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.

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Color mixing.

Right now I’m wondering about the practicality of doing a blog post after every time I do something creative…though it is motivational, I guess.

Pyrrol oranges and reds.
Pyrrol colors.

From what you can see on the left, I did some more experimenting with Pyrrol colors, today.

I did take a trip out to an art store, and picked up a tube of Daniel Smith’s Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255), upper left. This is different from M. Graham & Co.’s Scarlet Pyrrol (PO73), lower left. They don’t even use the same pigments (the pigment codes are in parenthesis above; “PR” stands for “Pigment Red,” while “PO” stands for “Pigment Orange”).

What I already had which it is closest to, is Winsor Red (PR254), upper right. I suppose I can take some comfort in it not being an exact match…

On the bottom of the above image, you can see that I re-tested Winsor Orange Red Shade (bottom right) against M. Graham’s Scarlet Pyrrol (bottom left). They both carry the same pigment code, PO73. But last night I was talking about backruns and weird textures with M. Graham and not with Winsor & Newton; today I had the opposite happen. I’m now thinking it has to do with the pigment properties themselves.

This became clearer when I tested out DS’s Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) on the upper left, against Winsor Red (PR 254) on the upper right. Winsor Red is a kind of weird red in that it doesn’t lean either to the violet or the orange side very much; it’s kind of a lipstick-looking red. However, Pyrrol Scarlet is a little, tiny bit more orange. But all of these colors are Pyrrol colors, and from what I’ve seen, they all can do the weird backflow rivulet thing wet-in-wet which makes the paint look grainy. It’s just that sometimes, they don’t.

I’m thinking it has to do with the amount of water that has soaked into the paper (as versus the amount of water still on the surface of the paper), and the amount of time the paint has to spread from the brush onto the paper, as well as the amount of paint in the brush. I originally re-did this test to see if I could get the Winsor Orange Red Shade (lower right) to match the intensity I got out of M. Graham’s Scarlet Pyrrol (lower left), last night. The good thing is, I can; these just seem to be a finicky family of pigments!

Or, maybe I should say that the Pyrrol pigments require some extra skill in handling?

I did do some mixing tests with these colors, but I didn’t get to use the DS Permanent Yellow Deep, which I want to try soon. I think I was using the M. Graham Isoindolinone Yellow Deep, just because it was already on my palette, and it was brighter. The range of colors I got out of that didn’t surprise me, so I didn’t prep a special photo of it for here. But I do want to do some more mixing tests, soon.

Below is a photo of a section of my paper where I was basically messing around with DS Prussian Blue (I kind of love this color, even though it does grey out slightly in four months of direct sunlight), and Winsor Blue Green Shade, that is, Phthalocyanine Blue Green Shade, plus Winsor (Phthalo) Green Yellow Shade. I found that Winsor Green Yellow Shade is more stable under direct sunlight than Winsor Green Blue Shade, for at least the first four months. I’m not entirely certain, why.

Test paper: experimental painting
Playing around on my testing paper.

But I tried adding blue (in the top left, this is Prussian Blue) to Winsor Green Yellow Shade to see if I could shift it bluer — and I can. I can also add Aureolin (the yellow rectangle near the center) to make it greener; Aureolin (PY40) naturally has a green shift to it which causes it to appear “dirty” on the palette. It’s good for incremental hue shifts, though, as it shades greens yellower very delicately.

The major drawback to Aureolin is that you don’t want to get it on your skin for any length of time, as it’s a Cobalt color (this did happen to me at one time, painting in the field; it’s not good, as cobalt is a known carcinogen and can cause skin irritation on exposure. The irony is that I wouldn’t have gotten Aureolin all over my bare hand if it weren’t for a nitrile (or latex?) glove screwing up my grip, causing paint to get all over the tube and all over my hand. As I was outside, my closest options to stop the damage were to wash my hand off in the lake [thus polluting the lake and getting possibly nastier stuff on my hand] or to wash it off in my paintbrush rinse water…or, find a bathroom).

I didn’t get to try Green Gold in addition to any of these colors, but I should make a note that I do want to try it, later. This is another color that there just wasn’t a well for, on my palette.

