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.

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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.

Art: portability? Catching small bits of time

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here; this is largely because I keep sitting down and reminding myself that maybe there are more pressing things to do, than write about things I haven’t yet thought out — and then actually going to look for those things, instead of just assuming they don’t exist, or that I’ll get to them, later.

Or I look at the WordPress text-editing screen and know that I could be making art, or exercising, or cooking, or studying my own extracurricular stuff (Japanese language), instead of writing incessantly about things I haven’t had the time to experience, to relate to readers via my writing. (It’s not this way anymore, but I have a history of being a compulsive writer [partially because of poor self-awareness in my younger years].)

However, I just finished sitting through two hours of backed-up lectures. I have three weeks left of school, and final projects in all of my classes. And I had to miss work in order to turn two other projects in, this week. Yes, even though Saturday was Veteran’s Day, and I didn’t go to work then, either.

And I have two other writing assignments due before the weekend is over (both for the same class). I also need to review material for the final project in that same class (again) before Monday afternoon. Then, I’m pretty sure that by Tuesday, I have to get my Web Design assignment in. In addition, I should at least outline a site redesign for my Final in Web Usability.

On top of that, right now it’s almost midnight where I’m at, and I actually do have to get up, tomorrow. And it’s probably going to be pretty backed up at work, because I wasn’t able to go in earlier this week. But at this point, considering some of the dreams I’ve been having around my job (including being terrorized by people who won’t stay out of the library when it’s closed, in the last case), it would actually be a relief just to shelve all day.

(Of course, though, the dream I put in parentheses probably refers more to boundary-crossing or outright aggression [boundary-ignoring] than it has to do with the location of where the dream took place.)

Anyhow, that wasn’t what I wanted to talk about, but you can see I’m preoccupied. What I was actually thinking about…was the portability of markers and the possibility of using them during my lunch break at work, tomorrow. This is in addition to the use of color as a valid place from which to launch into drawing, and the fact that because I work at a place where both the utility and break sink need to be food-safe, I can’t take in my normal paints. And I’m not rinsing out my watercolor brushes next to the toilet.

I then have three options if I want to deal with intense coloring: one, a waterbrush plus aquarelles (Supracolors or Neocolor IIs). Two, markers (including waterproof fineliners and water-soluble and permanent brush markers) and possibly a waterbrush. Three, the non-toxic cheap watercolor pans (Prangs), and a waterbrush (though these won’t get a chance to dry, decently — and I’m worried about attracting insects, or growing microbial cultures, because of this).

I’m seeing a theme. I really pretty much hate the tip on my large waterbrush, though. But the alternative is to take in a cup to rinse a good brush in…and an actual decent brush…and then let the brush air out so it doesn’t expand from water exposure and fall apart. Putting a damp quality brush in a locker for hours, even in a case, just doesn’t sound like a good idea in any way.

Which leads me back to markers. I think I can work with dry media. It’s a lot less expensive, anyway; even though the sheer volume of what I’ll have to carry is much larger. (Oh, wait. Lest I mislead someone who doesn’t know how much markers can go for…watercolors are likely cheaper in the long run. But the paper used for painting with watercolor, isn’t.)

In those two hours of lectures I sat through, I started doodling in my notes (I’m not going to get into how I got that distracted; my professors know who I am). I just realized that 1) I was experimenting with layering transparent inks to make new colors (yellow with blue, red with violet), 2) what I made could very well be translated into a duochrome block print, and 3) the art thing doesn’t have to be hard.

I’m learning that most things don’t have to be hard, though…

What I was messing around with tonight, were clover and maple leaves (a bright red gel pen helps with the latter!). It seems like everyone has a “thing” that they really love to do, in the art world; I’m fairly certain that my “thing” is plants and flowers.

And with that, it’s almost 1 AM now. This looks like a good stopping point.

(Yes, I do know that I could just work on my school readings at work…but stopping work in order to do a different kind of work, somehow strikes me as getting rid of the reason to have a break in the first place…)

Alstroemeria: drawing from observation

I wanted to post this last night after midnight, but waited until today so that I could photograph my latest sketch in sunlight. Little did I know that that isn’t even optimal, with just light from a window…Accordingly, I have had to apply a Levels adjustment to the drawing you see below:

marker drawing of an alstroemeria flower
It kind of took a lot of work to get to this point! (By the way, the type of flower is called “Alstroemeria.”)

