Judgment befalls the art supplies

So after dinner, tonight, I was able to separate out some art supplies I have and don’t want. Some of these things, I got from other people. There were also some things I reconsidered. The below is what I was going to give away but decided to keep, and why.

  • Chartpak markers

These markers are xylene-based and thus, toxic (and for me, anxiety-inducing). However…I tried coloring with them in a circular motion, as I had heard one needed to do with markers to avoid streaks. For some reason, they didn’t bleed severely, as I’ve known them to (it must have either been the paper, or their age). A bunch of these, I got for graphic design for my job.

On those grounds alone, I might keep them, just because I may need to make more signs.

However, what really got me is that they dried so slowly that the color…was really smooth. The strokes blended into each other. I decided to keep them because of this, and because I realized that I can put the work into the bathroom to dry, turn on the fan and leave the door open, to form a makeshift evacuation hood. It keeps the fumes from collecting and giving me a headache.

I’m also interested in what I can draw or paint on top of these.

  • Prismacolor black markers

The Prismacolors didn’t smell as noxious, today, as I remember them smelling. They’re alcohol markers, and when used like I used the Chartpaks, they cover the paper really well. I’m curious about what I can draw on top of them.

  • Copic Cool Grey markers (in multiple intensities)

I decided to keep these alcohol markers after I got out my marker paper and tested a couple of Copics like I had tested the Prismacolor and Chartpak markers. Copics are basically a serious investment (they cost upwards of $3 each for the cheapest models, on sale), and the major drawback to having the ones I have, is that they’re all the same color. But…on the off chance that I do start illustrating again, they’ll be nice to have around. Especially to do grisaille (a greyscale drawing) under other (Copic) colors.

  • Faber-Castell Polychromos Grey set

I was going to get rid of these colored pencils, until I found some test marks I had made on black paper. They…are interesting, on dark backgrounds. The upshot of using light colors on dark paper is the fact that you get to paint in the lights, instead of the shadows. Because I’ve been wanting to deal with awareness of negative space and balance between positive and negative space, my interest in these, I think, will help me grow.

  • Rembrandt grey soft pastels (multiple shades and tints)

Same thing, here. I figured that if I was going through my toxic stuff and keeping some of it, why not keep these? The big issue here is dust and nanoparticles. I did keep my ArtGuard barrier cream for my hands…and I’ve never even tried using it to keep the pigments out of my skin (though the greys I have, don’t stain). I can try using this, and see then if I still want to get rid of these guys. The darker greys, in particular, are beautiful on black paper, and the whites are intense, on same.

Rembrandts are also a brand I trust, although I have seen some Caution Label warnings about some of the “shade” colors (shades are pigments mixed with black). I’m thinking that the warnings are because the black is likely carbon (I’m reading Lamp Black) and may be contaminated with creosote. Generally when that’s even a remote possibility, the pastels get tagged with a “Cancer!” label. (That’s in addition to anything with Titanium White in it, being tagged with a Prop 65 label, when Titanium Dioxide is nontoxic and only a mechanical danger.)

That’s just a guess, though. On looking deeper, I’m finding that Lamp Black itself may be classified as a possible carcinogen, and that it’s weakly toxic.

If it’s just the black that’s a problem, though…I’ll try the barrier cream!

  • Derwent Watercolor Pencil set

These are just too nice to give away. Selling them is something else. I have a set of Supracolor aquarelle pencils I was going to replace them with, but I’ve found my Neocolors (by the same company, Caran d’Ache) not to age very well. If the Supracolors (made with the same pigments as the Neocolors?) are going to appear dull over time, and I’m giving away the Neocolors, I might want the Derwents as a backup.

  • Japanese Pentel brush pen

This thing is just neat. It’s a pen with an ink reservoir as a handle, and synthetic hairs at the tip. I realized what was wrong is just that the tip needed to be wet because the thing on the whole is drying out. But I still have a refill for this, and it makes my kanji look awesome, so I’m keeping it.

