calligraphy, creative writing, writing

Wanting to write and not type right now…

Hmm.  I’m sitting here at the computer and thinking that maybe what I want to actually be doing is writing out my thoughts in hard copy.  By that I mean I’m wanting to get a blank book and just start writing in it.  I think I may have one set aside for that purpose.  I know I have a mostly-blank notebook.  Of course, knowing myself, I notice the desire to want to use a special (pigment-based) pen for this so I know it won’t fade.  I just wish it didn’t make me sound so snobby.  ;)

There’s just something about writing things out by hand which appeals to me more than typing.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s related to my drive to create art.  I know that it’s related to my wanting to learn Japanese and be able to use kanji in addition to the phonetic kana.  And it’s probably related to wanting to learn calligraphy.  When you write by hand, it does seem like a work of art itself.  And of course when you write on the computer, it’s faster and more efficient; but when your computer fails, it’s gone, unless you backed it up.  There just seems to be something evanescent about writing done on a computer.  Maybe it’s the way the letters appear out of nowhere and are gone just as fast.  I don’t know.  Maybe I just need to get a better set of fonts or something.

I don’t have a lot of time to write here tonight; there are too many other things competing for my attention, like the copy of The Artist’s Way I found earlier.  But I should probably note this down.  Maybe I should use the unlined book I have so that I can draw and write in the same book?  Heh — I’ll go and look through my blank books now and see which one I dedicated to creative writing…

drawing, illustration, sequential art, writing

minor update — overall, trying to work out how to express creativity

The initial reason I wanted to post here was to remind myself that the Pantone markers don’t smudge the Staedtler Duo brush marker I’d been using.  I didn’t try marking with a very light Pantone on top of a black Duo — not yet.  Major reason is that I don’t want to ruin my lightest Pantone.  But the Pantones are alcohol-based.  The Duos are water-based.  So it doesn’t seem to especially matter whether I ink first and then color, or color and then ink, as the solvents are different.  But I still have to really test that out fully.  I did also try using a (waterproof) Pitt brush marker for inking, and it isn’t as effective when it comes to variation in line width — or maybe I’m just too heavy-handed with it.

I did produce another image of a character I came up with a while ago; I was in the headspace of thinking about Sanatana Dharma while producing her image.  I have a working name for her now, though I probably shouldn’t share it, in case I start using it in anything that eventually goes public.  Before I get into anything else, I should say that I’ve had to hold the brush pens vertically to ink hair and to use the Duo for outlines.

I’m wondering how to balance out my creativity…to what extent I express what is going on in my mind — to what extent I draw and to what extent I write.  If I keep the story in my mind or if I draw it out or write it down.

I did find a copy of The Artist’s Way which I started looking over, though that is more of a course in reviving one’s creativity.  Apparently I got to the second section and stopped.

The other things I’ve been doing — I’ve designed an image for use as a stamp, and tried cutting it out of something which feels like a gum eraser.  I think it’s actually too soft to make a good stamp, as its surface rubs away too easily.  I can try with a larger image and my carving set from high school on something more like linoleum.

Then there was the drawing with the colored brush pens that I did while playing around on the phone, which more vividly resembles Graphic Design work.  But I’ve really got to go now — I can continue this later.

drawing, fine arts, writing

So there is a point to drawing from life…

I’m thinking now, after having looked back over an old sketchbook that I used while taking art classes — that there *is* a point to drawing from life.  It helps encourage one to pay attention to what is around oneself, to organic forms and other forms which would be difficult to conceptualize.  I mean, so that you’re not limited to the basic forms of what you can think of.  I suppose drawing without drawing from life is kind of like writing and not reading anything.  The extent of what one can imagine, for most, without being exposed to what others have thought, or noticing what others have seen; but beyond that, without teaching yourself to see for yourself — without making the effort to go out and be exposed to ideas other than what is generated in one’s own mind — one’s range is limited, and growth is more difficult than it has to be.

I had the dubious blessing today of attempting to draw in the back seat of a vibrating car with a brush pen.  *laughs*  It does something to your lines when your hand is bouncing up and down as regards the sketchbook…kind of reminds me of some fonts I’ve seen.

I haven’t been working in the coloring xeroxes today, yet.  And yes, I know they’re not on paper with a good tooth; but some of these mandalas are so complex that it would not seem enjoyable to trace them onto better stock.

M produced a number of books on deities that I can look over…this is spurred on by my having said something yesterday which related to the mandalas in one of the coloring books I xeroxed, particularly the ones in the Mahavidya section.  I need to go more into depth with understanding Kali before I can grasp the weight of completing a Kali yantra, even from a “spiritual, not religious” angle.  I wouldn’t want to be brazenly disrespectful, after all.  And Kali seems like one of the deity forms who takes some work to come to comfort with.  But knowing that she is related to Time…helps me understand her better.

