Having time to play with art supplies….

Last night I tried out some of the Strathmore 400-Series Mixed Media paper I bought, recently.  I was, in part, just intending to see what the new aquarelles (Supracolors, see here and here and here) looked like on top of this tinted paper, which is fairly predictable given what I’ve seen online.  But still, it is nice to see this without any photographic editing or distortion applied (some of which is inescapable, as we can see more colors than computer monitors can accurately reproduce — not to mention that I’ve heard scanners can “see” more variations in tone than human eyes recognize).

I also tried out a black Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Ink, using Speedball nibs.  This stuff is amazing — it goes on thick and solid black and dries quickly to a finish that I could not lift with my brush (a real brush, not a travel waterbrush) with significant application of water.

This is — in my experience — better performance than using a black (Faber-Castell) Pitt marker, which I’ve found to run under water washes, and which I’ve been told (by a former fellow student) runs even after 24 hours of drying.  (As a note, I have only experienced this with the Black pens, not the other colors.)  The Pitt markers are relatively excellent, though, so far as the depth of black ink goes.  Until I ran across the Derwent Graphik Line Painters (I’m not sure how long these will continue to be made, considering an experience I recently had), I could not find a blacker tone of black in a marker — granted that I generally have not used paint markers.

But the Bombay ink may actually surpass the Pitt black.  (I have not yet tried the other Ph. Martin’s black inks.)

The Copics and Microns are also decent, if you’re looking for fineliners — though as I said before, my Micron Graphic 1 pen did run under Supracolor laydown and wash (even when it was fine under a pure water wash).  I haven’t tried Supracolor over Bombay yet, though.  And I have also not found Copic or Micron to be as deep in tone…I did some experiments in my youth with black inks; at least in the early 2000’s, it was hard to find a good, deep black ink which would not fade or lift.  I think that at the time, I settled on black Higgins Calligraphy ink, though I can’t be absolutely sure without digging out my archives.

The only downside to the Bombay ink is that it almost immediately dries to stick to the metal nib.  Luckily, Ph. Martin’s does sell a pen cleaner (which I have yet to try; last night was all about soap, water, fingernails, and rubbing alcohol with Q-Tips (the last of which, works) — but I was using Speedball B-series (round) nibs, which are made of multiple metal layers…and I wasn’t into separating them and then trying to get them to go back to where they were before — I’ve found it relatively futile.  The bright point about the B nibs is that they glide over the paper (the tip is flattened), instead of incising it.

I have a variety of steel nibs, a lot of which I want to try again.  They are not all as pleasant to use as these, though, and I am not certain if it is because of the famed anti-rust coating (which I read, a very long time ago, needs to be burned off), or if a sharp new steel nib just rejects ink in general.  I can try again after singeing the nib I tried to use last night, but seriously…I am going to have to get a new lighter, and find the Third Hand…(a free-standing pair of jaws which can stand getting hot — I’ve used these for hard soldering/brazing, before.  Though all the nibs may need is a small flame, I’ve unintentionally softened plier jaws before by the addition of heat — even with as little as a cigarette lighter).

Back to what I began this post talking about…the Strathmore 400-Series Mixed Media paper.  This is much heavier than the paper I’ve seen sold in Canson XL Mixed Media paper pads.  The latter is 98 lb/160 grams per square meter (gsm), while the former is 184 lb/300 gsm.  My lesson on how to interpret the given weights of paper was so long ago and so de-emphasized that I know that one of these weights is relative and variable and the other is not, but I can’t remember which.

In any case, the Strathmore paper I have is very stiff and resistant to warping, almost like Bristol board (or heavier), while the Canson paper is much lighter, possibly better for everyday use — it is something which I wouldn’t feel bad about using up in experimentations or journaling.  Also, the Canson XL pad has 4x as many sheets (60) as the Strathmore pad I’ve got (a high-quality pad with 15 sheets)…though I think I saw this in a thicker pad…which I didn’t get, as I needed to try it out, first.

Strathmore Mixed Media paper, though, comes in tan and grey as well as white — which is a big reason I tried it (I have been curious about tinted paper — particularly the tan Strathmore variants which can take water-based media, since I have decided to stay away from pastels, at least for now).  In addition to watercolor pencil and ink, I also played around with the FW acrylic inks on this, last night.  I did tape the paper down, but at this point I don’t believe that was necessary.  Using tape actually may be a disadvantage with this paper, considering that the Artist’s Tape damaged the paper when it was lifted off…and I didn’t seem to need it.

