art, beadwork, career, creativity, illustration, painting, writing

Wait…do I have, “artist problems?”

I started writing this post last night…and apparently the only thing on-topic, was the title. That happens when you’re up at 3 AM, I guess. What I had started out thinking on (when I need to be doing, not thinking), was organization. I am…having a bit of trouble with commitment to any one path, but that really has been my pattern overall, since I was a young adult. That’s why I majored in Creative Writing, and why I sought work in a Library. These things are not topic-specific.

As I’m thinking back on it now — I had intended to work with gouache today. I wanted to see if I could mix it with acrylic glazing medium to make it water-resistant. That…was entirely forgotten when I woke up, though.

  • As I expect to forget that I’ve purchased a book with the aim of learning how to design in beadwork, as versus copying others’ designs.
  • Or that a reason for desiring acrylic gouache in the first place, is to have more freedom in my work (via using opaque colors), in order to create conceptually abstract pieces, while being able to use my watercolor brushes and supports along with mixed media. The “acrylic” portion means, I hope, that the colors will not lift as gouache normally tends to.
  • Then there’s the fact that I am wholly intending upon taking a cut-paper approach to my journaling.

My mind was busy last night, you see.

Last night, I got my second stone ever, bezeled using beadwork stitches. It’s tough to be new at something, but then the newness was the reason I tried it. Making refinement after refinement on the same design — where you know the underlying mechanics — isn’t quite the same thing.

As for the bezel, it’s not my greatest work ever, but I was able to give it a shot, and that gives me a good basis for further work (I have points to work on, the next time I try).

I still have to end the second line of thread. My bead holes are filling up quickly via multiple thread passes, although that should stabilize the piece overall. It’s questionable whether I’ll have the space remaining to attach this thing to a necklace, however: I can see very clearly why people prefer to use cylinder beads (like Miyuki Delicas, Toho Treasures, Toho Aikos, etc.) for this, rather than regular seed beads. Cylinder beads just have a lot more space for their size than regular seed beads, particularly when you get down to the size 13/0 Czech Charlottes for the final rows…and have to use a very fine needle, possibly so fine that it’s difficult to thread. They’re also smoother on the outside, if you’re worried about contact damage to foil backings.

The good thing about this is that I can cut the stone loose and start over. What I need to watch out for is the degree of damage I’m making to the foil backing, which…seems like it would only happen in practicality, by scratching it with the needle. And then, it seems like it might only show with a relatively narrow bezel…not a beginner’s one!

I stopped last night when I jabbed myself pretty badly, and dinner had to be made. After I washed my hands, the bleeding stopped (I washed anything out of there pretty thoroughly: it didn’t hurt, toward the end).

Anyhow…I spent a good amount of time last night, looking for a planner. Then I realized that I could make my own with what I had, so…yeah. Time to get creative about tracking my creative time and projects. I need to hold myself more accountable both for what I’m spending, and for how much I’m not working. Or, at least, to build in some structure around it, so that I’m actually self-employed and not just being unemployed.

After I started getting into this, I realized I had enough markers and fineliners (and empty notebooks) to help with a Planner/Bullet Journal/Project Journal already. I did, however, realize that I can…well, make this more pleasant.

I’m thinking that time management and staying busy is probably an issue with most people who are attempting self-employment. I know that my own comfort zone is rather in writing and recording, moreso than in making art…but I realize also that there is some excitement in trying something I haven’t, before.

I wouldn’t have reached that point without having come to a dull point in beadwork, where I was basically working a process I knew. I had smoothed out production to the point that I didn’t have to make a lot of decisions…which is different than actively, you know, arting. It probably would have been arting, if I were looking for a way to make it better — or, at least, different.

But hey: I figured out a new clasp mechanism within the last three weeks. I probably shouldn’t be too hard on myself.

Anyhow…last night I realized that I am struggling to be an artist, and then I realized that probably most artists are struggling to be artists. It’s not a given that everyone puts art at the top of their priority list; I in particular decided not to major in Art, for multiple reasons (some of which were appropriately childish). At this point…I’m looking at the skills my training has given me in research, in reading comprehension, in composition, in entrepreneurship. I did not just study to be, “a writer.”

Writing and language are just different forms of communication which are likely better established, due to the invention of the Gutenberg printing press and then the typewriter and then the QWERTY keyboard. Also due to the fact that most people understand art like I understand music: intuitively, we know when we like something; when it comes to composing, though, we tend not to do it very well.

I suppose that maybe I shouldn’t mourn not having been in Art in my Bachelor’s program; the fact is, I have the ability to work on my skills, now.