Reminding me: I may eventually want to get a serious metal palette with half-pans that I can easily rearrange and swap out (if that exists)…

Toward the end of my painting session, you can see I kind of got warmed up. I started toying around with Permanent Rose + Permanent Magenta, and mixing that wet-into-wet with Payne’s Grey, in the center bottom of the above photo.

enlargement of section of second image
Can’t remember exactly how I made those squiggles…

Then I started mixing Phthalo Blue Green Shade with Prussian Blue, and blending that wet-into-wet with Perm. Rose + Perm. Magenta, which made these really nice squiggles you can see to the right, here.

I think the noodle below the blue-violet one, going into the lower right corner is Permanent Magenta + Dioxazine Violet, though I can’t be sure anymore at this point. I wasn’t taking notes; this entry is serving as my reminder to myself of what I’ve done!

On that note, I should also mention that I have gotten to the point with these paints where I don’t even know all the time which paint is which. I think I did set up a key, somewhere, which would be nice to find sometime soon.

The major culprits in my not being able to tell which paint is which, happen to be two yellow paints sitting next to each other…I know one is Winsor Yellow. I just don’t recall, anymore, what the other one is. It’s fairly nondescript. I can remember Isoindolinone Yellow Deep, Hansa Yellow Light, and Aureolin. I’ll have to go through my tubes to look up that last one, especially as I have no idea where I saved my spreadsheet of colors…

Some photos to go with the last post:

Earlier tonight I took some pictures referencing what I spoke about in my last (relatively cryptic) post. To recap, I tested out some differing brands of paints which have similar pigments, if not the same pigment. (They did have the same pigment code.) What I found, was kind of interesting.

My “new” paints were Winsor Orange (Red Shade): PO73, second from the left, compared with M. Graham’s Scarlet Pyrrol (also PO73); and Daniel Smith Permanent Yellow Deep: PY110, third from the left, compared with Holbein’s Isoindolinone Yellow Deep (also PY110).

I also tested out M. Graham’s Ultramarine Violet Deep, though that one…I’m going to have to think on. It’s naturally a very delicate color, especially when compared to Dioxazine Violet (which I didn’t include in these photos). It actually reminds me of amethyst.

I am thinking that Ultramarine Violet Deep may pair well with Payne’s Grey. Possibly the other blue-violets, too (Indanthrene?), and maybe Prussian Blue, but my (Winsor & Newton) French Ultramarine does overpower it, used full strength. Of course, though, French Ultramarine is more powerful than regular Ultramarine.

Below, see an image of the relevant test swatches:

IMG_4054w
Comparison between different brands with similar pigments. The one on the right is just for fun.

It’s kind of faint here, but the Scarlet Pyrrol had a backrun which caused the paint to appear grainy. Winsor Orange Red Shade, however, although it seems a little less powerful in this treatment, is relatively very controlled in its dispersal. I have a close-up of the left two paints:

Two red-orange test swatches of watercolor paint.
M. Graham Scarlet Pyrrol (left) vs. Winsor Orange Red Shade (both PO73)

Hopefully, that’s a bit clearer. The top row is of each paint, wet-on-dry, whereas the bottom row is of each paint, wet-into-wet (I did accidentally touch the two squares). I mentioned quite a while ago that the Scarlet Pyrrol appeared “corroded” in my lightfastness testing, both above and below the strip to block out sunlight. In this test, the water on my brush ran back into the paint and pushed the pigment into what look like little rivulets of more intense red-orange color.

I didn’t obtain the Winsor Orange Red Shade until after the swatches I had made had been exposed to sunlight for four months, so I don’t know how it will fare in lightfastness testing. It does seem a little less intense than the M. Graham, though that could have been because I was using the M. Graham from a dried/rehydrated state and the Winsor & Newton color from a moist state. I also might just not have used enough of the W&N paint.

As for the Daniel Smith Permanent Yellow Deep, I’m very happy with it. It has better dispersal than the Holbein formulation (which just made a line at my last brush stroke), but then Holbein is specifically designed without dispersants. The Holbein is actually noticeably brighter, as well. At this point, I’m not entirely certain how to feel about that…a lot of serious watercolorists do use the more muted colors. (I’d…consider myself a hobbyist, at this point, with the potential for growth.)

mixed orange watercolors
various oranges.