I made some notes for myself on my working process, last night. I think the enthusiasm for sharing them has died down (or otherwise sobered) overnight; I’m not as pleased with the outcome today as I was at around 12:15 AM. However, it’s good to look at things with fresh eyes.

So, the basic technique:

  1. I did a contour line drawing of a flower in (sharp) HB pencil, erasing unnecessary lines.
  2. I added color using Pitt (brush) pens.
  3. I erased the line drawing as completely as possible without erasing the pen.
  4. I added in the background using Pitt pens and minimal pencil guidelines.
  5. I erased the pencil in the background.

I’m not totally pleased with this, looking at it the next day. In particular, along the way I learned how to define relatively-light lines on dark backgrounds using negative space, but that wasn’t something I was even thinking about at the start of the sketch.

If I did this over again, I would either omit the almond-shaped green veins on the flowers’ two side petals, or I would draw them in with a much lighter green marker (relying on the marker’s transparency to blend with the petal and create a new color), or color around them and define the lines with negative space.

I also ran into the issue of not having a delicate enough pink to define the lighter areas of the petals, so I (felt I) had to go darker in order to avoid too much hatching/contour drawing (see the section on negative space, below). This doesn’t seem to be as big an issue for the background, though: where I was working with impressions and not trying to mimic reality so much.

I like the background much better than the foreground — it’s looser and more free and airy, capturing more of the feeling of the blossoms. I was, however, working with the structure I had established with the initial pencil drawing; I wonder how I would do with an all-over looseness (marker-first, or just light and minimal pencil guidelines which are later erased)?

I was also able to define a lot in the background by using negative and implied space, while I wasn’t thinking in terms of defining the light-colored foreground by darkening the background (what it was seen against) until later.

Keeping the white space goes along with this. I’m not used to seeing white as a “color,” but in this case the flowers were somewhat defined by their lightness. If I had planned on adding a background in the first place, I could have avoided over-hardening the central flower with mid-value pinks in an attempt to define its petals.

I’m also not hating that top right white petal with the pink contour lines as much as I was, last night.

There are also a couple of small details I feel like I should have caught, which I took note of in the process…inadvertently darkening a highlight area on the leftmost central petal (reversing the lowlight and highlight areas), and not paying attention to the pattern of veining on the rightmost leaf until it was too late. (In addition…I started off trying to define the veins as dark, when they are not dark; they’re light. Also, they do not branch off from a central, strong vein. They’re more like grass, with parallel veining.)

There are two things I know I can work on, from having done this sketch:

  1. utilization of white space and negative space
  2. layering inks to get unexpected hues beyond what is provided in the markers as used straight.

Also: loosening up.

It helps to have many of these pens with subtle color differentiations (especially, very light and very dark). They aren’t as troublesome in their uniformity of nib type as I thought they would be. It also helped to pick out the main colors in this piece before I even started ([pinks, violet/maroon], greens, yellows). This helped me avoid a lack of color harmony in the piece, though the subject itself had all these colors. Botanical subjects often do seem to harmonize with themselves well, in the first place…probably because they have a limited number of pigments to work with.

D suggested using watercolor with the marker, which would be a good idea with the caveat that I did this in an art journal filled with regular drawing paper. It might be fairly well destroyed by the addition of water.

And yes, I am thinking of a Yupo journal, now, thanks.  😛

There is a lot of work which built up to this, starting off with sketches in the sketchbook with the horrible paper, without any reference. Those helped me get an idea of the concept, but they aren’t really anything I’d like to show. Because of their lack of reference, many of the details are wrong even though the drawings can look pretty. Last Tuesday the 24th, though, I went and picked up some alstroemeria which I used as a reference for the picture, above.

Even though it was somewhat difficult for me to get myself to work on an observational drawing (I still get nervous), it was easier than making up details — as I was doing in my concept sketches.

I should likely go and work on my classwork, now… 🙂

Mad skillz…or, trying to order chaos

There are two things I can think of to write about, tonight.

Advocacy for the differently-abled

The heavier topic, I’ll (largely) save for another post; I’m not sure I’m up to doing it, right now, especially with the sensitivity surrounding it (both for me and for others).

