Box modifications?

Today has been rather uneventful, other than dim sum in the morning and heading out to pick up more “gift card tins” at Michael’s.  They have rather corny sayings on their lids — only two of which (out of four total designs), I would support — but they fit certain art supplies pretty well.  I recall seeing a post some time back which was talking about adding an acrylic ground to the lid of a tin so it could be painted over…but I can’t remember on which blog I saw it.

I was at Michael’s yesterday and saw some little tins by the cashier that were meant to hold gift cards (!? why one needs a tin for a card, I don’t know).  But I picked up two of them, thinking that they were the perfect size for full sticks of soft pastels. I believe they were $1.39 each.

After getting home from dim sum today, I actually was able to fit my entire collection of Neocolor II crayons into two tins.  Each tin holds about 17 crayons.  (nine on the bottom, eight nestled on top.)  The only drawback is that they slide up and down a bit without added cushioning — I’m still thinking up ideas to solve that.  The most obvious one is to go to the plastics store and see if they sell small bits of foam which I can place in there.  The other one I can think of is to just wrap everything up in a paper towel:  the Altoids tin that is holding my charcoals is like this (though the paper needs to be changed out).

It’s kind of hard to find carriers for Neocolors, because they’re an odd size — about 1 cm longer than Crayola crayons, when new (though just as slippery…be warned [I almost broke a display trying to catch some that jumped out of my grip])…and to get a tin for them, I’d have to buy a set.  On top of that, most of the tins in the larger sets seem like they’re trying to take up as much space as possible.

It is possible to get discarded cardboard boxes for pastels from art stores…but in reality, I don’t know how many stores do this.  Utrecht used to do it, my other nearby art store other than Blick does it, and Blick will do it, though you might have to ask.  Even then, though, you get mystery pastel dust from whatever had been in there before:  and with pastels…it may not be anything you want to touch.

Prior to this, I had been using one of those “Very Useful Boxes” (it’s the brand name) to hold my Neocolors, but this is kind of bulky:  the one I had was deep, in addition to being long enough for the crayons…which kind of discourages use.

The lack of a hinge on these tins is not something that bothers me, because I always carry tins and lidded boxes of pastels and charcoal with a thick rubber band around them (except for the white pastel tin, which I really need to switch out — they rub against each other in travel, and produce an excess amount of pastel dust).

After I fit all the Neocolors into the tins, I took the smaller number (the earth tones) out, put in a tissue liner (who wants to clean pastel dust out of a new tin…), and tested whether they really would fit my soft pastels.  What I have in open stock soft pastels is not very exciting:  it’s a grayscale set that I used on that “Rain” composition I showed a while back.  But pastels come in a bunch of really nice colors, aside from just white, black, and mixes of the two (though why one would use a black pastel if one had charcoal, I’m not sure — unless there is a texture issue going on, one needed to use the Gum Arabic binder to try and seal something down, or something similar).

I have about seven full sticks of greyscale soft pastels (mostly Rembrandt brand:  they are known to be produced without lead, cobalt, or cadmium pigments…these are heavy metals which I suspect can be transdermally absorbed if they are in soluble form)* which I haven’t broken in half yet…set in widthwise, they fit in there perfectly.  I haven’t been able to see just how many could fit, because I haven’t broken out my Blick half-stick set yet to try and see.  (The Blick soft pastel set that I have came in a foam-padded box…it’s kind of cumbersome and way bigger than necessary.  On the bright side, I don’t have to worry about friction making nuisance pastel dust, or any color contamination from being stored next to a different color.)

What I can say is that the gift-card tin will fit at least nine full sticks; possibly ten.  I’m not sure, because of the curvature of the edges of the tin — and because I haven’t hardcore tried to shove as many in there as I could.  🙂  If I think about my half-stick habit (it enables drawing with the broad side of the pastel as well as the edges), one tin might fit 20 half-sticks (if I set in the smaller of the halves…theoretically).

I think that’s pretty awesome.

The drawback to this is that I use these unwrapped, so the colors are probably going to rub up against each other and contaminate each other.  In reality, when I have to carry, say, any white pastel, I usually wrap it up in a facial tissue and put it inside a small plastic bag of the type that is used to hold jewelry parts (this contains any dust or spontaneous unwrapping).  (These are also available at Michael’s — and no, they aren’t paying me.  You might also be able to find them at bead stores, though I wouldn’t expect those to be something people-in-general know about.)