I should get out of here and study or color or something…

drawing, writing

working again with colored pencils

Well, today I got xeroxes done of the majority of interesting pages in one coloring book.  This should hold me for a good, long time.

I also started coloring in one of them, using my…large supply of colored pencils.  I have both Prismacolors and Faber-Castell colored pencils — the drawing pencils I have are very waxy and I think too muted for at least this image.  The two different brands I mentioned have different working properties.  In particular, the Faber-Castells are “creamier” — they’re oil-based, instead of wax-based like the Prismacolors.  But there’s no reason I can’t use the two together.

I initially picked up my starter set of Faber-Castells some years ago, before they did the color range expansion.  I think there are 120 different colors now instead of 100?  Anyway, in my set, they give at least two different versions of each primary color, then some secondary colors — the ones which are more lightfast, at least — and earth tones, plus a couple of greys, and black, possibly white.  (I know for a fact that this is  not the color range of the 24-set now.)  From having taken a color theory class I now know why there are two of each primary — it’s to keep the tones brilliant even when they’re mixed to form a secondary color.  If you want a green, for example — mixing a green-leaning yellow with a green-leaning blue will give a more brilliant green color than an orange-leaning yellow with a violet-leaning blue.  The extra orange and purple tones in each of the hues being used will mix, and result in a “muddier” shade.  Sometimes that’s wanted, but much of the time not.  ;)

I had thought that the Prismacolors had more “bright” tones, as contrasted with the Faber-Castells.  I’m not so sure that’s true, anymore.  Of course, my Prismacolors are largely even older than my Faber-Castells, so it’s feasible to say that perhaps they have dulled over the years.  I might be able to find out by seeing if the colors are more vibrant where they haven’t been directly exposed to air or light…but to be honest I’m not sure about them.  I can’t even remember how old I was when I got my first Prismacolors…and I know that many of my current collection are the originals.  I suppose if I really want to know, I have an X-Acto; I can take a cross-section.

But despite this, I have been having good luck with delicate shading.  It’s easier to work from light to dark when you have such direct, precise control over what you’re doing, and I am quite good with being delicate with pencils.  I think the non-objective aspect of what I’m coloring very much helps with this as well, as things do not have to be, well, “rendered” so exactly as they would if I were drawing something that would be compared to something actually existent.  That is, there is no pressure towards photorealism here, which I love.  And, you know, maybe that’s also a reason to stay out of classes, besides my GPA being at risk.  There is just so much pressure that I’ve found both in writing classes and in drawing classes, at least, to push one towards reproducing reality.

Sometimes reproducing reality is not the point, though.  And sometimes the pressure to do so is harmful to what really does want to come out, because then you start thinking about how real you can make it look, how believable it is.  Then when you get into the place where from investigation into the project’s own structure, you “know” it isn’t believable, and you know where all the holes are — it can cause you to lose faith in the entire project.  But the proof of a piece of art or fiction isn’t in its logical coherence.  That’s just the surface.  There’s something beyond that, I haven’t been able to name it or pin it down yet; but to me…as someone mystically-inclined, I can see it is much more important than surface details.

It’s just that every class I’ve taken in art or writing, besides the Graphic Design ones, and Ceramics…have emphasized photorealism, or “writing from experience”.  Which leads to a lot of reproduction of what already exists, to avoid getting into the rather unexplored territory of how not to do things the way one learned in class, and still be successful in one’s endeavors.  And by “successful” I don’t mean “making a lot of money.”  I mean “communicating,” and though that can be extrapolated out into “communicating what one intended to communicate,” I believe the latter statement to be fairly well impossible, due to the subjective nature of art.  The most you can ask, perhaps, is to be able to touch others…hopefully in ways that benefit them.

I’ve been inspired a bit recently to continue reading the Art History text I never finished.  There is a Renaissance design or two in one of the books I have access to, which has gotten me interested in that period.  And after this, maybe it would be good to study Islamic designs…if we’re going for the nonobjective angle.  I’ve also recently become interested in Hindu Goddess worship (I have access to many yantras via one of my books, which also gives some notes that the designs are taken out of their cultural context while providing a taste of same), but I won’t get into…coloring sacred designs, until I have firmer grounding in the religious/mystical context they originate in.  But the yantras are very beautiful, and peaceful-seeming.  I had been interested in Saivism, but Mahadevi worship…if it is called that, I am piecing together what I know of Sanskrit…it seems as though being female-centered may be more peace-generating for me.  Of course, still knowing that all is One…

Both the yantras and the many Islamic designs I’ve found, especially on viewing things like the Alhambra — do have the effect of calming and touching me.  And though I know that my experience is specific to me, I do consider these works successful, just because they were successful in eliciting a healing response.

