Getting back around to art.

Apologies for the lack of images: today was the first time I really allowed myself to explore with art materials for over two years (or that’s what it feels like, anyway). As such, I’m not entirely to the point of displaying what I made, though I like it well enough to continue.

So…this started out with an outing today. D and I went to a small Asian knickknack store (Japanese-branded stuff, but the name of the store doesn’t sound Japanese) to try and find a replacement for the pouch that got littered full of shredded foam (as I mentioned in my last post). I guess there’s something to be said for the creativity of a culture which routinely uses gifts to show goodwill…the new pouch has a good-luck cat face on it. It was the only thing in the store that came close to what I needed.

As it turns out, it was easy enough to rinse and hand-wash out the pouch that used to hold my jump drives. The cat-face pouch is holding all of my jump drives now, so if the other one gets ruined, I still have an option.

It’s kind of weird that these little purses are my go-to for holding jump drives, but whatever. (They’re padded, and nice.) I could imagine, though, being a little kid and getting this as a present, with stuff inside…it would actually be really cute, and a nice gift.

The major trouble I’ve had in the past with Christmas is that it perennially seemed to be a day where people showed me how much they didn’t know who I was (with the exception of my nuclear family). This is the reason why as an adult, I am purchasing the stuff I really want, on my own. I don’t think that’s the way it’s supposed to work (buying oneself Christmas gifts), but it’s a way I could see things going in the future. Anyhow…

What began with cleaning up my craft table eventually turned into prioritizing and shifting storage (I got the 30 half-stick set of Rembrandt pastels, which needed some place to live), which turned into playing with charcoal and huge flat pencils (which I had to sharpen with a knife), and coming up with a design I liked.

The design itself looks like a red lantern, but it’s basically a back-and-forth motion that I surrounded with strategic areas of darkness, indicating a glow. In turn…I’m thinking I can expand this and make it a motif of a larger drawing.

The major drawback to using marker (as I used on my 4th and 5th iterations of this sketch) is that I can’t get that real subtle shading from dark to light which is so easy to attain with charcoal, unless I use a large number of markers. (Markers also have the drawback of fading, which is just something of which to be aware.)

I also then scribbled in some color, first with a red (Scarlet?) LYRA Color-Giant pencil; then on another working, with red Tombows. The black marker I used was a Pitt Big Brush Pen, which is good for mimicking the mark of a broad piece of round willow charcoal.

After I had done this, it was really apparent that my drawing was very, very “graphic” looking. By that I mean, it’s really bold. At that point I realized that maybe I shouldn’t be fighting the fact that my art looks bold, and got out my dip pen nibs and inks.

I actually have too many inks; this is from a time before I knew how to use decent graphics programs and scanners, so I had been on a quest to find the “blackest” black ink. I used Speedball Super Black tonight, which was fairly nice…I just didn’t realize that I had never opened the bottle!

So it was me and this big pad of drawing paper, and a nib and nib holder (I forget what the nib was called, but it was the Hunt Ex-Fine Bowl, I think: it looks like the Speedball #512. For an “Extra Fine” pen, though…it didn’t really make fine lines).

And to answer that question: no, I still haven’t gotten a replacement lighter to burn off the anti-rust coating of most of these nibs. What I did today was use a nib that my sister gifted to me. Since it was already used, I knew it would hold ink. I did read that the anti-rust coating could be removed with alcohol — or pen cleaner — which is what I may try with my newer nibs (before singeing them as a last resort).

What’s weird is how easily illustration (particularly, with people) is coming to me, now. Maybe I need to stop calling it, “weird,” though. If I’ve been doodling characters for 20 years and have taken multiple life-drawing classes, it’s no longer, “weird,” if it’s easy. I should rather expect that.

It’s also really easy now for me to control a stiff pen point. I think I can thank my Pilot Metropolitan for giving me practice with that…

I also have a sheet of extra Bristol Board that I’ve been screwing around on with my fountain pens, and gave it a go with the dip pen. Other than needing to steady my hand, the Bristol presented no problems with feathering, unlike the drawing paper I was messing around with. I also have DELETER paper, which is basically ultra-smooth, but I’d have to look around a bit to source it again!

I would ideally want to plan out a composition (and, you know, get a script) before I went to Bristol and pen-and-ink, but practice has to start, sometime.

