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.

I suppose I can take time out to write.

Hi all,

I’ve been doing a bunch of reading, recently, for my Summer class.  On top of this, I worked extra hours this week.  I just finished the last two lectures tonight, and appear to be all caught up on my reading.  Now the work begins.

In class, we’ve been reading a book called Letting Go of the Words:  Writing Web Content that Works (Second Edition), by Janice (Ginny) Redish.  This is with an eye to building functional and useful (library) websites.  Because of this, and because I didn’t wholly realize that the site at which you’re reading this now is likely a “destination site,” I had been thinking that massive reorganization was necessary for this blog.  (Library websites are usually not “destination sites;” they’re usually redirecting sites.)

It seems that yes, some reorganization needs to happen so that readers aren’t continually faced with textwalls.  However, I need to take stock of what is here and what is most used (and ideally get some reader feedback), before I do it.

What I had been doing, instead of posting here, was experimenting with the Pages function on WordPress.  (And, right:  I’ve also changed the Theme.)  I’ve been thinking of keeping a (relatively) static front page with links back to (periodically revised and added) material which may go unused when the front page is just an infinitely-scrolling list of chronologically-organized text.

It may just be clear, however, that doing that kind of work to this blog may, 1) inhibit its functionality as a recording place for me (rewriting things written three years ago may destroy their relevance), and, 2) not be feasible, in terms of content.

In terms of the initial goal and approach of this blog (as a place to record my thoughts so that I could formulate a career direction), and the newer goals I can see emerging (now that I have a career direction), it might be more worth it to keep this place as a place to record my thoughts, and set up a different space with the goal of actually serving my readers.

(I wonder if blogs’ reasons for existence have shifted, over the past 20 years?)

Anyhow, I have a number of things due in what is, in practicality, the next 24 hours, so I’ll try and cut this short so that I can get enough rest to be functional tomorrow.

And ah — right!  I wanted to record this somewhere I could remember it.  This is off-topic for this post (though on-topic for the blog), but M said something to me the other day.  She didn’t mean for me to stop painting, but rather for me to get a job which could support me in order to enable my creativity.  This was likely in response to, “I’d like to go to the art store; I have some things in mind, but I won’t be able to even use them before Monday, because I won’t have time.”  Apparently, people have been saying that I should be making art because I could be making money at it… 🙂 …always a nice thing to hear!

Tired.

Maybe it’s the heat, but I’ve been asleep for most of today [EDIT:  make that, “yesterday”]; although I did go a mile on the exercise bike, it was at about a constant 5-6 MPH, as versus 6-8, which is more my norm.  And I did remember to work on core muscles, then did a little yoga to equalize the tension (my lower back is much stronger than my abdomen — from carrying school books — so I’m mostly working my abs at this point), then did as many push-ups as I could, before my core muscles started to tire and get unbalanced.

I’m starting to think that trying to shift my bedtime earlier has really messed up the sleep pattern I had been holding to.  So now I have an excess number of hours spent asleep, as versus staying up late — and I still have a hard time waking in the morning.  This means that although my immunity may be high, I’m spending most of the time of my “vacation” in bed.  And after I get up, I’m still groggy.

But then, the temperature has been in the 90-100º F region (in the 30 C range, that is) for the last three days…meaning that it is uncomfortable to be awake around, say, 2 PM; and more comfortable to be up around 2 AM.  (If you can handle being up with the earwigs and spiders, that is.)

I did get to go to the art store, but unfortunately my time there was limited, and so I bought a number of things I hadn’t intended to.  One of them was “permanent” masking fluid — essentially a liquid wax — that can be applied to watercolor paintings to repel subsequent layers of color.  This is…interesting.  I had intended to get a liquid latex — that is, removable — frisket, but I’ve been wary around liquid latex for a very long time (the fumes can cause latex sensitization, meaning a new allergy to rubber).  Liquid wax, though…that’s interesting.

It sounds like the working process might be (loosely) similar to the reductive carving technique for relief printing…but maybe I’ve got that backwards?  I’m not sure — not too experienced in linocut printing, yet!  The thing that I am fairly confident in is that it’s relatively very safe.  And if I can work with certain aspects of my painting being permanently “clear”, it might be a way for me to work with masking fluid without worrying about my health.

I’m also, now, wondering about the possibilities of reduction carving for floral images, utilizing those tiny 2″x 2″ blocks I bought a surplus of?  I’m not terribly attached to my initial design anymore:  it’s very…straight-on.  It works as a mandala, but I don’t want to limit myself to mandalas.  Not that mandalas are bad, but I really need to work on asymmetrical composition.

