how to sew by hand.  I found a good source on sewing methods…and have found some of the differing behaviors exhibited by different needles and threads to be — actually — interesting.  For instance, fine perle cotton thread — like the kind used for lace — makes an edging with a really nice sheen, when worked as a closely-spaced blanket stitch.  (Cotton embroidery floss, on the other hand, makes a dissheveled mess.)

And hand quilting thread plus a Between needle pulls through fabric (muslin, in this case) much more easily than embroidery floss plus an Embroidery needle.

I did both blanket stitch, and an actual buttonhole stitch, early Saturday morning (say 1-3 AM).  I find copious misinformation about buttonhole stitch, online; and even in some books.  I’m not entirely sure why, except people haven’t learned in person from someone who knows what they’re doing, who has in turn had the skill passed down to them…in any case, I can try and post a tutorial at some point (and/or a review of my source), but right now I’m running low on steam.

What I did find interesting, though, was that constructing something (edging a crease, which allowed me to envision seam allowances) seemed to be more engaging than just decorating something (though that’s fun, too)…

I should really get some rest…

Buddhism and anatman — a personal view

Last time I was sick (I’m better now), I realized how quickly ideas about functional immortality (reincarnation or other continuance of a phenomenal spirit past the cessation of bodily function) fade due to having an unexplained fever which will not break, and weight that is dropping at a rate of a pound a day.  The reader may recall that I’ve had an interest in Buddhism from my undergraduate years…accordingly, I’m aware that at least some (if not many or most or all) school(s) of Buddhist thought hold to rebirth, but not reincarnation.

The distinction is fine, but the implications are vast, either from a general paradigm-shift back towards materialism or from a lack of hope or worry about immortality.

In a Buddhist theory of rebirth, the effects of past actions (karma) go on to seed a new birth after the death of a sentient being; however, death for the person who has died is seen as final.  That is, the new life which arises after the death of the being who seeded it, is not the same being as the one who existed before, even though this new being may maintain a sense of continuity with the past being (or a plurality of past beings) through inherited karmic effects (and/or the problem of identification with that which made one).

In reincarnation, as I understand it, there may be a personal essence apart from the body which is transplanted and reborn into a different body.  However, keep in mind here two things:

One is that I have not studied advaita (non-dualist) schools of Hindu thought (like advaita vedanta) heavily, which seem monist from here (monist = the philosophy that everything is one); and I get my ideals of having a soul from various cultural points:  including Hinduism, as referenced by Buddhism.

That is, I get my ideas on the metaphysical validity or necessity of a “soul” (atman) concept through the lessons of people who do not believe in souls; and I believe the latter were referencing dvaita (dualist) Hindu thought, in which mind and matter coexist to create life.  I also know that it’s not uncommon to see distortions; at times, outright falsehoods; and torquing of what I as a Westerner percieve as ethics; promoted by Buddhist writers, in the name of pragmatism.

I also have not studied theories of reincarnation — in specific, reincarnation (not rebirth) — heavily, although any explanation of how I came to be which was not “reincarnation” was foreign to me when I was a child; and for much of my life the question of whether or not I have a soul (atman) has weighed on me.  This has particularly been the case after having been introduced to the Buddhist doctrines of anatman (no-self) and shunyata (emptiness).

The latter seems to fit well with a behaviorist and constructivist view of the self; the former is something that appears to be unique to Buddhism and philosophies which would likely fall under the heading of “atheism” — although “atheism” seems to be a misleading term, to me.

There are religions without deities (Buddhism, at times, being one of them), and religions with plural deities likely (in my experience) don’t grant those deities the same power and status as the big three monotheistic religions do.  That is:  the presence or absence of belief in a deity is irrelevant in determining whether someone holds religious ideals; or maintains a mode of thought closer to that of a religious person, than to someone who has divorced themselves from all religion wholeheartedly.

In any case…didn’t mean to get into that, but.

The following is based mostly upon unrecorded thought which I seem to intuitively understand but not be able to commit to words, easily.  I’ve come to the place where I’m getting to be okay with knowing that I don’t understand what happens after death, and in which I’m getting to be more okay with the concept that this is the only life I’ll have.

After all, if it’s so, being upset about it isn’t going to change it.

This has just been based on the threat of more war, on the peril to human civilization which is coming at us from at least two fronts, now.  I’ve been worrying myself in thinking about the metaphysical/energetic impact of 21st-century weapons (yes I know it’s silly), and about the future, should the belief in reincarnation be valid and we all are reborn as cockroaches on an irradiated planet, or one which is turning into a twin Venus.  Is that what we want our legacy to be?

In this point, I can actually understand the question as to how someone can lead a moral life if they don’t believe they will be judged for that life, later.  Because if you don’t believe that you will have to deal with repercussions for your actions, it’s hard to imagine some people — not all, but some, and they’re in the middle of exemplifying it — will take that as an excuse to behave in a way harms others, and harms themselves, and may cut off all of our futures.