Just one last note on this before I move on:  I have just found heavier Canson Mixed Media pads online — reading as 138 lb/224 gsm, still a bit lighter than the Strathmore, but decently heavier than 98 lb/160 gsm.  They just are not the ones which are sold as XL pads.  The XL ones are just the ones you’re most likely to see, if my experience is anything to go by (they often go on sale and may be some of the only inexpensive Mixed Media papers to be apparent, depending on what stores you have available).

Anyway, last night I splashed around in some acrylic inks…I do have a test paper, but it’s largely calligraphy (Japanese and English).  What I realized about the FW inks is that you don’t need to have many colors to get a pretty wide range of tints and shades.  The White tone is good for making things more opaque, though the shimmer colors will also opacify a mix (I’m pretty sure I have Sundown Magenta [a pink, sparkly ink which looks like nail polish], which hasn’t really proven all that useful, but it’s interesting to play with).

Last night I was using Flesh Tint, White, Red Earth, Marine Blue, and Purple Lake, before I began to play around with the sparkly Sundown Magenta to make shimmer teals, and started wondering what I was doing.

It is really possible to get a wide range of colors out of not so many of these inks, though.  I got a muted lilac, a muted teal, an inky violet-blue, bright teal, bright violet, pale red-leaning floral violet, a series of skin tones, and a very muted grey (the last, from Red Earth [orange overtone] plus Marine Blue [green overtone].  It looks better than it sounds, apologies for no photo!).  It’s got me wondering what would happen if I intentionally limited my palette…and what this would have looked like on a white paper, as versus a tinted one.

The colors looked relatively thinned out on the scrap of white Canson Mixed Media paper I used, but it’s very possible that this is because I was running low on ink in my palette.  I’ve noticed that the FW inks tend to get thin if only, say, a drop or two are dispensed at a time.  Coverage is great and intense for a little while, then things start to get paler with the addition of proportionally more and more water from the brush.

It needs to be decently thick — maybe like egg-yolk consistency, or a little thinner — to be able to appear brilliant.  And then the tinting strength of each ink is extremely variable, though that should go without saying for any paints or inks.  It’s just that some of these inks will run out (much) faster than others…again, a common sentiment.

With this stuff, I’m also using disposable palette sheets — I’ve already ruined one palette by letting the acrylic inks dry to a film on there…at least with the sheets (reliably white background), I know I’ll be able to tell what colors I’m mixing and what they actually look like.

If things happen the way I plan, tomorrow, I hope to get FW Flame Orange, Indigo, and Prussian Blue inks (I really want to mix decent greens, as I dislike the Emerald Green color I’ve got — and I was mistaken in assuming I had Prussian Blue.  I also want to see if Indigo is violet-leaning enough to give decent violets…I don’t think so, but it’s worth a shot).  I also should check for other B-series Speedball nibs (I have B-6, B-5 [2], B-3 [2], and B-1:  leaving B-4, B-2, and B-0).  I actually haven’t used the calligraphy Speedball nibs I got at the Japanese stationery store — but I think C-5 was the one I destroyed as I was trying to fix it.

Aside from that, I want to get a Dr. Ph. Martin’s Pen Cleaner.  I’m also thinking about a decent detail watercolor brush — my favorite one is a size 3, which may still be a bit big for comic illustrations.  I’d just be looking for something tiny, sharp, and stiff — not unlike my Niji waterbrush, but not my Niji waterbrush (I wouldn’t be able to get acrylic out of there).  The great thing about this is that tiny brushes are often cheap — even really good ones.

I was also thinking about sepia ink, but at this point I think that would be overkill, especially as I still have about half a bottle left of Walnut Ink (though I’m not sure if it’s waterproof).  And copying Koko Be Good isn’t high on my list of things to do.  I’ll see if I can make things work with the acrylic inks — and check out the Bombay inks sometime after I can earn more…

One last note on process, and that is:  if I do want to make a webcomic or graphic novel (the former is preferable for a number of reasons), and I want to make it by hand and then do the assembly on the computer, it will be to my advantage to create the art larger than it has to be, and then resize it and letter it, after scanning.

This also means that I don’t have to draw the final artwork by hand, in position, and then scan it in.  I should also be able to fit in much more detail, this way.  The big thing that I might want to learn how to do, prior to this, though, is how to create what I think is a Layer Mask (in printmaking, I think this would be called a “Key”) which has all of the black components selected, so that I can scan a black-and-white copy of the linework, go on to paint the original artwork, but then also be able to overlay the outlines back on top of the scanned and colored image, in order to preserve the integrity of those lines.

Or, I could color things digitally (not what I want to do, for a number of reasons), or use (actually) transparent inks so that it isn’t an issue, at all.

