Too many thoughts…

I’ve been going through backposts…and pondering what I have to do.  Classes restart in a few days, and I need to (re)start assembling my portfolio for graduation. I need to clean my office and pick up a notebook for Summer (tomorrow). I’m not sure yet if I’ll need another jump drive, or if I can recycle one — or how many of them are corrupted, for that matter.

A new shift at work has cropped up, but I’m not certain I should take it on at this point. I think right now I’m staffing 15 hours; 19 is the most I can legally cover. The class I’m taking for Summer is one unit over one month…I’m honestly not sure how much work that’s going to entail. Normally, it would be three hours a week if it were a full-length class, but somehow I don’t think it’s going to be that easy.

I’ve also been looking around, and have realized that a higher-paying Aide position or a Library Assistant position is the next logical step up, for me — if I want to ease (as versus leap) into Librarianship. Looking for a new job in earnest doesn’t have to start until next year, after graduation.

I need to keep building the portfolio to graduate, foremost in my mind. (I can figure out employment after I actually have the degree.) That means cataloging some classes, likely producing some local HTML to map out what I might want to include, and starting to categorize and weigh evidence.

And my Learning Management System is being a butt. I’m glad I’m about to graduate.

As for things I want but don’t have to do…I’m thinking about picking up some flowers to draw and/or paint from life, possibly with gouache — just to see what it looks like. I also have the toile for the field pants going; easy to work on. Both of these may be a bit scary (but rewarding), though.

I’ve decided to hold steady at 14 gauge (14g) for my earrings, although I did lose — and find — one for the first time, yesterday. (I’m still under 12g.) I’m not sure if this means I should get new 14g earrings plus some clear O-rings, or what. But I’m back to captive-ball rings, for now, because they can’t fall out. I’m not entirely sure how my piercings loosened up, but I’m about to blame sleeping with my earrings in, plus maturity of the piercings.

Also…because I’m working more, that’s helping with some of the cost of this. I did almost forget to mention that I recently found three books on Japanese aesthetics, none of which I’ve delved deeply into, yet. But if I get too intimidated to paint or sew, I can read. Reading’s easy.

I also recently looked back into my PHP book. You know. The one I forgot I had.

There’s got to be some way to organize this that makes sense, but I’m not sure what it is, yet.

 

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(Im-)perfection, planning, and process

I sat down today with the idea of writing on my own creative process. This is more for me than it is for anyone else, but I’ll try and make it so that others can follow along.

Part of the reason for doing a Final project on Zen and Art, this last semester, was that I had sensed my own inability to enjoy (or engage) the artistic process, and to plan a piece to death before actually working on it at all. The idea I had of Zen was something around engaging with the process for the sake of the process, and fully living the process. I still don’t know if that’s accurate to reality.

Planning things to death runs contrary to the way I made art as a youth, which was to sit down with my materials and see what would come out of me that day. I really wouldn’t try to explain what I was doing to myself or anyone else until after the fact, when I’d make up a reason why I made it (in order to satisfy others, and it was always to satisfy others. Why can’t it just be? Why do I have to assign it a meaning? Can’t you imagine that yourself?).

With art, as with writing…historically, I’ve been tripped up by a lack of planning. This changed when I went for my AA in Art. Basically, it’s the lowest degree I could get, aside from a Certificate. Being so near to the completion of my first Master’s and looking forward to becoming a Librarian, though…continued education at the Master’s level in Studio Art and/or Art History is actually becoming a possibility. In turn, that would open up Librarianship posts in Museums, but from what I hear, the competition is tough and the compensation not so great.

That’s an offshoot, though, of what I’ve been trying to get at, here. Let me get back to the main point:

I think that what training I did get in Art, has somewhat derailed my own artistic process. Instead of sitting down and making a mark, and then another mark, and then another, without knowing (or caring, really) what I’m going to end up with, I was trained to visualize an end product and then somehow get there. This is counterproductive for me. It works for academic exercises, but as for actually generating art on my own, it is crippling.

The problem is that a work of art, when I start out with an idea of what I want it to be, never fully reaches the point I want it to reach. There’s the world of ideal perfection, and then there’s reality. And the two don’t really meet. By engaging an idea of what I want a piece to be, or, to say, I end up envisioning something more perfect than I could ever really make, possibly something more perfect than could ever actually exist in the physical world.

I’ve run into this on other levels. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Mostly, though, I feel like I bumble along and run into things and reset my course accordingly, and the resulting path forms something truer to me than if I had set a destination of what I thought I wanted at some point, and made a beeline for it.

For example, if in 2002 I had decided that I was a transgender man and had transitioned to male, my life now would be entirely different. And it would not have been truer to who I actually am or what I actually want, than the place I’m at, now. The outside would change; the life would change. But it’s trading one set of setbacks for another. And even though it’s obviously superficial, who I would have become would still have the same core as I do now, though I’d probably be more conflicted.