The tricky part about this is…which images to use as designs, whether to draw from life, from photos, or from imagination.  It’s fairly apparent to me that plants:  particularly flowers and fruit, and other things I might find at the market (and in gardens), are things that draw my attention.  I just don’t want to fall into a cliché.

(Interesting idea:  are insects [like bees] attracted to the centers of mandalas?  And that’s why gnats keep trying to fly right into my eyeball?)

I’ve just spent the better part of an hour looking over my photo archives in search of images that still spoke to me.  What I’m seeing is actually the fact that most of the content which I’ve found…interesting, has to do with bright and graduated — that is, intricate and complicated — color.  And that, along with problems of translucency, reflection, and light.  Ideal for watercolors.

However, if I were looking for something to just practice linocuts with, I have a number of photos of insect specimens which might work well, particularly the moths and butterflies.  I could be trying to jump ahead of myself in terms of my skill level, though.  Maybe I should just try for a better carving of my initial flower and try to do what I had initially planned to — print these in colors over my suminagashi prints, then cut them apart and give them out as bookmarks.  I think, but am not sure, that the Canson Wet Media paper was the one which printed most efficaciously for that use.

The question does arise, though, as to whether to back these with something nice (like patterned scrapbooking paper), so it won’t just be white paper.  And that begs the question of which glue will dry and cure completely, and not leave sticky marks in books (I don’t think it will smear the front of the bookmark).  I have an idea of what to use, though.

Then there was the falling-gingko-leaf idea for a number of prints which I could work…but I’m not sure, entirely, what to put in the background, here.  I could use acrylic inks or more suminagashi, attempting this time to create greens and earth tones, with black — I’d just have to mix up the ink ahead of time.  I’ve also found laminating material at a nearby office supply store…but don’t know if I’ll need it, or indeed, whether to charge to recoup my costs (at least, if someone wants a bulk order of these after I give out the free ones).  Then, there’s the fact that lamination itself could cause fading…

I kind of wonder what the point of this is.  Did I have footing that I lost?  Do I really want to be doing art more than writing, right now, and that’s why it’s been more difficult to stay on task for the last couple of days?

Ah, I don’t know — maybe just going to the art store made me feel sad, or something.  I don’t have an infinite amount of money to be spending on this stuff — which, I suppose, is the same drawback that beadweaving had, except that fine art can pull more of an income stream (relatively).  And I’m thinking that I may have to move on from my current job, relatively soon.

It might be that I’m sleeping a lot more, so I see the lost hours reflected in lost time to do anything — and I don’t want to do my homework.  And I don’t want to go to work because of interpersonal conflicts.  Library Science seems apparently to draw heavily off of Social Science, which is something I was interested in before I found out that I would have to interact with people.  It’s kind of like Sociology all over again.

I’m just not sure which classes to take if I do, indeed, want to be a Web Designer or Web Developer, with the side benefit of being able to work in a Virtual Library space.

Actually:  I just now looked it up, and the pathway I’m on crosses over heavily with the path which would prepare one to be a Web Designer.  At least I’m OK with that.  I know that Web Design is heavily about understanding users so we can make navigating our pages as easy as possible for them…still a human-centered and ultimately a service job, but it isn’t one where I have to constantly deal with people I don’t know (whom I don’t want to know, but who want to know me).

It could be that I’m dealing with a touch of depression after a job-description rewording at work.  Like I said, I could go in for more hours, and it would help the money aspect of this, but I really don’t want to — and it’s mostly because of one person in particular who is creeping on me.  And that, in turn, is producing a lot of dysphoria for me (I don’t identify as a woman, but this *** is obviously seeing me as a “girl,” which is worse, because he obviously thinks I’m young and stupid).

Anyway, maybe I should go do something productive so I can stop fantasizing about what there is of my tendency to rage around this issue…

I really don’t want to be female, right about now; and being female and gender-variant is worse, because it’s OBVIOUS when people are messing with you because of your appearance…

Buying, Writing, Doing: The Triad of my Present Dilemma

It’s become increasingly apparent to me that it is much easier to purchase art supplies than it is to apply them in creative ways.  It doesn’t seem that this in any way should really be a problem for me:  I did work my way through an AA program in Art (I couldn’t justify it the first time around with my BA, nor at the Master’s level…at least, currently), so I know that there is some part of me that is creative.  I also know that I’m skilled, though as I said before, when I don’t exercise those skills, they’re hidden within me.