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Two hours to kill = art production ;)

I’m dealing with a little bit of hesitance toward putting my art online — but when would that not be the case, right?  I had a bit of a time earlier today with two hours to kill, so I — actually — did some drawing.

cracked-pot-w-3680
August 18, 2017; 1 hour study.  Supracolor II and Pentel mechanical pencil on Canson Montval paper.

I’m not sure the colors are altogether this bright in the actual paper version…??? but you get the idea.

This was done with the Supracolor II pencils on top of Canson Montval paper.  I wouldn’t call it exactly, “finished,” but this is what happened after about an hour of quiet observation and drawing.

I should actually do this more often.  I forgot how drawing from observation can get meditative.

I also forgot about the pleasure of seeing your work take form.  It wasn’t until I got to the shadows that this started to come together.

After having progressed this far (I should note that this study was done between 12:10 and 1:10 PM — if I want to duplicate the lighting), I wanted to try something else.  I wasn’t sure what, though…so I attempted to work on some illustrations, as versus doodling.

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Right now, they’re all linework.

I can actually see where my drawings in comic style have improved, because of my two semesters in Figure Drawing.  I still have some work to do where I would be gauging the size of the skull against the size of the ribcage (I have a tendency to make the heads either too big or too small), but that doesn’t seem to be an issue in the drawing to the right.

I left all of my character drawings uncolored, with the intent of inking and coloring them later with the FW inks.

eri-w-3673

I do have some experience with drawing these two characters, though the third one on the same paper — that is, the one which was unfamiliar to me (and also the first I tackled), has been through so many revisions that I am not certain it is a great thing to post them online!

I can already see part of that image where I can obviously fix something…this is where the neck inserts into the skull…a problem I am used to.

At least, though, this gives me something to work off of, if I want to play with the acrylic inks.  I had wanted to go over these with Micron…but especially with the first character I posted above, I’m not entirely sure how to do that without obliterating the delicate and semi-spontaneous work that went into the original drawing.

I also know that it isn’t necessarily the best thing to be drawing with mechanical pencil, but I was kind of in a hurry to get out, today, and that was what I already had with me.  I’ve found Pentel leads to be pretty good where it comes to erasing, as well…next time, though, it would be good to take an actual dedicated eraser.  The Staedtler white plastic erasers are actually pretty sweet, but my stash is, again, old.  I bought a 4-pack of them I-don’t-know-how-many-years-ago, and have not run out.  I don’t know if they decay…maybe I should either sell them, give them away, or carve stamps out of them… 🙂

…or simply see if they crumble or ooze at all, at this point…

Alright, I think that’s about all I’ve got, for now.  I can look at inking these images…maybe I should do so using translucent marker paper, although that kind of defeats the purpose of having drawn them on watercolor paper…I will be able to make multiple versions, though, and see which ones I like best, before inking the final version.

And it is just an art journal, in practicality…

Researching Caran D’Ache aquarelles:

I’ve just been looking around online at Caran D’Ache watercolor pencils. Apparently, there are now two kinds:  the Museum variety, and the Supracolors.

Museums look as though they are transparent, while the Supracolors have higher opacity (hinted at by the terms “covering power” at the Caran D’Ache site). It seems I’m a bit late to the game, here, as the WetCanvas link I’ve given above marks these as new for 2013…but I’m not an early adopter, so there you go. 🙂 Accordingly, I’ve read that Supracolors can be used light-over-dark if the lower layer is dry or has dried. I’ve also seen photos to this effect.

This…kind of gives me something to think about. I’m used to colored pencils not being terribly opaque (unfortunately), but then, I’m also used to Faber-Castell Polychromos, Blick, and Prismacolor brands (the last of which is a collection which runs back prior to 2000, as I think I’ve mentioned before). What I forgot to add is that I’ve been adding to that collection over the years; the font differences on the sides of the pencils tell me which ones are ancient and which are not. 😉

I’m…actually, still really interested in the Supracolors. The Museum pencils are fairly expensive, at ~$4 per pencil, while the Supracolors are a bit less (at around ~$3 per pencil in open stock). I would be buying my pencils, as well, to complement my watercolors — not to replace them.

When I tried the Supracolor I did, the pigment dispersion was very, very fine, as I had only used a little of the lead to see what color I would actually be getting (which was a bright violet-red, very different in appearance from dry pigment). And I didn’t have any black lines drawn on my test paper to see if the pigment would block out an underdrawing.

My major concern is wiping out those lines, which is why I even gave the Museum pencils consideration (I could get 12 for around $30…they may be what I’m looking for; I just hate to shell out that much money for that little product…although all signs say they’re high-quality). But what are in practicality, gouache pencils, do seem very interesting. And I have Derwent Inktense and watercolor pencils already. I don’t want to duplicate them (which is why I again started to re-swatch them, in addition to not recalling what they would do).