I still have to test out those Princeton Neptune brushes — as I was reminded of by reading backposts, the other night. I’m pretty sure Bristol can handle light washes; I’m not sure about the DELETER paper (as I don’t think I’ve ever tried it with washes).

Of course, then, there’s the option of filling with hatching…hmm. But I’d have to think carefully about that. Unless, that is, I used the Microns, Copic fineliners, and Copic markers (in addition to dip pen?!). I don’t think I ever did try using the Copic markers on Deleter paper…

Advertisements

Prepping for creative work.

Surprisingly, I was able to get out of the house today. A lot of people are staying indoors because there’s still a lot of smoke here from the Butte County fire. Not to minimize the destruction of that fire, but the air has been unhealthful for days.

Depending on the air quality, I might be working later this week more than I had anticipated; my school work-load has recently sharply decreased. I decided to hit the art store, today, in celebration of having free time again.

This time, I actually had a medium and project in mind. As you may have seen, very early this morning I was playing around with WordPress’s new editor. It’s inspired me to try my hand at webcomics. Kind of interesting how something like the structure of a content editor can matter…

Anyhow — just to remind myself in the future; today I got a bottle of ink and some brushes which were approximately $35 for a set of 5, due to multiple discounts. They’re Princeton Neptune brand. I had originally set out to get one good-sized natural hair brush, but seriously, good natural-hair watercolor brushes in a decent size are fairly expensive, and I didn’t see any with the dimensions I wanted.

(It is easier to want a brush before you’ve actually seen and held it.)

The Neptunes are supposed to be good at holding paint. Maybe late Tuesday or Wednesday, I’ll be able to play with them, more than just washing them out, as I did tonight. Then I’ll be able to see if they dispense paint (or ink) as well as they hold it.

I still haven’t decided whether to go in to work more later this week…

And — right! I also got a copy of the Iowa Review 48(2) and one of Granta 144. They’re both literary magazines, and as such, aren’t available at my library. I may have to do this, more. Because I’m so new to litmags, I don’t yet have a feel for what type of stories and poetry each magazine tends to have.

However, if I’m going to be writing stuff, it would help to read again. Litmags have short stories and poetry from different authors, so there isn’t too much of an investment in any one. They’re also fairly contemporary, and a good way to keep one’s finger on the pulse of new talent.

I still haven’t decided whether I want to get seriously back into writing, and if so, what I want to do with it. There’s the possibility of contributing to magazines, publishing directly to the Web as a staff writer or blogger, or running my own website. In long-form, the choices are self-publishing in an eBook or Print-on-Demand format, or going through traditional Publishing houses.

Due to my experience in Collection Development this semester, I’ve found some interesting outlets for eBooks and online litmags — though still, nothing compares to going to a bookstore and being able to browse. It’s just easier.

And then…there’s the possibility of just dealing with this here. I could run a blog, and publish comics to it. Of course, given my background, they’re likely not to be…well, intentionally funny.

Unless I go there. I can go there. It’s just not my first goal.

Anyway — for now, I’ve decided to work with Microns plus ink wash, for any comics I make. Or — I could use dip pens plus the ink I just got, though that requires some preparation of the nibs; and that requires either flame or boiling in a chemical-safe, non-food container. I do need a new lighter, but that’s easy enough to replace. I also need to find the Third Hand — it’s basically a pair of tweezers on a base.

The problem with holding nibs in pliers and then burning off the anti-rust coating with open flame is that it also heats up the plier nibs. That can distort them and make them useless. I learned the hard way.

By the way, it’s not my responsibility if you try this. It only takes a touch of the lighter, but you can get burned or worse, especially if there’s any grease.

Aside from this, I should work on my project due tomorrow. Not that I think any of us in the class, actually want to. It’s tough to write to a standard format. Kind of sucks all the joy out of it.

But I can do it. Just for the sake of not washing my GPA down the drain as my last action in this program. 🙂

Conversations with myself #1

So yeah, I…tried to do homework tonight, until I was no longer able to function, with regard to studying. That is, I started researching why my tomato plant smells funny, and eventually came here.

I am thinking there must generally be some limit on the amount of writing to a format that can be done before one’s brain quits.

At the time I’m beginning this post, it’s near 1:25 AM. I’ve just taken medication, so I should have until about 3 AM before I become entirely useless.