Unless I practice, my skill and creativity won’t have the chance to show themselves, or to develop beyond the point they are at, now.  Maybe the problem I’m facing (starting out with incipient projects) is the one faced by writers of all types (which I’m well familiar with, as my BA actually was in Creative Writing):  fear of the blank page.  Or white paper.  Basically, it’s the same thing.

What I can latch onto right now are the exercises which build increasing familiarity with my media. Right now, I am very, very drawn to water-based media (inks, acrylic inks, acrylic paints, watercolors, water-based block printing).  I have a feeling that this is majorly because I don’t like to deal with toxins when they’re unnecessary, and cleaning out watercolor brushes isn’t a big deal to me, at present.

Ah — and, I used to work more in dry media (pencils, pens, colored pencils, most apparently) — until I got tired of the tiny point of contact with the paper (give me brushes) and the graininess of most of my attempts.  (Keep in mind here that my Prismacolors were purchased well before the year 2000, so I don’t have the advantage of the smoother laydown of the new formulations, in that brand.)  In contrast, inks and paints are much more…captivating for me:  they lay down solid, (usually) unbroken, and (usually) more vivid color.

Color is something that I at one time began to organically grow into (toward the end of my stay in Community College) — and then I restarted the Library & Information Science program.  At that point, my energy focused on the goal of gaining an MLIS in order to be able to be a Librarian, so that I could have a steady income stream, hopefully benefits (though I have heard that these are increasingly being cut in Librarianship proper) and work within one of my areas of interest, while also performing a social good.  In my spare time, and with the spare resources I would gain from being an Information professional (or so I’ve heard), I have planned to work on my Art, thus bolstering my psychological resilience.

Right now…it’s hard for me to formulate or say what my point is, within LIS.  It’s where I am now, and it’s what I know, but that doesn’t really count for much of anything when I realize that I’m already at the top of my pay scale and will have to change positions soon if I want to become more efficient at earning money.

What I want to be doing right now, is helping to construct Web pages.  It’s fairly evident, even just through my experience with this blog and my drive to personalize and edit its structure.  It fits in with my other two degrees in the aspect of being production-based, but not entirely so much in the fact that it’s technical.  I presently do not have the ability to customize pages and sites.  If I keep on in the LIS program, I may eventually gain the skills, however:  and a new perspective on the experience of designing for someone else.

I have a feeling, though, that this will put me about even with the youth coming out of high school in this era — technically speaking.  Technology flows on, and keeping current with it is one of the things to which I’ve resigned myself.  Design, however, is a specialty, and requires skills and knowledge that not everyone has.  And, as has become increasingly apparent, it’s not about me or my expression (as versus Art, which seems to require drilling deeply into myself to draw out something that only I can do).

Right now I’m in a class on User Experience, which is an aspect of Design — and it’s very apparent that Design encompasses much more than the utilization of art skills.  Designing is not the same thing as producing Art, unless the person you’re designing for is you.

And writing for yourself is not the same thing as writing for someone else.

I think that if I did not have the fear of repercussions for expressing anything unique, I would have an easier time with both Art and Writing.  But I’m old enough to know that expression begets consequences.  Whether those are good or bad consequences is unknown and ultimately subjective; whether praise or hatred will prevail is yet to be seen.

This could be the reason why I have seen so many take a brash stance against this psychic wall…because if you don’t stand strongly, the force of that wall could crush your light down into a black hole.

Of course, it helps to have solid grounding and conviction in something reasonable, first.

M has expressed frustration that I have been acquiring supplies — particularly for painting — and have not progressed beyond, “little squares.”  (I’m not sure she understands how difficult the medium of watercolor is, however…)

My little squares, though they could be made in a more aesthetically pleasing manner, are doing something for me:  they’re familiarizing me with the medium.  I don’t feel comfortable jumping from having done nearly nothing into a place where I have no ground to stand on and don’t know how to kick or stroke.

Doing that, and working out my familiarization in a way in which I am likely to destroy my first five paintings (if not more), would be…almost traumatic, for me.  So I’m working on little squares.  Little squares, I can handle; and although the progression there is incremental, and likely to hit a roadblock when I try actually using the colors in application, at least it is something, and I’m learning from it.  Without something, I’m paralyzed because I’m being expected to perform as an intermediate or advanced student without having taken beginner classes.

Maybe M can move forward like that; but I’ve noticed that, in her own design work, she doesn’t think ahead.  She plunges forward and then hits a roadblock and doesn’t know where to go from there.  In contrast, I think things out much further, but then am criticized for my tentativeness and my expensive preparations and my lack of starting.