Despite having been out sick — I do think I’ll use my sickleave. (I’m not often sick, even when others are.) I’m hoping to do some sort of celebration of having completed Summer Session — on my mind is the 30-pencil set of Supracolors (which would be ~$2/pencil), which…wait…that would be twice the cost of the Museum pencils alone. It could be nice to get the Museum pencils and then a few open-stock Supracolors (particularly, light tones and greens), for the same price or less. (I’m intending to spend ~$60 at most, for these.)

Although — now that I look at it — how I’m going to use the pencils really caps all of this. I see a review which states that the Museums are not suitable for tight work, because of their softness — and I wanted to get them to tighten up the watercolor. Maybe I should get just a few colors in each style, and see how they’re usable. I already know that the colors in either style will be good.

What I had envisioned doing was laying down an initial layer of watercolor paint or acrylic ink to eliminate the white background, then going over it with aquarelle — like the Supracolors or Derwents — to add sharper details and fades (gouache could also serve, here), and then going over that with regular colored pencil, for texture.

Of course, though, this is all in my head, right now. I’m sure things will come up that I can’t predict, which will send me down one or another path, as regards workflow. You know what that means? That means I shouldn’t go to the art store yet, because I don’t yet know what I need. To find out what I need, I need to work on some drawings! In the process, I can see what hues I’m missing in my current collection. It may be that I don’t even have to buy a set. It may be that I don’t have to buy any new aquarelles at all.

One certain thing, though: I need to get a back-up pack of Derwent Graphik Line Painters (in case my “Snow” decides it can’t stand holding its paint anymore — it’s seriously messed up, as it was the first Japan-nibbed pen I ever tried to use, and I was not gentle enough with it).

I think I’m finally getting the hang of this art store thing. I mean — I’m actually doing research, as versus going in there and buying way more than I need, or items whose properties, I’m unsure of. Now — now, I’m wondering about taking a course on Web Searching…it hadn’t been on my mind, before, but it could prove very useful…and possibly, necessary…

Recording this so I see it, later:

Well, my fever temporarily broke today…unfortunately, it then went back up to 99º F. Consistent with what I’ve been doing for the last several days, I’ve decided to stay in, today. I did break out the aquarelle pencils (I have one set of “Watercolor” pencils and one set of “Ink” pencils), and tried to get a start on swatching them (again — I didn’t feel like trying to find my old papers), until I realized I was again sweating, and should give it a break. I know that yesterday, I was so loopy that I was misreading clearly written text…

There’s something to be said, though, for the “wow” factor for me in even being able to draw two lines of different width on a big piece of Mixed Media paper. I think that, now, other than times when I am just trying out a paper (like the hot-press Fluid brand paper which I found, pills), it would actually be best to go for a larger pad, rather than a small one. I usually don’t use blocks — I prefer to tape the paper down to a piece of Masonite. That way, I can work on more than one project at once, and switch them out when I feel like it.

And rulers! I have been using a large aluminum ruler for a good amount of time, to cut and draw straight lines. What a timesaver! I kind of want to kick myself for even thinking about trying to hand-draw straight lines for my swatches (mostly because I didn’t want to go get the ruler)!

Right now I’m (again) in bed, and typing like this is probably not good for my spine — but I have realized a potential twist in the story I’ve been planning out. Parallel timelines: different universes. What one character believes to be a “past life” or spirit action may turn out to be the mental overlapping of two timelines.

This will enable me to have the “spirit” character not be perfect, to tell her story at the same time I’m divulging the co-main character’s, and to tell both the stories that have been bothering me for some time, within the same text. As a bonus, the female main character won’t have to die for the male main character’s story to begin, and they won’t have to take place on the same world or iteration of that world’s timeline. But the time flow issue — and the issue of psychic “alien” life — will be all screwy, which, gratefully, I’ve somewhat prepared for.

My major dilemma at this point is knowing that I want to work this out visually, and wondering how to work such an internal story out in image + text (as versus text only).

I know the “smart” thing would appear to be not to divulge these notes, but I’ve had too many projects die without seeing the light of day because of my secrecy. And it’s not even like the execution was all that great, if I’m thinking back to when I was 12 and doing this stuff. The thing is that ideas are plentiful; but it’s the execution of the idea that makes it yours. It will likely be quite some time before I’m ready to show a concrete (non-changing/logically coherent) image of this story to the world, but what I can do with it and what someone else would do with it are two different things…

Distractions, distractions…

I have one day left to do my final assignment in User Experience, and I think the timeline has me freezing up, a bit.  Both today and yesterday, I was unable to go in to work; yesterday, because I was physically sick (any time I moved, I wanted to throw up), and today, because I was running a fever (higher than yesterday’s).  Most of today and yesterday has been spent in the bed.

