Art: portability? Catching small bits of time

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here; this is largely because I keep sitting down and reminding myself that maybe there are more pressing things to do, than write about things I haven’t yet thought out — and then actually going to look for those things, instead of just assuming they don’t exist, or that I’ll get to them, later.

Or I look at the WordPress text-editing screen and know that I could be making art, or exercising, or cooking, or studying my own extracurricular stuff (Japanese language), instead of writing incessantly about things I haven’t had the time to experience, to relate to readers via my writing. (It’s not this way anymore, but I have a history of being a compulsive writer [partially because of poor self-awareness in my younger years].)

However, I just finished sitting through two hours of backed-up lectures. I have three weeks left of school, and final projects in all of my classes. And I had to miss work in order to turn two other projects in, this week. Yes, even though Saturday was Veteran’s Day, and I didn’t go to work then, either.

And I have two other writing assignments due before the weekend is over (both for the same class). I also need to review material for the final project in that same class (again) before Monday afternoon. Then, I’m pretty sure that by Tuesday, I have to get my Web Design assignment in. In addition, I should at least outline a site redesign for my Final in Web Usability.

On top of that, right now it’s almost midnight where I’m at, and I actually do have to get up, tomorrow. And it’s probably going to be pretty backed up at work, because I wasn’t able to go in earlier this week. But at this point, considering some of the dreams I’ve been having around my job (including being terrorized by people who won’t stay out of the library when it’s closed, in the last case), it would actually be a relief just to shelve all day.

(Of course, though, the dream I put in parentheses probably refers more to boundary-crossing or outright aggression [boundary-ignoring] than it has to do with the location of where the dream took place.)

Anyhow, that wasn’t what I wanted to talk about, but you can see I’m preoccupied. What I was actually thinking about…was the portability of markers and the possibility of using them during my lunch break at work, tomorrow. This is in addition to the use of color as a valid place from which to launch into drawing, and the fact that because I work at a place where both the utility and break sink need to be food-safe, I can’t take in my normal paints. And I’m not rinsing out my watercolor brushes next to the toilet.

I then have three options if I want to deal with intense coloring: one, a waterbrush plus aquarelles (Supracolors or Neocolor IIs). Two, markers (including waterproof fineliners and water-soluble and permanent brush markers) and possibly a waterbrush. Three, the non-toxic cheap watercolor pans (Prangs), and a waterbrush (though these won’t get a chance to dry, decently — and I’m worried about attracting insects, or growing microbial cultures, because of this).

I’m seeing a theme. I really pretty much hate the tip on my large waterbrush, though. But the alternative is to take in a cup to rinse a good brush in…and an actual decent brush…and then let the brush air out so it doesn’t expand from water exposure and fall apart. Putting a damp quality brush in a locker for hours, even in a case, just doesn’t sound like a good idea in any way.

Which leads me back to markers. I think I can work with dry media. It’s a lot less expensive, anyway; even though the sheer volume of what I’ll have to carry is much larger. (Oh, wait. Lest I mislead someone who doesn’t know how much markers can go for…watercolors are likely cheaper in the long run. But the paper used for painting with watercolor, isn’t.)

In those two hours of lectures I sat through, I started doodling in my notes (I’m not going to get into how I got that distracted; my professors know who I am). I just realized that 1) I was experimenting with layering transparent inks to make new colors (yellow with blue, red with violet), 2) what I made could very well be translated into a duochrome block print, and 3) the art thing doesn’t have to be hard.

I’m learning that most things don’t have to be hard, though…

What I was messing around with tonight, were clover and maple leaves (a bright red gel pen helps with the latter!). It seems like everyone has a “thing” that they really love to do, in the art world; I’m fairly certain that my “thing” is plants and flowers.

And with that, it’s almost 1 AM now. This looks like a good stopping point.

(Yes, I do know that I could just work on my school readings at work…but stopping work in order to do a different kind of work, somehow strikes me as getting rid of the reason to have a break in the first place…)

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Just because it’s believed, doesn’t mean it’s real.

I know it’s time for me to start preparing for the night, but I’ve actually had some interesting thoughts to share.  One of them, is how much easier it is to talk and define oneself when one isn’t aware of exactly how crazy one sounds.  🙂

I have a tendency — a strong one, on reduced medication (I’ve started to get off of Prozac, which historically has helped clarify my thoughts) — to be creative and define myself in creative manners.  However, what has become clear to me is just how many versions of myself I can have…and that none of them may be entirely accurate.

It’s actually really easy to define (or redefine) oneself (especially if one is delusional; meaning that no matter what evidence is presented to one that the belief is untrue, one will continue to hold the belief despite it).  And it’s easy to believe these definitions of oneself are true:  it’s the brain’s way, to believe itself.

The hard part is sticking to these definitions, because when you’re trying to be anything you can conceptualize, there will inevitably be holes (the true self may be beyond conceptualization).  And after a while you realize that all these outgrowths are symptomatic of a deeper reality, which is that your tendency is to create and that given no creative outlet, you rewrite and re-iterate yourself, as versus your art projects or your crafts or your writing or music…or apps… 😉

(Water has been a strong theme in my life.  It will seek out holes and burst dams.  The more I try to hold it back, the more catastrophic the floodwaters can be.)

As I’ve moved forward in life, as versus paused to ascertain whether and how to just hold steady and avoid despair, I’ve not had time to devote to things like energy work or spiritual topics which may only hold a side-benefit of (supposedly) better health.

When I was a youth, I was drawn to Buddhist philosophies, because having a philosophy which recognized the existence of duhkha (popularly translated as “suffering,” but this is an inexact translation), and was based around relieving it, gave me some comfort.  It meant I wasn’t alone in my pain.

