General update:

Yesterday, I realized that when I am bored and not knowing what to do, I should likely fill that time with work so that when I do have an idea of what to do, I will have the time to do it.

Right now, I’ve only got about 15 minutes to my name; apologies for this post not being entirely well thought-out.

I was able to organize a good deal of the paper storm in my computer room.  I think there was stuff lying around in there that dated back to this time last year.  I also was able to reorganize the tall bookshelf in there, and moved a bunch of the New Agey/energy work stuff to a smaller bookshelf.

I had the idea to play around with watercolor paint…but couldn’t think of any subject matter, so I went back to my Web Design homework.  Accordingly, I’m almost entirely done with my readings, there.  I should be able to complete my homework for that class, early:  then I can focus on my other two classes for the rest of the weekend.

Also:  I keep learning things about how to write and lay out and organize Web pages which let me know that I’m not doing it in an optimal manner (though how could I, really, without knowing this information?).  I’m concerned that all this knowledge will slip past me; so I’m considering creating a book which will hold notes containing “best practices” which I find in my readings.  As far as I know…that will date back to this last Summer with my User Experience class.  (I don’t think any of that information goes farther back than that.)

I will also, soon, have to figure out what classes to take in Spring…but that’s not terribly urgent, at this point.

All right, I should sign off right about now…

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Finally got caught up!

I’m caught up with my studies!  😀

Earlier tonight, I lay down in bed to warm up and didn’t get back up until about 9:30 PM, meaning that it’s very possible that I won’t be able to fall asleep until after 2 AM.  😛  Given that, I’ve decided to let myself have a break, and chill here with my anti-blue-light glasses.  Of course, I’m kind of fragmented at the moment (too much chocolate, and disorganized sleep), so I keep moving in and out of this room to talk with people.  🙂  And playing around with my SUPA-cheap sketchbook.  😉  (Which I have some idea how to use, now, thanks to a lecture by Bill Buxton!  Again, I’m shown the difference between Art and Design…)

I know that I really need to clean and reorganize my office, and then clean and reorganize my bedroom.  Both spaces are very cluttered.  Though I roughly know what is in each pile, I may not remember where they are after I put them away!

I also need to reorganize the shelves in my office (not to mention, my files — I suspect there is much in there which is unnecessary to keep, at this point; and many folders can be migrated there).  I have been keeping copies of my textbooks…and the collection is growing.  It’s starting to get me to think that I’ll need to move some of the more esoteric stuff onto another shelf.  And I’m sure the receipt litter will get to me when things are mostly clear.

What’s really striking me, though…is that I’m really enjoying my Web Design and Web Usability classes, and have been able to cross-fertilize that with my Digital Archives class.  Not to mention, I’m fairly certain that keeping up this blog has prepared me for writing with relative ease, when I need to.  The difficult part of that is editing my copy down to something others won’t be too intimidated to read.  🙂  (I recently wrote 2+ single-spaced pages for an assignment on which most people spent two or three paragraphs.  No one commented; this is likely because no one read it.)  😛

Classes for next semester aren’t set for me yet, though I have some idea of what I’ll need to take if I want to be a competent Librarian, in addition to having Digital proficiencies.

Kind of a pain around this, though, is that I get the sense that one is never fully prepared to take on a new job when dealing with cutting-edge technology.  It seems there’s always something new to learn…not that this conflicts with my tendencies, but when foundational/recommended classes are changed out from under you, it’s kind of annoying.  (What would people graduating this semester in tech-heavy specializations feel, I wonder, knowing that people who came in later will learn something they won’t?)

It’s all relative, isn’t it?  Maybe I shouldn’t be too upset, and just plan on continuing education.  I did enter the program quite a while ago, after all…

The thing I had been upset about:  one class which has been recommended to newer admits into the program is inaccessible if one needs financial aid from the State to cover tuition and fees.  It just isn’t given to people who don’t have independent sources of cash.

I already have two classes lined up for next Summer (when the rules are different and I can take classes from this category); and they’ll likely be kickers.  I don’t think I’ll have the time to take a third (and still stay employed)…although I might be able to swing it in the Summer after graduation, before I’m too settled in a permanent job.

I do need to be thinking ahead to employment, though.  There is some more material I may have to give, here, but it’s on sketching and Design (quick/dirty/fast/iterative), and I’m not sure I can articulate it at this hour.

And then there are books…which I check out from the Library and then don’t read, because I’m too busy working through classes.  The nihongo-learning ones and the sewing one…I might be tempted by, but I am realistically not sure how much time I’ll have for either Japanese-language acquisition or sewing, until the start of Winter Break.