Yes, I am playing with the color settings on the new editor. Why?

Anyhow…what I’m working on now, is a collaborative project. Since I got my ePortfolio turned in, I’m trying to stay motivated. I did need to use one of the projects for this class within the ePort (I actually used two), but I really should have taken this class…before. At a different time.

So right now I have what I’m working on, due early this week…and three more weeks to go of this class. I can make it. The issue is feeling “done” with the whole thing, when I’m not. I have three more weeks to go. But only three more weeks.

Right now, I’m just wondering about resuming my artwork.

newly washed rondelle beads
This is a test photo. I could use this editor for comics, couldn’t I? I mean, if I really wanted to.

I’m thinking about getting back into painting. I have two more weeks before I go back to my regular schedule at my job, unless I pick up more hours, in the meantime.

I should have the opportunity at the end of this week, but it means working through Black Friday — and I have things I want to do, on that day. Like get a paintbrush. But then again, if I go to work, I can afford to pay full price.

Right now, I’m looking at the different way the new Editor on WordPress encourages me to break up my text. It’s much more suited to Web-optimized writing; as versus longform nonfiction, as was my working default, before.

I could do something with this, hmm? I’m thinking two or more B&W side-by-side panels in each Block. Maybe with narrative in between? I might want to review my CSS to see if I can adjust the padding or margins here, though.

Even the background colors of the text could symbolize different characters talking (if the colors repeat), though it wouldn’t be entirely accessible. It could also be narrative.

Just have to pick a story to work on…see which pens to use…

(does longevity matter? If so, use the Microns. If not, Sharpies — or anything else — works.)

Yes, I have tried to use Photoshop to create drawings, before. I’m better off working by hand…

…but that was pretty sweet when I could illustrate with the Wacom. I just didn’t have a story.

(Shut up about the Wacom!)

–But I could use a Wacom!

I have a proposed solution. Do some comic art, scan it in, and see what you can do with your current image editor and a mouse, before you jump on the Wacom thing again.

…or just buy a Wacom. Whatever. If you’re willing to pay full price, it doesn’t matter when you get it.

I gotta try this…

All materials submitted for ePortfolio.

You know what this means? This means that I might actually have time for myself, soon.

And…I’m still wondering about/considering that graphics tablet thing. There’s no reason to get it if, in fact, I’m not going to deal with creating graphics on the computer.

But if I did decide to create graphics (what was called “Digital Imaging” at my old school), either to play with Web Design or just for myself…yeah, that wouldn’t be so bad. It would then be worth the cost. Plus…I could go back into Digital Imaging classes. Why? I don’t know why. What would I draw or paint? I have some ideas.

I am not certain anyone else would care, but I have some ideas.

  • Flowers.
  • Weeds.
  • Plants.
  • Chilies.

You know. Stuff. Stuff abstractly related to my identity, actually, which I forgot about until revisiting that whole gender (nonbinary) and sexuality (possibly asexual) topic. Am I really asexual? I don’t know. It’s complicated.

But let’s just say that stuff never worked out, and I don’t know if the root of it is society, or biology; though I lean toward the former as my explanation.

The question for me is whether or not…I want to do this enough, to merit spending on a tablet. If I’m going to actually get a tablet to actually do visual art…what I’m looking at is a mid-size entry-level model.

Of course, if I can wait about a week, I might be able to save a substantial amount — if, that is, I still want it.

I just kind of want to reward myself, somehow; and this is what I thought of, first. Of course, I can also use…you know, real paint. That I already have. And real brushes. That I already have. And inks, with real pens. That I already have. And pastels, used on their sides, which I can’t do with a tablet.

I just remembered…I wanted to get myself a quality paintbrush as a gift! That’s what I was going to get!

Oh, no. I’m not getting a graphics tablet to reward myself. I’m getting a decent-sized natural-hair pointed round for watercolors.

That’s it!

Still working on that assignment

I’m writing, right now, to get me back into the mode of writing anything. Last night, I was up working on a Marketing assignment, and didn’t want to stop. Now, I’m having a slight bit of trouble in getting back to it.

I did get a good idea about what to do with it, last night — so I have a plan. The thing is, I spent yesterday (almost all of it) rereading the chapter and rewatching the lecture and taking notes. I doubt I will end up promoting the databases I initially chose…they just aren’t the best fit for the people I want to invite into the Library.