Right now, I feel more capable of doing things without constantly sweating, and my spine is telling me that some time spent vertically would be a good thing.  Staying home, though, didn’t help me find out what I need to for the basis of my assignment…which, inconveniently enough, is based on interviewing people.  (Working with people is likely the most difficult part of both my job, and this program.)

After this next week, though, Summer Session will be over.  That will be a relief.  I think I should just try and do the assignment as best I am able, even knowing that I do not have the time or information to do things the way I am being asked to do them.

Design Thinking is an entire field; it is unreasonable to expect us to execute the assignment perfectly in one week based on material found online, especially when no lecture is given and we have only been introduced to it within that same week.

I do think that I would be better off working in Graphic Design than I would be working in Design Thinking, that is.  That said, it is good to at least be introduced to the latter concept (and to where to learn more if I so desire).

That said, here are the succulent babies I was talking about last time. 😛 Please forgive the color-fill background; I took this photo at a weird angle, then had to rotate the image…did I crop this before rotating it?  Hmm.  Got to remember that for next time…

succulents-w

I’m still unsure as to whether to claim my off days as sickleave…though as it is Summer, and I spend more money during Summer and Winter breaks (excluding clothing) than at any other time…(during Semesters, I don’t have time to work on Art), I’m thinking about it.  Right now I’m wondering if I got sick because I briefly touched the neck/cap of my water bottle with an unclean hand, and then drank from it later.  (I thought my mouth did not touch what my hand touched.  Maybe I was wrong.)

Anyway, that’s past.

One of my coworkers brought in some graphic work the other day, as well:  I’ve got to ask them what kind of markers they used!  From the looks of the color blending, I would think they were Chartpaks, but I’m not deep enough into markers to tell.

I am thinking of getting some new Chartpaks and seeing how they perform now (the ink may not be the same, and mine may be so old as to be drying out — they’re streaking, now, but when they were new I could not make them streak):  I got the idea for a graphic art piece dealing with the story that is in my head and not yet solidified enough on paper (or in bytes) for me to have a formed idea of what it will become.

But I was motivated enough to work on it in charcoal, earlier.  And I hate charcoal.  I haven’t photographed it yet because it’s nowhere near being done, and I really dislike working in black and white, anyway.

It is a given that if I work with the Chartpaks, I will have to do it in a well-ventilated area; I’m thinking the garage, or outside.  I’m not sure if the fumes will be strong enough to ignite via the furnace…if this is an issue, I may be better off sticking with Tombows or other water-based markers, and just making heavy use of a blending marker, or brush and water — I don’t know what the difference is, in water-based markers.  (I wonder if charcoal/pastel blending stumps dipped in water would work, or just turn into mush?)

I also have Copics (alcohol-based), but my co-worker and I have been fairly underwhelmed by the markers, at least.  (I like the fineliners.)  I haven’t yet tried using the blending marker, though.  The Copics I have, streak; though I’m not sure if that’s because of the quality of nearly every paper I’ve used (I think translucent marker paper helps, particularly Borden & Riley), or if it’s because I didn’t saturate the paper with solvent (from the blending marker).

I should try blending the Copics first, before going to the Chartpaks, though…the solvent of the latter is definitely something you don’t want to be breathing in for any length of time, or in a confined area; and when open areas have open flame in them…I don’t want to set the house on fire.  I think I could use these, though, in an actual open space — if I taped down the paper I was working on to protect from wind.

At least when I first began to use the Chartpaks, they were formulated with xylene as a solvent, which is carcinogenic; then they reduced the amount of xylene to a level where the markers no longer carried a Caution Label.  Obviously, though…if you can avoid xylene…it’s just one of those things that’s best not to come into contact with on a frequent basis.  I was already used to the smell from using watchmaker’s cement (G-S Hypo Cement, which also uses xylene as a solvent, and which I’d gotten plenty of, on my fingertips:  not good!).

But the Chartpak AD markers (I’m not referring to the Chartpak Spectra AD markers, which I just found tonight) blend and bleed beautifully, or at least they used to.  Like I said:  when my (old formulation) markers were new, I could not make myself get streaks, so what I used them on looked more like animation cels, than anything.