The issue comes when I might need to access multiple different colors of pastel, and they need to be separated.  I’m fairly certain I can tool out a solution utilizing folded cardstock, an X-acto knife, a ruler, a butter knife (for creasing), a pencil, and some scissors…and maybe some rubber cement.  It shouldn’t be too hard.  The major difficulty I’ve found is that I have seen no inexpensive way to carry soft pastels, other than the “discarded box” solution at the art stores — or buying a set primarily for the box, which is just…too much.

Right now I’m thinking of a storage setup…glassine paper or paper towels on the bottom and folded over the top, and a bunch of individual cardstock compartments for half-sticks of soft pastel.

I should also get on reworking my charcoal storage, though, too…or at least wipe off the white pastel that contaminated my set…because I really want to use all of this stuff again.

I’m just not certain whether I should use large paper…and if so, do I want to try and find that hemp stuff again…

*I should mention that Blick’s website has a lot of Prop 65 warnings about Rembrandt pastels.  I am thinking that a lot of these may be due to the presence of nano-scale Titanium Dioxide pigments (which, through dust inhalation or skin contact, can be an issue at occupational exposure levels).  The Caution Label notifications may be there because the pigments used may contain Lamp Black, which can be toxic — at the least, if it’s contaminated — but the website says it should be considered slightly toxic by skin contact and inhalation.


Engaging with the process?

I may have come to a mini-breakthrough.  Is that called a realization?  Maybe that’s called a realization.  😉


Today I was getting into gear to take my origami paper off of my desk in the bedroom if I wasn’t going to use it.  Then, I was looking at one of my sets, which I picked up because I liked the patterning on the paper.  This, and it is almost (but not quite) 6″ square.  When I got it, I was planning to (and did) use it for mandala generation.  (The patterns on the papers didn’t help, there.)

So anyway, I was getting ready to put this stuff away, and then I realized I wasn’t even using the origami paper for its intended purpose.  I got the brief flash of trying to fold something out of the small, pretty paper; and then also got the brief flash of “what will I do with it once I fold it?”  But then, that’s not really a thought that will get any paper folded, right?

So, I started out with this little one.  It’s just a standard crane with some minor modifications (I used to know a way to make them into dragons, but then forgot)…and I came to the realization that with origami, the end result is not as much the point as the process.  If the process is not careful, though, what you get at the end shows it.

After that was done, I was minorly lamenting having gone out today instead of staying in and doing some art.  But there was my little pad of hemp-blend paper, and a piece of vine charcoal on my desk.  Then I thought to myself, “but I don’t know what to draw!”  Then I thought back to myself, “just draw what’s in front of you.  What you see.”  And I got this:


Sorry about the lighting; I had two of three lamps on in the room, plus my halogen desk lamp, and things still turned out a bit dim.  I might be able to fix that by messing with the exposure time, though…maybe?

In any case, a quick view of Auto Levels in Photoshop just made it look artificial (there were no pure white tones anywhere, here), so I left it alone…as versus try and tinker with the color channels.  It might have been easier if I had the option of CMYK (subtractive color) alterations, but all I’ve got with my version is RGB (additive color)…which is still kind of a mystery to me.

The carton used to contain coconut water (I drank it); what it’s sitting on is the tin that contains my Monolith graphite sticks.  Behind it is said halogen desk lamp.  Lower right corner?  That’s a drawing from an earlier post.  😛  But I’ve found that I make more interesting drawings when I try and draw (or interpret) things that I actually see, as versus things that I totally make up.

Then there is the feeling I get when I am literally letting other people see what I see, and how intimate that is.  It is kind of scary, especially when you really don’t want to be famous, and get kind of paranoid that people will know where you are if they know what you see (no).

Basically everything you see in the upper left photograph is from one stick of vine charcoal, a paper, my fingers, and a kneaded eraser.  I know I have said I hate charcoal, but it’s really not terrible when I don’t deal with any white tones.  Using white means that I either have to use a white pastel, the White Charcoal which is notoriously of unknown composition (but which works, arguably, very well if not best — I’m not sure why), or a white Conté crayon (which won’t blend as well as the White Charcoal, as it has more wax or oil or something in it — it binds to the paper more directly and makes a more permanent mark).