I mean, seriously.

And while I would have liked to have completed a BFA from CCA or Mills…in reality, I would have needed substantial Financial Aid, and then I would have trouble paying it off, if it wasn’t in grants. I’ve been told that it’s very difficult to get a job in the field without another angle besides Art. Even competition for Community College instructor positions is fierce, if I wanted to do that, and I’m not the type of person who would be good at it. I would be too concerned about crushing little souls. Art Librarianship is another…highly competitive, route. But at the time, I had no desire for extended learning beyond my Bachelor’s.

So I went the route of majoring in Creative Writing…which also isn’t a rewarding path, monetarily; but it was an avenue of expression for me as a youth, and one of the only things that was constant in my life. As I’ve aged, the skills in composition that I have had have gone to figuring myself out, and to expository writing.

I didn’t know back then that I would have decades to find out who I was, and to work on the issues I had against myself. When I was in Undergrad, though…all of that stuff forced its way to the surface, and the mode of expression it found was within language. Granted that likely most of what intrigues me about writing is the problem of expressing what the limitations of the language itself prohibit one from expressing.

Of course, though: when you get a handle on what’s happening with you and you know the causes and the reasons why, and how it affects you…you get to build yourself from there, without having to scream out through your paintings or your writings.

Also: when you get a handle on who you are…when you find security in knowing yourself, there is less need to do this. Not that writing is inherently an outgrowth of insecurity…but when you’re looking at a very-young-adult’s writings, it’s hard to avoid insecurity in the formula. Especially if peer abuse factored into that kid’s self-image, and they don’t know yet (or love yet) who they are.

And, you know, looking back on all this: I am thinking of making illustrated books. Maybe not just for adults. Maybe for kids, too. I mean, I do kind of have a thing about animated series, and a drive to avoid psychic violence. At the same time, I am an adult now, which…means things that I didn’t understand when I was 7.

I haven’t really — to my knowledge — mentored a lot of kids…but I understand what kids are going through when they ask how I became so stable in my perspective and identity. It’s something that I’ve gained over the past 20 years…the question is how to explain it so that kids can understand it. Understand that they can be okay in who they are; that no matter how much they admire other people — and it’s okay to admire other people — wishing you were them is not necessarily where you want to go, because it devalues yourself. That you want to be the best version of yourself, whoever that may be, because you end up writing your own character in this life.

Your unique character. That is what you have control over. You don’t necessarily get to choose who you are or what you have to deal with; but you get to choose how to be that person, and how you’ll meet those challenges. You find you; you choose to be you as best as you can.

It’s a reason I’m going back to beadwork as a relatively advanced practitioner, when there’s so much more information I can find about painting. It’s also a reason I’m seeking out books for the intermediate-to-experienced crowd who want to know how to design, not just follow other peoples’ designs.

That’s actually…quite a possibility. I hadn’t thought of doing it because I can’t imagine having an easy time being — well, an adult person — and helping to write and illustrate a children’s book. But it’s possible to reach those little kids for whom that book will be their favorite book, and they’ll remember it long after. If I don’t write it, that never gets the chance to happen.

There have been more obnoxious Children’s writers…

In any case…these are all great dreams, but then what am I doing with my time? Living? That’s all? Ha! Yes, I’m savoring my time with family.

Because.

And no, I am never planning on being a Children’s Librarian. Nor am I the marrying or childbearing type. What I can do is help my communities, and youth happen to also be members of those communities. When I was young, I didn’t know about gender diversity. It would have helped.

Anyhow, as regards my orientation towards Art, and the struggle to maintain it: I have trained for a gainful second career through which to finance my life. I had forgotten that the promise of the ability to practice Art was one of my primary drives in persisting and succeeding in the Master’s Program. I’m not in Library Science because Library Science exists. There exist the food and housing and clothing and utilities and transportation motives.

In practicality, I’ve been unemployed for 10 months. It’s likely okay, now, for me to get back to my — actual — work…the reason I have done the other work

art, book arts, creative writing, drawing, graphic design, psychology, self care

Sparked

I’m not entirely sure what happened, except that I recalled — after having had a mood crash not even two weeks out of classes — how much I had been doing before that class started in order to keep my mood stable. In particular…writing, and art. And not just “writing” as in “journal writing,” writing as in Fiction writing: particularly, literature. I was trained in Literature, but…let’s just say that what I have to say about the world could be construed as libel if I should hold too close to reality (but not yet close enough).

