Photojournaling? Why art?

Hey; it’s just me.  The first few lines don’t describe the rest of this, so read on:

I’ve not had such a great time today; looking forward to archiving your work so you can graduate is kind of stressful.  Tomorrow, I get to see my Vocational counselor.  I’ve just started looking around at possible positions I can move into so that I’m less of a financial burden on my family…I can see, though, that I will need to practice driving (and obtain a License) in order to gain some positions.  For example, if I’m working somewhere that has a 45-minute commute one-way, it’s more reasonable for me to drive myself, than not.

(Seeing how people drive in this area, though:  that’s still…risky.)

Anyhow…I was thinking up things to write about, and started looking through my image archives.  I had forgotten so many things that I had done, not so long ago!

At Ala Moana Mall (Honolulu), in March of 2017.  This koi kept looking at me!

Everything just happened so fast after we got back (read:  my relative’s death and the ensuing family chaos) that it was easy to forget about this.  In effect, enabling this trip was his last gift in life, to us.

View from the lanai of the Doris Duke House (a.k.a. Shangri-La Islamic Art Museum)

The previous two photos are of Hawaii…none of the others here, are.

From one of the days I ventured into the sun; April 30 of this year.

The one at left is from one of the first times I went out by myself on foot, in recent memory.  I need to become more independent; this is a step towards that.  I have not felt safe venturing out of the house without another person with me, for a while.  I’m sure some here can relate.

One of the reasons why I write about my disability so openly here is that — to me, it is obvious, but — the more I do so, the more aware I become of the fact that my illness has profoundly impacted my life.  This is to the point that it borders on absurd to intentionally keep it a secret.  I don’t tell everyone about it; then again, most people don’t question my mental health — or if they do, it strikes them as normal.

Appearing “normal” is double-edged, even though it doesn’t seem to be.

From May of this year.

My illnesses (I have what’s — overall — called “comorbidity,” which essentially means that I’m dealing with multiple diagnoses at the same time) run in my family.  This means that I am up close and personal with the fact that I have relatives who seem to display signs of mental illness but who will not see a doctor — any doctor — for help.

This cannot be due to anything other than stigma and a feeling that to admit having a problem that they can’t solve themselves makes them “weak.”  It’s not “weak” to seek help when you need help.  It’s not “weak” to gain information you’re lacking.

And it isn’t great for me to watch their lives spiral out of control for no reason other than pride and an inability to question their own thoughts.  I’ve been seeing mental health professionals since I was 14 years old.  There is no shame in actually working out your problems.

From June of this year.

But before you can work out your problems, you first have to admit imperfection…which seems more than some can muster.

From June.  A few days ago, actually.

Of course, the people one surrounds oneself with, can also make one afraid to admit to imperfection…because keeping someone in a weakened state means they’re more easily manipulated.

(I will try not to get into commentary on that…particular dynamic, now.)

But it’s apparent…from the work that I’m doing, combined with what I speak of, here, that I am — again — finding respite from human problems in the natural world.  And I think I’ve done that, ever since I was about 11 or 12.

Particularly, plants seem to calm me…and have, since I started hanging out with them by myself, in lieu of hanging out with abusive “friends.”

The art, then…may manifest as an attempt to honor these spirits…whether they’re self-generated or not.

Seeing spirits in life is a point where Buddhism and I apparently part ways…I’m not sure if that is so true in the U.S., as Pure Land schools are more popular here, and they’re more belief-oriented…

…but that gets into an entirely different post!

And my energetic sensitivity also may get into a different post.  (I’ve stopped denying it.)

But the little blossoms…well…have I told you the meaning I find in them, before?  It’s not a usual one.

Because flowers are, generally speaking, both male and female, and since many of them are beautiful — I find meaning in the fact that they exist as they are, and in the fact that they break the idea that one has to ascribe to a gender binary to be beautiful and natural in that beauty.  People who don’t know me, think that it’s a “girl thing.”  I don’t correct them.  They’re just seeing surfaces.