White pencils are kind of not in the same category, which I know now.  Even a General’s White Charcoal pencil will make a narrow mark which can be hard to see from a distance; and building up a drawing using something like a Derwent White Drawing pencil is an entirely different process than using chunks of pigment which can be applied in broad swaths instead of points and lines.  But — both white pencils and charcoal pencils are excellent for fine detail and intense tone (a small point of contact means that more pressure is applied [force per unit area] to the juncture between pencil tip and paper, than would occur with a larger point of contact — unless you seriously lean into that charcoal).

Any of the above non-pencil options will expose me to Titanium Dioxide (a standard white pigment), which is relatively safe — unless you breathe it in (and even then, I think this is a chronic exposure risk), or it moves into your body through your skin (a more recent hazard indicated specifically with nanoparticles — which are transparent).

And what that means is that I probably don’t want to introduce white pastel dust into my sleeping quarters.  Which is kind of …well, when it’s right next to my bed, I am more likely to use it, and I am not in the habit of utilizing the drawing table…it’s probably outside the range of my “territory.”

Speaking of drawing tables — I now have an easel.  A very light — aluminum — easel.  I haven’t unpacked it yet to make sure it’s undamaged, but if it’s in good condition, it will be a very cool thing to work with.  I went out there with the thought in mind of spending around $120 for an easel, so when I found this one for about $60, and it will support anything up to 34″ tall…not a bad thing.  I can imagine working up to 24″x36″, but not with that oriented vertically!  If I get much bigger than that, I will need bigger brushes!

I think the largest canvas I’ve ever used was 24″x30″; mostly, in class, we were working with a max size of 18″x24″ for both drawings and paintings.  Then again, we also had to carry these things back and forth between classroom and home.  24″x30″ was about the most I could do without falling over myself.

But the nice thing now, yes, is that I can paint and draw while standing (or sitting), and not have to make weird adjustments to my arm movements because some parts of the drawing or painting are farther away (or distorted because I see them as receding).  I’m fairly certain that this will make it easier to paint on canvas — if not make large drawings, more generally.

I also saw more Daniel Smith watercolor paints at that store, today, whereas I thought they were on closeout — maybe they’re just so desired that they’re almost never there?  Maybe someone is buying them in bulk and peddling them on the street?  I don’t know.

In any case, I think that if I’m going to continue to make art, the motivation for doing so needs to come from wanting to engage with the process, rather than wanting to have a “good” work to show off, later.  Charcoal actually really helps with this.  I’m not totally sure if newsprint does; but I have at least one pad of Sketch paper I can use to draw with, which is otherwise being used as a tablecloth, right now.

It’s kind of funny, how much I’ve migrated away from colored pencils…

Development through Stage 1, done.

Stage One of this image is done.  I wanted to get it sealed before I started adding (more) major foreground elements and haze — with fixative, I can easily remove the raindrops and haze without damaging the underlying layers.  Without it, I can’t.

I’ve left it to offgas for the next short while, before I can work on it again.

It actually looks fairly decent, but I am working against the clock (or rather, the Sun), here — I will probably have to either spray it again early tomorrow morning (and then wait an hour for it to dry and probably more for it to stop stinking), or I’ll have to submit it without a second coat.  This is if I want to get the extra credit possible for not taking the extra two weeks to work on it.

The good part is that it stopped raining.  The other good part is that I’ve realized that the air intake for the heating system is not where I thought it was, so maybe I can finish this tonight and just leave it out to cure for a while.  Not all night — dew would not be my friend, here — but I might be able to make this work, and it might not burn down the garage.

Basically, I’ve been working on this since about noon, when my supervisor called me to ask if I could come in to work, today.  If I had worked on this yesterday, instead of betting on having the time and energy today to do homework, I might have been able to do it.  As it was, though — I needed the time to work on my assignment, because this was the last day to start and not look like I was slacking.  (Then M wanted to yell that if I wasn’t going to work, I needed to do homework, so at that point, I got up.)  I’m not working on the clothing assignment for Figure Drawing, because it’s not that important that I work on that RIGHT NOW.