There are a bunch of things I’m getting rid of. I’m just not sure it’s worth it, to list them. However, there are a number of paints — some acrylic, some watercolor — which I don’t have a need for, anymore, or which are poor quality. I’m not sure if some of them can be saved (for example, by mixture with an acrylic medium), or if they’re just unrecoverable garbage.

I’m getting rid of a large pencil wallet which breaks pencils (but might be good for pens), a couple of sets of sketching pencils (I have enough graphite), two sets of Pentel oil pastels (one of which is unopened), a large collection of Neocolor II water-soluble oil pastels, some Neocolor I waterproof oil pastels, and some scholastic-level markers. Also, there are some colored pencil duplicates that have nothing in particular wrong with them.

I might also try and pawn off one of our two sets of Prang watercolor paints, here. And I have a number of watercolor palettes…which I probably am not going to use, all at the same time (though I might surprise myself).

The tough thing I found, tonight, is that the stuff I want to get rid of is the stuff that isn’t in my face. I’ve recently reorganized, and so I have art supplies which haven’t proven themselves yet to be inferior, in front of me.

Now, as for the question of which of these mediums I’m actually going to use…and in the near future, at that?

…that’s a tougher question.


Things that aren’t equivalent

I started to write this last night, but adjourned to my bed and my blog notebook. It’s probably a good thing, because I was really tired. (It’s not good to be that tired and exposed to the blue light of a computer screen; it can make me stay up longer than I should.)

The notes I took are all about things that I at once thought were related, but which turned out to be more dissimilar than expected. I also started drawing on the side of my notes…which was surprisingly satisfying. Yes, even though it was on lined paper.

I was using a Yasutomo Liquid Stylist pen, which is a fiber-tipped pen with a nice juicy flow. The drawing just came out of wondering what would happen if I made shapes in some way other than letters…

…I’ve also started drawing images of my houseplants, because they’re kind of the reverse of the memento mori that happens with cut flowers. In this case, because they’re still growing, they’ll never be this tiny again!

For a while now, I’ve been discouraged from drawing because of the fact that nearly everything I see has a human touch to it. Botanical gardens aren’t even immune, because they’re planted and maintained by people. Outdoor areas are often landscaped and built upon. Someone designed those buildings. Someone designed everything within those buildings.

An extreme example would be driving out to the middle of nowhere in Las Vegas and copying down a display of some statue surrounded by plants which don’t naturally grow there (like much, does). It’s obvious on that point that the display was made to be seen and to have the impact it has. It’s worse when the plants are poorly taken-care of and obviously being used.

It’s why I didn’t take too many photos of Las Vegas.

While there are some relatively wild areas nearby, they also seem somewhat forbidding. Like I can go into the Sierra, and it’s beautiful; at the same time I know I can easily die there, just from making one mistake. So it’s gorgeous and at the same time…I don’t know if, “sobering,” is the right word, but there is an element of heightened awareness and caution, there.

I haven’t yet been able to reconcile recording human-built and -designed landscapes within urban and suburban areas, and the feeling of being out-of-place in relatively untouched areas.

Anyhow, to get back to my list. (I’ve expanded upon it, below.) These are things I have drawn parallels between in the past, though now…I recognize their differences. In the below, I’ll be using the “!=” shorthand to mean, “not (exactly) equal to.” It would get unnecessarily wordy, otherwise.