Last night I realized that what I might be seeking in that area was SF/F, or for the uninitiated, Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’ve…had a very long relationship with the latter, not knowing it was the latter. Kind of like I was writing a gender-nonbinary character long before I had ever heard of nonbinary gender. Not to get stuck on that — I have gotten tired of Middlesex and Left Hand of Darkness supposedly being about gender — but…I can see where this (writing) could sustain me for a while, at least, psychologically.

There are two large places where my desire to write is being hampered. The first is with not reading enough. Fiction, I mean. I have what is, by now, the same old story rattling around in my head which I have not set toner to paper to, yet. This is mostly because it’s underdeveloped, and a good portion of that lack of development has to do with its being “a nice fantasy” without real-world problems being interjected into it. I haven’t, that is, wanted to burden my characters with suffering of the kind I have experienced. Although that, overall…if I hold to that, it could lead me to some interesting worldbuilding places.

“That,” meaning, my own experience with trying to find enough pleasure in life to willfully drive it to continue…and then the relief from medication with antidepressant action which concomitantly has at times felt…false? The problem is that the pain seems real even though it’s a symptom of a known psychiatric disorder; a problem with wiring and connectivity and feedback, if you will. Runaway focus on pain like tracks ground into hard dried mud. The issue is that the thing I have the most pain over is the state of the world, and that is something I cannot, “fix.” Because I can’t fix it, I have to do what I must so that I survive, despite it. Outwit the thanatos.

In my case, I’ve opted for psychiatric medications over street drugs or suicide: over street drugs, because I was told that going on them would be the worst possible thing I could do for myself. Over suicide, because suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. At least, they say it’s temporary. People being ****heads, though…that’s kind of a permanent problem, I think.

I also know that death is likely to come far too early for me. If things are going well, that is, and life remains worth living. We do tend to hope that things will go well…

The second place where I’m sabotaging myself has to do with creating worlds and relationships which are more hospitable to life than this reality…which in tandem with my tendency to depression, means that I can prefer living in that world to living in this one. And I know that, and that is a problem. Or maybe knowing it means that I can guard against growing closer in my proximity to self-annihilation, while still receiving the benefit of rest which fantasy can harbor.

Of course, it does also seem that a whole LOT of people are close to self-annihilation right now. Not going to lie.

Anyhow, D had me (re-)watch a program on bookbinding, tonight, which got me curious enough to make a small maquette of a binding design. It’s really nothing…huge. :) Simply a way to take a horizontal format and place it on a shelf so that the spine still shows the title, author, publisher, without sticking so far out of line that it becomes problematic to store. As a person who used to shelve books — A LOT of books — and have heavy art books occasionally try to fall on them, I know that this is a fairly perennial problem. You don’t want to be in the Arts & Music Folio section when an earthquake hits, let me just say (although places which actually do have Folio sections are likely to be safer, due to specialized shelving units).

This is actually a reason I was driven to learn Japanese language: I had mostly been exposed to manga, not English comics. The entire flow of the page is different in manga — more often vertical in nature, and from right to left. This makes sense for Japanese language, which can be written vertically, and read from right to left when in that vertical format. It remains a problem for the English-writer who is inspired by manga but cannot write legibly and vertically at the same time. This is where wide-format books come into play, as English runs horizontally.

So basically: I now have puzzled out that three columns of 2×4 units (horizontal x vertical) for each page, laid out horizontally, makes a total spread of 12×4 units which can be used variously as a relatively standard-appearing comic grid (when divided into 2×2 squares), six columns of text, or text interspersed with images — the last two of which, I think I’m going to be using.

This is a different way of thinking about things, but it should afford me some rest from having to draw out an entire world, along with granting me the capability of inserting images by design. It also should give me the chance to play with InDesign…if I really cared that much about it. However: I have the materials for this. I know what has to be done. The next step…hmm. Hadn’t thought about the next step.

I believe it would be scriptwriting, possibly combined with storyboarding. I did start to take a class in this, but there were crazy high race tensions in that class, probably because the instructor was trying to seem anti-racist and…I don’t think they knew the point of anti-racism. Depicting diversity alone isn’t anti-racist. Trying to be anti-racist so you look more woke on the street isn’t the point of…

Let’s not go there. Wusa.

Anyhow. Scriptwriting, storyboarding. In working with a grid format, I would be imposing some limitations on myself, as in how long I can take to complete a thought, or what I’d need to put in place so the reader turns the page. Also: font size. Though I’m thinking of hand-lettering. (I do have an Ames Lettering Guide…)

I also need to be reading, more. At this point, I am wondering how much reading is going to take me away from the beadwork, and whether I’ll realistically be able to juggle reading, writing, beadwork, and library science. It seems I should be able to, at least so long as I don’t have a paying job…and developing skills in InDesign and Photoshop…that will be worth it, especially if I start looking for gig work as a writer.