Well, I guess it isn’t as though I’m wasting my time.

I think the brain-fog is hitting me, so I’ll sign off, now…just a note, though:  I haven’t been able to keep to the schedule I’ve talked about recently, and still get my work done.  It’s ideal, and it works when I’m not busy…but I’m busy!

Dealing with design work

Well, it…at least feels as though, it has been a long day.  Although I’ve been monitoring what’s been going on with my class, I haven’t really been participating, today.

What I can say is that I feel like I’m relatively prepared to work with Graphic Design.  Relatively speaking — which means, as compared to people who have no experience in either Art or Design (which seems to include most of the class).

I don’t have a degree in Design, and I only have an AA in Art; but that training allowed me the experience of critiquing the work of others (over and over again), so I have some grounding on which to base my opinions.  I also have experience working with computer graphics tools…and with how to note down design ideas in the middle of the night.  (The latter came from being kept up with story ideas in undergraduate work; the former came from taking Digital Imaging courses, plus one Graphic Arts course.)

This meant that the exercise we recently undertook in my UX class — redesigning a couple of signs — was fairly easy for me.  I had thought of working things out by hand, like I did in my Intro to Graphic Design class, but I actually had the tools I needed so that I could manipulate elements digitally.  It vastly speeds up the process, and makes it easy to place color fills and gradients, and work with type.  And quickly change the font, size, spacing, placement, and color of that type.  I was actually kind of amazed at how easy Photoshop makes these things — and I’m not even working with Illustrator, or InDesign.

I’m hoping that the MLIS program will give me the background knowledge to make functional Design, as versus Design which looks nice but is nonfunctional (due to a lack of consideration of the end-user’s experience).

We were introduced to the idea of “personas” as used in marketing, this semester — which seems as though it draws off of creative imaging skills.  I have an abundance of these, but I was never told that I could work in Business in a Marketing department, utilizing the same skills I had used in Creative Writing.

Aesthetics seem to be placed below functionality, so far as Design is concerned in the classes I’ve been in, in the MLIS program.  I can’t help but think that this is the case, however, because people have been taught how to make things look nice, but not how to make them usable.  And I’m not sure I would fault the Graphic Designers for a lack of overall consideration of the user (although the Graphic Designers seem to take the blame — is this why they don’t get paid as much as others?).  It seems as though someone isn’t doing their job…and I’m not sure if it is the Graphic Designers, that is.

I’m almost wondering if the MLIS program will help me progress more in my chosen career path, more than a degree in Design would help me.  I’ve heard Design dismissed offhand in the Art world (most notably, as “selling out”), but in reality I think that even though both Art and Design utilize skill in working with images, visual communication, and fine motor movement, Design is a totally different category of activity, than Art.  They’re not anywhere near being the same things, and it becomes extremely apparent when you’re dealing with things like user research (which seems to utilize Social Science techniques) and usability, among other concepts which are hard for me to name right now.

I’m not sure if people in the Art world realize this (or if Clement Greenberg — the person I am thinking is most responsible for the current idea that money corrupts art — knew enough to realize this), and nor am I sure I’m totally up to picking them apart, at the moment.  It is a question that has continually been in the back of my mind, though.

I haven’t been writing so much recently because I’ve been trying to see what it is like just to live, without recording my life for several hours a week (each of these sessions is more than an hour long).  It’s apparent that logging my experiences is useful, but I don’t think I should do it out of a sense of obligation.  At this point in my life, my thinking is cohesive enough that I don’t really need to work at drawing it all together the way I had to, say, four years ago.

What I really do need to do, though, is keep some kind of practice where I put thoughts into words and into text.  It’s a great strength which declines when I don’t write.  That doesn’t mean I have to write about what I have been writing about…or in such volume…but I need to write.

I’m getting pretty tired right now, so I should log off:  though I had wanted to write about moving back into my toned paper journal.  But I had wanted to look at this from the perspective of considering Design to be a creative activity in which the message I’m communicating is somewhat predetermined.  I’ve been dealing with a lot of trouble starting because of not knowing what to communicate, or what to draw, etc.  Maybe Design can provide that for me, but really it does feel like …a puzzle.  Like creating a solution to a problem which just happens to be functional, useful, and beautiful.

I think I’ll leave you on that note, right now, run and brush my teeth, and try not to collapse before I get to bed.  🙂

Mad skillz…or, trying to order chaos

There are two things I can think of to write about, tonight.

Advocacy for the differently-abled

The heavier topic, I’ll (largely) save for another post; I’m not sure I’m up to doing it, right now, especially with the sensitivity surrounding it (both for me and for others).

