beading

just made new pearl earrings

So I actually have something to write about here?!

I wasn’t even thinking of blogging about it as I was doing it, but I now have a new pair of pearl earrings.  I haven’t yet signed up with an image-hosting service, so I’m afraid you can’t see them (;D) …nor do I really feel it would be wise for me to show them to you…but basically they’re a work in gold-fill, blue crystal, and two colors of pearls.

One of them has a kind of kinked loop in one of the dangles (I wire-wrapped all of the loops, including the ones which held other loops, which led to a slip), which the perfectionist in me says I would want to rework if I were going to sell them.  My better sense says to leave it as it is and it’s unlikely anyone will notice.  :)  The minute amount of greater diameter in the kinked loop makes one of the earrings very, very slightly longer than the other.  Like less than a millimeter longer.  But I’m very attentive to detail, and to be honest, I’m probably not going to have my head perfectly level all the time anyway.  (That…doesn’t sound right…)

One of the things I noted to myself is that using higher quality earwires really shows.  Since I took out my CBRs, I’ve mainly been wearing two different pairs of earrings, both of which are warm tone.  I can actually see that the earwires are cheap, in those.  It isn’t so bad with the crystal set, but when the earwires are totally plain, and it’s next to something relatively plain like Cloisonné, I notice.

I’ve also noticed that my more successful designs are made using natural materials, metal, and crystal.  I have a lot of glass — I started out on the jewelry-making thing as a shiny-hoarding teen — but the colors in glass tend to be less intense (or just not to match clothing), if we take the whole spectrum into account.  In addition, the fire in glass is less intense than in lead crystal, CZ, or natural stones (compare a rhinestone to cubic zirconia and you’ll see what I mean); and the results with glass tend to have a more gaudy, “costume jewelry” type effect.

Not to mention that glass often can be poorly drilled; so in the past when I’ve tried using, say, cobalt blue cube beads, one could really see where the drill-hole was, because it was the site of whitish discoloration caused by fragments of glass left in the hole.

I should say that I don’t have a lot of experience with lampwork beads, though I have run across some which set off my “shiny” meter.  Thing is that I’ve learned to try and avoid buying beads of which I have no immediate ideas for use.  I learned that after about a decade of collecting beads; I’m now about 15 years in.

Anyway.  Since my designs largely tend more toward “classic” type stuff, having focal pieces which are natural tends to play down the “costume jewelry” effect that can come with using cut or pressed glass as focals.  Stone is good because it’s subdued and subtle — it doesn’t call a lot of attention to itself, but it can still make glass look really bad if you pair them haphazardly.

Stones — especially the veined or mottled or included ones like jasper or agate — most of the time, look very refined in comparison to glass.  At least, in comparison to transparent glass.  I believe this is at least in part due to the complex and fine nature of the process the stone went through to form.  (I am, however, learning to stay away from transparent and weakly-colored materials generally, and this is mostly because they get washed out on me.)

And though I’ve seen some faux pearls which are very attractive, most of the time it’s apparent when a pearl is real and when it is not — a real pearl will have a rainbow-like sheen which a faux one won’t.  Even the best faux pearls — or the ones I like best, anyway — tend further towards the “metallic” end than cultured freshwater ones (which, I’m guessing from the price, are the ones I’m getting).  After having seen a lot of real and faux pearls, I can now kind of tell this way.  (That’s not to say that faux pearls are necessarily bad.  I think there is a time and place to use the high-quality faux pearls over nacre pearls.  I’d just not assume they were interchangeable.)  I can also, now, tell something of the quality of a nacre pearl by its sheen, iridescence, and reflectivity.  It’s one of the reasons I’m reluctant to buy pearls online — I have little idea what I’m getting, and cultured pearls vary widely in their quality.

I hadn’t been thinking of getting focal pieces like natural-crystal briolettes for earrings, until I made this last pair and saw how well they turned out.  Well, I also have a pair utilizing natural-stone briolettes, which also turned out really, really well, despite their simplicity.