I will need to photograph what I have before I continue work on it, but I wouldn’t bet on those photos being up before 10 my time (in about four hours).  I’m really hoping I can complete this, tonight.

Succulent; to kalon

Back to posting what I did over the last few weeks, eh?

I largely didn’t have enough time to write reflective posts on all of these images when I made them.  I did have time to write a four-page essay on my experiences, though.  Having some place to write and record this (when I could) was invaluable.  I have been moving from most favorite -> least favorite, though, over the course of my having posted these things.

Rosette (succulent) — I really want to work on this again and try and capture what I missed.

The image above was my first shot at trying to generalize enough so that I wasn’t overwhelmed, and yet still be specific enough in order to get across the certain essence of the image.  I still have the printout, so I can work from this again, relatively easily.  For my own reference, this image was generated from the prompt to kalon; a Greek ideal of beauty.  I kind of feel like not going into it right now, though it does fall back on the world of Forms, mathematics, and intellectual insight.  I chose this image because it looked very “fractal” and like simple rules repeating to make something very complex.

One of the biggest things that is different between this and the photograph is that there are a lot less leaves in the image above than there were in life.  There also seems to be some flattening going on around the center of the image that I’m not totally in love with.  The center of the rosette was much more dimensional, in the photo.  But then…I was working from a photo, wasn’t I?  (Not that this image could have come about any other way, other than my having drawn it on location in Los Angeles over a year ago.)

This was the first time I tried out this charcoal paper; it’s the one with 25% hemp content which I mentioned, before.  Let me find the pad…it’s Strathmore 400 series, 6″x9″, 75% post-consumer fiber, other than the hemp.  “Acid free,” though what does that mean with post-consumer fiber, really (especially when it’s unclear whether it’s paper fiber and/or cotton)?  What I can say is that it feels nice under my fingertips — I had to do a lot of rubbing and smudging, with this piece.

I used willow charcoal, almost entirely, in the above.  The dark lines are either fine willow charcoal, or General’s Extra Soft charcoal pencil (6B).  The light areas were erased away with a stick eraser.  The areas which look bluish are the places I tried to add in light by using General’s White Charcoal, but the effect is not something I find I like.  I might try for a buff chalk pastel, next time.

This is…especially so, as there is a Prop 65 warning on General’s White Charcoal in Blick’s database, and the MSDS from Blick is essentially no help, as it’s for regular charcoal, not “White Charcoal.”  I just visited the General’s website where one can download the MSDS for their products, and White Charcoal is not one of the products they provide an MSDS for.

Of course, the Prop 65 warning could just be there because no one will say what is in the White Charcoal sticks or pencils (as noted here), and Blick might just be trying to cover all its bases, just in case there is something carcinogenic in them.

This…doesn’t really make me feel much better, as when I went out looking for a Zinc White paint by Liquitex recently, I found “Transparent Mixing White” (their Zinc-Oxide-pigmented white) which contained lead.  Then I went out again, after realizing that I didn’t have to get Liquitex brand for a Zinc White, found Golden brand Zinc White, brought it home, and found online that it contained cadmium (even though there was no CL label on the packaging).

Seriously.  Seriously?!  What is up with zinc oxide that it requires heavy metal additives to make a good paint?  What are the cadmium and lead doing?

So anyway…I probably won’t be using the General’s White Charcoal without a glove on, in the near future; though I still might get lazy, say “to hell with this, I can afford some potential mutations” and take the chance again of working with my bare hands.  But hey — if I’m going to be wearing a dust mask anyway (I don’t like getting pastel dust stuck in my sinuses, it’s kind of freaky to still smell them five hours later), why not gloves?  …

Or, why not switch to my Rembrandt soft pastels, which I know contain no cadmium or lead?  (No, Rembrandt is not paying me.  I just had to use their white soft pastel in one of my past drawing classes, and loved it; replaced it after its remnants shattered seven years later.  It doesn’t behave the same way as General’s White Charcoal, though; it’s creamier and less “dry.”)  Maybe I’ll play with my Rembrandt now, now that I’m thinking of it…of course, though, it’s coated in White Charcoal dust…

As an aside, I do think that heavy metal salts aren’t necessarily acutely dangerous unless burned, sprayed (or otherwise inhaled), ingested, or in such a form that they can dissolve and thus be absorbed transdermally…but I’m not a doctor or a toxicologist.  It’s on all of us to protect our own health and judge our own risk-taking.   I’m just thinking that it is specifically the soluble salts (which can dissolve into something [like water or turpentine] which can pass through skin) that are the major problem — unless you’re an airbrush or spray-paint artist.  Insoluble salts are probably not as big a risk — even though they would still get a Prop 65 warning for the metal being present at all — though that would seem to most heavily impact transdermal absorption.