  • drawing != painting
    • even though both result in the creation of images
    • Drawing uses lines; painting has an absence of line.
    • Drawing may make much less use of color than painting.
  • beading != painting
    • even though both can be dependent upon color use and combinations
    • Painting requires some thought as to subject matter, which is not necessarily the case with beading.
  • beading != “Jeweling” (Silversmithing) even though both can result in the production of jewelry
    • Beading requires weaving (in its simplest form, stringing) and design, incorporating skilled usage of pre-made components.
    • Jeweling requires metalwork (and in advanced forms, skilled use of fire) to assemble metal (usually sheet, wire, and [if casting,] grain) into a new, coherent form.
    • Jeweling may make much less use of color than beading.
  • sewing != beading
    • even though both use fine needles
    • Sewing requires the use of fabrics (or two-dimensional soft surfaces), which feel entirely different than assembling pierced glass, stone, metal, etc., components through the usage of fiber.
  • “making things” != programming
    • even though both “create”
    • “Programming” is listing instructions to a computer which have to be 100% correct (or near), and logically consistent, or they won’t work at all.
    • Logic and semantic precision don’t factor into, “making things,” nearly as much (as I’ve experienced them); there is room for imperfection in, “making things.”
  • literature writing != comics
    • even though both tell stories
    • Comics have a strong graphic component requiring a different skill set than writing.
    • Comics may utilize a different form of communication than writing.
  • “Communications” class != social skills class
    • I took a class in “Communications” hoping it would make me a better communicator. Lo and behold, they meant, “public speaking,” not “interpersonal skills.”
  • Sociology != “the study of people”
    • Sociology is the study of people through the lens of how power dynamics constrain people, not the study of people and societies in general.

I’m not sure if this is some sort of cognitive or experiential deficit with me which has caused me to think that the things I’ve listed above have been related because they had a common factor (such as beadwork and painting having a common thread of color dynamics; thus I thought I’d enjoy painting [more than I have] because I’m enthused about color, and had enjoyed beadwork).

I’m hoping to get back to beadwork, very soon. I would have done it earlier today, but it’s been nice just to not have to do anything, for the first time in weeks. It felt like as much as I could do, to write this entry!

But I do have some pearls I want to do something with, and at least one project in stasis; I can start there.

Drawing from life for the first time in months.

I would have posted this last night, but as it was, I got to bed after midnight. I was cleaning up the craft table when I realized that having my pencils out (as versus put away) and readily available would likely help with coming back to drawing.

Yesterday, I drew from life for the first time in months. Apparently, I remember something from all those drawing classes — it was easier than I expected. Something I found out as well, is that my subject gave me details that I would not have thought of on my own — which is a reason to draw from life.

I sketched the leaves of a tomato seedling I have growing, right now, and it appears to be proportional and relatively accurate. There’s a level of grace that I saw there that I can’t really describe, but I think I captured it in the drawing.

Also, I was able to push out a few imagined gingko leaves and fuchsia blossoms, though with the latter…I particularly remember them around my grandmother’s house (as a kid, I would pop the flower pods open). I’m wondering about finding some photos online to help me with knowing what the rest of a fuchsia looks like.

And yeah, the Pitt brush pens helped a lot with this. I’ve realized that I need to be using colors that don’t exist in real life, too. (Or maybe they do, and I just don’t remember them…)

For whatever reason, I’m very low-energy right now (the only reason I’m up, really, is to work on my Programming homework, most of which I’ve gotten done), so I’m not sure if images will make it into this post. I’ve spent the last few days mostly asleep, though. I know it’s something biological, but I am having a hard time believing that it all is biological.

I had realized that one of the reasons I got the baby succulents at all, was to sketch and/or paint them…so I didn’t actually have to go out looking for plant cuttings to draw. The succulent with the stalk is now blooming with yellow tube-shaped flowers…I think it’s an Echeveria, just from the way it looks, but I’m not sure.

In any case, I haven’t yet tried to draw any of those, though unlike cut flowers or produce (two of my other favorite subjects), they’re not apt to die within the next few days while I get up my nerve to approach drawing them, so I’m good. πŸ™‚

I also started cartooning again, though this was not at all from life. It’s actually got me reconsidering my decision to move away from comics. I generally don’t find people all that fascinating to draw, but if I’m cartooning…that’s not really drawing people like someone would draw nudes. Kind of like directing a dramatic movie isn’t the same thing as videotaping family gatherings. I have run across people who apparently love drawing nudes, but it’s not really my thing. (The biggest reason for me to draw someone without clothes is that drawing clothes is harder.)