So I may be out buying crystals soon to make another pair, although making earrings is clearly a “want” and a hobby, not a necessity.

I want to do more work in cooler tones, as this is the only pair I have in gold-fill wire which is not somewhere in the very warm range.  Though I also know I want to experiment with an orange-blue pairing as well.

I should also note:  24-gauge dead soft wire is really soft.  It’s what I had on hand for these earrings, and I was almost unprepared for the way the wire deformed so easily.  I should probably stiffen it a little next time.

One more thing:  I’m thinking about adding micro-macrame to my list of skills, but as of yet I have not tried this.  I think the biggest things holding me back are having to get a macrame board, having to find beads with large holes, and having to find tools with which to burn the ends of nylon cord.

creative writing, graphic design, illustration, sequential art

underlying components of good character design vs. good writing

This is just a note to myself as regards the graphic novel issue.

I’m not entirely certain how deeply I should get into this, but I happened to check out a copy of X-Men:  Eternals a while ago.  Attempting to read this made it clear to me why the X-Men movie series was so heavy-handed and apparently one-sided.

I don’t have a great amount of literacy in graphic novels — I can recall reading Bone and Blade of the Immortal; and Generation X before the franchise-wide reboot of the X-Men series (which really ticked me off), plus a couple of more mainstream Japanese things like Fushigi Yugi (which I didn’t particularly enjoy, much as I didn’t enjoy Tenchi Muyo! [though I only saw the latter in anime]) and Neon Genesis Evangelion (which I got into because of the anime).

Then there are the series which I picked up even though I was at the time fairly illiterate in Japanese, like Inu Yasha and Bastard!, along with Yuu Yuu Hakusho (the flame-like banter in which I was not entirely aware of, until I happened to read some of it in English translation), and which I incidentally only got into because of the doujinshi (and because I was at the time learning to read Japanese).

What I’m thinking is that the same traits which can make a person a great character designer can also cripple them when it comes to good writing.  I’m not saying this is true across the board — it’s just something which has come up in specific regard to my own trials with trying to script establishing scenes in “graphic novel” formats, and I see it reflected in what I read going on with X-Men:  Eternals.

If you’re designing a character so that all elements of the character attempt to describe that character in a visual manner, that is fine.  But reality doesn’t work that way.  In reality, the way people look does not always (I would say often does not) relate to who they are.  This may not be quite as easy to see when the makeup of society is more or less homogeneous.

But when you have multiple minority categories in a society, and these minorities have strength in numbers and voices in regard to their own portrayal, it makes it clear that the thoughts which come to someone’s mind because of the way people look is not equivalent to who those people actually are.  This is especially clear if you happen to be one of those minorities and you happen to see how people constantly misread you (in addition to misreading your family).

This is a way in which my own philosophy diverges from what I’ve seen…whether we are looking at older American comics or whether we are looking at the less-complex graphic novel material coming out of Japan.  What people look like is not equivalent to who they are.  Of course there are materials coming out of Japan which acknowledge this (for example, in Legend of Zelda:  The Windwaker, in which the fairy who accompanies you acts like someone who would ordinarily be drawn as a big, tough male character who had the burliness to back up his language — but this is used to [actually, quite delightful] comic effect).

What I’m trying to get across is that in a good piece of writing, it’s very often the case that characters are not one-sided.  Characters are complex and have many different layers.  They’re often not surface-readable — you don’t immediately know what their role is just because you can see what they look like.  In graphic design, and I believe likely in character design, the goal is the opposite:  to be able to look at an image and glean a more or less solid idea of the intended communication fairly immediately, just from the visual elements of the composition.