Yeah, I wonder:  does my art exist to generate peace…?

Ah, the why art question, again:  I should just make it into a phrase.  “Why art?” with “art” as a verb…

Because art calms.  Art reclaims me from the nonsense and panic of the world.  That’s why art.  Life is too short to waste on hurting others and being hurt.  I wonder what would happen if we had a culture shift, where more of us centered ourselves…though maybe that is far from being possible, right now…


Yes, in Art, books do (actually!) help.

I’ve heard it said that one can’t learn Art through reading books, but sometimes those books actually help urge someone into action.

I’ve been reading in a book on Chinese ink painting techniques…and may just have gotten the inspiration to work on a painting (I’m not giving away the title until after I’ve decided whether to buy it or not).  This is on the canvas I intended to start on last semester when I got my easel (the canvas is 30″x30″, just under the 34″ maximum height my easel can take), but a different image than originally intended/settled for.  If I can pull it off, it may turn out to be a beautiful, wonderful painting.

I think a large part of the reason I haven’t started on this yet (besides time pressures) is the fact that the canvas is square, and so it isn’t entirely straightforward to think of a way to make the composition dynamic.  Though, it is possible.

I had wanted to work with an image of this plant before, but I thought that maybe I should work on something less…daunting? perfect? instead.  What I’ve done is taken one of my second-favorite images (not the most-favorite one, which this one may be a prelude to) and cropped it down in Photoshop, then printed it.  Next step is to gesso the canvas with a base color, then work loosely with vine charcoal over the surface to draw in the shapes.  After that comes glazing over the correct lines, wiping everything else away, and starting in with color (which is where I may want to bring in the colored pastels — given that I have no time limit).

I might want to do one or more practice versions of the drawing first, though, just so that I know where everything is…though that will mean working on not-so-great paper (full size is…pretty big, and the only thing I’ve got in that size is cheap butcher paper that’s kind of irritating to work with; moreso than newsprint).  Or — a better idea.  I could do a smaller version of this on one of my square watercolor blocks, though…the methods differ.  I would need to mask some areas, if I used watercolor.

Hmm.  I think that what I’ll do is work at about 2/3 scale on a newsprint pad, first, including value renditions if I can (including white as well…I am not sure if I want to go into colored pastel on newsprint); then go into drawing on canvas (given that I haven’t worked in charcoal for months).  Watercolor is just going to be tough…unless I do it loosely, and very small.  Also, that method seems to work best when one hasn’t decided on a layout yet; I have my layout already.  What I need to do is figure out where everything is placed, and get my arm used to the directionality of the lines and forms.

At least I’m getting back into the art…

Preparing for freedom

As difficult as it is, I’m going to try and think about something not related to Finals.

One of those things is that I have made a date to go and claim one of my pieces which was formerly on display.  It should feel good to be reunited, again!  This was one of the first large pieces in acrylic paint which I did, and one of the first in which I worked quickly enough to be able to shade wet-into-wet.  Unfortunately, it is made with acrylic gesso on plywood, the combination of which is an apparently unforgiving surface to natural hog-bristle brushes (it gradually wears away the fibers until you get a little stub-brush).

I’ll wait to show the photo I have of it, again, until I can get it back.  I wonder if the paint has faded at all, after all this time?

Hmm.  In other news, the organization of the craft area has been shifted around again.  I had been using the craft table as a place to deposit library books (because of the dirt issue; the craft table can take heavy cleaning).  But now, M and I are sharing the same space.  It shouldn’t be much of a problem once I move back into using my easel, but it was nice to have a space in front of the window, while I had it.

And the little baby succulent along the walkway is dying.  😦  I’ve decided not to interfere, though; much for the same reason as I decided not to dig it up in the first place:  I don’t want to shock it.  Really, a life in the soil seems better than life in a pot, even if it does end up dying.

I don’t know what that says about me?