The thing is, the way I envision myself now is something I’ve arrived at by a process of listening to myself, not something I tried to form myself into.

It’s like making a picture and having some teacher ask me what it is a picture of. It doesn’t matter. It came out of my living experience. Why are you asking me what it is a picture of? To gauge whether it is, “good,” or not (and why should I care if you think it’s, “good?” How does that positively impact my life)? What do you see? Because I bet it’s not what anyone else, sees. And I bet my giving a word to my experience that I’ve illustrated on paper doesn’t make it any clearer for you if you can’t see it now. Just own your experience and don’t reflect it back on me or my hypothetical intentions. Because I may not even consciously know my own intentions.

I’m sounding bitter. I’m also editing out a lot of curse words. I’ve been having mood issues since the semester ended and I started staying up way too late. I’ll be in bed before 3 AM, tonight. Promise.

Anyway, there seems to be the assumption of an intention to communicate which I’ve found over the years in academic circles. But maybe the best communication is at times, letting the work speak for itself, without trying to explain it. Sometimes ambiguity is best. Sometimes thinking in color rather than in greyscale or in black-and-white, is best.

Can I tell you why red-orange makes you feel different than green-blue? No. Do I know why I used red-orange instead of green-blue? You’re going to have to engage with that mystery yourself, just like the rest of us (including me). Don’t expect me to spoon-feed you dead words, and theory that probably doesn’t matter to anyone but me, in the hope that you’ll understand.

(No, I can’t remember anymore the source of the living word/dead word argument…I think it’s Taoist, though. Actually, I think it may be in the Tao Te Ching. I might have to look that one, up. “Dead words” are things that are spoken that can then be twisted around to say what they were not meant to say, losing their meaning; while “living words” are not necessarily spoken…they live through actions.)

To try and wind this down…I am pretty much set on trying to go back to the way I operated, artistically, before school (and grades) got in the way. This means being led more by intuition and just putting one foot in front of the other, rather than trying to visualize something in total and then attempting to make it, or “copy it,” from my mind.

After all, this is my artistic process. This is art for me, for my own health and refinement. Not for anyone else.

I’m not sure of the reality of being able to explain the way I work, though I’ve tried before. I also know watercolor isn’t necessarily the greatest medium to try this, within.

But what I do, doesn’t have to conform to realism. Nor does it have to be precise and tight.

It doesn’t have to be planned, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Right now, I just need to engage.

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…

Okay. Can’t sleep.

I’ve been busy thinking up things to make linocuts out of, and don’t know how coherent I’ll be — sorry!  🙂

I did find my old stash of X-Acto blades and blade holders!  So I know I don’t need any #11 or #2 blades, and I won’t need an extra handle.  There are three types of blades I’ve decided on — the #10 (general, curved) and #12 (detail, curved) for the #1 handle, and the #28 (concave) for the #2 handle.  What I will need help with are biomorphic forms (flowers, leaves, feathers), so I’m hoping that the curved blades will assist, here.  I think that if I sharpened my initial tools, they should work; but as it is, the only knife or gouge I have that is still reliably sharp is my big U-gouge.  And that’s because I didn’t use it in high school.  (I don’t know how to sharpen gouges.)

I still haven’t (“still”? it’s been what, a day?) gone back to my original design — though I did get the idea of printing multiple layers of color, today.  If I can find a strip of wood that is exactly the height of my linoleum blocks, it would help with registering the prints — that is, lining them up exactly so that I don’t miss and get a weirdly printed copy.  I’m not betting on this, though.   I do have strips of cardboard that I’ve saved from old drawing pads, which I can cut to size and then tape the print to (while lining up the bottom edge with the block) — I think this should help, but I haven’t tried it yet.

The thing that I still can’t justify buying is a baren.  This is largely because they’re expensive, and largely, it’s just a flat surface.  The one Japanese brand I’ve found is Yasutomo, and…let’s just say it didn’t feel like anything…special?  On the other hand, it was $10 less than the Speedball one.  The latter, though, will stand up to Western printmaking papers and doesn’t require oiling, to the best of my knowledge.  The Stonehenge paper I’m using is very…tough.  I think it’s a cotton rag paper, but it’s really thick and kind of hard.

I’ll probably end up getting the Speedball one; it just kind of hurts a little.  😉  But you buy it like, what, once, and then you don’t have to do it again?

Earlier tonight I was thinking of stocking up on those little tiny 2″x 2″ linoleum blocks; now I’m wondering if it’s overkill.  I have the receipt next to me and can see that they cost $0.69 each.  So I guess that would be, what…about $3.50 if I got 5 of them?  I had been thinking of doing a color rendition, but at the present moment I can’t remember what that version would look like.

