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!

Okay. Can’t sleep.

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…

Getting used to this…

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…

Feeling as though I am caught up…

I’ve been reading all day and am probably having problems thinking in words, at the moment.

Seven hours of study down, and I feel like I just may have caught up.

I have about 11 single-spaced pages to go in my final reading of this week for my Diversity class…which is not bad when (I’m pretty sure) this morning, I had four of them.

Today has been full of studying, eating, napping, and laundry.  I suppose I shouldn’t mark the evening and night as time which I can’t use to study…because I can.  Especially when my work days have recovery spaces between them.

I’m…unsure of what to do about the assignment I have coming up which is like a Social Sciences people-watching thing.  I’m always uncomfortable with that!  Gah.  It’s one of the main reasons I dropped Sociology as a major.

The positive thing is that I believe that if the least I do is go to a cafe and listen in on conversations and then write a paper on it, I should still qualify for half-credit.  The other positive thing is that the class which has us people-watching, is one in which I don’t need a high grade (and I have until Monday to turn it in).  I have one class which I really need to watch out for, but luckily, it happens to be my favorite class this semester.  This is basically a Database class, which I’m kind of in love with because I get to build things.

I believe my brain is checking out on me now, and my battery will soon, too; so I’ll try and get some rest.

I’ve been reading all day and am probably having problems thinking in words, at the moment.

Surprising myself a slight bit…

I actually have been able to get something done, today, other than work and art.  The mess of receipts that I have from late last year have (mostly) been documented.  In the process, I found a receipt from October of last year showing that I paid $0.98 for what I believe were three tiny persimmons.

It’s the good things, you know?

Ja…right now I’m thinking that I will really have to get on the University reading, soon.  Today, instead of doing that, I did some reading in an actual (!) paper book!  (Where Does Art Come From? by William Kluba.  It is an art-practice book instead of an art-history book, but it’s really a good thing for me to try and remember why I’m doing what I’m doing.)  And I just finished the last of the candied ginger of unknown age.  Go, me.  (Hopefully, it won’t do a number on my stomach…)

If it’s possible, I think I really should pay for the groceries I get at the produce market, with my own funds.  I know I will be going into (more) debt because of University, but that aside:  when I pay for my own perishables with money I’ve earned myself, I’m more aware of their existence, and have more of a tendency to actually eat them.  Otherwise, I have a tendency to forget about them until after entropy has set in and they’ve started to decompose.  I think that if it’s my money I’m wasting, it will make a difference.

I still haven’t done much of any reading in either of my school texts, though at least this semester, I’m starting out with a note-taking system.  I can only read one book at a time, so I have a notebook dedicated to notes on whatever I’m reading.  If I’m smart, maybe I can have three different pens; one color for each class.  I know I have the pens; replacing them (along with ink longevity) will be the iffy part.  It could be cool, though, if archival-quality inks are not demanded (the notes must last for three years), to use gel pens (Sarasas are nice).  Actually, that sounds like fun!  Maybe green, purple, and orange…hmm.

Tonight, as well — I realized that my huge watercolor palette may not be as inconveniencing as I had been convinced it would be.  For those who haven’t read the backposts, this is a Mijello Silver Nano 40 palette, which is pretty darn huge for someone used to things that are, well…easy to carry.  But it does easily hold all of my colors, and it gives generous mixing space, plus the construction seems to be quality (so far), which are three qualities not simultaneously matched in any of my other palettes.

I also re-tried fitting my half-pans into one of the small tins I bought.  I was mistaken in an earlier post; one tin will hold at least 28 Winsor & Newton half-pans (seven across, four deep).  However, what D said might also be the case:  the sides of the tin may be too deep to allow easy access with a brush.  I’m also not convinced that a half-pan format is the best way to carry dried watercolor paint…especially if I’m using a large brush.

The Maruman NEW SOHO Series Sketch pad is too lightweight to take watercolor with abundant moisture.  (watercolor that’s wet…?)  It is advertised to take watercolor, but it isn’t a good-quality watercolor paper (whereas with my limited use of dry media within it [basically only graphite sticks, so far], it’s great).

I mean if you wet it, it warps.  It warped so much that I tore the sheet out of the pad and threw it away before it could warp the rest of the pad.  I probably should have waited until it dried out to see what it would do, but generally speaking, when a paper does what it did, I’m not likely to turn to it for watercolor work!  Please forgive me for not taking a photograph of it before getting rid of it.  It was just a mess; but I was also using my dying Utrecht #10 Sablette Round, which holds a good deal of water.  (It’s dying because the ferrule has loosened on the handle, though it grips again after being wet for about 20 minutes.  It’s only a matter of time until the brush head itself falls off.)

I also tried a small sheet of Stonehenge paper, which performed much more favorably…but it also really absorbed the paint to the degree that if I wanted to lift the pigment out, I’m not sure I would have been able to do so.  The stability of the paper was much more “on” for the way I’d expect a watercolor paper to behave, though granted I think that the highest grade of paper I’ve yet used is Canson Montval — not Arches, which I hear is top-of-the-line (and probably so expensive as to discourage me from using it).

I think I’ve used Strathmore 300 and 400 series before, too, and have just begun to try Fluid “Easy Blocks” (they’re only gummed down on two sides, so they’re supposed to be “easier” to lift away from the block…but this sacrifices some stability.  And how much harder is it, really, to cut away those other two sides when you’ve already got out the butter knife?).