I’ve just prepped an image of what PO73 + PY110 look like together, and it’s relatively pleasant! It’s just a little duller than Cotman Cadmium Orange Hue, but I found that the latter actually fades relatively quickly and significantly…which is something to keep in mind when painting florals.

Both orange squares to the right are mixes of PO73 + PY110, while the vertical and horizontal lines are Cotman Cadmium Orange Hue. I’ve altered the Exposure setting on this image to try and undo some of the low light conditions, but it feels pretty close.

I forgot to take “After” pictures of the lightfastness swatches I worked, I just realized; something I should likely record. (They were sitting in the window fading for four months, which showed me which paints not to use. Since then, I haven’t put them back up, pending photographs.)

I’m also seriously and sort of stupidly wondering if I do want to get a tube of Quinacridone Coral, now: I am going to try and get rid of my Grumbacher Deep Vermilion, which leaves a gap in the orange-leaning reds. (The majority of my reds lean violet, which is a pain when I want to paint something red-orange or any kind of warm orange color! [Violet-leaning reds typically don’t yield intense oranges.])

There is a hidden assumption here, for those of you who are new: I’m avoiding cadmium-based pigments (particularly, red, orange, and yellow). Hence, the hunt for safer alternatives. Pyrrol Orange is definitely one of those, as far as I can see, but it has a peach bias.

I’ve found that at this point, there are a number of colors I want to avoid using for serious work. The Grumbacher Deep Vermilion is one of those. I might use it out of its well just to avoid wasting it, but it’s terrible for wet-in-wet work, and it greys out a bit when exposed to direct sunlight.

And for regular blog followers and botany enthusiasts; I have more recent pictures of my succulents, but I’ll put them in another post. 🙂

Toying with new paints

I only have a few minutes to write. I wanted to mention, though, that I was able to get back to watercolor painting, yesterday. A blog I follow had mentioned the Daniel Smith color, “Quinacridone Coral”; this is a Quin Red which looks like it leans orange. It reminded me of the colors I recently bought but had not yet tested; I have been looking to find something with which I can mix a decent, fade-resistant orange.

So last night, I tested them. I also played around with a bunch of other stuff because my paints were dusty and I was taking the time to wipe off the fuzz (so I said to myself).

I found that Winsor Orange Red Shade is noticeably smoother than (I think) M. Graham Pyrrol Scarlet, even though they use the same pigment. Also, I tested Daniel Smith Permanent Yellow Deep, against Holbein Isoindolinone Yellow (unless my memory is mistaken), with the Daniel Smith dispersing better but being a little duller. I’m pretty sure both the latter paints also use similar pigments.

Also, Perm Yellow Deep mixed with Pyrrol Scarlet makes a nice orange!

It was relatively refreshing to break my pattern of not dealing with the paints, to get back to them. I didn’t even mind the cobalt colors, this time. 🙂 I might want to wash out all of my brushes, though (they’re dusty)…

And I might want to get back to working in my art journal so that I can generate ideas. I found myself wondering what to paint, and I think if I were regularly journalling, I’d have an idea…

One pressure valve, released. Two to go.

I can say that today, I gave myself a break from studying. I also reorganized a good section of my art and craft supplies, and me being me, I realized that I have way more than enough stuff to play with. And if one mode of expression isn’t working out, as things currently stand, I can switch to a different medium.

Also, though: I now have 29 different Fat Quarters (quarter-yards of fabric) to work with. Actually, I have 31, but am probably not going to use a solid or the fabric I bought today which I found was screenprinted! The solid was for embroidery practice…and now that I think of it, I have some of it stretched on a hoop around here, somewhere. The other, I really liked, but on getting it home realized that…it’s not at all what I thought it was (the upshot is that I only lost $1 on it, and I can use it for a wall hanging or something).

I have also realized that it’s possible to make a quilt top with nothing more than Fat Quarters and Jelly Rolls (long strips of fabric). And that libraries are sometimes (much) better sources of books than Amazon, because Amazon seems to run on what’s popular more than what’s useful.