In addition, I’ve realized that I don’t particularly have to have human characters in my stories, meaning I don’t particularly have to draw representations of people. This widens the field a great deal. As a cartoonist, I can edit out or alter the parts of drawing people that don’t appeal to me. And as I’m already interested in Science Fiction and Fantasy, that will likely be a good area to explore.

On top of all that, I wanted to note that I wanted to play around with some of the international-sized papers I’ve got, rather than just sticking with Strathmore and Canson. I also have a couple of types of Mixed Media papers that I can use, which I’ve never tried before (I got them out of flat storage, yesterday).

But anyway, just drawing…helps. And drawing from life helps when it’s hard for me to imagine what to draw.

Being productive (in unexpected ways)

Around the time of my last posting, I did a sweep of the bedroom and vastly decreased the amount of dust, in there. Yesterday, the family got together and sorted and reorganized and cleaned and labeled the art and craft storage areas here. I was pleasantly surprised that I had less stuff than I thought I did…

…and I am now rethinking my plan to give away or sell my Copics. True, I don’t like them that much, and possibly contributing to that is the monochrome nature of my collection (different dilutions of Cool Grey, it doesn’t even have the impact of Warm Grey); but working with markers is a quick way to be able to play with things like the impact of negative painting and negative space, without the nervous apprehension that comes with painting, for me. πŸ˜›

(Speaking of which, I have heard that fear of painting on canvas is specific to me — but it may be easier than trying to do watercolor in a way that isn’t fussy.)

I am also finding myself leaning more to the side of fine art than comics at this time, which is weird when I’m considering going back to using markers. I’m not entirely certain exactly what the removal of the “sequence” from “sequential art” means, but…well. Anyhow.

I’m more drawn to carving out linoleum blocks right now…and I’m not sure if it’s because it’s new, or because I don’t know what the end result will be. It’s also decently “graphic” for me at this point…and I like cutting things. We actually found the other four gouge blades from a woodcarving set while cleaning up, whereas before I only had one. With the handles, these make sizable tools.

Maybe it’s because I took Wood Shop at such a young age (middle school), but there’s some comfort for me in dealing with precision carving. Though…I think I’ve always liked it. I remember doing a plaster carving in Mixed Media class in high school, which I was super proud of until it was shattered by someone.

To work with plaster carving again…hmm. I don’t think I was too concerned with breathing in the dust, before. It wasn’t until I got to the point of casting metal, that I really even started to worry about it. Now, I go to the art store and I see these warnings about powdered crystalline silica and lung cancer and the outside of the bag is covered in powdered plaster, and I’m like, “hmm. Do I really want to risk this?” (not to mention how to clean up without clogging the sink with plaster from your hands!)

But it is really fun! We used empty milk cartons and mixed the plaster in there; then when it was set but still soft, we peeled off the box and carved the block. It’s how I ruined a set of good carving knives and gouges…once the plaster hardens too much, it will damage/dull steel tools.

I am thinking back to that Mixed Media class…we did ceramics, too, and I would think we would have been exposed to vapors from the firing of those (particularly, glazes are molten glass)…but if I knew then, I obviously didn’t care. I’m pretty sure I took the class, twice.

In any case, I’m thinking that block printing is kind of like a step between drawing or painting, and sculpture…which was a kind of odd thought to come to, but it makes sense to me.

And, yeah: I might start carrying around my black Pitt pens to draw with. There are some weird nibs on some of those pens (like Soft Brush or Soft Calligraphy), that handle funny and make unusual marks. They could be useful in designing a print. I think I said that before, though?

There are also the Staedtler Mars Graphic 3000 Duo brush pens, which…well, the ones I have are fairly ancient, but they have gorgeous supple brush nibs. They’re still markers; the nibs have got to be some sort of porous synthetic rubber or something — not fiber — but they make my writing in Japanese look pretty…well, different from everything else I’ve used (and also kind of “better”)!

And I know how to transfer a design from regular paper to marker paper to Saral paper and then cut it out…not a big deal.