But that one essentially has to do with taking action against stigmatization, misunderstanding and fear; instead of stressing over being stigmatized, misunderstood, and feared.  That is, instead of worrying about being put into a stigmatized category, work for the understanding and betterment of people who are already in that category.  Once the stigma is allayed, the anxiety will be purposeless.

This has been spurred off by reading material on Accessibility while on the job (about one in five U.S. residents at any moment are dealing with a mental illness), and realizing that more people than anyone would like are too close to homelessness — a quick Google search turns up the statistic that one in three U.S. residents are one check away.  On top of that — at least my own disability is hidden; my recently deceased family member’s was not.  His death was preventable, and what led up to it is something I have heard related to me as “abuse.”  But I’m going to try not to get into that, now.

Organizing collected art @*#&

The lighter topic, which just flashed through my mind, is my freakin’ need to inventory my art materials, tools, and supplies, because I have more than enough art supplies to do what I want to do, without buying much of anything more.  The issue here is that I’ve had them for so long, that I’ve forgotten that I have them, or what I can do with them.  And they’re mostly stashed away where I don’t look.

Case in point:  a bunch of tiny linoleum blocks which I bought at the beginning of Summer, of which I’ve only carved into one.  I had forgotten about them until I picked up a surprisingly heavy little box (not knowing what was in it), and found them inside.

I’ve already begun a small version of cataloging these things, in setting up an MS Excel file with all the paints I have (or had, in December 2016).  That, in turn, was likely motivated by my experience with setting up a database for the first second time in one of my Library classes.  (The first time I set up a database was likely in 2007, using MS Access 2003, which I no longer…ironically, have access to.)  The second time, we were using a Web-based service which, while simple, is apparently more powerful than Access.  (?!)  I’m not sure about that last one…but it simulated the functionality of an OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog).

I just took a moment to do some research on relational databases:  apparently, what I’m thinking of doing, D says, will require months of set-up work.  (Really?)  M has said that companies hire out for that kind of work, which I had wanted to give a good shot.  Well, anyway.  I suppose I can learn it later if I really want to do it…

I was also told that it would be more useful to photograph what I had, where.  My main concern was pulling together records of all my supplies in a central location, so that I could tell what I had, and from that gather ideas of what I could use it for, without digging through everything.  There’s just so much stuff that it’s hard to know on what paper or in what book to put new drawings, for instance; where any given completed drawing is; or what media to use for any given idea.

Marker digression:

I did make a crude but relatively interesting Cubist sketch the other day, trying to capture the idea of a specific kind of “lamp.”  This was done with a (Faber-Castell) Pitt Big Brush pen, which…well, the tip was already blunted, so I didn’t feel too bad about pressing firmly on it.  Different media require different approaches and have different ways of working with ease, which is why I’ve been trying to diversify.

Most markers have a limited shelf life:  they dry out.  This is a reason why I like Tombows (they last longer than most markers I’ve had — I really don’t think I’ve had to throw one out, yet).  Staedtlers are relatively good, too — by that I mean the Mars Graphic 3000 Duo brush pens.  The major issue I have with both are a lack of muted tones, and a suspicion that, like markers generally, they will be prone to fading.

Theoretically, though, both the Mars Graphic 3000 Duo pens and the Tombows are water-based and water-soluble, so they can be blended and drawn out with water.  I just haven’t especially had the will to try it.  However, that would probably be the most straightforward way to get muted tones.  Tombows come in a great prismatic range; the Duo pens are, on the other hand, mostly sold in sets, these days.  (They used to be sold in open stock…they’re really great pens, though — or, they used to be, when I purchased my three, years ago.)

Eh — maybe I should get back to large-format charcoal work and just have at it.  🙂

I guess there’s no reason not to

Finally done filling the palette.

I wish I had the skills to make a graphic which would provide tooltips on mouseover.  It would just make things so much easier!  In the meantime…the palette is filled…just…OUT OF ORDER!!! D:  😉

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Blues and greens, starting at top right, and moving down:  Cobalt Turquoise Light, Cobalt Turquoise, Indanthrene Blue.  Middle row:  Winsor Green [Yellow Shade], Winsor Green [Blue Shade], Sap Green.  Left row:  Indigo, Prussian Blue (Daniel Smith), Cerulean Blue Chromium (Daniel Smith), Winsor Blue [Green Shade], Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine.  Payne’s Grey is also in there with the Earth Tones and Blacks.
These are the colors that I…FINALLY…put in the freakin’ palette.