But yes — I did post a very long time ago when I was first playing around with this method (subtractive drawing).  Remember the pineapple?  This time, I was working from a reference, though loosely so.  Still, I wouldn’t have been able to make this drawing without it — I haven’t studied succulent structure enough — so that’s saying something.

Oh — and one last thing I discovered in postprocessing.  I didn’t adjust the Levels on this photo, because I found that it made the image too extreme.  The original doesn’t have an extreme-black-to-extreme-white range of tones; it’s actually much softer, as shown in the photo.  It’s something to keep in mind, for the future…

A note from yesterday…

I’ve spent most of today either in bed, or working on Xmas card designs. Really, what I was doing more than anything else, it seems, was refamiliarizing myself with some of my drawing tools. (I still need to make a black ground and run my wax-based Drawing pencils over them to see if they’re actually all opaque.)

In particular I used some of the Pitt brush pens I’ve collected (in colors!), and was testing out my graphites and Derwent Drawing pencils — the last of which are in a range of earth tones, kind of like Conte (expanded). That’s just as well, because the cards I got (really cheap ones from Michael’s, because we were there) were an ivory tint. I can’t remember what I had in mind for those pencils…but they’re nice in their opacity, softness, and covering power.

I’d actually originally imagined, for these cards, doing some black scrollwork with gold pen laid over it, to bring out the yellow in the paper — though because of the paper quality, with these, I am hesitant to do anything which may warp them, including charcoal, Carbon Black, and densely layered graphite, which are mostly exclusively dry media (watersoluble graphite notwithstanding), but require spray fixative to avoid smudging. I haven’t upgraded to real fixative yet, and I know what I’m using (Aqua Net) warps papers.

I did do one experiment — not with fixative, but — it turned out pretty well. This was me just playing around with a midtone grey Pitt pen (probably #273 — warm grey IV) on a Drawing-quality paper (it was a sheet I’d accidentally marked, so it was throwaway), then going over it with black in portions, and seeing the contrasts in value I could make by doing so. This reminds me of the time I marked with a black pen on heavy paper and tried glazing watercolor over the top of it. The irregularities in the (now background) tone — or the watercolor wash — actually added to the drawing, and seemed to slightly modulate the regularity of the lines. As I think I’ve mentioned before, it’s hard not to get brush strokes when using brush pen or marker, unless one is using xylene-based markers — but those can be a bit tough to work with because of the fumes (I will try not to get into discussing health issues as well, but there are those too).

I completed only one card today, because I ran out of ideas after I’d finished it. It wasn’t that I couldn’t think of anything to draw; it was that I couldn’t think of anything to draw which would make sense to put on an Xmas card. Maybe I was hungry or something. (My mom did find the ants’ home base in our kitchen, so I haven’t been around there for most of the day.)

Besides, I guess, it’s cold and wet. And dark. So I was lying in bed for most of today, which probably wasn’t good, as I have work early tomorrow. Some sleep tonight would be nice…but it was also nice just to have the option not to do anything. What would have been nicer would have been to take the option to do what I couldn’t do when my time was taken up by homework.

Annoying = having to have 3-4 lights on in my room, with the blinds open, to be able to see what I was doing. On the other hand, I’ve found a use for my gigantic desk, which is big enough for the largest papers I have (I’m not counting the gargantuan one I got in Drawing class, which was almost too big for the kitchen floor). And I don’t have to worry about spreading my pens and pencils and papers out all over the desk and then leaving them, unlike the kitchen table.

I suppose if I really do start to use that desk a lot, I actually *could* put it so I’d have a direct light source from outside. I’d just have to move everything else around a lot…! ugh. (giant bed, giant bookcase, giant desk)

(Which reminds me that I need to go back over my Art History text and read those multiple long chapters I skipped, then probably weed my bookcase [and weed my closet — I’m about 20 lbs. heavier than would be ideal, now, though the second-to-last time in which I weighed myself, I was 3 lbs. lighter than this last time… In any case, I need some larger clothes, and I need to stop hanging on to clothes like I’m suddenly going to drop back down to 127].)