To get back to the ‘practice’ section of this post…the very very bright colors in my Faber-Castell collection are good for adding specific elements of color.  I have this one particularly bright green which would be very loud on its own, but when added to an already existent buildup of colors, it provides very clean, bright color.  It provides a good punch of green and yellow without a lot of grey.  The same thing I’ve found with my Canary Yellow Prismacolor — it is pale on its own, just enough to add a mood, but added to an existing yellow-leaning ground, it enhances the colors it’s applied over.

I didn’t have a lot of time to work on this tonight, I did more reading and cooking; but I do have something to note from when I talked to someone (who should know what they’re talking about) recently about my Process White.  They say that they think it is called “Process White” because it’s the same type of ink used in offset printing, which is good to know.  I wanted to know if it was lightfast or not, and I suppose I can now hold a tentative working assumption that it is not.  I do have a good amount of white gouache that I can use for anything not requiring a pen application.

The other thing — I picked up a yellow Tombow today.  XD

I should really get some rest now!  :)


upcoming reorganization

I should just note here that I know that the term “fiber arts” is misleading.  I found this out upon searching the tag.  I will be altering my tags so that they’re more accurate, though the point of using the term “fiber arts” was to encompass crochet, knitting, and sewing.  I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to have a category that’s a duplicate of a tag…

drawing, fine arts, painting, sequential art

amateur painting thoughts

Haven’t been working on the sewing so much, recently.  Too many pressures on my time and too many options, I think.

I did pick up a coloring book to work in — or at least to xerox the blank pages out of so that I can color on them.   :)  Given my fine motor skills, I could probably also reproduce them by hand with a compass and a pencil, eraser and pen.  I got this because I’ve been inspired to get back into 2-D art again, and it seems like a good start.  Right now I have a lot of colored pencils and drawing pencils, and almost a full spectrum of brush pens (I’m still lacking a [warm] yellow).  I just need to figure out a way to use them.

I also came into contact with a graphic novel recently, which has got me thinking on doing watercolor work again.  The thing is that, for one thing, it’s been so long since I’ve worked with (transparent) pan or tube watercolors that I’m not entirely confident that I still even *know* how  to use them.  I got a cheap pan set for about $6 (Aurora; the pans look unfortunately like Pez) to play around and experiment with as I get my legs back.  But I still haven’t used it.  I should also note here so I don’t forget:  I also have a small new jar of Process White for illustrations, and there are some older tube watercolors and a lot of my old gouaches here, plus the semi-moist Prang stuff from when I was a kid (which is, at least, free).  The gouache is likely to be more viable than the watercolor, but at least there’s the possibility of the option there.

Hmm.  So maybe for now I should put the sewing away, just so it doesn’t get dusty while I’m not working on it?  I need to wind a new bobbin, too.  The next step in the trial blouse is gathering up the sleeve caps, which is kind of intimidating.  But, tangent.

The hardest part of this for me at this point in my life is trying to figure out what to paint or draw.  I’m not a type of person who really wants to paint landscapes.  Still-lifes are all right, kind of boring, but good for practice.  I still haven’t found a place to settle as regards…well, my own style.  My illustration style is getting more settled, but to be realistic with that, I’ve been working on illustration-style drawing for well over a decade…  What I want to do is to be able to draw scenes out of my mind and draw or paint them; or to communicate an internal state visually (which can be totally non-objective painting).  If gouache didn’t lift so easily, it might be the perfect medium for this.  But as it is, unless I use some type of medium to alter the paint/water mixture (so it turns into “glaze”, I take it, though I’m not too familiar with this), it’s going to take more visual pre-planning than I’ve ever done before, just because you can’t paint lots of layers of gouache on top of each other without pulling up the underlayers.  And, of course, regular watercolors are transparent, so things like washes show through unless an opaque ground is painted on before the object in question.

Maybe I should be looking into acrylics instead of watercolors, eh?  The only problem with that is that…well, in the past I thought that you couldn’t paint on watercolor paper with acrylic, but now I’ve read you can?  I could try light work as with watercolor, but let the paint dry to a film and then work over it.  :)  Which actually sounds good…but I’d have to think about that.  I’m not too sure if I’d have to gesso watercolor paper, or not.