Anyhow, my (hypothetical) plan would be to visit the Art studios with some little handouts, and a card about a few of the databases to which the students have access. The target audience (to be narrowed down) are college students who are visual thinkers, like to work with their hands, and are a bit alienated from computers (particularly, the use of computers for research) and the Library (which most people think is just for text). I realized that I would be marketing digital resources to on-campus students, which requires different tactics for reaching them (as versus distance-education students).

And yeah, I did think of putting posters of that Duchamp piece, “Fountain,” in the bathroom stalls…but that may be in poor taste!

(I’M NOT GOING INTO IT.)

The thing is, since I started reconsidering the path of becoming an Art Librarian (likely in an Academic setting)…I’ve started dreaming again, and it’s distracting me.

Not to mention the fact that I went to an art store and found a new Prussian Blue watercolor (Sennelier brand — in a tube) and now I want to do the freakin’ art but I have to finish my work for this semester, first!

But yeah…watercolor + gouache + pastel…there’s gotta be some great uses I can put those media to, together. I look back on some of my work which I’ve done in ink and watercolor…which, I’m still really curious about, but I may have to try a way of working that I witnessed another student using, which is to do a grisaille (greyscale) underpainting in sumi ink, and then layer color over it. That should be much more flexible than using Microns, like I’m making a coloring book or a comic.

Eh…yes, the sooner I get this work done, the sooner I can stop worrying about it!

And…I actually have been considering going back for an MFA in Art History or Studio Art, to use both for personal fulfillment, and as qualification to be an Academic Librarian specializing in Art…but I also need to earn gainful employment, sometime.

(I also wonder if it would be worth it to get one good natural-hair paintbrush…and see where that takes me.)

Pushing back: embracing mortality

I’m wanting to do art so badly these days that the thought has arisen: “I don’t even care if it will kill me.” That’s not something that has come up, before. It did come up last night, and I neglected to write it down…but I don’t think the sentiment is an unfamiliar one, to many. (At least, to many in the art world.)

Of course, examples of early death from exposure to artists’ materials abound. I am reminded of Jay DeFeo, who died of lung cancer a couple of decades after working on her piece, sometimes called Rose, or Deathrose, for eight years. (This piece had been repeatedly built up and carved down, which would have created particulates. I suspect but do not know that she may have used Titanium White pigment in this; the photos I’ve seen are black-and-white.)

I have had a number of art teachers who have fought cancer. I knew someone who died in their 20’s from breast cancer, potentially from grinding down car parts (and refusing treatment). My nearest artsy contact has a rattling chronic cough (though I think they have been exposed to a lot of things besides art supplies).

I suppose the thing to do is to know what you’re getting into, before you get into it. One of my previous drawing teachers did make sure to emphasize the dangers of blowing pastel dust up into the air and then inhaling it. Of course, people still did it, which then exposed the entire class…except for those who brought dust masks and respirators. (Tip: turn the drawing board vertically and then tap it on a hard surface to clear the paper of dust, without raising excess dust.)

I was one of the people who did (eventually) wear a respirator…and the difference of the smell from within the respirator, versus the smell outside the respirator, was not at all subtle. I wore it because I was getting personally disturbed at sneezing, then blowing my nose and seeing blue stuff come out of my sinuses.

And this was working with the relatively safe stuff — we were only using NuPastels. Though now, anything with loose Titanium White in it is likely to get a Prop 65 Warning in California (that is, a label saying it carries a recognized carcinogen) even though the danger of Titanium White is mechanical, particularly where it comes to free nanoparticles: not a toxic one.

As long-time readers of this blog know, I have been careful to avoid certain pigments because of their toxicity. By that, I particularly mean cadmium-based pigments. I learned of itai-itai disease while in the Art program, which is a disease caused by cadmium pollution in water sources. The incidence of itai-itai in this example was caused by mine drainage into the water supply people drank, cooked with, watered their crops with, fished in, and bathed in.

This lead to cadmium buildup in their bodies. Itai-itai literally translates to, “it hurts, it hurts.” I read this a long time ago, and the page I read it on has since changed, but one of the main symptoms is bone softening and fractures, even just under the body’s own weight. (There’s also some stuff about kidney [“renal”] failure in there, but I don’t claim to understand that…I just barely took Biology classes.)