What I remember about Stonehenge is that I’m pretty sure this is the paper which easily pilled when I rubbed a dry tissue over a wet area — though granted, this was on the back of the sheet.  I’m pretty sure that the tissue wasn’t what the pill was made of.

Otherwise…hmm.  Things have been fairly stable.  I’m still not certain whether to go for Digital Services or Art Librarianship.  Art Librarianship is the ultimate goal…ideally.  It’s just that looking at four more years of college is a bit painful.  But I still have not been able to clarify exactly what Digital Services entails, or what the field is looking like, moving forward.  I’ll get to find out some information on this, later this month.

For now, there’s nothing much I can do besides read and work through my tutorials, and get a head start on the class readings I can do, now.  Good to keep some perspective, I guess…

Surprising myself a slight bit…

Shifting into a femme space

Well…huh.

I’m trying to figure out how to approach saying what has come up for me, today.  There’s a lot of it, though maybe it doesn’t need so many words.

I have reached the point where I am able to look in a mirror and see myself as male — or as I would look if I were, physically, male.  The most surprising point I came to when I did this is that I would likely be seen primarily as a male of African descent…at least if the fat in my cheeks were redistributed to be leaner, and my chin developed a slight bit (cartilage growth happens on testosterone:  meaning it is likely my nose would develop a slight bit, as well).

Even prior to the protests in my country over police killings of men and boys of African descent, this had been pointed out to me by bystanders…that transitioning to male, for me, is not the same as it would be if I were White.

I may be wrong here, but I’m thinking that I remember something about how almost all of my male relatives on the Black side of my family have been in prison at one time or another.  This is basically not doable for me, but chances are that police would be paying more attention to me if I appeared to be a dark-skinned Black male than a dark-skinned Black female.  (Granted that my skin isn’t even that dark, but it is a good deep olive; deeper in tone than the vast portion of people I run across on a daily basis.)

Which, you know, brings up the point that I don’t even know how I come off to people, as things stand now.  It hasn’t been much of an issue except where it has come to privileged White peers — mostly in college (I still remember getting asked about how I got my “scar,” which was just a line where my melanin was lighter in the center of my chest.  Someone had never seen a brown person’s skin, before).

Let me get off of that.

In any case, today I have been thinking about what it would be like to be socially male, as versus (as things are now) socially female.  Although — it wasn’t really until I started making friends with guys in the Art program (some of whom had military experience) that I realized how distanced I was from traditional heterosexual male culture.  It isn’t especially that I saw their versions of masculinity as superior to mine, but my sphere of experience was definitely feminine in relation to theirs.  I do kind of like it that way.

The major issue here is that right now, I am more fully aligned with wanting to have a girlfriend who sees me as masculine, or to be a boyfriend (yes they are two different things ♥) than wanting to be someone else’s girlfriend.  (Quite plainly, I don’t know how to, “be a girlfriend.”)  This gets kind of sticky where it comes to being attracted to men (especially those who may see me as a woman; which in some cases is understandable due to the range of their experience.  For example, I have a depth of knowledge in feminism which may be out of the reach of most younger men, especially men who haven’t been exposed to queer community), but it’s pretty near undeniable that I’d rather be a guy’s boyfriend if I could.  (And I probably would bring in quite a bit of world-opening material for that guy…)  I’ve found other queer (cis) men to be actually kind of …intrigued by this possibility, by the way.

But it’s also pretty clear, from one of my past involvements, that I’m not actually fully a man (not to say that those who identify with me here are not fully men, if they do identify as such; but for me…the way I see myself [which goes to a depth I can’t relate in one post] cannot fully encompass “man,” in my mind).  I’ve been in nearly the exact reverse position in past experience, here, and it did not help me to think of the person I related with as their target gender.  There was something different about this person that taking on the label “woman” would not erase (but then granted, this person did not identify as a woman).

With me there would not be a clear switchover from female to male.  I have a surfeit of femininity to the point that I would be obviously abnormally feminine for a man — and this is what has held me back from asking to be referred to as “he,” in the past.  (If they call me “he,” what happens the next time I wear a bra and women’s shirt in Dusty Rose?)

It’s also why I haven’t taken testosterone, so far.  I’m not really a queen (and believe me, I have met FtM queens), but I do range into “femme” territory.  It’s like being just to the other side of the line of being “butch” but still female-identified:  hypothetically, this is occupying the position of being femme and male-identified.  The only wildcard is that the person is also trans* as well, which is a different variable:  one that has to do with history and the body, but not necessarily with identity.  It also means, though, that anyone who is going to — say — date me, is going to need to be informed that I identify as a femme man (or as a genderfluid person who ranges into femme/male territory), not as a straight woman or as a lesbian.

Seems that the most obvious route for me is to be a pretty man.  A pretty man on estrogen.  🙂  A PRETTY PRETTY MAN.  😉  I kind of wonder how to motivate myself to do this again, though.  When I went through weight training the first time, it was obviously to harden up and become more “butch,” as this was one of the things which both protected me and displayed my openness to relationships with women (the men were probably still largely too immature for me, then.  The one physically male person I did have a relationship with, was genderqueer).  This hasn’t been able to be a good motivator for me in more recent history, however.

And as idealistic as it would be to say that I’m doing it for myself and my health…is that holding a lot of weight?  And I mean, I’ve known guys who have worked out so they could be pretty men (for the ladies), and they didn’t seem to have a problem with it.  Then again, they were also about a decade younger than myself.

I could try and explore what it feels like to be a femme man, eh?  Might as well, while I can…

Shifting into a femme space