And then, there’s the possibility of using colored pencils and liquefying them with a blending marker or Gamsol, or of using aquarelles.  The negative thing about the latter that I immediately land on, however, is that it’s like using grainy (and sometimes dull) paint.  The aquarelle layers just don’t dissolve all the way, unless you use a really light touch when applying the crayon (I’m thinking Neocolor II) or pencil…which I might try, at least if the only other options are Tombows and Copics.  The exception to this that I can think of are the Caran d’Ache Supracolor aquarelle pencils…which liquefy beautifully, with intense colors, but which are also top-of-the-line for watercolor pencils.  (They are priced accordingly.)

Yeah, maybe I’ll try that.  Maybe…I will.  I have some aquarelles I can experiment with, here already.  Maybe I just need to use a light touch.  This — and/or actually using paint or acrylic ink (how could I forget all those FW acrylic inks I have?), seem like better options.

I was probably just wowed by my co-worker’s marker art.  🙂  I forgot that I’ve been building up to this, for a while.  I got out of trying to use markers because it’s so expensive to just increase a dilution level of the same ink, whereas with paint or bottled ink, you just add a little more water.  (It’s been a very long time since I used ground sumi ink.)

I had begun to get into the technique of utilizing transparent watercolor as a ground color for other colored-pencil work, on top of a fineliner drawing; it shouldn’t be hard to lay down initial colors as watercolor (with the option of using acrylic ink, instead), then layer aquarelle and then regular colored pencil over that…though the opacity of those colors is something to pay attention to.  I could wipe out my initial linework, if I’m not careful.  But then I might also be able to wipe out opaque colors on top of linework as well, or redraw them with ink and a brush…(regular colored pencil, being wax- or oil-based, can clog the nibs of fineliners and markers, so I’ve heard).

I’ve also gotten wowed with Derwent Graphik Line Painters, some of which I may have initially ruined in my attempts at use:  I mention them here because they look awesome on top of watercolor, and as they have Japan (hollow) nibs, I have less of an expectation that they will clog.  The problem I’m having is having depressed the nibs too far into the barrels; this means some of them (the ones I tried to use before I knew better), will leak.

I recently found a Strathmore Mixed Media paper (it almost feels like illustration board:  the latter of which I don’t know how to use properly with water-based media, by the way), which I want to try out…and all of this might work well, here.

Yeah, I think it’s time to break out the aquarelle pencils!  After, that is, completing this last assignment…gah…

More archives??!

I suppose I can take comfort in the fact that, in addition to helping clean out the junk room, today, I also read 25 pages when I didn’t want to (the majority of which were read tonight, in lieu of writing, here).  At least this textbook makes sense — I can’t say as much for some of the other ones.

I think I’ve found that I really do need quiet and solitude to be able to study easily…which is hard when it’s extended periods of quiet and solitude.

At the very least…I don’t have to worry about a big assignment (or two) due by Monday:  this much is good.

Also…I was able to find and take a peek through some of the drawing pads and random character sketches I had been doing…when I was younger, let’s say:  these things go back to high school, and through my undergrad years.  At this point I’m wondering if I always did have constant mental “noise,” only it was channeled into bits of storytelling.  I used to attribute it to having such a high degree of intelligence (*cough*) that I would get bored in classes, and be able to pay attention by listening and taking notes, as I occupied myself also by drawing.

Of course, though, that was before the more serious troubles kicked in…

I’m actually kind of surprised at the level of quality I was able to get at in a lot of those sketches (it happens when one is doing it constantly and in narrative form:  meaning that there are certain emotions one is pushing oneself towards expressing), even though most of it is linework.  I seemed to have begun to progress into shading…and more realistic drawing.

I remember being intimidated around modeling faces, though (I am fairly certain I was still just working with colored pencil and watercolor at this time)…though when I put that extra effort into going deeper with my work, it showed.  I was just…really young, and scared of messing up my images with color and shading/modeling.  (tip:  you can’t progress if you’re afraid to fail.)  I hadn’t really taken any life drawing classes at the time, though, either:  I knew how to cartoon (from copying manga), but that was majorly it.

By that I mean, cartooning is ideally a form abstracted from knowing first how to draw from observation.  If you don’t know how to draw from observation, you won’t have the groundwork to create your own abstractions…and ultimately won’t know how they work.  This means that when you try to go more realistic…you won’t necessarily know where to go more realistic, or how.  It’s possible to end up using someone else’s formula for abstraction but not know why the artist emphasized and de-emphasized specific areas…and mimicking that without knowing the deeper purpose is basically…derivative art.  Which, obviously, has been a trend in certain periods in Art History.