And actually, now that I’m looking at my notes, I can also see a pattern here:  and not just in the delicateness of my process and my work.

I probably write about art so much because it’s easier for me to write about art than it is for me to get up the courage to actually do it.  I’ve been writing nearly constantly, for all of my life.  Writing is familiar to me, and it’s easier for me to do this than it is for me to sit down with a paintbrush, no matter the chances of coming out with something beautiful as an end product (though maybe I will try and keep that in mind as a goal.  I have a chance of making something beautiful if I risk failure.  If I do not, I have no chance of doing the same).

Writing about work, though, is not at all equivalent to actually doing it.

I’ve got to make a number of lifestyle changes relatively soon.  Many of these — most, actually — are related to my mental and physical health.  I need to floss regularly.  I need to brush my teeth and wash my face well in advance of bedtime.  I need to avoid late nights (sugar cravings come on after 11 PM).  I need to drink more water and avoid excess sugar.  I need to shower more often, and to exercise (and stretch) more often and more regularly; and if I can, I ought to try to meditate regularly (doing all of this may allow me to reduce my medications…and drop down a few sizes).

Along with this — I wonder if it would be too much of a strain for me to try and wake up with the Sun, so I have all the hours of the day to do my work and my art, as versus doing art in the afternoon and taking photos in the late afternoon or evening (when it’s dark).  Or, less optimally, doing art at nighttime with less-than-natural light.

It’s something to think about.  Maybe tonight I can try going to bed early, instead of trying to wring all the good I can get out of the day, and see if I am able and willing to get up at, say, 7 AM tomorrow (as I tried to do, today).  And maybe if I have the art play as a lure to get me out of bed…I’ll actually do it.

Aaagh.

I was looking through a book which I had planned to xerox and return — and found that it was designed kind of as a workbook.  I’ll have to buy it if I want to work with it, in-depth.  I did, however, get the publication information and the call number, and it doesn’t look like it was on hold.

I also found a book on writing which was in the Biography section.  It would not likely have been found, however, unless one ran a keyword search:  neither of the subject headings had anything to do with writing.  Unless one knew who Joan Frank was already (I did not)…they would just be lucky that the word “writing” was in the title, or depend on a fulltext search (which I believe my system has, but which is unwieldy at best).

Nothing else about this book makes it easily findable by browsers.  The only reason I ran across it is that I work here and sorted it.

Motivation

This is just another entry in the “why be creative/do art (when it doesn’t pay),” series…which it seems I should really organize, somehow.  It would be interesting to make this blog into an actual site with indexing more sophisticated than WP’s tagging/categories system…but I don’t have the skills to do that well, at this point in time.  Soon, though:  it will be very much closer to possible.  I have the chance of learning CSS this Fall, and more than that next summer, at the latest.  I am thinking/hoping that basic HTML coding will be introduced along with CSS…it’s just that the CSS textbook was the one I saw earlier in relation to one section.

(One of the reasons I’m aiming for the Digital Services track is that even if it does become a pain to catalog and retain all of my work in order to fulfill Culminating Experience for my degree (the alternative is a Master’s Thesis), I’ll still have salable skills.  That is, outside of the Library, where it may not matter if I have the Master’s or not — so long as I can do the work.)

So, this “why do art” thing.  I was thinking up things to write about here, and the question of this came forward into consciousness.  Well…it’s an easy thing to slip into, this mode of thinking.  However…as I was actually doing the art, I realized that doing it was an end in itself.  Kind of like origami, but…well, hey, origami has practical engineering uses, for one thing; but you do this work for the sake of the work and the satisfaction of making something beautiful, and then you have all these little leftover trinkets.  Like origami.  And then it’s like, what do you do with them?  I guess you give them to others (or sell them)?

I’ve been thinking of taking my suminagashi prints and printing flowers on them (probably after I rework my flower linocut), and then cutting them apart into little prints.  I actually did this last night with my first sheet of prints (on white paper), and made a bunch of neat little 2″x 2″ tiles.  However, I realized today that I can cut them into any shape I want, meaning that I can make really nice bookmarks for my friends at the Library!

I know it sounds silly, but what person working at a Library would refuse a bookmark?  😉  Who would do that.  😀

I’ve only told one person of my plans, so far.  Happily, I didn’t have to explain to him what I was doing with the ink marbling!  I’ve also sent off a letter to my old professor, asking her about any precautions I may need to take with the Sumifactant.  Just in case, I did give myself a break from exposure, the other night.  However…TOMORROW’S A NEW DAY!!!