I could use the acrylic, to be short, like watercolor, but with the advantage of being able to work over an area very many times.  And I suppose I could just use the disposable palette.  In a tactile manner it seems as though it would be very different, using acrylic/oil brushes instead of the soft watercolor ones I’m used to.  And working on a textured base like canvas (as I could), instead of paper.  Hmm.  Or I could work on hardboard or canvas board…which is really not an option with watercolor, is it?

I never really got used to the idea of painting from light to dark, which is my major problem.  And I’m more spontaneous and fluid with my envisioning of my paintings or drawings, as versus having the thing planned out before I begin.  I know that after practice, I can get into the zone where I can see what I want to paint or draw before I make a mark; but that’s generally for localized areas.  And then sometimes things change as I’m drawing, or I can see that something’s not right, and I alter it; which then flows into a running narrative, which is a large part of why I’ve been interested in sequential art.

I almost named this entry so that it would have something to do with thoughts on color, but I suppose that is almost assumed when one is working with paint, isn’t it?

I should get some rest…my back is tensing.

garments, sewing

Seven Treasures rumination

I’ve had in the back of my mind an idea for the slits on the sides of the Nepali blouse. This would be to leave them open where they are, and insert a couple of panels of Seven Treasures stitch to hold them together. How to make the Seven Treasures lacing is gone over in John Marshall’s _Make Your Own Japanese Clothes_ (page 88).

The thing is that the instructions are for panels which remain the same distance apart from each other along their length.  I’m not sure it will work out for a triangular opening.

And I’m not sure I wouldn’t need to insert eyelets if I used this lacing, as it’s done in a thick material and not with sewing thread.  Inserting eyelets means I’d need something to use as an anvil…and you can see where this is going.

I suppose I could try this out on my muslin version, but really, I don’t expect it to work.

The reason to do this, by the way, would be so that I could get the Seven Treasures-patterned fabric and make the hakama-inspired skirt to match…

garments, sewing

materials gathering for altered Folkwear blouse, + hybrid skirt dreaming

I found the perfect batik for the Nepali blouse. It isn’t really feminine (at all), but then…well, if you know me, you know this can be a good thing for something I (in specific) will be wearing. As long as it’s tasteful.

What I found was a very dark blue-green cotton with white accents at $9/yd, plus matching Gutermann thread for under $2, and the sew-in snaps for the cuffs for same. It wasn’t at the place I was planning to go to — it was at a place I’d never been before, but I feel good about the purchase, and about having gone there.

Side note, I also have started reading the article “East Asian philosophy” in an older version of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which outlines some of the major differences between East Asian and Western thought. It’s interesting to see how deep the fundamental philosophical differences go between Western and Eastern cultures — things that I hadn’t even thought of, such as the concept of a personal soul being the basis for the concept of individual rights and sovereignty. Not individual-in-relation-to, but stand-alone identity, as illusory as that may be. But I can clearly see myself being caught in a dialectic between East and West, and coming to understand them both more fully.

I kind of wonder what the “South Asian philosophy” article looks like, now…

Anyhow. After hitting the first store, I trekked over to the place I was originally going to and picked up some dark, soft interfacing and a pair of fabric shears. This was at 20% off, so the interfacing was almost free with the shears. (I ended up needing one yard, by the way.)

What I was told at the first store is that it’s estimated my cotton batik will shrink about 5% in the wash, as hot water is used to set the dye in manufacturing. What I was told at the second store about my interfacing was to submerge it in very hot water and let it soak for 20 minutes to preshrink it, and see if it’s going to bleed. I still need to do that. If it bleeds…I’m using white. I don’t want my collar stained.

Maybe I should use white, anyway. Now that I’ve got the fabric at home, I can see if a white interfacing will show through too much.

Other than that…I have the idea to make a hakama-like skirt. Just not exactly hakama. I’ve been finding multiple fabrics that would look nice as an insert into a plainer garment, but which would be too loud on their own. One of these I saw at the store where I got my batik…it was sort of a version on Seven Treasures, I believe. Indigo and light blue. Made into its own garment, I wouldn’t wear it; but as an accent on another piece, it would be perfect.

What I have in mind is basically an A-line skirt which is open in the center front for maybe 6-8″, with a wide inverted box pleat at the center back. What I want to do is to insert a generous amount of accent material in mirrored knife pleats between the two front panels of the A-line, with the rest of this skirt being a solid color or a very subdued print. This will allow me to have a tailored skirt in which I’ll still retain mobility — at least if I don’t go crazy chaining the pleats to each other.