But that one essentially has to do with taking action against stigmatization, misunderstanding and fear; instead of stressing over being stigmatized, misunderstood, and feared.  That is, instead of worrying about being put into a stigmatized category, work for the understanding and betterment of people who are already in that category.  Once the stigma is allayed, the anxiety will be purposeless.

This has been spurred off by reading material on Accessibility while on the job (about one in five U.S. residents at any moment are dealing with a mental illness), and realizing that more people than anyone would like are too close to homelessness — a quick Google search turns up the statistic that one in three U.S. residents are one check away.  On top of that — at least my own disability is hidden; my recently deceased family member’s was not.  His death was preventable, and what led up to it is something I have heard related to me as “abuse.”  But I’m going to try not to get into that, now.

Organizing collected art @*#&

The lighter topic, which just flashed through my mind, is my freakin’ need to inventory my art materials, tools, and supplies, because I have more than enough art supplies to do what I want to do, without buying much of anything more.  The issue here is that I’ve had them for so long, that I’ve forgotten that I have them, or what I can do with them.  And they’re mostly stashed away where I don’t look.

Case in point:  a bunch of tiny linoleum blocks which I bought at the beginning of Summer, of which I’ve only carved into one.  I had forgotten about them until I picked up a surprisingly heavy little box (not knowing what was in it), and found them inside.

I’ve already begun a small version of cataloging these things, in setting up an MS Excel file with all the paints I have (or had, in December 2016).  That, in turn, was likely motivated by my experience with setting up a database for the first second time in one of my Library classes.  (The first time I set up a database was likely in 2007, using MS Access 2003, which I no longer…ironically, have access to.)  The second time, we were using a Web-based service which, while simple, is apparently more powerful than Access.  (?!)  I’m not sure about that last one…but it simulated the functionality of an OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog).

I just took a moment to do some research on relational databases:  apparently, what I’m thinking of doing, D says, will require months of set-up work.  (Really?)  M has said that companies hire out for that kind of work, which I had wanted to give a good shot.  Well, anyway.  I suppose I can learn it later if I really want to do it…

I was also told that it would be more useful to photograph what I had, where.  My main concern was pulling together records of all my supplies in a central location, so that I could tell what I had, and from that gather ideas of what I could use it for, without digging through everything.  There’s just so much stuff that it’s hard to know on what paper or in what book to put new drawings, for instance; where any given completed drawing is; or what media to use for any given idea.

Marker digression:

I did make a crude but relatively interesting Cubist sketch the other day, trying to capture the idea of a specific kind of “lamp.”  This was done with a (Faber-Castell) Pitt Big Brush pen, which…well, the tip was already blunted, so I didn’t feel too bad about pressing firmly on it.  Different media require different approaches and have different ways of working with ease, which is why I’ve been trying to diversify.

Most markers have a limited shelf life:  they dry out.  This is a reason why I like Tombows (they last longer than most markers I’ve had — I really don’t think I’ve had to throw one out, yet).  Staedtlers are relatively good, too — by that I mean the Mars Graphic 3000 Duo brush pens.  The major issue I have with both are a lack of muted tones, and a suspicion that, like markers generally, they will be prone to fading.

Theoretically, though, both the Mars Graphic 3000 Duo pens and the Tombows are water-based and water-soluble, so they can be blended and drawn out with water.  I just haven’t especially had the will to try it.  However, that would probably be the most straightforward way to get muted tones.  Tombows come in a great prismatic range; the Duo pens are, on the other hand, mostly sold in sets, these days.  (They used to be sold in open stock…they’re really great pens, though — or, they used to be, when I purchased my three, years ago.)

Eh — maybe I should get back to large-format charcoal work and just have at it.  🙂

I guess there’s no reason not to

occupying my time

After the snack that was dinner (I was really not moved to eat much tonight, due to having been fed not too long earlier), I started looking for the portable CD player.  This is because I thought it would be nice to have some music going in my office (while I drew), which would not all be music downloads.  I have one or two boxes of CDs which I’ve scavenged…and have not heard any of them in a long while.