Anyhow, 🙂 the yard is looking rife for planting.  Most of our grass and ground cover is dead because of the drought and watering restrictions, though now the major issue is that it’s cold and wet, most of the time.  Not freezing, yet, but very cold, especially at night.  It would be nice to get in there and really aerate the soil, and put in some little plants.  I don’t think it would be many; just, some.

Hmm.  Maybe I should figure out which?  The little succulent thing looks like it’s dying from too much water, plus something physically nicked it — I can’t tell what, from here.  Although I did want to plant a little succulent garden, I’m unsure that’s a wise option now, with the rainy season here.

I have always liked pepper plants, though.  Maybe some kind of chile?  Mint (though mint would likely take over the yard)?  Maybe Lemon Verbena, eh?  Chocolate Mint!

I have tried to grow Chocolate Mint before, and it ended up dying from a combination of humidity and heat on my windowsill, leading to mildew and mites.  After the webbing and moving speckles came, I did just toss it, sorry to say.  In an exterior environment, though, mites would have predators, and wouldn’t be able to overwhelm a plant so easily.  Push comes to shove, I can pick up a handful of ladybugs and set them loose.  🙂  Which, probably everyone would like.  🙂

(It’s weird, though:  Chocolate Mint actually does smell like chocolate and mint!  Of course, though, I have no idea what to actually use Chocolate Mint for…)

And, no…I do not know the spiritual difference between an aggressive plant and a non-aggressive one, though I know the Mint family has always felt joyous, to me.  I just know that they (the mints, including Spearmint, Peppermint, and Chocolate Mint; plus Lemon Verbena, etc. — they look similar, are fragrant, and have square stems) are aggressive and will kill other species so they can grow.  This is the reason I’ve been hesitant to plant them before; mint spreads by runners and can take over native habitat, IIRC…and this area is native habitat for California Poppies (an endangered species, for those not in-the-know).

And actually, now that I’m thinking of it, it’s also native habitat for Miner’s Lettuce, which is edible (I mentioned this, probably some years ago, now).  But Miner’s Lettuce needs shade and lots of water, to thrive.  It does die back in the dry season, but comes back just as readily when it rains.  (I should check and see if it came back in a nearby yard…)

According to M, the front yard is actually suitable for edibles.  There has been spraying of RoundUp in the past, but I don’t think it was in that area; rather, I think it was on the weeds in the back lot.  I can confirm with D.

Yeah, I guess a big patch of dead ground is just waiting to be cared for, eh?

Aside from that, I have gradually pulled off of the guitar practice.  It was good until I just became too busy to even think about guitar.  The good thing, though, is that guitar is an alternate soother to me than tea and chocolate (I did set myself up with chocolate, for this week!  It calms me down and keeps me awake to do work).  I think the real kicker is that my guitar — no lie — sounds like a harp.

I mean, seriously, my guitar sounds like a harp.

I do still have a little toughness to my fingertips on the fret hand, so I could probably play a little bit if I wanted to.  But:  I just have to make it through Monday, and then things will be all set.  I just have to remember to make it through to Monday.

On Monday, or Tuesday…I should make a date to do some ink drawings (Copic and Micron), and try the new acrylic inks over the top of them.  My notes have started to have little mandala drawings and line drawings which are…kind of interesting!  Also, I have two new watercolor journals (one small and one large), so I have the space to do this.

Coming up, I will also want to mine my photographic records and blog entries, for inspiration as regards what to put on the 30″x30″ canvas I have had out for months now, on my easel.  I know I want to do something plant-related; I’m just not sure exactly what.  There are a number of images I have which could inspire something, but I’m not used to working loosely — which is kind of a requirement with heavy-body acrylic paint.

Maybe I should just remember the feel of a brush gliding over canvas, though, and set my mind to enjoy that, rather than thinking of what I want my finished painting to look like (like I can predict that?).

I…did start an interesting project in one of my Art Journals (I did this when I could no longer bear to think about school, or life).  Maybe I can draw inspiration from that…

…and maybe I should be working in that journal, now, and consistently…so I don’t have to rearrange the symbology in my photos…