I am not certain how to reconcile these two perspectives, but I wanted to make a note of the conflict.

calligraphy, drawing, graphic design, illustration

leaning toward graphic art

I meant to make this post last night but somehow got sidetracked…

I tried experimenting with my NuPastels.  What it’s told me is that I probably don’t want to be working with pastels so much at this point in time.  My first mistake was using vine charcoal.  It’s been years since I used vine charcoal, so while I was expecting it to smudge, I wasn’t expecting it to have no adhesion whatsoever to the paper.  Which meant that when I was trying to blend colors with my fingertips, the colors kept becoming dirtied with the charcoal, and I kept wiping white areas into the drawing by touching the vine charcoal areas.

After I left the NuPastels for another time…I started drawing in large format with a set of graphite sticks I have.  I believe their brand is Cretacolor Monolith.  I was impressed with these — the tin runs from HB to 9B, and even the HB smudged well, and using the 9B and my Pitt 9B graphite stick (which is slightly closer to black), I was able to attain a good range of tones from light to dark.  Basically, white to almost black.  It was also easier to cover large areas of dark value easily, by using the edge of the graphite stick.  And then I could highlight with an eraser, as the graphite — at least the HB — is very easy to erase, even when used heavily.

Plus then there’s the point of the stick for drawing in detail, and I have a set of freaking tortillons which keep squeaking on the paper and not blending very well (though I did learn how to grind fresh tips on one of these, last night).  The thing I’m missing is my triangular eraser.  I have no idea where my triangular detail eraser went.

I did end up doing a graphic-novel-style character drawing…which is one of my fallbacks when I don’t know what to draw.  I need to work on things which are not people, though, really.  That factor alone is a big reason I haven’t been doing graphic-novel work.  (Though I probably shouldn’t go too deeply into that.)

After I had experimented on these two counts, I used a white calligraphy ink that I had stashed, on top of a rubbed-in charcoal ground.  The ink was very thick and very white.  I used the glass pen that my late grandmother bought for me, which I normally don’t use anymore, because the nib grinds down every time I use it.  But the upshot is that it’s easy to clean — the nib is cylindrical.  I think, though, that that particular calligraphy ink might be best used with a brush, due to its thickness.  I didn’t want to use it with a metal calligraphy nib, because I didn’t want to ruin the nib.  (Calligraphy nibs are two pieces, and it’s difficult to clean the areas where the flats of the pieces touch each other.  I have a jar of Higgins Pen Cleaner, but I don’t know if it will work on an ink that may have some acrylic in it.)

But what that, and subsequent experimentation with a calligraphy nib showed me, though, is that I probably want to get back into calligraphy.  I should probably look for a better book on it.  There’s just a graphic quality to calligraphy that I really, really like.  I also wanted to note that I did also use my glass pen with Higgins Waterproof Black Calligraphy ink, which I believe is the blackest ink I have — and I really liked the results.  So I may be attempting to learn to draw with metal-nibbed pens in the near future.

Doing a quick search, I find a note from 2007 that says Higgins Eternal is fully pigmented ink, while the Calligraphy ink has dye…meaning that the Eternal is more likely to be lightfast.  I’m not sure that in the past I’ve run across a selection of inks where Eternal has actually been on the shelf (as opposed to sold out).

And at this point I believe I’m closer to an illustrator or designer than to a fine artist.  From my work yesterday it’s apparent that markmaking is one of the things I really find enjoyable, high-contrast markmaking in specific — which leads me to believe that drawing (markmaking) and graphic elements are one of the things that really get me going.  And calligraphy seems closer to graphic design than to fine art.  That, combined with my recent work with felt-tip pens and brush pens…also points me in the direction where it seems that I’m drawing with liquid media, not painting with it.

And that in turn really helps me narrow down my options to what I’d be most likely to enjoy.  And if we are loosely considering the possibility of one day going to art school (as I suppose could happen), it’s good to have some direction, prior to entering.