And I’m getting kind of obsessed with this.  That was another reason I stopped.  😉  I do have a tendency to get really strongly involved in things when I do get involved — probably the reason why I ate that book up so fast, the other night!  I’ve had a hard time finishing almost any book from the Library, and didn’t want to risk letting that one go unread.  Especially as Summer Session is about to start.

Right now, I have two other books on creativity to get through, one of which looks promising; the other of which, looks didactic.  However, the latter’s theory about a “freeze” response preceding a “fight or flight” response in the case of anxiety…was telling, and has helped me get out of stasis (and understand why one of my relatives refuses to change habits that don’t work in their favor).  I’m just not sure whether it has anything more to say, than that.

And yes, I have also been reading around on the “ink” tags on WP, and now want a Lamy Safari with a 2mm stub nib.  It seems silly, but I will be going to an upscale stationery store soon…and they may have it.  I should probably check around first, though…

Trying not to spaz about assignments

OOOokay, people, I drank 1.5 pots of houjicha earlier tonight, and so I am not certain when I will sleep. 😛 By “pot,” I mean that I brewed the first set of tea leaves twice, and the second set once, when it became apparent that I had leached all the goodness out of the first batch. (I’m kind of amazed at the fact that the tea will still steep, even without boiling water…I just sprinkled the new tea into a pot of hot water, stirred it, and it worked.)

Right now I’m feeling okay and a little drowsy (I have been known to fall asleep right after drinking Jasmine green tea…and houjicha will probably have less caffeine in a standard dose, as about half of it is stems), and just took medication, so…if everything goes as normal, I should be conking out around midnight. Meaning, I should brush my teeth in an hour or so (11:15 PM), before I get too wiped out to even do that.

I did just get out of the shower — not sure how long my hair will take to dry, but I usually go to bed with it damp, in these circumstances. One wash with a conditioning shampoo, mostly at the roots, and a comb-through with a detangling comb and no conditioner, this time. I think it will be alright — it doesn’t feel dehydrated (yet).

I only got up around 1:30 PM today; I just checked my records. This is why I was after the tea; I was having a hard time (again) staying out of bed. It doesn’t help that when I’m sitting at my desk, which is a quiet (silent) and isolated place to work, my bed is right behind me. As for what I got done today…I finished the reading in my textbook which I mentioned last time, although it took me a number of hours to get through it. It’s amazing, because the reading was only about 15 pages long…I think this is the book that I had been complaining about, before. It’s just very dense and kind of difficult.

In any case, I can now view the lectures for Metadata, and complete the last Discussion Topic…which I think I may need to do before viewing the lectures. I’ve made a skeletal PowerPoint layout for my presentation on Sunday for Research Methodologies. I should probably reserve a time to do that, so I’m not forced to do it early. I can’t do it right now, though, unfortunately. I don’t know why, except they assumed we knew how to edit HTML.

Last night, I started in on my Quiz for Cataloging…that one is going to be more of a pain to get through (lots of essay questions, which are easier on me than technical questions — but still), but it’s the last thing I’ll have to do for that class. If I get 0 points on everything I’m not sure about, I’ll get a C in the course (apparently, 80% is a C in grad school). And like I said, come Monday, all I’ll have to do is the Annotated Bibliography, and I’ll have a full week to do that (though I want to get it done by Friday).

I am just hoping to do as best I can on the Cataloging Quiz, but I don’t think I can hope for better than a B (or an A-, if I stretch my imagination). The Discussion Topic is last priority, though it’s easy. The presentation won’t break me if I don’t do well; but I need to do it. The major nervousness about it is that it has to do with altering infrastructure as a means of actually being inclusive (as versus pushing “diversity” initiatives), which I wouldn’t think the people in the organization I’m abstractly referencing would welcome.

I think I am running in a cycle of overwork + burnout; like I do a lot of work one day and then don’t want to see it again for three days. I know I don’t have much farther to go, and that these due dates are hard due dates (or so I’m assuming). It’s just that I’m really tired of this semester and am wearing out, about now, and want to get on to the break like NOW. Or yesterday, preferably. I’ll try and keep going through Monday, and maybe that’s all I should focus on, right now.

That sounds good. And I’ll look at work tomorrow as a designated and sanctioned time to get my mind off of this. Another time would happen as I’m editing my family member’s funeral pamphlet. Couldn’t forget about that…

And yes, I am trying to single-space my sentences. How observant of you to notice! 😉 (I don’t know if it shows up at all, really; I’m just trying to break outdated habits which only made sense on typewriters…)