When the location of the boom box was not immediately apparent, however, I did see something that caught my eye:  my guitar.  Because we’ve put a new battery in the guitar tuner (it uses a 9-volt!), I decided to try it out.  It was out of tune in a way that I had been blind to; mostly, flat, but still close enough to on-target that I didn’t have to worry about being totally lost (I do have a pitch pipe around here somewhere, but have a feeling it’s in the junk room — with my music stand and guitar case).

So I played around on that until my fingers got to the point where I knew I would get blisters if I played any farther.  I’m getting better at remembering the location of notes on the fret board; though I still am not sure of the names of those notes or their location on sheet music, so maybe I should say that I’m getting better at remembering the location of sounds on the fret board.

I’ve also realized that I will have to learn classical fingering if I want to be able to play the songs that I want to play.  In classical style, it’s possible to ring up to five notes at once — one with each nail — as versus picking out notes one at a time, or only strumming chords.

After my fingers couldn’t stand it anymore, I set the guitar back and picked up the box which holds all of my prismatic markers, brush markers, and fineliners.  There are also four other sets in there:  one of LYRA graphite crayons (they only make three hardnesses, so far as I know), one box of Koh-I-Noor woodless colored pencils, a tube of General’s Willow charcoals (they wipe away easily and so are good if you need temporary marks), and my (soft) charcoal set…the last of which, I really need to clean out.

I did two drawings tonight with the markers, on 18″x24″ Sketch paper (this is the same pad gifted to me on leaving my first University, back in 2002…15 years old, and not yellow?).  I am not sure it would be best to show them, though…would it be too much pressure to show my experiments?  I don’t think validation or approval would help, here, more than it would hold me back from trying new things.

The first one was just me experimenting while thinking about moths (and spirals).  Something about fuzzy, feathery bugs…(and there’s probably a rebirth thing going on in there, too, not to mention the entire light-seeking thing which…still doesn’t make sense to me).  It could also be related to the green skeleton image I got back this Fall which had metamorphosis as a major theme (there was also a butterfly in there…I’ve posted about it before, but need to take a clearer shot).

The second image I did was an experiment in which I realized I was totally using lines, hatching, and cross-hatching, and started intentionally working with more random applications of line (bullet nibs for the win)…which I find I like immensely more than the way I had been working, though maybe that’s because it’s new.

The randomness appeals to me; it’s also very immediate and committed, at least with markers (though these markers are all water-based, so if I wanted to, I could wet them and use the ink as a wash — on top of a surface which could take a wash without warping).

I also found that the Staedtler Mars Graphic 3000 Duo markers (from years ago) behave differently than the Tombow Dual Brush markers.  The nibs are made of different materials; the Staedtler brush nibs are some kind of porous rubber which enables more painterly strokes (and gradual fade-outs, and finer delicate lines), while the Tombows are more like a straightforward water-based brush marker with a more fibrous and firmer/less responsive tip, on the brush side.  (Both markers have a firm bullet nib on the other tip.)  The advantage of the Tombows, of course, is the color range, and the fact that they are made (like the Staedtlers) not to easily dry out, unless the cap isn’t pushed on fully.  Of course, though, my Staedtlers are years old.  I’ve seen a revival of interest in them recently, though…but I can’t vouch for their current quality.

(The Mars Graphic 3000 markers, along with Staedtler’s Mars white plastic erasers [less smudging — especially with Pentel Hi-Polymer leads (ha — I used to draw in mechanical pencil), and clean erasure], were what immediately gave me a favorable impression of Staedtler, some years back.  However, I’ve heard that the quality of some known brands has diminished in some product lines, due to the current trend of adult coloring books leading to demand for cheaper materials.  I think D told me this when I was looking at the long Stabilo 68 bullet-tip marker sets at an office supply store [I like these and have the mini version (I think I got a set of 18)…but I am not sure how many colors they actually come in.  A quick search brings up a 50-color set…which I’m fairly certain I can’t get in-store in open stock].)

What I find interesting about working on art this way is that there’s very much a problem-solving part of my mind being engaged, though the problem I’m solving is one that I am generally not wholly conscious of, but become more aware of during the process of drawing.  Each mark suggests a new one, until the piece would suffer detraction from extra visual noise.  It’s like a Rorschach that I make and develop, that is.  And it’s nice to see a line suggested before it’s made.  It’s something that doesn’t happen with me so easily in painting (where there perhaps may be more focus on areas of color than boundaries of areas of color — or, lines).  I’m not sure if it’s actually possible for me to develop that skill in painting, this late in the game (I learned to draw at about 14, when my brain probably had higher plasticity than now).