The right side of this set of swatches is at the top of the photo…after I started getting “weird” colors (like those), things really got interesting.

For some reason, I have less of an aversion to Cobalt colors than I do to other toxic colors (particularly the Cadmiums).  Maybe I’m just familiar with Cobalt through my work with glass beads…(Cobalt provides a rich, deep violet-blue in glass.)

Right now I’m watching out for this, but mostly the routes of cobalt uptake seem to be through ingestion and inhalation — neither of which, I have to worry about.  (I’m relatively fastidious where it comes to after-work cleanup, and I don’t use an airbrush.  If transdermal exposure were more of a risk [there is still some risk], it would be different.)

I do have a large number of Cobalt colors here.  It’s a mystery to me just how one can get so many different colors out of the same metal.

(Cobalt colors range from Cobalt Violet, through Cobalt Blues, Ceruleans, Teals, and Turquoises, to Aureolin, or Cobalt Yellow.)

I am right now just hoping that I can keep all of these straight…I’m getting kind of tired of painting color chips.  I can see why people use the modular pan setups, now:  because sometimes you really want to shift the placement of colors around, after the fact.  Ideally, Indanthrene Blue would go in between Dioxazine Violet and French Ultramarine, here; I would put Indigo over with the Earth Tones on the right side; and Winsor Green [Yellow Shade] would switch places with Winsor Green [Blue Shade], so that the Yellow Shade would be closer to the other yellows and further from the green-blues.

I’d still be at a loss as to where to put weird colors, though (like the two Cobalt Turquoise paints).  🙂  I got those because I wanted to be able to paint warm greens, as versus cool ones:  I think I’m off to a good start on this.

And…yeah, I did break down and get Indanthrene Blue (Winsor & Newton).  I mixed up a batch of Phthalo Blue and Permanent Magenta, as suggested on handprint.com, but I think the fact that I had Phthalo Blue [Green Shade] (as versus [Red Shade]) caused my mixture — a nice, inky blue-violet — to dull a little.  The Indanthrene here is slightly more vibrant than what I mixed, that is.

The Cerulean Blue Chromium is actually a really useful color — I used it a bunch in my last still-life study.  It’s blue, but not violet enough to take the life out of greens.  I also ended up using Hansa Yellow Light and Deep to good effect, in the last still-life.  From before, I remembered to dull colors with their complements, so violet would grey out yellow, for instance.  And then there were the highlights (save the white space) and the shadows (add an adjacent deeper-valued color).

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I think it’s time I get some rest.  But before I go, I wanted to mention one thing that I need to remember, the next time I fill this palette:  stir the paint with a clean toothpick until it’s smooth, before it dries.  I stirred a few of these, which universally look better than what I did not stir.  In particular, Vermilion Deep, Prussian Blue, and Burnt Umber all cracked pretty badly as they dried, with Burnt Umber actually separating from the well — see below.  (Burnt Umber was, I suspect, the first color to fall out of the lid of my Mijello Silver Nano palette, prompting me to get a palette where nothing was stored in the lid.)  I think that if I had stirred these paints to evenly distribute the gum arabic and release air bubbles before they dried, I would not have had this problem.

Above, I didn’t stir any of these paints except for Burnt Sienna, in the lower right corner, which had separated.

Another problem I’m having is dust and lint collecting on top of the paints when I leave them out to dry after a painting session.  I’m not sure what exactly I can do about this — I don’t want my paints to mold, but getting lint stuck in them is also not ideal.  Maybe if I used a piece of paper as a permeable membrane…

AND…the Mijello 33-well palette is, I’ve found, prone to getting stained, as regards the removable white tray.  I have modded mine to make the wells easier to lift out (tabs of Artists Tape will do the trick), opening up a potential mixing area in addition to the lid and the removable tray, but I haven’t yet tried to mix on anything but the latter.

The gestalt of my interests is as yet unclear.

I’ve actually been learning a lot from Letting Go of the Words, by Ginny Redish.  For one thing, when writing online, it’s best to put the main subject of the writing at the top of the post so that visitors can decide whether they want to read it or not.  😉

I’m not sure how much of the rest of this text will be assigned; what I do know is that I was able to get three assignments out of the way today (the buildup of two weeks of slow work), with none of them late.  I had been concerned about my time management, but thankfully the workload was doable in the time I’ve had over the latter portion of last week, plus today.  Once all the readings and lectures were out of the way, it really wasn’t that bad!

I worked extra hours (for my employer) last week, and even though it was only a half-day extra, I’m really happy that I was able to handle that plus the Summer class.  I had been intimidated by the assigned work, but it’s much less intimidating once I start to do it.  It’s like I no longer have the resources to worry about time, once I start in on homework.

