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.  🙂

Yeah…a bit scattered…

I was looking around for information on techniques for filling palettes, and found a number of interesting statements.

  1. Apparently, Viridian (true Viridian, that is) doesn’t re-hydrate well, and I should avoid putting it into a well so that I don’t waste it.
  2. I will want to roughen up the inner surfaces of my palette with either baking soda or a scrubby sponge, before filling the wells.
  3. I’ve heard that M. Graham watercolors (like my Hansa Yellow) never completely dry and may move when held vertically because of it — but that information is disputed online.  Just in case, I will want to fill that well in stages in order to see how well it is setting.

I’ve also been looking around at information on fountain pens and Bullet Journals — the latter of which may enable me to keep track of school assignments and my presently-nonexistent Japanese study (which I keep forgetting about, due to the fact that my books are all neatly and unobtrusively stowed on my bookshelf).  I do have a dotted grid notebook suitable as a Bullet Journal, but it is stowed along with the Japanese-learning materials.

I also read not to use linocutting tools (I assume they meant Speedball knives with interchangeable blades) for woodblock prints, as the blades would dull.  I do have some tools to sharpen my old knives (aluminum oxide waterstone in coarse and fine grit, ultra-fine grit wet/dry sandpaper), but I don’t have the stones right now to hone the insides of my gouges (which would save me from having to buy new gouges).  I’ll stick with linocutting for now, though.  I’m pretty sure the Japanese carving store near me should have the stones available, or I can find them online.

I did look through one book on printmaking techniques, which reminded me of what I had been doing before I derailed myself into watercolors.  (Today I went through everything that I had checked out from the library, and made a pile of things that can go back.  Financial liability is not a good thing.)

Also, I realized that the entire set of my newer watercolor paint samples had been made out of the same sheet of paper; meaning that what didn’t settle roughly on the rough paper (as in the last entry) either must be inherently very smooth, or have contained less water/paint in laydown.  As a further note on that entry, I can now see texture in certain paints and not in others.

I’m also amazed at how many people are using Mijello palettes (or palettes that look like them), though that may be neither here nor there.

And I found out that D didn’t really lose my master tracing/final design for the flower linocut; I just never actually cut it off of the tracing paper (the only reason I know this is that I expected to see a missing square on the sheet, and did not).

In addition, I completed the major reading for this week on Monday, having started on it Sunday night.  My reading speed in English really is getting faster, or the book I was reading was very good at being clear (probably a bit of both).

So tomorrow, what can I do?

  • Go to dentist for cleaning and ask about the craze lines on front teeth
  • Return library books
  • Clean office
  • Clean bedroom
  • Prep loose trays in Mijello 33-well palette with baking soda scrub
  • Take a look at Beginning Japanese by Kluemper et. al and/or Elementary Japanese by Hasegawa.
  • Review kana.
    • Hiragana first
    • Katakana second
  • Shower, please

In the future,

  • Learn more about Bullet journaling system
  • Practice mixing greens, with awareness (and record!) of what color was used where (I think I experimented with Cerulean and Prussian Blue last time, but can’t be sure of the yellows) * — I may want to do this BEFORE filling the palette, — * as I’m not sure how many greens I can actually get out of this, without Viridian.  But I suppose I do have Aureolin, Hansa Yellow, Hansa Yellow Deep, and two different Yellow Ochres (I believe this is natural vs. synthetic), so it’s worth a good shot.
    • Practice mixing with watercolors in either scales or grids
      • Fill palette with watercolors
  • Transfer flower pattern onto new linoleum block
    • Practice with new X-Acto blades on linoleum sheets
    • Carve new linoleum block
    • Draw prints (in different colors!)
  • Draw gingko leaf design and puzzle out how to best work with that in a print (mixed warm [yellow, orange, brown] inks, white space for veins of leaf?)
  • Draw more than one ginkgo rendition, so as to create a falling-leaf image on bookmarks?
  • Straighten hair, trim off obvious damage

And I’ve got to remember I have both an eye appointment and an ultrasound coming up.

I should probably get going.  Sorry for the word count on these things…it’s even hard for me to go back and read this stuff, honestly.  Maybe I never grew to question the, “longer is better,” stuff I learned in high school…on the Web, at least, “briefer is better (so long as it delivers the required information),” may be more true!

Probably, the aesthetics of the natural (or, more-natural) world did it…

I’m back!  🙂

Of course I forget what these are called...
Of course I forget what these are called…they were named something that related to butterflies, though…

I was talking about this dilemma over dinner — the feeling that I could be doing more with my mind than I’m doing now, and than I will be doing if I turn out to be a Clerk for my main steady employment.

