Distractions, distractions…

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

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

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

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

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

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

succulents-w

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

Anyway, that’s past.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dealing with design work

Well, it…at least feels as though, it has been a long day.  Although I’ve been monitoring what’s been going on with my class, I haven’t really been participating, today.

What I can say is that I feel like I’m relatively prepared to work with Graphic Design.  Relatively speaking — which means, as compared to people who have no experience in either Art or Design (which seems to include most of the class).

I don’t have a degree in Design, and I only have an AA in Art; but that training allowed me the experience of critiquing the work of others (over and over again), so I have some grounding on which to base my opinions.  I also have experience working with computer graphics tools…and with how to note down design ideas in the middle of the night.  (The latter came from being kept up with story ideas in undergraduate work; the former came from taking Digital Imaging courses, plus one Graphic Arts course.)

This meant that the exercise we recently undertook in my UX class — redesigning a couple of signs — was fairly easy for me.  I had thought of working things out by hand, like I did in my Intro to Graphic Design class, but I actually had the tools I needed so that I could manipulate elements digitally.  It vastly speeds up the process, and makes it easy to place color fills and gradients, and work with type.  And quickly change the font, size, spacing, placement, and color of that type.  I was actually kind of amazed at how easy Photoshop makes these things — and I’m not even working with Illustrator, or InDesign.

I’m hoping that the MLIS program will give me the background knowledge to make functional Design, as versus Design which looks nice but is nonfunctional (due to a lack of consideration of the end-user’s experience).

We were introduced to the idea of “personas” as used in marketing, this semester — which seems as though it draws off of creative imaging skills.  I have an abundance of these, but I was never told that I could work in Business in a Marketing department, utilizing the same skills I had used in Creative Writing.

Aesthetics seem to be placed below functionality, so far as Design is concerned in the classes I’ve been in, in the MLIS program.  I can’t help but think that this is the case, however, because people have been taught how to make things look nice, but not how to make them usable.  And I’m not sure I would fault the Graphic Designers for a lack of overall consideration of the user (although the Graphic Designers seem to take the blame — is this why they don’t get paid as much as others?).  It seems as though someone isn’t doing their job…and I’m not sure if it is the Graphic Designers, that is.

I’m almost wondering if the MLIS program will help me progress more in my chosen career path, more than a degree in Design would help me.  I’ve heard Design dismissed offhand in the Art world (most notably, as “selling out”), but in reality I think that even though both Art and Design utilize skill in working with images, visual communication, and fine motor movement, Design is a totally different category of activity, than Art.  They’re not anywhere near being the same things, and it becomes extremely apparent when you’re dealing with things like user research (which seems to utilize Social Science techniques) and usability, among other concepts which are hard for me to name right now.

I’m not sure if people in the Art world realize this (or if Clement Greenberg — the person I am thinking is most responsible for the current idea that money corrupts art — knew enough to realize this), and nor am I sure I’m totally up to picking them apart, at the moment.  It is a question that has continually been in the back of my mind, though.

I haven’t been writing so much recently because I’ve been trying to see what it is like just to live, without recording my life for several hours a week (each of these sessions is more than an hour long).  It’s apparent that logging my experiences is useful, but I don’t think I should do it out of a sense of obligation.  At this point in my life, my thinking is cohesive enough that I don’t really need to work at drawing it all together the way I had to, say, four years ago.

What I really do need to do, though, is keep some kind of practice where I put thoughts into words and into text.  It’s a great strength which declines when I don’t write.  That doesn’t mean I have to write about what I have been writing about…or in such volume…but I need to write.

I’m getting pretty tired right now, so I should log off:  though I had wanted to write about moving back into my toned paper journal.  But I had wanted to look at this from the perspective of considering Design to be a creative activity in which the message I’m communicating is somewhat predetermined.  I’ve been dealing with a lot of trouble starting because of not knowing what to communicate, or what to draw, etc.  Maybe Design can provide that for me, but really it does feel like …a puzzle.  Like creating a solution to a problem which just happens to be functional, useful, and beautiful.

I think I’ll leave you on that note, right now, run and brush my teeth, and try not to collapse before I get to bed.  🙂