What I can see being an issue right now is that this seems to recommend pattern drafting and a higher level of skill, and I’m way too new to sewing to be able to do that and not be frustrated. I can, however, buy a cheap pattern for a long A-line skirt and alter it. The hard part will be the shaping at the hips and waist (I’m curvier than I used to be, and I don’t have a block/sloper), and the zipper or buttons I’ll need to fasten the thing.

I suppose I can start thinking on it now, knowing that it’s something to work up to. There’s no time limit on this, I suppose.

garments, sewing

heading up to buying fabric, and altering pattern

I should be going out tomorrow to try and find a suitable cloth for the Nepali blouse. What I want to do is lengthen both front panels and the two back panels, along with the slits on the sides (which hit above my pant line at the current time).

I should need about three yards of material for this, assuming that I lengthen the front and back pieces a maximum of eight inches, which means I’ll need 16″ more material. Normally I’d be using 2.5 yards of material w/o allowing for strategic placement of the pattern on the fabric. Half a yard is 18″. This last time I believe I got 2.75 yards of muslin and it was more than enough for the basic garment.

The major thing is that I don’t want to be showing skin, and the slits at the sides will show my skin (or more likely, undershirt), and the hem is so high that if I lift my arms above my head, I’m pretty sure my belly will show (which makes me uncomfortable normally, regardless of whether my belly is large or not).

One of the reasons I’ve liked sewing is that you get to customize your clothes, so for someone like me who says that just because I’m female doesn’t mean I want to show my body to the world (honestly I don’t know why clothes designers seem to think that female = sex object, even if unwilling), it’s good to know that I can modify what I’m wearing.

So basically I want to make this tunic-length. Slit on the sides but not to the point that people can see my skin. Long enough so that if I reach over my head, no one’s going to be looking at my navel.

As for fabric choice — I’m thinking something between violet, blue, and blue-green, though a brown will also work. I want it mid-ranged to dark in tone. This pattern is a good choice for showing off the print of something like a subdued batik. It should drape well, not wrinkle easily, and not be translucent (as the fabric overlaps itself and the interfacing is opaque and also unbleached, it is easy to see in the muslin version that the muslin is translucent).

I’ll also need maybe .75 yards of interfacing. I want to use a lightweight silk (probably not white), as I’ve noticed the nonwoven stuff tends to roll up on itself after a while of washing. (Granted, though, this was in a ready-made shirt.) This would be encased inside the collar, so it probably won’t get very worn. I’m thinking of cutting the interfacing on the bias, though, after seeing what a stiff collar looks like. I should probably still get at least .75 yards, but I need to check pattern requirements.

I also need to topstitch closer to the edge of the collar, next time.

It will probably be easier next time to use…well, I suppose I can use that white silk basting thread to mark points on the fabric, if I’m using a darker fabric. It’s a bigger pain than using chalk, but I know the silk won’t melt into the fabric, never to wash out, unlike the chalk.

Right now I’m thinking rayon, or a wrinkle-resistant cotton.

M told me that we have another pattern here which is like what I’m thinking of, with the tunic idea — but it’s a bit too untailored for me. The pattern I’m working with has been fine to the point of realizing it was uncomfortably short, and I can easily remedy that. I’ll just have to lengthen the waist and the portion below the waist, and make sure those lengths match before cutting my material.

And I need to get some sleep.

garments, sewing

working again on Folkwear Nepali blouse

I’m back to working on the Folkwear blouse. I need to use a much lighter interfacing next time (this time, it was broadcloth or canvas, I’m not entirely sure of the difference between them), because of the difficulty of machine-sewing over many folded layers in the corners of the collar.

I finished the slipstitching, and got the topstitching on the collar and facing done earlier, plus removal of the temporary basting of the collar to the interfacing. Now all that has to be done before I can work again is that the table needs to be cleared off and wiped down from dinner. Then I’ll work on sewing in the gussets.

It was intimidating to restart the project after so long, but after I got into it, it was easy. I’ve also started making notes on the instructions — I basted in a couple of ties on the wrong panel, making the article of clothing cross left-over-right instead of right-over-left. Which is correct if it’s a Japanese top (where you only cross the garment right-over-left for a dead person), but I’m not so sure it’s correct for a Nepali top. I suppose I can run a search on it.

Regardless, I pulled out the thread markers which said where to attach the ties, and the ties are basted in now, so maybe I shouldn’t worry about it so much.

I also found that my 20% off coupon for my regular fabric store expires very soon, so there may be a trip there within the next several days. I’m still undecided on whether I want to get fabric shears from them…

(EDIT: I just ran a search on my pattern and it’s a Nepali blouse, not a Tibetan blouse, though the permalink probably still says it’s a Tibetan blouse. Sorry about that.)