It was refreshing to be able to work on a large format again, and to be able to use my arm gesturally, and vary my grips on my drawing implements.  That’s something I’ve been missing while working in small-scale.  The work I did yesterday shows me where my interests lie, so I’m glad I did it.

painting

errata re: Winsor colors

I really, genuinely need sleep right now, but I’ve been browsing looking at paint colors…and I need to say that my impression of the Winsor colors (Winsor Blue, etc.) was based on an old formulation and with aged paint.  I’ve taken a look at the current Winsor colors (noting there is now a “Green Shade” and “Red Shade” of Winsor Blue, for example), and they do look very nice.

I should be able to put together a basic pack of fresh paints for under $30…I’m guessing it would be best not to try and save too much money on paints and brushes, given that the result is drastically different depending on the quality of the materials.

And my Yasutomo brush does have a good amount of spring, which I found on testing it today.  I also found, though, that there is a very different method to working with the “Oriental” brushes that I was unaware of until today.  So it looks like I should aim for watercolor brushes in the near future.

drawing, fine arts, painting

Books, and finding more stashed paints

Last night I remembered the location of my stash of gouache which I used in my color class.  I went and dug it up, and along with the gouache I found a good little stash of more watercolors.  These are Utrecht brand.

I intended to try out the Utrecht stuff this morning, but personal story aside, I wasn’t able to.  What I do know is that I have some (more) Viridian and a supply of Cadmium Red and Yellow, plus Cobalt Blue.  Thing is that I don’t really want to touch either the cadmium formulations or the cobalt formulations — both of them are toxic and can be absorbed through the skin (as I said before, “Cadmium Yellow Hue“, for example, is not the same thing as “Cadmium Yellow”, and is less toxic).  I had enough of a concern when the water splashed me last time, and the paint was labeled “non-toxic”; I don’t need to be worrying about cadmium or cobalt poisoning.  Especially when I use my hands to clean out my brushes.

But from the base that I have now, I can look at filling out a range of colors.  The paints are, at the moment, somewhere away from the computer, and I’d rather not dirty my hands with them right now…I believe we have a Quinacridone Red (violet-leaning) and I think there was a Permanent Rose in there somewhere.  That gives me two cool tone reds.  The warm tone I’ll have to purchase, because I don’t want to use Cadmium Red.

I believe the pair of reds I was supposed to get for my class were Scarlet (orange overtone) and Crimson (violet overtone).  I’ll need to look at how Quinacridone Red and Perm. Rose compare to Crimson.

There was a Gamboge (yellow) lying around here, but the color is too muted for my purposes — it looks ocher-ish.  I think I’m looking for a Golden Yellow and a Lemon Yellow, in place of either the Gamboge or the Winsor Yellow.  Keeping in mind that the Reeves Lemon Yellow is accessible.

Then there are the blues — and I know for a fact that we have a usable Ultramarine…I’d still have to buy a Phthalo Blue.

So, in order of necessity:

  1. Phthalo Blue
  2. Scarlet
  3. Golden Yellow
  4. Lemon Yellow

So those are mostly warm-leaning tones.

And yes, I did intend to try out the other Reeves colors in addition to the Utrecht colors (which I was reminded of on recalling the Phthalo Blue).

I think that the only other colors I am on the fence about are Sap Green and the earth tones.  Or, tones to mix with other tones to dull them down in a reasonably-controlled manner.  I think Raw Umber was key in that (a mix of Raw Umber and Ultramarine?), though my memory on that point is foggy; I’d need to see the hue to know if that’s the right name.  Mostly I believe we were mixing complementary hues to make chromatic greys.

Today I’ve been reading through a book that someone bought for me called Watercolor 101.  It looks easy enough.  I think that the reason it’s been sitting unused on my shelf so long is that it looked easy enough to be boring.  But it allows the play that I’ve been doing with the watercolors anyway; it just gives more ideas and techniques that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred to me.  What it does say is that I need to find a high-quality cotton rag paper (which won’t fall apart when fully saturated) to play with…and I would not have guessed that I’d need a rag paper to play on.