By now, I have integrated parts of Buddhist philosophy which can help:  but I don’t really think it’s…true, anymore.  (Pretty much, nothing classified as, “metaphysics,” “spirituality,” or, “religion,” fall into the “undisputably true” category, with me.  Even the category of “philosophy” is questionable [if you start out with the wrong givens, in philosophy, you can’t hope to follow them to truth] — although I do realize that this post is in essence, philosophical.)

People are creative — is something I’m taking as a given — and many more things can be thought of, than are true.  Buddhism is a creation which has been co-created by many people over more than two millenia, which has likely helped sustain a large number of lives over the years it has been in existence…but its functionality (its usefulness) doesn’t relate to its truth value.

That is, something can be useful, and not be true.  I may have, on this point, come to the realization of what is meant by the Buddhist concept of upaya (usually translated as “skilled means”).  Although all explanations I’ve heard of this concept seem condescending — I’m kind of understanding, at this point, that this is both an admission that doctrine itself may not be founded on truth, and that it is still important to address duhkha in life.

Earlier tonight, I realized one thing:  that people in certain spiritual communities (myself having been included among these at multiple times) have felt relatively free to say things, precisely because they felt those things with such certainty.  However, my experience with mental illness has made at least one thing clear:  a subjective feeling of certainty is not a determinant of truth value.  What do I mean by that?

I mean that just because we think and feel and “know” something is true, that doesn’t mean it is.  It’s the brain’s nature to “believe in” what it tells itself.  Now it is possible to have subjective (or internal) dissonance, and that also needs to be attended to:  oftentimes, it has been feelings like these which have let me know that I didn’t have both feet in reality.  (There does seem to be a spectrum of, “More True”-to-“Less True,” when it comes to seeking out who one is.)

And once you’ve been around long enough, it becomes apparent when others are attempting to manipulate you for their own gain.  (It’s one thing for a person to choose what to believe; it’s another for someone else to try and choose what they believe for them, in a manner that benefits the one doing the choosing and not the disempowered subject.)  Just because I recognize that I cannot fully grasp reality in my mind, doesn’t mean that I think anyone else can, either.

This has been the largest reason I’ve stayed away from spiritual institutions.  Although I do admit that I am now curious about attending Buddhist services.

The priest at my family member’s funeral was from a Pure Land sect:  Jodo Shinshu, to be exact.  But he seemed to have his head on straight, and to know what efficiently and urgently needed to be addressed.

It’s apparent to me that we tell ourselves what we need to tell ourselves in order to simply function and stay alive.  In this sense, creativity in humans functions as a survival mechanism.  And is this why so many creative people deal with mental illness, as well (only the most creative, survived)?  I’m not sure.

It’s apparent to me as well, that religion is an outgrowth of creativity.

I’m not certain exactly what will happen if and when I succeed in entirely kicking Prozac.  What I do expect is that my creative faculties will become less muted.  In turn, I’ll probably become more eccentric than the way you’re used to seeing me behave.  I hate to say I can’t help it, but…it’s just the space I normally inhabit.

I just have to make sure I don’t box myself in too tightly with definitions and proclamations of “truth”…because words don’t matter where it comes to what’s real.

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…

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!

Catching up, and trying to take care of myself at the same time.

I need to manage my time, better.

I’ve come to the realization that the vast majority of my work, this semester, is from one class.  While I wouldn’t say I’m tired of it, in effect, it is a lot of work.  It’s also kind of stressful in that it seems, whenever I take some time out for myself, I fall behind.

For instance, now.  I know that writing here doesn’t have much to do with my studies (other than being a warm-up for a written assignment:  it’s hard to start cold), but I don’t think I’ve realistically done much other than study, eat, go to work, and sleep, over the past 5 days.

Oh, wait, no.  I did play around with some beads to make earring focals, but that…that was intentional.  There was one day — Monday or Tuesday — in which I started studying when I woke up, and aside from dinner, did not stop reading for 9.5 hours, until I went back to bed.  But I’ve been catching up on three weeks of work, which went by I-don’t-know-how (other than the fact that the class with the surprise heavy workload was the class with the almost-no-workload earlier in the semester).

I need to change the pattern of not checking the Learning Management System when I need a break, because then I don’t know how much I’m falling behind.  Of course, not thinking about it is kind of the point; but when in other semesters this would have been a viable option because the amount of falling behind was negligible, this semester it is not.  I simply have too much work due too soon.

So…it really does look like my life is again circling around my career choice.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing? but I’m having to use disability accommodations in order to get through it all.  That’s largely because of the sleep issue.

Speaking of which, it’s been working relatively well to take medication at 9 PM, take care of hygiene, fall asleep around 11, and wake up randomly between 6 and 7:30 AM.  The problem is falling back asleep after I wake up, even when my alarms go off.  This happened today, and so even though I woke up at 6 AM (before sunrise), I repeatedly fell back asleep, and didn’t actually get up until 12 PM.

Part of that is likely due to the fact that I didn’t take medication last night until around 11:30 PM.  The later I take it, the more bombed-out I am the next day.  I think it would be best to stick to the 9 PM med time when I can, even though it feels like I’m wasting time in which I’m aware:  9 PM is early enough so that I’m not totally wiped out the next day.  And if I can manage to find a way to stay out of bed after I first wake up, this should be workable (it should be easier as my body gets used to going to bed and waking up at stable hours).

Of course, that means that I’ve got a little less than 8 hours left to get my homework done, today.

I’ll get to work.

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…

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…