Tonight I stayed home and worked on the Wool-Eater lapghan. It’s growing decently, though now I want to make a version which changes yarn color at every diagonal. It’s possible. (I may also accidentally have worked a yarn join from the skein into the lapghan…which is just going to either irritate or sadden me if it comes apart. Still, though, if I made it, I might be able to repair it.)

Right now it’s really just reminding me of a watermelon. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

It’s also warmer than expected, though the temperatures were in the 80ΒΊ F range, today.

Revisiting gesture drawing.

Seeing that one of the books I had placed on hold was apparently still at the library, I took a trip out there today to find it. I must still be unfamiliar with the Web interface, though, because I neglected to see that the book in question is apparently mis-shelved (a.k.a. likely lost somewhere within the library), this being why it wasn’t pulled with the other books I reserved for myself.

So…I had a bit of time today to study SQL, while waiting for my ride (though I’m really starting to hate the level of complexity of the sentences and concepts within the sentences, in my main textbook). And once I got home, I wasn’t quite in the mood to resume studying on Zen (though I know it probably would have grabbed my interest, had I opened the books).

What I did today as regards school, largely, is begin my peer grading responses. I only have a couple more to go before I’ll be done; I got through four of them, today.

I didn’t realize until looking at other people’s submissions, how thoroughly mine was done! I did fall into the trap of taking some time to review my own submission again, thereby wasting time I could have used to review someone else’s presentation…though that’s kind of like my taking time here to read my own blog.quick, free, loose sketch.

Yesterday, I did get some art done, though what I would show is just a pencil sketch. What struck me about it was the method in which I did it: lots of flowing, loose pencil lines. There is a term for this, it’s called, “gesture drawing,” and it’s what I was doing even though I was working on a small 8.5″x5.5″ journal page.

Normally, with gesture drawing, you’re working with a very large page and it is either on an easel, or on the floor (because it’s too big for an easel). This enables large movements, starting from the shoulder (and hips), and negates any tendency to be fiddly and overly precise (the latter of which, can stunt or ruin a drawing).

This basically came out of a warm-up where I was lettering with my Pitt markers, and started to get bored with just doing letterforms. It is interesting to see how the tone of a word changes depending on how it’s written, but working just with line and color and text is overly limiting, after I’ve warmed up. Breaking out into shapes and blocks of color was next, and after that I started experimenting with leaves.

I was thinking of “Coleus” when I was doing the above, though I can’t claim any sort of accuracy to an actual Coleus! I was more trying just to draw from imagination. It helped to keep the pencil flowing and moving, almost like one of those drawings where you never lift the pencil from the paper, except I was controlling where I added a slight bit more pressure and where I was just gliding or skimming with the pencil point.

I also stopped this before it got too…overworked. I kind of wanted to save it as an example of what I could do if I weren’t too obsessed with details. I know I can go farther, though. For example, there aren’t any really apparent shadows, and there isn’t any color. I also only used HB and 6B graphite pencils for this, and I can go up to 9B (if not Carbon Black) for depth. Also: no background.

But yeah…it was fun. I’m glad I still remember how to do gesture drawing, because it’s a lot more enjoyable for me than what I had been doing before taking art classes (which was very exact, and stressful).

I think I’m going to have to spend more time just dealing with graphite pencil. I’m not used to art being, “fun.” And: I have a battery of colored pencils to back me up, if I want to sketch in color, the way I have sketched here in greyscale.

I think that’s about enough for tonight. I should get ready for bed.

Moving back to dry media for general purposes.

Instead of roaming over backposts to see various snapshots of myself in time, maybe what I need to do is write. Most of my free time today has been taken up with homework, eating, or sleeping. I’m not sure if that’s normal.

I have 22 pages to go before I’ll have finished my major reading assignment for Political Advocacy, which I should complete tomorrow — and work on the Discussion Topics, as well. I can already start writing on the earlier chapters…I just didn’t. It’s easier for me to intake information than to make something new with it.