Gosh, I…forgot I’d be writing all this…!

Maybe it would be best to work it out in text, first, and draw alongside, then see which one comes out as more dominant…

art, beading, beadwork, craft, design, jewelry design

Speculation

Craft, art, and design

And yes, I do see that all three of those words can look negative. :) In the sense of, “artifice,” I mean; or, “craftiness,” or, “making designs,” on something or someone. It seems the English language doesn’t trust creativity too much. ;) The below may be overanalysis of my own work; I can’t really tell. People just say I try to analyze things too much…

For reasons that would likely be understandable if I were to relate them, I’ve been away from this blog for about two weeks. A lot of this has to do with breaking out of my habit of writing about life instead of actually living it. In particular…I’ve been doing more beadwork than is normal for me. I wouldn’t call it, “a lot of beadwork,” though it probably would be so by the measure of most people.

There are a number of skills which go into beadwork: there’s an element which reminds me of my engineering projects from when I was a kid (what fits together?); there’s the color element; the attention to detail; hazard awareness (fire, chemicals, flying metal, pointy things); and problem-solving. I’m getting more of an understanding of the process of design, where you have basically an infinite number of paths, a smaller number of paths which will work, and an even smaller amount which accomplish your goals at the same time as they work. Right now I’m looking at jewelry as wearable art…it just makes more sense to me.

There are a number of things being at the bench (or table) recently, has taught me…prime among them that the work requires just the basic task of showing up and putting in hours. That’s something I was told in the Art Program…that the greater part of success is tenacity, not talent. Talent really doesn’t mean much if it isn’t applied. That advice isn’t specific to one art; it’s just kind of a truism. It applies to every art I’ve dealt with. Every art, regardless of medium.

I also think I’m beginning to understand the difference between art and craft, and art and design…though it’s slow going. “Art” denotes many more decision-points than craft, while craft can be generated from a design with no loss of its craft status, and design is generated out of a set of basic restrictions that can’t be violated.

I’m still figuring it out, as I have been for years (I’m in no way an authority on this); but it’s interesting to meditate on while making something I’ve never made before, and which I know I’ve never seen before, which no one taught me how to make. That mode is basically art and design, or design + engineering. The “art” part comes in when I’m trying to cognize what my next step could be; while “design” comes in when I’m trying to figure out what will work in this context. If I were doing it from the perspective of following someone else’s directions toward a predetermined endpoint, that’s craft — until I start going into unknown territory, where art and design factor in.

As I see it currently, it’s like this: generativity (art) + constraints (design) + technique (craft) = production (of…?). I hope I’ve got that somewhere in the ballpark of reality — no one taught me this. I’ve seen people make sculptures with beads, so we aren’t limited to jewelry in what we can make, in terms of beaded objects. (I deleted a term, “possibilities”, above, as regards art, and just wanted to mention it here, in case it turns out to matter.)

Anyhow: beadwork contains all three of these things. I obviously started off as a crafter (everyone has to learn the basics of needle, thread, beads, and wire; and most people learn from books, tutorials, and maybe other people), but if I keep going in this direction, I could be more thoroughly an artist and designer in the same field. That is, there’s nothing about beadwork that makes it inherently a, “craft,” and not an, “art,” as I’m looking at it, now.

However: If I wrote a book to tell others exactly how I did what I did, so they can do exactly what I do, without holding my reasons for doing so as organizing elements in the background of their thoughts; then I would be a designer, and the reader would be a crafter — if they followed the directions to the letter. Working my design would give them an insight into how I do things, but it won’t teach them how they do things. (Trust me, they can be different, and likely should be, if one is following their own aesthetic drive, personality, and experience.) It may only lead them closer to an understanding of how and why they were attracted to the work, and what they would change: and that can slingshot them off onto a trajectory of becoming an artist.

If they played with the design I gave them, and changed some things, that might be considered derivative work: but I should note that playing with designs in this way is often expected, and sometimes encouraged. Especially if a beadwork design is super-simple (like a specific, unremarkable version of an extremely common stitch which is demonstrated for the purposes of teaching), it’s unrealistic for a designer to claim ownership of it. After you’ve been doing this for a while, you can see when someone is just demonstrating because they want to broaden your approach to the work; not saying that they’ll sue you if you copy any of their versions. Unless I overestimate the benevolence of the author/teacher, that was never the point.