So, my last major assignment for Reference Services (the Research Guide thing) went well, though I was up late working on it, and didn’t get to bed until early morning. I had basically been working on it really hard-core for at least three days, which is probably the reason that I barely thought at all about my other two classes, today.

I still have to take my Final in my Database class, which means I should study. Even though the Mock Final was easy, it was also ungraded and just a study aid, so I don’t know if my answers were correct. I’ll want to make sure I can confidently answer the questions, before I start. If I’m lucky, it will take around 30 to 45 minutes. I would like to do that before the material becomes too stale in my memory.

The other thing I have to do is depersonalize my Instructional Design proposal, and make an example of something I would use in my proposed Instructional Unit. That shouldn’t be too hard, and I already have something in mind (a timeline of the evolution of thought around gender variance in the U.S.), but that will likely take more energy than I would like to put into it, considering it’s due so soon.

It’s easy for me to conceptualize what happened in what order, but pinning down hard dates is going to be much more difficult…unless I hardcore utilize some history texts, or contact a nearby Historical Society.

In the meantime, what I’ve started to do is reorganize all of my art supplies and storage, which might get me to use it again. My problem is that things are put away out of sight, and then I forget that I have them. They just become furniture. A bunch of 11″x14″ pads of paper, I’ve moved to the place where I stored my ArtBins, while the ArtBins are now under the craft table. My charcoals and Conté crayons and pastels, I also found tonight. They have an allure — maybe from the fact that they get my hands dirty.

(Though a bunch of my Conté sticks are missing. I’m not entirely sure where I put them — unless they’re with the rest of my unused pastels and charcoals, and there’s a good chance they are. However…being earthtone, they’re best for drawing people’s bodies…which isn’t what I’m inspired by.)

I actually have a set of 10 NuPastels and a set of Sargent Art hard pastels, the latter of which have never been used. The thing about NuPastels is that I know some of those colors are staining…which isn’t really comforting, unless you like that kind of thing (and it is possible to like it). I liked the stained fingertips, before I thought about it a bit (I’m fairly certain the culprit was Phthalo Blue. I still have those little guys [the blue NuPastels]).

The other thing is that they need to be sealed, but I’m not as against using fixative now that I know what I’m doing and also that I don’t have to do it. I’m not forced to do it for a class, that is. My biggest question is trying to figure out if I have the appropriate cartridges for my respirator (I would need “organic vapor and mists” cartridges); but now that I have an easel, I can spray much more easily, and out of the wind.

I do want to try and use the General’s White Charcoal stuff again, though, even though I’ve been wary of whether it’s toxic or not. From what I can tell, it’s likely that the Prop 65 warnings are on there just because of titanium dioxide nanoparticles, but without knowing…it’s kind of tough to decide to just use it.

I am cautious, though. I am. And I know what I’m doing, so…that probably makes a big difference.

I also threw out some stuff which needed to be thrown out, and put my brushes into an empty furikake (rice topping) jar, which is almost kind of perfect. I took them out of their travel case, because the case was just getting dusty, and the brushes were staying hidden. I know myself a little better now than I used to. If I can see something, I’m more likely to gently edge myself into using it, and end up painting before I’m aware of myself enough to stop.

So there’s that which I want to photograph — just so I can remember where everything is — and the watercolor lightfastness chart four-month results I never posted here (I’ve eliminated some colors from my “good to use” list, for various reasons, while some — like Prussian Blue, which fades a little in intensity after four months in direct sun, but is still beautiful and handy for mixing, I’m a little torn about. Just get some anti-UV glass and don’t put your paintings in the window, I say).

😉

You know, I don’t believe I’ve taken my medication, yet. I should probably do that.

I was wondering how I could be so energetic, so late…

And before I forget, I’m going to remind myself here that if I am at a loss as to what to do with my watercolors, just try mixing chromatic greys, neutrals, and black, and seeing what comes of it. The test images can be anything I want…

Laying off the schoolwork (I’ll get back to it tomorrow)

The semester’s winding down, I’ve decided to take only one unit in Summer Session, and I’ve been re-learning knitting and crochet over the past two days. I mean, it’s been two days with minimal studying.