It may not be overkill, though, if it will save me a trip.  Speaking of which, I did just check — and I’m not sure the little store carries the blades I want.  This will then require locating other sources.  I should call ahead.  I think I have the phone numbers of all my regular art supply stores in a case…aha; found them.

The other irritant I’m facing is how many inks to get.  I know I should not go all out and invest in too many at once; on the other hand, this art store is not a convenient place to get to.

Ah, hell.  I’ll get a magenta, a blue, yellow, and brown, plus extender (which may be more interesting than diluting colors with white).  I have three prints that have come to mind…and this should give me the widest possible color range (even though I have wanted to buy violet and orange).  The first print to try or retry is the flower thing that looks like a crocus.  Then — I want to try a gingko leaf (3 blocks required), and the idea of a hummingbird has also come to mind…though I should be able to print that with these colors, I now realize!

I’ll just get the three tiny blocks instead of more…the gingko thing and the crocus thing should keep me busy for a while.  After that I can practice some more and work on my key block for the hummingbird thing…some time will have elapsed, by then.

It looks like the printing inks are cheaper at the big store, but not by much.  The baren is not, and I don’t see how the linoleum blocks could be.  Maybe I’ll hit the big box store, get the X-Acto blades and ink, and then hit the small store for the baren and linoleum blocks…and look at their selection of gouges.  There are two Speedball kits which contain gouges…I’m thinking of using a very small gouge for the leaf, but am not sure if it will even help, as the veining has to be in reverse in order to print (unless I make the veins lighter than the leaf).  The benefit of a gouge here is that it removes material in one swipe, but that’s really suited to later projects (feathers) than either of these two.

And then…do I want to get an X-Acto gouge set instead?  I’m pretty sure they exist.

Anyway…I’m now getting tired, and I have a plan now.  See you in the morning!  I mean after the sun is up!

Getting used to this…

Within the past two days, I’ve again realized that my main job, now, is to do classwork, with self-care also coming in highly, and then, work.  I also realized that after this semester, especially during Summer but maybe even in Fall 2017, I should be able to do a Cataloging internship, as I’m taking Beginning Cataloging, this semester.  A lot of people at work have been trying to help me figure out what my next step is (if I don’t want to be a Library Assistant in a Public Library in our county), and this is looking like a good one.

I don’t have too much to say right now…I woke up late and can’t remember much (I showered and ate and read some stuff for classes…).  I do need to write to one of my Profs, though, to get the last of my paperwork in line…and should likely contact them about the Disability accommodations which I’ve been granted.

Right now, though…I’m really tired.  I’ll send off this email and probably should get to bed…

Feeling as though I am caught up…

I waited last night to write this until a time when my shoulders would be less stiff.  Over the past two days, I’ve had two eight-page papers due.  It’s not too bad, though, really.  The hardest thing is the research which has to be done so that I have something to write about.  Well, that, and keeping records on it (notes), and getting used to APA citations, again.

Today has been a bit difficult if only for the fact that I had nothing scheduled to do today, did not set my alarm, went to bed late, and slept until I started having dreams about being unable to wake up (about 12 hours).

Yesterday was fortunate because I awoke for the first time in months, able and (nearly) ready to jump out of bed in the morning.  The difference between that day and nearly every other day?  Sunlight could get into my room.

Today I opened the blinds when I went to bed, but I’m not sure if I opened them enough, as I was more fatigued today upon waking than I was, yesterday morning.  Or maybe it’s just cumulative fatigue.

In any case…pretty much, nothing’s been done, today.  The two major class projects I’ve had in recent weeks are now behind me.  I do have some minor homework due today, but in effect it is only a small amount of credit.  (Not to say that it doesn’t matter, because it does; but unlike the last paper I did, it isn’t worth 15% of my grade.)

If I’m unsure of what I want to do…there are a few things I can do.  Making pickles, or cleaning the rooms I normally use (bedroom, bathroom, office), pop to mind first.  Well, this, and catching up on my readings.

And, right–!  I meant to mention that I need to make more time each day, to write.  When I don’t write, it makes it harder to get my thoughts out when I have a 6-8 page paper due (or more than one).  It’s a short paper (one of my emails can be this long); but it feels significant when I haven’t been writing at all for a week or more.  To keep the flow of words going, though, it would help to at least try to write, at least every other day — if not every day.

I think I’ll get to work.  I should deal with my homework first, then deal with the pickles, then vacuum the bedroom and change my sheets.  That should open me up to being able to deal with all the other stuff I have to shower after doing.

Hmm.  I have another day of work, tomorrow.  Not too much, but still…