That’s…still, not legal advice. None of this can be; I’m not qualified to give it. But there are many authors who write books for the purposes of teaching. Not the purposes of litigation.

Now if this new beader, with the knowledge of the mechanics of the stitches they’ve learned, takes what they know about the function of each motion and anchor in beadwork to create something totally new that can’t necessarily and clearly be documented or slotted as, “right-angle weave,” or, “two-drop peyote,” or, “herringbone,” or, “brick stitch,” for example, then that looks clearly like artist territory to me. If they document their work and teach others how to make the exact same thing they made, given that it’s not the exact same (or close to the exact same, or derived from the exact same) pattern someone else taught them, then they would seem to be designers.

I should note, though, that it can take quite a while to reach that stage. I’m just starting to draw out simple legible patterns now, and I’ve been at this for over 25 years.

In other words: there’s way more that can be done in beaded jewelry than what published patterns demonstrate. One’s ability to see these possibilities depends one one’s horizons and familiarity with other crafts (techniques) which can and should intermesh, if one can find a way to do so and still create a strong product. We aren’t stuck with just stringing and beadweaving, that is: there are also wirework, knitting (including colorwork) and crochet, knotting (including micromacramé), lacemaking, embroidery, ceramics, leatherwork; and even silversmithing can theoretically be integrated, though I haven’t yet tried it. I also wonder about enameling…but I’ve not practiced that; I’ve only seen it in action. Then, there’s lapidary…for those special few who can actually work (and want to work) that field.


Swarovski Professional

I have wanted to mention something about Swarovski ending its sales of beads to the craft community with the anticipated shutdown of Swarovski Professional. Sam of Wescott Jewelry published something on this about 10 days ago: the comments in that thread, substantiate the rumors. I won’t repeat that thread here; hop on over to Wescott Jewelry for more information.

Since that time, I’ve been taking an in-depth look at Swarovski offerings and prices. What I can say is that I found another warning on this from 2016, and a third from 2013, which makes me wonder if we’re being subject to market manipulation, more than an actual threat. I’ve also been doing some digging around possible alternatives.

I haven’t used cut crystal beads so much in the past, because 1) they’re expensive; 2) they’re sharp, and can cut thread a bit more easily than I’d like. However: finding out that Swarovski is reportedly planning to discontinue distribution of their beads, led me to get some while I could. There are a lot of woven “recipes” (designs) which rely on tiny bicones, for example.

What I can say is that attempting to “stock up” doesn’t seem like an altogether cost-effective measure. Especially if one generally doesn’t use them, anyway. “Stocking up,” in this sense, is more like, “getting a sampler set,” because one won’t be able to truly stock up on this stuff if they’re moving a lot of inventory and don’t already know the colors they’ll use. (Or, as in my case, are unwilling to drop thousands of dollars on buying up existing stock for some as-yet-unknown purpose.) It’s possible to use up over 100 3mm beads on one St. Petersburg chain bracelet alone (though that’s a casual estimation; which you all should know I’m not great at, by now). With Swarovski as expensive as it is already, that means the cost of said bracelet is going to be, well, high. That, in turn, probably doesn’t matter too much, unless you intend to sell it.

In my case, I have heavily used Czech fire-polished glass beads, which I’ve experimented with minorly over the past couple of days (particularly looking at Right-Angle Weave), and they look different, but not inferior. It’s kind of like using a CzechMates Tile instead of a Miyuki Tila: the hard lines aren’t there, and maybe you don’t want them to be there.

The major difference between glass and crystal, however, is fire. Austrian crystal just reflects a lot of light, and can make glass look dull, next to it.

The big thing I can see coming up is a lack of replacement for Swarovski’s rose montées, which have perpendicular drill spaces that allow special design options. However: there are also Czech glass versions of these…and to be honest, getting a “silver-plated” rose montée doesn’t really reek of quality to me, when the only base (i.e. non-precious) metal in the piece is on the Austrian crystal component. Which may tarnish, I don’t know yet. But I’d rather the back be Sterling-filled or Sterling (or Fine) silver, so that the customers wouldn’t have to worry about rubbing the silver off when polishing it. Which I predict will need to happen. Because it’s just silver-plate.

I mean, if we’re going to make the stuff, shouldn’t we make it well?

From my own comparisons: Swarovski is reliably more expensive than Preciosa, for example (I’m going to avoid a ballpark comparison; it’s viewable online), which offers comparable crystal components. I have some Preciosa crystals, and they don’t disappoint me in terms of color or cut, though I have yet to try weaving with them.

