Getting back around to art.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Natural flow from drawing to painting?

The couple of days since my Term Paper was due have been spent…basically, cleaning things up. There is now much more usable space on my craft table; a bunch of my storage has been cleaned and consolidated; and I’ve realized the disadvantage of having a watercolor palette with fixed wells.

Aside from this…

I’ve realized that when I went into the Art program at first, I took Color Dynamics before I took Painting. Consequently, I learned about color relationships before I learned about composition or image-making within painting (as versus drawing). It’s kind of evident, now. Do I want to take another Painting class?…Kind of. Will I have the time to? Not sure.

Could I learn it another way? Not sure. I’m pretty sure that by trial-and-error, I could learn, but that might be the scenic route. Of course, after college, the scenic route is the only route; it just helps to be on the right path, in the first place.

For me, painting is a natural outgrowth of drawing: monochrome bridges into color; markmaking bridges into broad swaths and washes; use of single colors and glazes, shift into color mixing. It largely came for me when I realized the limitations of using a single (narrow) point of contact (pencils, pens, markers: the extreme of which is Technical Pen, Mechanical Pencil, or Micron), a single color at a time, and not being able to shade the colors of my tools in the way in which I wanted.

The bridge here may be charcoal, which merges into pastel. By using the broad side of a stick of pigment, it’s possible to get closer to the feel of painting, as versus drawing. Pastel pencils can also provide that markmaking experience common to drawing, while providing some of the malleability of pastel.

The major reason to avoid pastel work is dust, which is something I haven’t quite reconciled, yet. I have not had a Drawing teacher who did not caution against breathing pastel dust. I do have an area where I can draw and not depend on a vacuum to pick up this dust; it is fairly necessary to avoid the vacuum. You want to wipe up pastel dust with a wet rag (what’s called “wet-mopping”), not blow it into the air or brush it away. This is for health reasons.

The brand of soft pastels I find myself most attracted to are Rembrandts. I’ve mentioned these before; the largest hazards in these seem to be white pigment (Titanium Dioxide), and black pigment (Lamp Black). Titanium White makes tints of colors, while Lamp Black makes shades.

Titanium Dioxide is a mechanical (not toxic) cancer risk. However, this is according to Proposition 65, a law passed here in California which relates whether tiny amounts of anything carcinogenic is in art supplies or foodstuffs (though I don’t think it applies to cosmetics). Prop 65 is kind of being overused, but I know enough art teachers who have battled cancer to take basic precautions against inhalation.

Lamp Black (a.k.a. Carbon Black) poses a slight toxic cancer risk and also may stain, meaning some kind of barrier, like gloves or barrier cream, may be useful here. However, when you work with art supplies…you kind of get used to slight cancer risks. Gloves or barrier cream, a mask, and basic caution not to get this stuff airborne, is the caution that I would ideally (but possibly not actually — in the case of skin protection) use.

I still have never used my jar of barrier cream, so I’m not certain if it rubs off on the image or stains the paper. I should try it and see what happens.

The biggest drawback besides this, is that it’s hard to mix colors when one wants to make intense marks of a certain shade that isn’t provided pre-blended. This is a drawback common to drawing supplies (markers, pens, colored pencils, chalks), more than painting supplies. However, it does pose a potentially useful limitation: more colors are not always better, if one gets so paralyzed by color choices that nothing gets drawn.

Right now I have a bunch of Conté crayons, a basic set of NuPastels, and a basic set of Sargent Art pastels, in addition to some monochrome soft Rembrandts I got about two years ago (before I went back to Library School). The thing about Rembrandts is that they do have a shelf life. At first, they’re creamy, soft, and smooth, to the point that they draw on your hands when touched; later on (after a number of years) they turn into what feels like dried-up Air Dry Clay, and can shatter if dropped. (They even tinkle like dried clay when they are dropped; which I suppose they basically are; kaolin [the material porcelain is made from] is a common base for these pastels.)

I did have a set of half-stick pastels around here from 2015 or something, but I can’t locate them at this moment. I did do a mass purge of pastels, though, after I got scared by the Prop 65 warnings so many years ago. At this point, though, there are Prop 65 warnings for seaweed, coffee, potato chips, ginger, etc…it’s really getting out of hand. (Though I do wish that people would stop putting lead chromate into turmeric…I mean, seriously.)

The problem is that the consumer warnings are based on law rather than science, and that we are warned about the contamination of products, but it seems that nothing is done about it. The system relies on pressure from consumers not buying the goods to encourage the manufacturers not to sell toxic products, rather than actually regulating the toxic products, or not bothering us if the risk is minimal or the exposure is unavoidable (I probably still have more soot in my lungs from having grown up next to a freeway, than I would be likely to inhale from using pastels). At a certain point, a person gets desensitized and just accepts that their world is carcinogenic and the only way not to be exposed is to live in a bubble…

But, I suppose, the upshot of this is that someone is paying attention to toxins in food, drugs, and art supplies. If Prop 65 didn’t exist, I most likely wouldn’t know about this.

So…I guess this post turned into a Pastel post. Hmm. I do know that I want to play with my charcoals, again, even though it’s dirty (maybe because it’s dirty?). Well, not only that, but charcoal is fairly noncommittal…

I have also wanted to do something with ink, and have a new bottle of “waterproof” ink. I’m not sure how it’s going to perform, but I know I can use it with brush and dip pen…(I wonder if I still have my reed pens?). I have used it once before, and at full strength, it’s very black, which is nice. The issue is whether it’s truly waterproof, and how well it dilutes.

It’s possible that I may need to edge myself back into painting through using ink and wash, and pastels, plus maybe graphite sticks and the woodless colored pencils. That place where drawing organically grows into painting…I don’t think I’m there, right now. And I don’t think that’s a reason to give up entirely. It’s not like I’m back at the beginning where I’m using mechanical and colored pencil…but I am not all the way to seriously using watercolor, or acrylic, right now.

That’s gotta be okay, that I’m not at my apex after not practicing for most of two years. It also means there is someplace to grow to…

What I began this post thinking about was the fact that I think I’ve devalued my own style (with pen and watercolor, which has been relatively illustrative) because of the fact that it comes easily to me. It wouldn’t necessarily be easy for others, though…

Maybe I should take the chance on getting outside and doing some sketches…


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. 🙂

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. 😛

(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 80º 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.