I think I’m ready to get back to my Zen & Art project, although I haven’t been in the mood to read. What I may take away from this project, though, may be the idea of making art for the process, instead of focusing on achieving a planned finished product.

That is, I’d be focusing on the method and whether I enjoy the method (and the quality of the method), not necessarily the goal. By that, I mean instead of striving for perfection as regards an ideal finished product, just let the process be what it is and enjoy it. (Kind of like focusing on the process of exercising, as versus just trying to get through it so I look better…when the first method is more effective at helping my posture and appearance.)

I never did take a picture of my workspace (a.k.a. the “craft table”), but I need to clean it up, anyway…I have little drawers which are full of creative tools. Maybe I should photograph it after I fix it up.

It’s taken me a bit of time to realize this, but I believe I am still in a learning/sampling mode where it comes to my own art. By that, I mean that I’m still searching for a favorite medium, which affects me in that I don’t want to invest too heavily in one art form just to find out I don’t like it.

I’m hoping Watercolor isn’t going to be this way, but to be real about it, I got into watercolor because I like playing in colors (and I just like the way watercolor disperses and floods the paper and is easily mixed and diluted), not so much because I want to paint things that already exist.

The issue I’m having is that I’ve established an identity as a creator, but have gotten so detached from my own core identity, that I’ve had to reclaim it in order to empower a creator identity. It’s easy to slide under the radar as “normal,” but I think in any artistic endeavor, you’ve really got to be willing to put yourself out there if you want to be honest in your work. Without honesty (however that can be expressed), it’s extremely difficult to say anything…that I would want to say, I guess.

Maybe art hasn’t always been about self-expression, but for me it is; and this is why I’ve chosen not to get a job in Commercial Art. This is also why I’m getting the Library degree, so that I won’t have to make things I don’t agree with and don’t actually support (or which contribute to harming people), in order to stay alive.

What I can say is that it’s hard to say something authentic when you’re afraid to say something authentic. The issue is that when you have to create or you don’t feel whole, that then gives you a choice between being a messenger of whatever good you serve, and/or using your talent to route money to a business or political cause. I would rather be the messenger of the Divine than replace that message with something that is designed to make someone else rich and powerful.

There are a lot of artists who work spirituality into their art, including one of my past Art teachers (whom I remembered while incidentally watching a show on Mediumship, last night). Today I saw a minor exhibit at a quilting shop (who knew quilting shops existed???) and it was really inspiring, especially with the Artist’s Statement which related material about visions, spiritual connections of the artist’s work, and being spoken to by the materials. This person was heavily into quilting, so much so that her work was art, more than practical (and was priced as Art).

And I’ve realized that different methods and strengths (and loves/passions) are needed for different art forms. For example, knitting and crochet are very tactile and involve a lot of repetition and high attention. Painting deals more with intellectual problems of composition and subject matter than I am altogether comfortable with…although I’m a color nut and so I am attracted to the colors just because they’re intermixable colors… Quilting seems different from both, but I haven’t gotten deeply enough into it to be able to tell you what it teaches me.

To bring in another contrast, I can mention relief printing, which deals a lot with drawing and carving, and the fact that hand-pulled prints are all unique even though they are taken from the same block. I started to do this, and even got the knives and blocks and stuff for it, quite a while ago. I just haven’t been back to it, and I don’t know why.

What I do know is that if I continue dealing with fabric and fiber, I will be able to block-print onto fabric. But that’s in the distant future, right now.

Because it’s almost Summer, I’ve been expending more on creative materials. I can see the chance to use them, on the horizon (this is as versus spending very little, except on necessities and books, during the semester). I think I may be celebrating in anticipation, though, instead of waiting until Finals are over and then planning to celebrate.

Lest I forget, the creative materials I’ve bought over the past few weeks include materials for quilting, watercolors, and needlework (this is a misleading term; I mean crochet and knitting, though I have still wanted to get back to embroidery as well. Then there’s also garment construction [sewing]).