I’m thinking…either Baroque or Rococo as versus High Renaissance, though I can’t remember the exact name of the movement (this was actually a topic of discussion in one of my old Art History classes).  What happened in this movement was that people would try to paint like the Renaissance, “Old Masters,” (though they weren’t as old, then) particularly where it came to human figures.  The Renaissance Old Masters had perfected the art of drawing humans as they were built, and they did this through extended studies of the human body and anatomy (some study was actually done on cadavers).

With regard to the later artists who mimicked them, however: these artists’ figures would be criticized as disjointed and piecemeal.  Someone’s upper arm, for example, may appear perfectly formed, just as a Michaelangelo, but the figure overall is being viewed from multiple angles at the same time (something Cubism later intentionally exploited, although Picasso, for example, could paint and draw naturalistically), and the shoulder and elbow appear to be physically dislocated.  That is, to the perfection of the parts, unity suffered; and because of that, the piece became cacophonous instead of harmonious.  Beyond that, people were trying to emulate past masters, to the detriment of their own expression.  There’s a difference between putting down roots to grow flowers and cutting off a blooming branch — or arranging cut (or silk) flowers, that is.

This is — one of the traps — that I’ve had to deal with, which isn’t as evident when one hasn’t been through a few reps of Drawing classes and been snubbed by a few Art students.  Most of my work isn’t figurative — but that’s largely because I got tired of drawing people.  And I probably got tired of drawing people because of questioning why I was doing what I was doing, losing faith in myself…and, likely, starting a new medication (which happened right before graduation, and subsequently convinced me that I could no longer easily write).

But to be frank, most of that time just after graduation is either a blur or outright missing from my current memory.

And no…I’m actually not sure that I don’t have some form of dissociation.  In any case, my life is more together than it has been for a while.

I also noticed something else, when going through my old sketchpads…which is that the paranormal stuff has been with me from nearly the beginning of the time I’ve been developing as an artist and writer.  I’m not planning to get into this deeply in this post, but it is actually notable that I’ve been dealing with concepts of ghosts and “good demons” for about as long as I’ve been writing for pleasure.

I do have a set of ideas as to why this is…and it revolves around screwed-up middle school, high school and undergrad dynamics, along with feeling silent and invisible, rejected, in pain, and comforted by things no one else could sense.

But I’ve been over that history for a good amount of my life.  The point is that this is not a new thing, and that dealing with the prospect of getting back into writing means that I’ll need to allow myself to get back to my roots…which means permitting myself to venture into territory I’ve blocked off for years.  Some of which may put me into an idiosyncratic enclave; or maybe I should say, “some of which may make me unpopular with the people who encouraged my demonization.”

Obviously, there are feelings behind this, but I doubt that here and now is the right time to get into it.

Thinking ahead: webcomics?

Taking a brief hiatus from my color work to think on something that caught my imagination last night.  This is the concept of publishing:  specifically, a webcomic.  I had (and have) been thinking on traditional printing, but if I wanted to work in full color, the economic barriers are much lower online; and my potential audience, much higher.

Of course, though, I’m planning on becoming an Information specialist, so I don’t…think? I would have to worry much about being paid.  If I learn web coding, I can also publish this in the manner I choose.  If I printed this stuff, though, it would be a financial loss not to charge for it.  Economically speaking, it’s still a loss if I spend time on it instead of doing other things, but if it makes me happy, that’s something else.

Part of what spurred this off was having run across an old posting of my own, which reminded me of a resource I’d forgotten (now found).  It is only a few pages of notes and a false start for something that looked more like creative nonfiction than a script:  but these are enough to spark off that which I did have in mind, back then.  As a note for the future:  I really should have recorded that dream I referenced, close to the time I had it.  Making it public is better than losing it entirely.

From what I can recall, it tied in my old/first fictive story (dealing with kind “demons”) with the latter/newer one (dealing with mental illness), and a few things wandering around my head which have to do with varying notions of immortality, the paranormal, ghosts, and aliens…it’s not what it looks like, let me assure you.  (This is not the one about the ex-Buddhist warlock [that one could be really fun to write, actually], or the one focused on jewelry and environmental exploitation.)

And now, right, I’m thinking that comics publishers must need librarians, too.  The major issue is that I am now on a data organization and retrieval path, not a Special Libraries one.  But we will see what the future holds.

Ah, wait:  nah.  My current path looks hella more adapted to me specifically.  😉  I’ve actually gotten a bit distracted by this at the moment, though.  It would seem “fun” to work as a librarian for a publishing house, especially where it comes to comics, but I am guessing that those jobs are few and far between.  I’ve also read that traditional publishing is shrinking due to Web influence (not to mention self-publishing), but I can’t recall where or when I read that.