At dinner I was also looking through a book I bought a year or two ago called Art of Drawing:  The Complete Course.  I think when I was reading this book before, I stopped a page or two before the end of the dry techniques section.  It reminded me of how much I like to play in soft pastels (which, I read, are used to introduce painting to art students).

The major reason I haven’t used soft pastels or chalk since my days in drawing classes is that they’re messy, and once the pigment is breathed in, it stays in one’s lungs instead of breaking down like charcoal (says my old drawing instructor).  So it’s really not a good thing to inhale the dust, and when you’re working, it’s best to tap the dust off of your drawing board and wet-mop the dust up after you’re done.  Of course, though, drawing class was full of people blowing the dust off of their drawing boards…particle masks help, in that situation.  Otherwise, it can get difficult and anxiety-inducing (if you’re like me) to breathe.

In the sense of Prismacolor NuPastels, as well (which may qualify more as “chalk” than “soft pastel”), they’re staining.  I can clearly remember blending colors with my fingers and my fingers being stained blue for a good while after that — no amount of scrubbing would get the blue out.  Everything else washed out.  Not that.  :)

Yes, it made me all proud to be wearing stained fingertips like I was a “real” artist (^_-), but it’s a little worrisome to me as well — because I assume that anything which stains me will be absorbed into me.  Though I do think that NuPastels are supposed to be non-toxic (or as the case may well be, “less toxic”).

Of course, that’s not necessarily the case for the higher grades of soft pastel or chalk.  I would be extremely wary, for example, of a malachite pigment in a soft pastel.  Not to say I don’t think it would be beautiful.  It would be very beautiful.  But that doesn’t mean I want to be rubbing it into my skin.  (Malachite is a soft, intensely green mineral which I’ve been told, contains asbestos fibers…)

I want to pick up a book on painting so that I can see the difference between the mindsets of painting and drawing.  Because pastels can be used to paint, and inks and watercolor can be used to draw (with brushes, even!).  So what then distinguishes painting from drawing, if not the medium?  Art of Drawing acknowledges that drawing is different from painting in a way that is not medium-dependent, but so far as I’ve read, they never go deeply enough into painting to really elucidate what the difference is between painting and drawing.  They simply define “drawing,” without defining “painting.”

So far as I can tell, the use of line (or markmaking), value gradations (as in wash or chiaroscuro), and monochrome distinguishes drawing.  I know now that I want to use color — it makes things come alive.  But you can draw with color as well, so again things become blurred.

I want to know whether I want to pursue painting or drawing, and it’s hard to know that when you don’t know the definition of one of the two categories.  I suppose it did take me a while, though, to learn just what made an image “graphic” (as in “graphic design”), and that just took a lot of exposure and absorption and experience…

The last part of this entry is just to note that I’ve realized the use of “springiness” in a given brush.  The Richeson synthetic flat brush that I mentioned yesterday has a good amount of spring to it.  The Chinese and Japanese brushes that I have used, which are natural-hair, not so much.  So it can be harder to get a good amount of line variation out of them.

I have a high-quality round synthetic brush here which is very springy.  Though I didn’t use it last time I was playing around with watercolors (it is one of those brushes which is so nice you don’t want to use it, for risk of messing it up), I’m sure that I’d be easily able to achieve a wide range of line variation with it.  It’s something to try next time.

creative writing, fine arts, painting, spirituality

watercolor experimentation

I experimented with the Talens Angora watercolors today, as well as with a new set of someone else’s Reeves tube watercolors, and what I found of leftover Winsor and Newton (I think) Cotman watercolors.  I could be wrong though, and at least some of the latter watercolors could have been straight W&N (not the student-grade Cotmans).

EDIT:  All of the W&N colors I was using besides Winsor Blue and Winsor Yellow were Cotmans.