While I was lying around, a few drawing subjects did come to me which I thought might be appropriate for Xmas cards:

jingle bells

I already have one which is an abstract design, and one which is a closeup of an Xmas ornament on a tree, with lights. I’m trying to avoid images of presents, as my family is almost totally made of adults now, and we aren’t officially exchanging presents. Plus, not even everyone is going to be here.

What I really want to be doing is either coloring my giant drawing I did for Critique, or working on a large-scale graphite/charcoal drawing. It’s just that I’m inexperienced in working from light to dark, I think, so I’m a little timid in trying to do so.

I have about a week to complete the cards I’m going to complete, and to figure out to whom they’re going. I should erase my guidelines on the abstract card, and put in dark-darks on the ornament card, and then I think I will be good, at least with those.

…I should probably get to bed!

Not doing too well at keeping up with Drawing homework…

I’ve had other things pressing on my time.

Tonight I think I’ll be working on “Brilliant #6″…I really don’t know if any of us are actually drawing every night to one song.  Earlier this week I’ve had to work with my Communications class and homework — I think it was one quiz, one assignment, one speech, and I have another assignment to knock out before Sunday night.  I think the Internet has made instructors more willing to assign more readings and projects to us, because then we’re not turning in like 3 items plus a quiz on one day.

For Drawing, I’ve had to work on a tesselation, and some gigantic project which was almost too big for the kitchen floor, but I think that’s been about it, other than the “Brilliant” series and the other assignment I got yesterday, which has to do with the relationship between Self and Other.  Mine is “Self” vs. “Generalized Other”, because all I could think of when I heard the prompt was eye teeth.  This may link back to some familial episodes as well, though I hesitate to say that.  My family dynamics are much better now than they used to be — but there was a period of time when they were really not good.

What is happening with Drawing is that I’m finding myself going off on my own tangents.  Like last night I completed a layout on 11″x14″ paper which began as my screwing around with sketches on a paper which was worthless to me.  (The paper had marker bleed-through from the drawing above it.)  That turned into a comic page, which turned into a tracing in Microns using Layout paper, which then got willow charcoal layered on top of it and became a subtractive drawing.  I still haven’t gone back in with charcoal pencil (or ink) to add in concentrated dark values.  Nor have I sealed it, so it’s just accumulating inverse fingerprints and stuff.  Makes it look more like it’s “art,” but still, you know.  Inverse Fingerprints.

Oh, one more thing:  When I was smudging the charcoal, I found out not to clean off my fingers on a part of the drawing I want to erase into, because the oil from one’s fingers plus the charcoal dust will not come up once it’s ground in.  It took me a while to realize what happened.  If I’d filled in the area with fresh charcoal like the rest of the composition, and not (in specific) rubbed my fingers clean on that area, I would have been able to lift the charcoal that was there.  As it is, it’s stained, and if it were a serious composition, I’d have to repair it on the computer by substituting a different panel, or by gluing an opaque panel on top of it for reproduction.

I’m actually thinking of the uses of drawing each panel separately, and individually modifying and assembling them using a graphics program…I just need to keep the scale of each of the panels in mind when drawing them.  The Metric system would help with this, though then I’d likely be printing on A4 — and where am I going to find reasonably-priced A4 paper in this country?

On a different note, I did find out that the Copics will work very well on Marker paper — though I still haven’t tried my AquaBee Pen Sketcher’s Pad, which works great for Microns (and now I find I need to get another Micron 03 as well <*puffs*>…though I guess I have used it).

I have a pad of Borden & Riley Marker paper in 9″x12″, and found out last night that I can use Copics on it and they won’t leave streaks — at least, not any visible to the naked eye.  However, using them on Borden & Riley Layout Paper causes inconsistencies in the finished tone, because of inconsistencies in the opacity and translucency of the paper; the Marker paper is much more uniformly translucent.  It also looks like the absorbency of the Layout paper isn’t ideal for this application — I can see faint streaks, whereas on the Marker paper, there are none.