One of the main reasons I’d migrated away from the possibility of working in the sciences is the lack of a steady paycheck.  I was told that I’d continually have to write grant proposals and that my employment would be based on the work for which I could obtain funding.

Well, there’s this, and the fact that if I were working with anything hazardous at all, I’d have to be able to trust the other people on my crew.  Not so much a concern when banding birds, but where it comes to Chemistry, yes, that requires a certain level of professionalism.  Which…I did not get good vibes about with people pointing test tubes in my direction, and attempting to burn pennies, in my high school Chemistry classes.  (That is:  do I want to be in a Chemistry class with a bunch of 19-year-olds?  Even 19-year-olds who have gotten into State Universities?  No.  Living in a dorm with a bunch of 19-year-olds was enough.)

And then there’s M, who was originally an Ecology major, albeit in the 70’s…her experience led me to the thought that people majoring in the hard sciences did not have enough exposure to the Humanities to allow the working environment to be equitable for minorities.  I was ill enough the first time through college that this thought kind of embedded itself.  Taking classes in Sociology probably didn’t help, as in my case it fostered paranoia about structural inequalities…not something which really assists someone who is impacted by multiple interacting minority statuses and who has been abused for same.  I was just taking the classes to try and figure out why people had been so mean to me — not because I was a “social” person.

But I suppose there is a form of elitism at the University level.  Maybe they didn’t think that people like me would get in, like Virginia Woolf apparently never imagined an African-American (or anyone sympathetic to African-Americans) would try to start to read Orlando.  Or maybe she did, and that’s why there’s a scene of a Moor’s head being hacked to pieces (by our main character) on the first page.

But I digress.

I’ve realized at this point that I don’t have the right skill set at this time to be a scientist, even though that was the aim of my secondary-school training.  However, I do have something of a knack for writing, art, and photography.  Botanical photos could be something I could do.  A lot of what I was doing today was basically acquisition of images to either inspire or assist with later artworks.

Cabbage Butterfly?
“pieris rapae” — Cabbage Butterfly.  Apparently they’re agricultural pests as caterpillars.  This one stayed still long enough for me to photograph it.

This is what got me to the point…maybe…of realizing how beautiful nature is — even when it is managed and tended by people.

It could very well be that it’s my aesthetic senses which are leading me to wish to work with living beings.  It’s not just the visual which is impacting me, here.  It’s the smells, the humidity, the coolness of the air, the interaction of the various living beings.  Just the feeling of being around life is different than being in my house writing this, as I am now.

Of course, with the drought, this isn’t a great time to be starting a new garden.  Actually, *never* is a good time to start a new garden, here — at least not without deer-resistant plants.  We have the wild plants, and then the grasses, and some established fruit trees, but the yard is mostly not tended.  If it were, I’m sure it would have been gnawed down to the ground or had its roots eaten or dug up several times already — there are a lot of animals around at night.  Luckily, they’re mostly insectivores, but then there are the freakin’ deer — and the raccoons.

I’ve actually gotten the idea more than once of starting a little flock of quail or chickens in the yard — from the time when we had a little flock of either wild or feral quail who would visit our yard at dawn and dusk.  They’re super cute, but they need to be protected — the little flock that used to come around eventually dwindled and disappeared…and I have seen henhouses for sale, though obviously those would be for chickens.  I was surprised at how small some of the adult chickens were!  …I’m thinking that if I kept chickens, though, it would be for eggs and compost, not meat.  I don’t know how I’d be able to face the rest of the flock if I killed and ate one of them…though I might feel better about it if the chicken were tasty.  😛  I suppose I could do the spiritual thing and thank the animal for giving its life for me…

I'm surprised this photo came out at all, really...
I’m surprised this photo came out at all, really…

This time at the Fair, there weren’t any quail chicks, or I would have tried to photograph them.  There were what appeared to be chicken and turkey chicks, though.  I wasn’t able to get a shot of them still enough for them to be un-blurred…especially the little baby chickens were cute.  I don’t have a video, but they were making these little tiny peeping noises the whole time.  🙂

Kind of makes me want to move out to the country and start a tiny farm…where…I guess I could be a Clerk and either write or make art?  Ehhh…

Okay, I need to stop being stuck on “Clerk.”  But still…if I thought it would be culturally tolerable, I would consider moving to a rural area.  Last time I tried it, it was really difficult for me because of the lack of support for my culture(s).  Still a beautiful place, though.  Just, no authentic Japanese food for miles…