Let me say right here that the difference is drastic.  Working from a wetted dry pan (not a wetted semi-moist pan), as I did with the Angora watercolors…it really makes the hue of the color one can pick up very light.  A deep shade is just not what I’m going to get out of them, at least with a single application, because I don’t feel like digging the pigment up with the tip of my brush.  Basically, the tablets don’t want to release the pigment into the water — which I suppose is an argument for semi-moist pans (but most of all for tubes).

The Reeves were better in terms of pigment density and ease of use, but I wouldn’t use them for deep shades if I could help it, because their pigment density is less than the W&N.  More comes in a tube, but the value is effectively reduced because most of that extra space seems to be taken up by things that aren’t pigment.

On the other hand, I did try the Reeves Lemon Yellow, which produced a very bright, clean blue-leaning yellow, which faded very brilliantly and seemingly seamlessly to white as the paint ran out on my brush.  I can definitely see the value in getting a pigment which is very light in value in a less-expensive formulation — if you want that gradual fade-to-white and don’t mind a lower concentration of pigment.

With the W&N, I was basically dealing with a very old (as in probably at least a decade old) Winsor Yellow which looked dirty in the tube and basically was quite dark and “muddy” in comparison, when it was applied.  I don’t know if this is because I needed to dilute it a lot more with cleaner water, or if it’s because it’s old and had started to decompose, or if it’s because Winsor Yellow is aiming for a “typical” yellow…but the effect wasn’t all that appealing.

But then with Winsor Red, Blue, and Yellow, I find that the hues seem to be aiming for a “typical”, recognizable red, blue, or yellow which is neutral in its leaning toward color overtones.  The colors which come out of this process are not very appealing to me…and I’m not sure of their practical use in color mixing.

It seems that because (at least, as best I can recall — I couldn’t get the screw-cap off of the Winsor Red) the Winsor primaries are overtone-neutral, this means that they would make a duller shade no matter what they were mixed with.  For example, the Winsor Blue is a little green, a little violet; combined, the two overtones make the color duller (that is, there is the addition of a chromatic grey), and you have that extra overtone in whatever you’re mixing the blue with.  If you want to make green with it, you’ve still got that little bit of violet; and if you want violet out of it, you’ve still got a little bit of green.  So some bit of chromatic grey is unavoidable.

But then, I’m not a professional, so if you’re going to accept this at all, take it with a bit of salt.

I think I’m going to try out the Reeves again when I can — I believe I only used Phthalocyanine Blue (I hope I spelled that correctly) and Lemon Yellow — as when I tried the Phthalo Blue, the color was much less dense than the W&N Ultramarine (anything, you say, would look pale next to Ultramarine).  I didn’t try out the Reeves Ultramarine; at the point that I saw the drastic difference in color density, I backed off and started trying to mix colors with the W&N more.

After I got a bit of the tube paint onto my palette, things seemed to go pretty smoothly, so far as remembering how to use the stuff went.  I just wish I knew how to use less of it and still be effective with it.

So far as brushes went — there are a number of round brushes I have access to, a couple of which I used.  But probably my favorite from this last practice round would have been a 1/2″ flat synthetic brush — I think a very old Jack Richeson — because it allowed me to make a calligraphic line (which the round brushes did not, though I did not try my hardest to vary line width with them, and my hand and arm are still used to drawing [firm pressure], not painting [hovering hand]).  Second favorite would have been my liner, which I picked up a long time ago just because its price was drastically cut and I had visions of using it for inking comics.

I don’t think I’m going to be going the comic route, though.  Not at the moment.  I’m feeling much more fulfilled playing around with colors, and I’ve heard it can be a tricky thing to reproduce colors which one can see in paints or otherwise in the “real world”, in print or on the computer screen.  From my (few) days in Graphic Design, I seem to recall this as well.  But that doesn’t mean that I can’t illustrate and paint and draw for personal fulfillment.