It’s not that important to me to get brilliant opaque colors out of cadmium-based pigments (which are, generally speaking, water-soluble; meaning they can be absorbed through the skin). It’s one thing to take the risk of working, and die; it’s another to die slowly and painfully for an avoidable reason that you can foresee and take precautions about.

If you know ways to keep yourself safer, it’s likely in your own best interest to do it. Although I do know about taking on passive risk. I do understand that self-destructive quality that Freud referred to as thanatos. But there’s a reason to protect yourself as much as you can: and that is, to extend your life on this planet. If making art brings you joy, I would expect that you would want to spend as much time making art as you can, yes?

So don’t sell yourself (or the world) short.

My particular weakness on this point are cobalt-based pigments (particularly, in watercolors). Cobalt is another toxic heavy metal, like cadmium, but has a different range of symptomatology on exposure. The thing is that I haven’t found anything with the same colors, or the same working properties.

Probably the worst I ever got from this was contact dermatitis (itching) when I was trying to reduce my exposure to cobalt by wearing nitrile gloves, and in the process got Aureolin paint (PY40, Cobalt Yellow) all over the tube — and my hand, because the gloves smeared the paint everywhere, and I didn’t see it. Or feel it. When I finally took the gloves off to actually take the lid off the tube (instead of just stretch the gloves), I got the paint all over my hand — and had nowhere but my pot of rinse water to wash it off.

I think that was a lesson in not being overly careful, if doing so creates risks and problems that don’t otherwise exist.

At this point, the only major thing I have about the cobalt colors is that 1) I can absorb them transdermally, and 2) I don’t know how to wash out my brushes while never contacting the paint. Everyone says not to touch the brushes. They don’t give any advice on how to avoid doing so.

Though now that I think of it, that would be a good use of those nitrile gloves — provided, of course, that no water gets into them. Which would negate the reasoning for using them, in the first place.

I’m not sure what’s up with me, tonight. I am feeling better than I was last night, and basically, I’m feeling better than I have for the last week. I think I’ve turned a corner where it comes to my health. It is now, though, almost 1 AM where I’m at! (No wonder I’m having trouble thinking!)

I need to get stuff cleaned up. Particularly: books. And changing these sheets, doing laundry, and getting the dust out of here. I also need to re-read Chapter 2 of my textbook so I know what I’m looking for, when I work on my late assignment. I should be able to complete that, tomorrow, if I’m feeling anything like the way I felt tonight.

Once I get that assignment out of the way, maybe I should realistically look at doing something constructive with my watercolors…I see them every day, and they just get dusty because of my hesitation. (I deal with OCD; they tempt me, but I remember that I need to use caution in handling them…which leads to their not getting used.)

Something like recovering from an illness seems like it will make a person embrace life more strongly. Kind of like contemplating immortality, just to get smacked back into reality by a high fever…

I suppose I have the cold to thank for that…

De-stashing and refocusing. Organizing colors and establishing priorities.

I successfully got rid of a bunch of art stuff at work, yesterday. The biggest thing was a set of Neocolor II water-soluble crayons, but I’m hoping others will get more pleasure out of them, than I did.

I had consistent issues with disliking the texture that came out of using them dry, not to mention that they dissolved with water into something I can only call a “creamy” texture, which I also disliked. Not to mention that the tint with what remained of the dry texture didn’t appeal to me…nor did scrubbing the marks to liquefy the whole thing. I get much more vibrant and clear color out of watercolors (even midprice ones, like the Reeves tube set we still have).

The upshot of the Neocolors is that they’re relatively opaque, with more covering power than I’ve seen in pretty much anything comparable, except for soft or hard pastel, or the General’s White Charcoal. The problem with all of the latter is that they sit on top of the paper and need a fixative, as they don’t adhere well in themselves. Neocolors have some kind of oil or wax binder, so they stick.

It was recommended that I keep the Neocolor Is, which are basically artist-grade waterproof crayons (the IIs are the water-soluble ones). The biggest pain I have with the Neocolor Is is that the color range I’ve got, isn’t awesome (yellow to red).

I have also realized that I can start a little mini-watercolor kit with what I already have. I know that two colors to include are Phthalo Green and Permanent Rose, but those are my first two anchors. I might pick a lemon yellow (Hansa Yellow) to go along with them…but it will take some experimentation, and to what end, other than making a cute travel kit, I’m not sure.