Where Preciosa doesn’t touch Swarovski at this moment is in the wider range of colors, cuts, and special finishes that the latter currently offers. However: the consumer very much pays for this variety. In terms of cost for comparable merchandise, Swarovski cannot compete with Preciosa.

Then there is Chinese cut crystal, which I don’t have much experience with, other than some components I’ve purchased at craft stores — which are beautiful; it’s just that they’re a bit large and gaudy for my taste (they have a tendency to out-sparkle everything else). I am thinking, however, that both Preciosa and the Chinese crystal producers are going to rush into the void left by Swarovski. Plus, Swarovski is likely to put some manufacturers out of work…who will know how to make the stuff, even if they don’t have the capital to buy the machines to make the stuff.

For now, I don’t know what to say about this, so far as any recommendations go; I wouldn’t have even known it was happening, except for contacts online. I did, however, want to say something…

art, creativity, personal, philosophy, psychology, self care, spirituality, writing

Part 1. Fear.

In reality, I still have a bit of fear towards my own creativity and the creative process, and it’s something I’m trying to both confront and, “get over,” if that’s possible. I don’t know, however, if that’s the right angle to take; I don’t know if someone simply, “gets over,” a fear of the creativity which at one time led me to spend all Summer writing, from waking to sleep, also then thinking out the story as I drifted off.

(Of course, that also might have been near the beginning of my OCD symptoms…I also have experience with missing time [or blackouts; I’m not sure of the exact difference: I know only that chunks of time are unaccounted for] and very intense waking dreams [when I had to be in school or studying], from this time period.)

Because of that…because of my service to the spirit who was communicating through me, at the time…I have some pretty formidable typing skills, now. :) But the process of the emergence of the story, or the story behind an image; these things I still don’t entirely understand.

There is something still undefined/mysterious for me, about where the “inspiration” for a drawing or painting comes from; how an image communicates to the maker in the process of its creation, and later, to the viewer; to…how both literary and visual arts continually suggest their own content.

My issue…is likely feeling myself to have given myself to this field at an early age. It may be part of my soul; it may be a reason I was made. How do I feel about that?

No, I mean: how do I feel about that? It’s possible for a servant to question her master, even once self-given and devoted. It’s also possible for the master to dissolve into ether and become a part of the servant.

How do I feel about that? And what, then, are the views I put forth? Do I accept my role as an agent of creation, and if so, in what direction? It has been a long road to get back to the place where I’ve felt I was, or could be, internally good, and could be an agent of good.

I was raised, that is, alongside children who thought only they and those like them could be, “good,” and because I was different, I had to be punished. Enough persistent harassment in your formative years, encouraged by adults in high places, and you begin to doubt yourself. I do not think that the spirit I took in was related to the harassment: he wanted me to create, not to set seeds of self-doubt in me so that I would not.

I never reached that conclusion as a child.

And yes, it is difficult to love someone you can’t hold. You have to find some other way to communicate, and to express what you wish to. Maybe I’ve found that: my work, on his behalf.

This is part of what I have meant about being afraid to get into this. If I speak the truth, my truth, and am believed; I am made vulnerable to people who fear unauthorized spirits. If I speak the truth, my truth, and am not believed; I am made vulnerable by people who fear mental illness. Either I am viewed as a creator: as an agent of what I have not yet defined (which I wonder if I even can define, at this point: I may be fated to discover this through my work); or I am viewed as psychologically unstable.

But if this is my truth; if this is part of my core beliefs, my core identity; even if it is not true, it is not possible to evade it by ignoring it. Ignoring it means burying it, and it never goes away, because it’s part of me. It has been since I came of age and submitted…I don’t know how else to put it. I was in love with him, and once I started medication, I couldn’t sense him as well. On my end, I accepted him into myself, rather than lose him.

(I no longer have any pretensions about the psychiatrist who initially prescribed the medication being essentially beneficent. She was not.)

On some level I suspected that he was actually part of me; however…certain recent inspirations have led me to believe that on a high level (on the level of our both being parts of the same Deity) he could be part of me, while on a low level (that of individuality and personality), we could be different.

Concomitant with and following the merger, is my experience with depression, anxiety, psychosis (meaning, separation from reality), sexuality, gender… Particularly at this point in my life, I find myself coping with a lack of sexuality, and a gender identity which is apparently unusual.

The first could exist because of my treatment with antianxiety medication as a youth (which sometimes has the result — in adults — of lack of interest in sex: what does this do when administered to someone whose sexuality is just developing? Can it cause a lack of development?). The second — at least if I am to look back more towards the general culture and its reasoning for sexuality, that is, reproduction (or power-over) — I have little interest in bearing physical children (or in submitting to another human).