And besides — by now I know that doing the visual arts does something in my mind — it helps me connect ideas that I wouldn’t have connected (at least, as quickly) on my own, and it stimulates the drive to write.  There is nothing which says I cannot have a story in my mind and illustrate it (using the term “illustrate” very loosely), and gain personal development from it.  And I suppose I should state to myself that this is not a waste of time, even if I don’t do a graphic novel.  And — it would be a lot of work to both write and illustrate a graphic novel.

There’s got to be some way that the narratives, and the personal development, and the art, are connected.  I just haven’t figured it out, yet.  I suppose that’s where faith helps; when you know there’s something more going on, but your mind isn’t powerful enough to work out just what, yet.

drawing, fine arts, graphic design, painting

pens and thoughts on watercolors

Besides what I’ve mentioned in the prior entry…I picked up some little colored fineliners today which I’ve been coloring with for a while.  :)  I picked up a different orange than I intended to (it’s closer to red with a hint of orange), but it’s actually working out pretty well.  The orange which I intended to pick up would have been more expensive and also closer to the tone of the orange I definitely knew I was getting.  So now I have some Staedtlers (I’m just in love with Staedtler, I’m sorry), and a few Stabilos which I picked up because their color was nice.  These were around $1 a piece.

This is continuing the thread which I started with getting together with someone who encouraged me to draw.  The fineliners are really good for small detail work — where you need hard, sharp lines.  I did eventually get into the place, today, where I probably should have been using the bullet point on a Tombow or something — I was coloring in big areas of color with fineliners (!) and I don’t know how long they will continue to last if I continue to do that.  But I did happen to uncover an image which will look very good in a larger format, and which will look very different in different color schemes.  It’s excellent for gouache, as none of the color blocks touch each other.

So while I was at the art store…I was looking over the watercolors and the acrylics.  I think that for now, I’ll stick with watercolors (and gouache), and just try a different working method, which I’ve been practicing with my markers and colored pencils…just…not exactly the same.  :)  This involves using some of my very hard and light pencils to draw in an underpainting, so I know where the highlights are, prior to beginning.  Watercolors are much less expensive than acrylics, as well; so now I suppose I do know why many people start out in them, despite my personal belief that they’re more difficult to work with than acrylics.  I did happen to pick up a pad of two-ply Bristol Board which should suffice for exploratory ventures into watercolor, on a medium which won’t destroy fine detail.

…I wonder how it would look if I painted over transparent watercolors with gouache (which is opaque)?  I should keep that thought in mind, not count it out.  Just like I should not count out using watercolor pencils or watercolor sticks.

I mentioned that I picked up the Talens Angora watercolors last month, which ran about $6 for twelve pans.  I still haven’t used them, it has been somewhat intimidating; but I realized while looking back over recent work with the fineliners, that I needed to start working with the watercolors the way I started working with the fineliners.  I need to play around with the watercolors without a solid design in mind, most of all so I can find out how they behave.  So I suppose that should be coming up, soon.  (I have realized that a lot of what I set out to do, I do actually get around to — though that can be hard to see without records.)  I am relatively new to using brushes, so I suspect there will be a learning curve.  But at least I have access to a usable set of watercolor brushes.

beading, fabric

From steel to gold

I finally did it.  I made the jump.

I now have my own handmade gold-filled earrings in place instead of my surgical steel Captive Ball Rings.  And they don’t feel bad, either.

Looking back on it, within the past couple of days I had tried to reach a compromise between having the thick steel rings in and having more decorative jewelry in, by making small loops of Ultrasuede, wrapping the loops around the CBRs, and hanging dangles off of the bottom parts of the Ultrasuede.  It didn’t work, and this is mostly because the Ultrasuede frays too much.  As I was whipstitching the tiny bits of it, I saw that it wasn’t going to work; the threads of the Ultrasuede were sticking out beyond the stitching.  Maybe it would work better if I cut the material on the bias or something, but really I think I’ve given up on that.  :)

There is the option of using real leather, but I do not look forward to that for a few reasons:

1) It’s not hygienic.  It can’t be easily cleaned, and this matters if you have piercings.