Early this morning, I also had to get up for a class meeting, before heading out for a family brunch. After that, I came home and basically fell asleep, and stayed asleep for three hours. (I was surprised, too.)

Oh, wait. I’m missing the part where we went to the art-supply store. I had planned to get some 1/4″ masking tape (to mark off quilting seam allowances) and a bottle of that scarlet ink I mentioned, before. What I ended up doing was spending some gift money on a couple of small sketchbooks and pen cleaning solutions, in addition.

They also have these silicone things called Colour Shapers, which I know I can use to apply masking fluid for watercolors (latex won’t ruin these like it ruins regular brushes)…but I’m intimidated by latex masking fluids just from jump (they all carry Caution Labels; breathing the fumes or touching the fluid can trigger sensitization and allergic reactions). Because the Colour Shapers are expensive, and I haven’t even been using watercolors recently, I let it go this time.

For my own reference, I also do have permanent masking fluid made with liquid wax, which is much safer and is likely what I would try on a first serious test of dealing with this stuff routinely. I had to use latex liquid frisket in Watercolor class, but still…it’s scary to me. Not to mention that it tore up my painting when I tried to get it off.

Also, I’m not sure that liquid wax will ruin brushes at all, the way latex will.

Anyhow. I’ve decided that I’m going to try working in graphite and colored pencil, again, in the sketchbooks I’ve got. I’m not entirely certain how I’m going to carry it (though I do have a satchel bought just for this purpose), but I feel the need to get back to my roots. That means “comic” work — though it usually isn’t funny. πŸ˜‰

I had mentioned a very long time ago on this blog, the possibility of doing watercolor underpaintings, and then working on top of that with colored pencil. I’m not sure if that would be sacrilege if the paints I’m using are in fact better quality than what I put on top… πŸ˜› …I think I’ll need to avoid the more toxic paints, at least.

Maybe this would actually be a good role for less expensive formulations, though, like the Reeves watercolors which are basically just lying around here unused (they’re M’s, and also really old). There are also my Pitt brush markers, which are fantastic for sketchbooks. And I have the Copics (greyscale) and Tombow markers, as well.

As for colored pencils…my collection begins before the year 2000 and includes Prismacolors (the oldest of which, I might want to replace if I get back into this: the newer ones seem to have much better covering power), Faber-Castell Polychromos, and Blick brand standard colored pencils.

I have one LYRA Color-Giant, which lets me know that the LYRA brand pencils are vulnerable to what looks like wax bloom (though I think they’re supposed to be oil-based, not wax-based?). I have also heard that Prismacolors are vulnerable to this, though I haven’t seen any noticeable bloom on any of my older work.

I’m leaving out the water-soluble pencils, but they would be useful on heavier paper.

So I guess there’s a basic decision there to go back to using dry media for practice and visualization purposes. Although charcoal would be useful, I don’t want to be sealing my sketchbooks, so I’m (reluctantly) going to avoid studies in charcoal within them. (I might still be able to use carbon black, though [maybe], and I’ll definitely be able to use black ink.)

The issue is that charcoal never really adheres well to the page unless a fixative is sprayed (or painted, in the case of underdrawings on intended acrylic paintings) over it. That means that the drawing degrades whenever the book is handled. Though charcoal has been wonderful for layout for me in the past, I hate dealing with spray fixative because of the odor, and I really don’t want to be breathing this stuff.

I can wear a respirator, but I’m uncertain I have the correct (organics?) cartridges to filter out what needs to be removed. (“Organics” probably corresponds to a certain 3M cartridge code, and I don’t know what that is, yet.)

I mean, even hairspray (Aqua Net) in lieu of a quality fixative, smells horrible in the quantities needed to seal a drawing.

My biggest deal right now is whether to go ahead and use my wood-cased soft graphite pencils (multiple brands, but mostly Faber-Castell), whether I want to use woodless graphite sticks in addition (Cretacolor Monolith), and whether I want to use graphite crayons (LYRA) on top of that.