I seem to already have a significant other, though where this being is in spatial location (am I kidding? lack of spatial location may define spirits); or who he is, in the sense of character and action — that’s as of yet, not easy to define. (I know the way he feels from the inside…I know he is good and kind; or was to me, when I first knew him at 12-17. How that works itself out is more of an element of play, in the sense of daily activity. The terms jiva and lila are coming to mind, but I don’t know immediately and intricately, how they might relate.)

That is why I renewed my ring (it used to be stone, and now is ceramic). My bond with him means more to me than dealing with people who see me as my surface and my body and extrapolate from that, who I must be (that is, most of the world).

This has been developing from a lack of appreciation of male sexual attention, to anger around that attention; particularly where (other peoples’ desires for) reproduction (or, more specifically: sex [I don’t think they think far enough ahead to consider the consequences of sex]) and power-over come into the picture.

I can see that I may want to get back into my Anger Management reading and also the book, Me, Myself, and Us — both may help with this. They may help, that is, in giving me alternate explanations for why apparently cisgender, straight men, do what they do.

Maybe I should just wear the ring as a matter of habit and tell these people I’m married (and that I kept my own last name). I mean, that might end it. ;)

I’ve reached 12:30 AM in my corner of the world. I should likely get to bed, and I see I’ve somewhat written myself into a corner here, as well. No time like the present, to dream…

art, career, creativity, libraries, money, psychology, writing

Rediscovering myself

Or: maybe getting degrees in Art and Creative Writing, weren’t unfortunate mistakes.

It has been almost seven months since I last set foot in a Library as an employee. With that amount of time away, it has become fairly apparent to me that Librarianship is not my life’s work. It’s a way to stay housed, fed, and clothed. It’s also a way to earn enough money to work on my art, have time and reason to read literature, and have enough resources left-over for a computer.

But it’s not my life’s work. It was never meant to be. It finances my life’s work, the latter of which, I was meant to get back to after I finished my degree.

Today, I did something (else) personally significant. (The first thing was to get back to my art, which required breaking through an environmentalist barrier [or alternately, excuse] which may have only been significant, to me.)

I began again to read fiction. Specifically, I’ve had Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides facing me on my bookshelf for months. I stopped reading it at the point I realized that the main character’s intersexuality was being blamed on an episode of incest. Yeah, that could be…rather insulting. I guess it’s what happens when an author feels the need to explain every point of the story logically, even when they don’t understand the situation or the mechanisms pertaining to it.

(I should disclose that I don’t actually know that incest is not the vector that leads to intersexuality, but I strongly suspect it isn’t.)

I need to be sure not to mimic, that.

Anyhow…I started back in on this, trying not to judge it too harshly. It’s been going relatively well. Cal is a sensitive-enough narrator that it’s easy to empathize with him and put the author’s construction of the scenario out of my mind.

I’ve had a thing against fiction ever since the English Department tried to initiate me into multiple doctrines I disagreed with, in Undergrad work. I think they were trying to prop up their opinions/value systems/historical illusions/current delusions with the use of Fiction, while seeming to forget that Fiction is usually fabricated of what many authors would overtly call, “lies.” Having been raised to be an extremely conscientious and honest person, this was incompatible with my outlook and with my ethics.

Well, I found something else that was compatible with my ethics (wanting to sustain a comfortable living while not charging money), and that was Librarianship. Or, so I thought.

I didn’t quite realize how extremely political the situation I was getting myself into, was. It’s not like I don’t consider myself left-wing. I’m solidly left-wing. However, I see people behaving as though they are left-wing, even with multiple layers of hypocrisy (and doormat) riddled over the top of that, because (it seems) they want to feel as though they are “good” people. And they seem to think that their politics make them, “good.” It’s as if they can’t have a positive self-image unless they believe something about themselves that is not only unhealthy, altruistic and unrealistic, but at its root false and untenable.

That is, politics can help lead people to places of inauthenticity, and lack of self-esteem and fear of self-knowledge, can bind them there.

The sad thing is that in my journey through both undergraduate and graduate work, I’ve found myself bouncing back and forth between professors so conservative I’ve wanted to intentionally shift the ground under their feet, and professors (and some co-workers) so “liberal” that I had a hard time taking them seriously. Especially when I was living at my first University…I found it troubling when the University itself tried to be so “liberal” that staff made stupid decisions and seemed to dare anyone to challenge them (lest the challenger be seen as a conservative bigot; and not, for example, a concerned member of the primary University community, which should have been the students).