With a clear and limited kit, though, I might be inspired to go outside and paint. All I have to do is dump out the little cubes of paint from my Cotman set, and fill the half-pans.

I’ve recently been more into the colors themselves, than into ostensible subjects of the paintings…though plants and flowers are things I like. I would say that the subject comes secondary to color, though, or that color is the subject. Thing is, I’m not entirely sure how to express that…though what I associate with those colors, or where around me I’ve seen them, could be a starting point.

To include a Pyrrol Orange in the kit would be nice…which makes four. Daniel Smith’s Pyrrol Scarlet should be good for a warm-leaning red…or I could use Winsor & Newton’s Winsor Red, for a cooler red that’s still warmer than Permanent Rose (and different enough from Pyrrol Orange to be useful).

So that makes:

  1. Winsor Red
  2. Permanent Rose
  3. Pyrrol Orange
  4. Arylide Yellow (PY3)
  5. Phthalo Green

Hmm. That leaves seven slots.

  1. Sap Green?
  2. Phthalo Blue
  3. Ultramarine Blue?
  4. Raw Umber?
  5. Permanent Magenta
  6. Green Gold
  7. Prussian Blue?
  8. Permanent Yellow Deep?

??? My problem is that I don’t yet know how many of these intermix, well. And now I’m feeling like I have to look back at the lightfastness chart. (What looks like what? What harmonizes, with what?)

I finally got around to putting the lightfastness test sheets back in the window. I just gave up on the drive to photograph them. It’s been three months, almost to the day, since I looked at them for the first round. I still haven’t taken any pictures, though I did separate out any that had noticeable fading. Prussian Blue is one of the colors which did fade slightly over 4 months in full sun — it’s just so beautiful when new, that it’s hard to think of realistically putting it to the side. (I might want to see if I can mix the same shade, out of more lightfast pigments.)

Then there are those relatively odd and specialized colors, like Cerulean Blue Chromium or Cobalt Turquoise Light, and earth pigments like Raw Umber and Burnt Sienna. Now that I think of it, Raw Umber + Ultramarine is probably essential as a neutral tint. Magenta + Phthalo Blue will also give me something close to Indanthrone Blue (as I learned at handprint.com).

  • Raw Umber + Ultramarine
  • Permanent Rose + Phthalo Green
  • Magenta + Phthalo Blue

That makes six.

  • Lemon Yellow + Pyrrol Orange

Eight. Four to go.


So today…this day has only barely started, for me. Everything preceding this was begun last night. Then I took medication and got knocked out at about 11 PM…and didn’t get back up until 2 PM today. (The place at which I stopped, marked the time at which my mind stopped being coherent, though I’ve since added content. I’m still not sure if my functioning is entirely back, and I’m saying this at what is now verging on 7 PM. Both today and yesterday, words weren’t my strong suit. It’s likely because I’ve been staying up too late, and it’s getting chronic.)

After work, yesterday, was largely taken up with cleaning off the craft table. I’m slowly getting all of my beads together — I have more than I thought I did, particularly in sizes 8° and 6° — meaning that I can do a lot with beaded micromacramé, as these sizes are large enough to take passes of heavy cord with which I can make decorative knots.

The day before that, I was logging work for my Summer class, so that should be done.

I had also been beginning work on my Portfolio…I think it will be easiest to begin with Competencies for which I only have one or two classes. They’re easy to start from. I’ve begun re-saving things from six years ago into current format, hoping that not too much has been corrupted.

Can’t say it’s not stressful, though.

In any case, I should be working on this when I have the urge and energy, to. For a couple of days, it’s been like this: where “self-care” does constitute doing work, as versus playing or de-stressing. Sometimes de-stressing includes doing work to abate my stress, rather than doing anything but work.

Given that, I’m feeling pretty good.

I’m also thinking, based on what I’ve written above, that getting to bed at a reasonable hour should be a priority for me. If that happens, I’ll probably be up to working on my Portfolio for at least a few hours, a few days out of the week. Exercise is another one of those things I should do.

Beading is obviously something I’m getting back to, and I want to use the watercolors, as well. Aside from paperwork and some other housekeeping stuff, I should be okay like this until the semester starts. Extra hours at work, I can think about after everything else is okay.