9″x12″ is just a little too big for my scanner bed, but I can cut it down, or, as said above, import the panels separately and then do the assembly on the computer (though with which program, I’m unsure).  I’m thinking of using Legal-size paper for printouts of final pages, then assembling, trimming and stapling them.  I suppose if I’m going to do all that, why not work in Metric, eh?

I’ve had some experience with layout from playing around with making ‘zines as a kid, though I never really reproduced or published any of them.  They were more like little, really basic comics in mechanical pencil.  I’m not sure if I still have any of them, though I have run across one which may have been a little booklet (? I was 14, it wasn’t that good) and one which was a page in dark graphite, from later in my teens.  The latter was just because I wanted to see what it would look like if I did a graphic novel.  It did look pretty, well, atmospheric.

But to get into that more deeply, gets into my weird teenage writing, from a time where I wasn’t fully aware of what was going on in my mind behind the stories, or what the implications for wider society might be if I actually did publish those thoughts.  For those who don’t know, which would be all of you, it was kind of like an RPG where the demons aren’t evil.

But, dude — RPGs.  Every single RPG I’ve been a member of has made me actually angry at the people I’ve been playing with, because it seems that no one questions the fundamental assumption that one can tell the history, background, inclinations, and morality of a character from their race.  Meaning I’ve been consistently harassed because everyone thought I wanted to be the bad guy because I wasn’t born an elf.

Anyhow, it’s getting pretty late where I’m at, so I should sign off — got to get up early tomorrow.

subtractive pineapple in vine charcoal

Playing around with charcoal and kneaded eraser. This was done without using a model, so it’s probably not as interesting as it would have been if I’d actually seen a pineapple plant. 🙂

The pineapple I drew the other day (without a model) for kicks has dried all the way.  The Aqua Net worked!  The only problem is that I think the Aqua Net may have slightly damaged my drawing board because of the moisture in the spray.  As I was pulling up the Artist’s Tape, as well, the board fragmented and began to lift up.  I should try Painter’s Tape, next time, and spray on the back of the drawing board.  This, or get a melamine board specifically for sealing charcoal images.

I’m pretty sure I used a Layout paper from Borden & Riley for this; I taped down all sides of the image to my drawing board, propped the board up against the tub in the bathroom, and then sprayed. This was with the bathroom window open to vent the fumes.  I closed the door after I was done to let the vapors dissipate.  Initially, the image crinkled up, but as it dried, it flattened out again.  I could scan it!  😀  Plus, the vapors are gone now.

I was thinking of the little pineapples I’ve seen growing in Hawaii, and the tiny ones I’ve seen at the produce market, when I was drawing this.  I’m sure that eventually I’d be able to find one this tiny IRL, but it wouldn’t be attached to a plant, and I doubt it would be any time soon.

I also was hesitant to obscure my pineapple by putting leaves in front of it.  To me, it’s noticeable, but maybe that’s just because I was paying attention to that.

To myself in the future and others who may be interested:  This drawing was made by rubbing vine charcoal into the surface of a paper, and then erasing out the light spots.  The only place where I went back in with charcoal pencil and more vine charcoal, are the soil and pot.  I’m sure the soil is a 4B or 6B General’s Charcoal pencil, and the pot itself is more soft vine charcoal.

Where this could be improved:  If I were doing this for class, I’d blow up the image so it would be larger, then I’d focus on an upper corner of the drawing.  I’d put more detail into the fruit itself, and I’d not be as scared to draw the leaves in front of the fruit.  However, I also think that illustrating only parts of the leaves showed an interplay of light and shadow which wasn’t fully grasped at the time.  With the differing values of the leaves, it’s very obvious to me that some are shown in front of others, which was also an effect I liked.  I’d like to try this from an angle slightly above the plant, so it wouldn’t just be a profile image.

I did get this paper in a larger size, so I can try working out the comic composition I made the other day, both in marker (Copic, Pitt, and Micron) and in subtractive drawing with charcoal, as I’ve done here.  There is a lighter Pitt cold gray color than that which I have; it could be interesting to use the Pitts as versus the Copics, and see which one gives me a smoother final product.

I think the best part about drawing this way is that if something happens that you don’t want, rub it out or put some more vine charcoal on it, and try again!  It’s really forgiving.  🙂

Happy burst over?  😉