And it did end up being true; I did not have time to work on art at any time this weekend.  However, I now have a bunch of days coming up where I’ll either have, “free time,” or I’ll be earning money.  There will be a new round of classwork, but I think I can handle it.  I think this was the only week we had, where we had three things due on the same night.

One of the things I’m learning is that a lot of grad school seems to be about pointing me toward resources to explore on my own.  Given this:  would it be more appropriate to try to learn, say, HTML, C++, Java, Linux, etc., than to try to learn Japanese?  Especially as, if I get the correct skillset, I can actually make an assured positive impact in the American library and information sectors?

Japanese would be great in a service job catering to a lot of nihonjin (Japanese-from-Japan) or issei (first-generation Japanese Americans), such as working as a Public Librarian in Hawaii.  Java would be great in a technical job, such as making sure the library website and app actually works, but not necessarily speaking face-to-face with someone whose first language is not English (unless I’m writing the website copy).

The bizarre thing (or maybe not so much) is that my desire to learn Japanese is paired with my desire to make art.  I feel like they influence each other.  Learning how to correctly write, causes me to pay attention to things like proportion, space, and line.  I guess I’m really talking about typography and calligraphy here, aren’t I?

But in any case — I really want to learn Japanese, but I also don’t want to leave my art practice; and I also have earning money, and a Master’s program, to attend to.  And the latter, I want to gear towards Web Design and/or Production, and to do that I’ll need Design skills…and some technical skills which I can’t bet on being taught in my program.

There’s some kind of cohesion that all these things have, but I don’t feel able to put my finger on it, right now.  It’s all about Art and Design, isn’t it?  Only the Design is technically-oriented.  (And, well, it’s also about knowledge-sharing and information availability:  the latter two enabled by technology and literacy.)

I wonder if there is some way that I can find space for all of this.  They do all seem to go together.  Maybe in the future I can look back on this and maybe see the gestalt?  But right now it’s 2:15 AM, and maybe this is why I’m having a tough time thinking.

Sleep hygiene chaos, plus essential knowledge gained

I finished What’s the Alternative?:  Career Options for Library and Info Pros by Rachel S. Gordon, last night…at about 3 AM.  I may want to go back and reread sections of it, and I know that I will want to look back into the books referenced, in Appendix D.

Did I mention this took place at 3 AM?

My sleep schedule is all messed up:  I lay down at 8:30 PM, fell asleep after 9 PM, then woke (2:15 AM), took medication; lay back down, got up (3 AM), ate a little, fell back to sleep (4:30 AM), woke for breakfast (11:30 AM), went back to sleep (12:30 PM), woke about 4 PM.  This is why I don’t like trying to change my sleeping schedule!

I know I need to be going to bed earlier, but I have constant experience with lethargy, unless I have slept for 14-16 hours.  In today’s case it could have been because I didn’t take my (sedating) medication until 2:15 in the morning, though.  And yesterday it could have been because I didn’t take medication until 1 AM.

Hmm.  Now that I’m looking at my records, my medication time has been shifting later and later (I’m supposed to take it at 9 PM, which is why I know I fell asleep after 9, last night:  the medication alarm went off; and I turned it off and fell asleep without taking it).  I can try and do something about that, and hope (?) that it makes it easier to get up in the morning…and that it won’t just contribute to oversleeping.

I mean, obviously I was tired, if I lay down at 8:30 PM, right?

Anyhow…I learned in What’s the Alternative? that, at least as of the time the book was published (2008), it would not be expected that one could learn essential tech skills in order to open up technology-based career paths, just from classes in LIS.  Because of that…if I want to work in Web Design after getting out, I’ll have to teach myself programming.  Either this, or I could re-enter Computer Information Systems training after graduation; I’m just not entirely certain how I’ll fit that in, timewise.  And that’s largely because I don’t know what kind of job I will have at that time.

I’ve compared the Graphic Arts and CIS curricula; CIS is actually closer to what I need.  And I’ve actually compared the two systems teaching this which are nearest me…I can do this.  I might be able to do this by cutting some courses out of my future Master’s program and taking Community College courses in CIS, in person, but that doesn’t seem like the best option.

Alright:  I’ve just sent off an email about this.  I should probably try and get ready for bed, as I did just take medication, and I don’t have anything to do except homework.  (I suppose that’s a good thing, as I have three assignments due in a week.)  The hard part will be actually contacting and setting up meeting times for the assignment I was given last week…though I guess that in a pinch, I can have family test what I need tested…