The issue with the Monolith sticks is that they often have random hard bits embedded which scratch the paper. Not an issue when dealing with wet media, but certainly an issue if further work is to be done with colored pencil (the indentation will cause the pigment to skip over the scratch, leaving a light mark).

I haven’t yet found the same problem with the LYRA graphite crayons, but I’ve also not used the LYRAs very much. I do know that Faber-Castell makes wonderful soft graphite pencils, but they lack the impact and expression of either the Monoliths or the LYRAs, because their leads are so thin.


I guess it’s not a bad thing that I’m actually using up my pencils…

By the way, the image in the post linked here was made entirely with the Monolith woodless graphite sticks.

And I suppose it is a good thing that I have too many colored pencils, rather than not enough. But I really need to sort through them again. They’re still in order from my last major work with them, and that’s not great…

Also: Koh-I-Noor makes a set of Progresso woodless colored pencils very similar to Cretacolor’s Monolith woodless graphite pencils, which I would recommend if only for the fact that they lend much more expressive marks, in addition to the ability to “wash” an area with the flat of the side of the tip (if that makes sense).

No, they aren’t paying me. πŸ™‚ And no, you don’t need to buy them. πŸ™‚ But I might start carrying mine, with me. The issue is how to carry as little as possible, and still enough.

I think I feel better, now, after having written that and gone through my backposts. It’s good to have a sense of continuity. That is what I set this blog up for, in the first place…

A use, a frame, a narrative

A family member once told me that when they were in art classes, they could copy what they saw, but when they tried to draw from imagination, it was very hard for them.

I was thinking about this last night, as the image of an Artist Trading Card featuring the Golden Gate Bridge came to my mind. Some of the details of the insight that came along with this have been lost to…well, melatonin, let’s say…but I realized that having a use for my art would be one thing to motivate me to do it.

As well, the image was at least setting up a narrative, if it were not a narrative itself. That narrative framed the scope of the project. I did see the use of the bounds of the image as in some way a metaphor for the frame of the message it was intending to get across (even though I envisioned the interior of the design extending beyond the literal frame).

On top of that, the narrative takes precedence over realism, meaning that I don’t have to copy reality in order to get my narrative across.

I’m not sure if I’m making sense, here, but the idea for the image came from questioning if I had hot-press or plate watercolor paper on which to draw comic illustrations. (If not, I know I have Bristol board.) I think I need to lighten up on myself about whether I’m doing things “right,” and just start to do them. Then I can see where it goes, instead of stopping before I start because I don’t think I’m doing it correctly.

But I think having a use, a frame, and a narrative will help me narrow down the scope of what I do. I remember now that I had been considering using my steel-nib dip pens and black ink, and I thought that maybe having a constraint in my technique (such as: no pushing the nib forward to make lines, unless using a cartooning or calligraphy nib) would cut down on my creative options enough so that my content would be easier to express.

I’ve also wanted to get back into calligraphy. Not Japanese calligraphy, but English-language. There is one beautiful red-orange calligraphy ink I saw the other day, which piqued my interest (it looks as though it will contrast well with black).

I had one calligraphy book I was working through, which actually did improve my regular handwriting, as well as my decorative handwriting. And I can practice on top of translucent Layout paper, which will likely be a good solution (I used to send out letters to friends, written on translucent papers — it was just my style).

I also have an Ames Lettering Guide, from the time I wanted to work on comics.

I think I am just wanting to combine text and image, and text and narrative, again. The major thing that has stopped me in my studies of comics, and graphic novels, have been the dispositions of the comic authors I’d likely have to study to learn the craft. There’s a lot of politics, there.

Though I generally consider myself open-minded, sometimes things are just offensive to me — particularly historical work made for a nationalistic, non-minority audience (if you get my drift). I’m not entirely sure what to do about that, except limit my exposure to just reading more recent works and international works, to which I’m not so emotionally tied.

Anyhow, I have a thought of where to start.