The big common thread that all three of these have is color and color play, something that got me into beadwork as a youth, as well. Today I went to a yarn store which I didn’t even know was there (my folks found it for me) and bought actual nice yarn. Like wool yarn that isn’t scratchy.

It helps that I have some experience in this already and knew I was looking for DK (Double Knitting), Worsted weight, or Bulky yarn, and something which would hold good stitch definition (i.e. which would show the stitches) and not untwist as I worked it (this has been an issue with some 2-ply Fingering weight yarn…which I now know is irritating for me).

Yarn weights in the U.S. have specific names; from largest to smallest, they go something like this (I’m not totally sure this is accurate, by the way, but to give you an idea):

  1. Extra Bulky
  2. Bulky
  3. Worsted
  4. DK (Double Knitting)
  5. Sock
  6. Fingering
  7. Laceweight
  8. Cobweb

Basically, I had too much lightweight yarn (Numbers 5-7) and barely anything with any give to it which was midweight or heavyweight (numbers 2-4). This matters because heavier yarns work up into fabric, much faster. It’s also easier to learn on heavier yarn. I think some of the first good yarn I ever bought was this light laceweight stuff, and I didn’t realize that lacework was:

  1. best suited to experienced knitters/crocheters/tatters (it’s not that easy), and
  2. took forever, because you’re generally using a tiny hook or tiny needles, and that vastly magnifies production time (unless you’re doing a lot of openwork; that is, making something with a lot of relatively large holes in it).

Given that, I’m not entirely sure why the laceweight stuff is always in the front of the local yarn stores…

I also didn’t know to use bamboo needles (not steel or aluminum, which are both too slick), as a beginner; or not to use acrylic yarn to learn on (acrylic has absolutely no give to it, so when knitting, it can be difficult or impossible to force a needle into a loop that’s too small. It’s also a very poor insulator).

Anyhow, I got on here tonight with the idea of sharing the swatches I’ve been making, but I’m not sure I am all that capable of keeping my mind clear enough to photograph, edit, and then post the images. But I have three swatches I made today, and more than three which I made yesterday (I’m just not overjoyed with some of the ones beyond the three I mention).

I also now have a sizeable stash of decent (a.k.a. nice, a.k.a. pleasure to work with) yarn. If I wind a few hanks into balls, I can free up a lot more space in the yarn box, too.

Recap of the past three days

I’ve been told to go to bed, but I know I won’t remember what happened over the past three days, if I don’t record it. I’m pretty sure I made the last post in the early morning (i.e. after midnight) on Tuesday.

I think I was able to go to the Japanese market for foodstuffs that day (soba noodles, senbei)…I know Wednesday, I worked and went out later. I also started designing quilt layouts.

Thursday, I saw a professional in the morning and then…either Tuesday or Thursday, I went to the fabric store, and either Tuesday or Thursday, I went to the produce market. (It’s all kind of blurring together.)

Today I was mostly asleep until evening, but I have started working on assignments, again.

I also did check that lightfastness chart on Tuesday, but I haven’t made photos yet. There are about 6 or so paints that I now know fade after about 4 weeks of direct sunlight, and a few others which are also starting to do so, but it’s only barely noticeable. (On the other hand, the difference between Winsor & Newton Yellow Ochre and Yellow Ochre Light has been magnified: Yellow Ochre Light is yellower and less red than regular Yellow Ochre!).

I need to re-swatch Scarlet Pyrrol (from M. Graham & Co.), because it looks like it has been altered, but I don’t know from what; if memory serves, it is different underneath the covering paper, as well as on top. This could indicate heat or atmospheric influence, or some kind or corrosion, as versus just light…it looks grittier than I remember.

Of course, no one hangs their paintings in the window in direct sunlight, but it’s meant to replicate advanced wear.

Aureolin is still holding up fine (surprisingly, given its reputation), as have a range of pink-magenta-red paints. I may want to go and get W&N’s variant of Scarlet Pyrrol (it’s called something else, like Winsor Orange Deep, but I’d have to look at my archive or look it up online to be sure what it is). [EDIT: It’s called “Winsor Orange (Red Shade)”.]

Okay, I need to brush my teeth before I totally conk out. But yes, apparently I’m doing very well right now…