Especially because I’m more of an indy type (when it comes to my own interests)…I think…than a DC or Marvel type…and as the print commercial comics world would seem to be dominated by males (even, it seems, when the target market is female — which doesn’t…really make sense), I could foresee some challenges (not least, being called to represent “women” when I don’t consider myself a woman).  But I’ve been the first female to do a lot of things, which is probably why I needed the shelter of Library & Information Science in the first place.

I have a couple of pages of little scribbled notes here from about 2 AM last night; I’ll see what I can make out.  The first portion of it is a thumbnail for a drawing/painting which I didn’t get to work on, today (I didn’t really wake up until 2 PM, which left me with three hours of daylight).  I had been thinking of working that painting on a small tile and seeing what became of it, but I think it is better to work with the precision of watercolor, as versus acrylics, right now.  Acrylics don’t require masking, but detail can be difficult to obtain on a small scale with heavy-body paints.

Anyhow (this does relate to my notes), through the rest of this week, Blick appears to be having in-store holiday clearance sales.  I’m pretty much too sick to risk going (I’m hoping to be healed up enough not to be immediately infected by something else, by the weekend), but it did get me thinking on what I might try out if I could.

At the beginning of last night’s “trying to go to sleep” stint, I was trying to figure out how to do layout without resorting to my Wacom.  There’s nothing wrong with it; it’s just old and kind of awkward to use (where do I put this when I’m not using it?), and without Adobe Illustrator or another vector-drawing program (or maybe the Pen tool in Photoshop CC, which isn’t available in Elements), its uses are limited where it comes to comic production (scribbling in color fills on Photoshop is less than ideal, though I wouldn’t know about this unless I had been exposed to Layer Masking some years ago).

At some point I did realize that I could outline a selection, then use Paste Into Selection in order to insert a scanned drawing into a page that I could later publish, maybe as a .PDF.  Thus, there is no need for me to make a completed page, then scan it in and only do cleanup on it.  So long as I have a template or rough draft of what I want, and keep the images I’m inserting to the right ratio, I should be able to scale and insert the image, and assemble the page using software.  This basically negates the need for a translucent painting foundation like Yupo (of which I had been thinking about getting a tiny pad [should it exist] to try out).

Basically, last night I was trying to figure out how to transfer knowledge of a finished layout from my layout paper over to Bristol board or hot-press watercolor paper for coloring, in some way so that I wouldn’t be drawing the same thing three times:  one rough, one on Layout paper for inking, one which would allow water-based coloring media (though the same is possible by scanning the lineart and then adding color at 100% transparency on the computer).  Yupo would solve this problem by being the paper used both for inking and for coloring (there is a translucent variety), but it’s pretty expensive.  I also don’t know if the inks will stay put on it.

LOW-TECH, BABY.  😉  Well, kind of…?  Not really.  Yupo is polypropylene.

I probably should have marked the time that I realized that I didn’t have to pre-assemble the images, but I didn’t.  😉  In any case, I can create the images separately, even if on Yupo (allowing for disastrous failure) and then assemble them on the computer.  This method also allows for higher-resolution scans, though I’ve experienced my last instance of Photoshop (not the current one…yet) to be a bit irregular where it comes to what resolution anything is kept when imported into a new file.

I should also consider utilizing my Wacom with Creative Cloud services…(or saving money for a newer Wacom, with Creative Cloud services.  The biggest issue for me is whether they will stop billing me when I tell them to stop billing me, and what I can do if they don’t.)

I am also in the process of realizing that there are a number of possible visual formats one could utilize to publish a webcomic, and at the moment, I’m not sure which is best — or which will utilize the least amount of programming knowledge!  Today I started looking through the Reader here for examples, and found a really nice webcomic, Brainchild by Suzanne Geary.  It seems to fall in line with something I would like, at least aesthetically (I haven’t gotten the chance to read much of it, yet, so the story is a bit beyond me at the moment).

The largest issue I can see with web publishing is the scale factor:  how to make sure that the text in my images is actually of a size that is readable, and that the images are actually large enough to appreciate, even on a tablet.  It isn’t so much of an issue when part of an image is given and then the reader scrolls down to get the rest of the panels, but putting a complete page onto a computer screen…may be different.  It would also be different if I designed the pages to be able to be printed and bound, as versus simply read online…which, I’ve gotta say, at this point I’m leaning against, if only because it will make it more difficult to rip off.  😉

Well, yes and no.  🙂  Not only will it make it more difficult to print, it will be vastly easier for me to produce.  ^_^;;  (Yes, I have indeed tried to use bleeds and gutters…the post-print binding and trimming of which, is probably the biggest pain about any of this.)

Gah.  I’ve got to find some way to learn to code…