Of course, what you and I take as “harm” are likely to be different things, at least slightly, if not radically.  But it’s obvious that people who don’t care about climate change, or who are welcoming it as the end of the world (like the death of life as we know it is something to celebrate) don’t believe they’re going to have to live later on with the mess we are all making.  That’s in violation of a direct action-reaction principle, because we collectively don’t want to be told we’re doing something wrong and that we need to change.  Because change is scary, and people are creatures of habit.

And we don’t like to be told we’re behaving out of fear, either.

But I’m getting better with the idea that perhaps I don’t have to take all of this on.  I’m getting better with the idea that this is temporary; that whatever this life is, it only exists on this side of the veil.  And that at the end of this stint, I may not have to deal with this at all, again — or at least until such time as the motions of the universe or multiverse see fit to bring together again the conditions that allowed this me to come into being.  For however long that lasts.

I know I won’t be the same person, at least figuratively speaking, and in that I can see the idea of anatman showing up, fairly clearly.  (Consciousness may be regained; identity may not be.)  But that doesn’t mean this will be the end of it.  (I should investigate ancient ideas of atman more thoroughly, I think…)

Maybe, in this philosophical position, the best I can hope for is either having gained enough advancement so that I don’t have to remain stuck in lower levels of learning for too long, the next time; or to…I don’t know what…savor what time I have, because it’s finite.

Of course, this “time” thing…I can still be punctual, but I’ve never understood it…

Recovering back to where I was earlier:

I’ve been at my computer for a good amount of time, today.  It does require effort to juggle three classes at once; one of which, I was barely even aware of falling behind in, until I started rooting around in the Learning Management System (LMS).  Luckily, I’m only behind in the readings…also luckily, we’re less than a week into the semester, and I’ve turned in the majority of my homework.  I think what I still need to work on, is just responding to others.

I have more (hope) than a drop of sunshine that I will indeed be able to handle these three classes, plus work, art and exercise.  (If that makes sense?  Yes, I’m probably referencing one or more of my citrine crystals, which in turn reference gem lore which I’ve probably only retained subconsciously — and energetic impressions, which…well, I am highly interested in color and its emotional and mental effects, what can I say…)  Tonight, I have also been looking back through my archives, and found an entry from a while back which it might be good to “reset” to.

Recently, I’ve been working with the watercolor pencils, plus acrylic inks, fineliners, and some drawing which felt intense, even if it wasn’t.  😉  (I’ve also started to branch back into interests in sewing and embroidery, which is a relief just from being content-neutral and fiddly enough to sate my desire to manually puzzle things out.)

I’m thinking that I will be better off coloring my illustrations with watercolor, at this point, than I will be with utilizing acrylic ink.  I have finer control with the former, stemming from greater experience.  After dealing with inking and colors, I can see where I stand in regard to using the acrylic inks as a serious art medium (as versus an experimental one).  Though, of course, that will take more experiments.

But I want to get back to color studies, specifically with the watercolors.  I also have a good deal of gouache which I think will be useful…and I have recalled the lamination film I bought just to make bookmarks.  This could keep me busy.

I think maybe I’ve been spoiled on having good-quality paints…the colors in all of my paints are just seriously vibrant.  Possibly moreso, than my pencils, aquarelles, and the acrylic inks I currently have (though the last are decent — just not great).  Pencils and aquarelles are useful, don’t get me wrong — but for me the usefulness is in the portability and cleanliness.  I’m not completely certain, but I feel the chroma (color intensity) of colored pencils and aquarelles, suffers a bit in comparison to the character of paint.

I can even work with heavy-body acrylics, on canvas — I have canvas pads which are a very forgiving surface for experimentation, even though they warp with water.  I could then cut apart a composition and layer different elements together.

Not to mention that I’ve nearly entirely lost the linocutting thread that I had at the beginning of Summer.  I want to get back to that.

I’m not too hot on either of the character drawings I did a little bit ago…which is as good a reason as any to experiment on them.  I may not be planning on working on my story, but I can still play with drawings.  (I’ve also realized that I’ve hit the *ahem* “Precious Point,” I guess I’ll call it, which has stalled me out on working on either of them; a.k.a., “I don’t want to ruin it!”)

At some point, though, an image either has to develop or it has to be abandoned or finished…there’s not much point to freezing for an indefinite amount of time, until — until what, until my skills or “vision” get better? — which won’t happen if I don’t push myself to gain the experience of working through this.  The alternative is stunted growth, fear, and a bunch of half-finished (or barely-begun) drawings.

I’ll need to have some practice at drawing, inking, and coloring, in order to deal with this at all in the future, as well.  So there’s really no point to giving up illustration — even if it is difficult for me to develop, in words, the story which the illustrations support.

I think I’m ready to try and get some sleep, now.  It shouldn’t be too hard…