The problem in this case could actually start out as, “how do I make something different than what I’ve done before?”  This is how I began my first piece, which is largely orange, yellow, red, and blue-green:  I have a tendency to gravitate initially towards violet, which is something I intentionally stopped myself from doing, this time.  In the second case, it became very apparent that I was depending overly on about three techniques, and motifs repeated from the first piece.  I wouldn’t lose anything by experimenting, and knew I might not post the results, so I went ahead and did so — and the looseness and immediacy of scribbly marks actually added a lot to the piece, which is now, apparently, about safety/predictability and risk/reward.

And, of course, these pieces are in rainbow colors, and so suggest a child’s work…but it’s nice to be able to see the colors before using them, and it’s nice to have them immediately available, if just for play.

I mean, play should be fun, right?  🙂  And none of us would be any good at art if we were so afraid to play with our materials as children that we didn’t…

Playing around with Koh-I-Noor Progresso woodless colored pencils

My sibling-in-law recently gifted me with a set of woodless colored pencils.

I’ve just finished organizing and arranging them and playing with them a little.

A photo of the Koh-I-Noor woodless colored pencils, so you know what I'm talking about.
A photo of the Koh-I-Noor woodless colored pencils, so you know what I’m talking about.

I had been avoiding working with colored pencils because they tend not to reproduce well…and because I felt stuck in a rut…but in the direction I’m going, mixed media could be very much a thing.  These will color on top of marker underdrawings.  Wet media underdrawings eliminate the whiteness of the paper from showing through the layers of color.  I understand that marker is probably not the best media to use for an underdrawing (it will fade sooner or later), but maybe in the future I could utilize some sumi ink, or india ink, or walnut ink, or acrylic ink, or watercolor.

My last Drawing teacher did say, though, that if we’re using markers for a mixed-media drawing, put them down before any oil- or wax-based media, or one will ruin the ink flow in one’s markers.  It probably isn’t as big a deal with a brush or dip pen, and ink.

Right now I’ve got a giant upcycled 18″x24″ Canson Biggie sketch pad sitting on top of my desk, just to encourage me to draw.  (I got it about 13 years ago as a goodbye gift, when I left my first college…it’s good to use it for something.)  I’m not sure this is the best way to go about things; after all, if I plan to keep my drawings, I’ll probably have to cut them down, and that alters things composition-wise…on the other hand, this makes it so that I don’t have to worry about which paper to use.

(And yes, I know that the composition of the above photo is whack; I’m just not going back to try again.  It’s an informational shot.)

What I found with the Koh-I-Noor Progressos (pictured above) is that they have color laydown like very good colored pencils, but the thing is, one can use a flat side of the tip to lay down what is almost a wash effect with the colors.  It’s very much like using Prismacolor NuPastels, but there is the advantage of the pigment adhering to the paper like a colored pencil lead, as versus with chalk or hard pastel, which wipes up with the slightest touch.  And, of course, one doesn’t get the broadest laydown possible unless one wears the lacquer casing off of the pencil — which I didn’t, but which should be possible with a knife or sanding block.

A halogen desk lamp helped with the above photo (I went back with my camera a second time so that you can see all the pencils, after finding color distortion in one of my shots), but unfortunately, it washed out the subtle broad strokes of color that might otherwise show.  I don’t expect much better in daylight, just because what I was doing looked so delicate.

But yeah…I had been moving away from colored pencils because they encourage really tight drawing, with me.  That, and I’ve been using them since I was 14.  And they don’t reproduce well.

But maybe I shouldn’t be aiming, necessarily, at making multiples.  This is especially as I’m uncertain at this point about really going ahead with the graphic novel stuff.  I can work in narratives without using traditional comic conventions.  And it’s possible to work in parallel as regards the writing and the art, as versus integrating them.

But I’ve got to see what the future holds for me.  There’s no point in making plans when I don’t have the information I need, to do so.

I just thought I’d share what I’ve been playing with.  🙂