2) I’ve heard of people with nickel sensitivities having allergic reactions to leather.  I know I have a nickel sensitivity, and I don’t want to risk sensitizing myself to leather.

3) If that weren’t enough, it’s difficult to sew (and I don’t want to ruin my milliner’s needles by trying to punch through suede).

There are a set of pearls which I obtained last month which I am now ready to make into earrings.  They’ve just been sitting around resting on 24 gauge gold-filled wire.  Even if I do mess up an expensive head-pin or two…I can still work on them, and at least I’ll finally be able to wear them.

Do I lose street cred because I took out my heavy-gauge earrings?  ;D  (I suppose the blessing is that I didn’t stretch my piercings to the stage where it would be difficult to go back.)

I have more to say, but it’s on a different topic, so I’ll put it in a different entry.

creative writing, drawing, graphic design, spirituality

Torn between the two brains

The other day I saw a friend I haven’t seen in a long time.  Long story short, I ended up drawing a number of elements with some colored pens which look very much like they have a strong Graphic Design influence.  I like how this is going.

It started me thinking on whether I wanted to really do the design — specifically Web Design — as a career, I mean; but …well, I was thinking about this earlier today.  Not so much the design aspect of things, but the tension between what I’ve experienced as my creative side and my practical side.  I realized that, at least metaphorically, a lot of what I’m going through is tension between the two sides of my brain.  What was odd was to realize that…well, that may be more literally true than not.  Right-brain, left-brain stuff.  It could also be a big part of the reason I’ve been interested in one faith-based philosophy and one rationality-based philosophy, both seriously enough.  They speak to different sides of my brain.

I’m already familiarized with the concept of having relatively independently-acting matrices within my own neurology, but I’m moving past the time where I’d consider this anything more than just an awareness of difference (or awareness of awareness).  I’ve started reading in The Artist’s Way again, which could be part of the reason I’ve been more aware of the rational-versus-creative tension.  I haven’t started the exercises yet — I’d have to devote a significant amount of time and energy to this, time which I could use to be creative.  I also realized something significant…trust and play are key to successful creativity.

By that I mean that I believe that to be, specifically, a successful writer or a successful artist, you have to trust yourself enough to even begin.  And then you have to trust yourself enough to continue, and trust yourself enough to carry it through to the end.  You have to trust that what is coming out of you has some good in it.  Elsewhere I’ve said that the path to creativity, from my current perspective, very much seems like something — control — must be surrendered.  You have to trust yourself and just ride with it.  At least, in my experience.

When I was younger I would write as though a story were being dictated to me.  As I got older, I gradually lost my faith.  But I also learned to fear my own creativity.  I didn’t know where my stories were coming from, and this frightened me.  In this sense, it’s somewhat comforting to be reading _The Artist’s Way_, where the author explains that the key to being creative is to be able to become an open channel for creativity.  In my own experience, this is true enough.  I don’t think taking classes in it helped, actually.  It helped me develop my voice, but it also inserted rules that my creativity needed to conform to, which eventually obstructed my creative flow.

Now that I’m older, I have the knowledge that I don’t have to work exclusively within any one art or craft form.  I’ve also been feeding my creativity via relatively low-risk things like knitting and crochet and sewing.  Then we get into coloring, which gets into drawing, which gets into writing.  I’m old enough now to see that belief in a personal Deity is not necessarily a bad thing, or an impossible thing.  Studying Hinduism, paired with studying Buddhism (especially Tibetan Buddhism) has helped me very much in this regard.

I have a Deity-form that I’ve been tailing since my early college days, and although I am a bit cautious now to attribute a name and culture to my Deity, it is apparent that possibly the best way to give myself something to guide me, even in those moments when I am at a loss as to my own identity, is to live a creative life.  That is, to embrace who I am and use my gifts — live the life that has been provided for me.  Being creative could be my own form of devotion.  Something to regulate my life, and to keep me from not knowing what to do with myself.