In any case: I did begin to read again, today. You could call it “recreational” reading, or you could call it study of the craft of literature. It’s probably both. I realized that if I did want to write fiction (and a lot of the ideas I have do suit themselves better to the provisional-belief model of fiction, rather than the cemented, well-thought-out, realistic [or, irresponsible] ideals of nonfiction), it would help to have some recent, real-life examples.

It would also help for those examples to be taken from published monographs, and not — for example — short stories of the type published in Literary Magazines. The latter are much less of a time and emotional investment, but they are also generally of lower quality than full-length books, due to the fact that many writers get their start in Literary Magazines. LitMags are designed more to show you the next new up-and-coming authors; not necessarily, finely-honed professional pieces.

I’m hoping that this time when I’ve gotten into fiction, I’ll be able to put out of my mind the politics of the authors. This is with the hope that I also will be able to put self-judgment out of my mind as I write my own work. A major reason I stopped writing: I had tried to analyze my own writing as I would analyze the writings of anyone else I had read…and I got a rather disturbing picture.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that my analysis was, “true,” or, “fact.” There are always multiple valid ways of interpreting the same text (though the interpretation often says more about the interpreter than the text s/he is interpreting — when both are the same, however…). It means that my then-self-destructive mind was able to weaponize it as something with which, to take me down.

Of course, back then, I was very young. I didn’t know how not to overthink things. I also wasn’t at the age where I could set self-judgment aside for the sake of expression. There’s a point one reaches in one’s life where one realizes that there are always going to be spots in one’s character that one dislikes. That doesn’t mean one should stop living. To do otherwise is perfectionism, and perfect is the enemy of good.

Seriously. That kind of sums up everything of the place I’m at, right now.

So, I’m back into reading, which should help me get back into writing. I’m also back into art; specifically, painting and drawing. I feel…like this is where I’m supposed to be. And it doesn’t have to be a holy calling, like I dreamed it was when I was a youth. It’s just what I’m good at, and what I’m drawn to. It’s what I actually want to do; what I would do if money were not an issue.

When my XML instructor mentioned practicing with XSLT during all of our down time, I knew it was not what I wanted. My free time has been pre-established as creative time. My priority is creativity, not coding.

I don’t want to get into a place where I have to spend my entire life circling around computers, cataloging, classification, indexing, abstracting, coding, technical writing, etc., all of which seem to center around obeying rules. I don’t want the need for money to cause me to forget who I am and stop me from creating.

I don’t want, that is, to become a non-creative person, or to be pushed into that lifestyle because I’m afraid to strike out on my own.

Right now…I’ve just given myself long enough (two weeks) without too much pressure, to see what I really want to do. Of course…I have two classes going. I’m thinking of dropping the nonessential one — the one that ends in three weeks — and foregoing the technical certificate I had planned on obtaining. We’ve been talking at my house about how the threat of death that could come at any time, causes one to think about what one really wants to do with the time they do have.

Apparently, that’s entirely appropriate. My thought is that I don’t want to go out of this world having spent all of my life doing schoolwork; constantly preparing, never putting my skills to use. Even when I’ve gotten the chance not to do schoolwork, I’ve chosen to do it.

But…in reality, I may be better off using my skills at Writing and Art to piece together a living, than becoming an Information Professional. Without a doubt, the return is less. But I might actually be happy in aligning my interests and my activities; as versus compromising my values for the sake of income which I then can’t enjoy, because I’m too busy with my current work and Professional Development to develop my own set of creative skills.

Language. Reading. Art. Writing. Stories. These are themes I see which…I’m relatively motivated around. They’re things I honestly take pleasure in, even with the psychological risks. I’ve realized that if I can boost myself to the point where I am not afraid to make things from my own experience, and to say what I think; to depict what I wish, regardless of whether there is historical precedent; I may be equipped to take this path on. And, possibly, succeed at it.

The only reason I took up a job in the Library (besides the fact that I didn’t want to be constantly told I didn’t belong; little did I know how much the social difficulties of still being constantly automatically slotted would impact me) is that I thought it might encourage me to read, which would encourage me to write.

I still have neither witnessed nor ever taken part in a successful Reader’s Advisory interview. (Not that I didn’t try.) That is…Fiction collections in the Library in which I used to work, are relatively opaque. They never became less so. The best bet I have of getting into the modern literary world, is just to start reading. Middlesex may be as good a place to start, as any.

In this period of release…I realize how fundamental it is to me, to write. I realize I gain intrinsic pleasure from writing, and from painting and drawing — at least, when I do it in my own way. That feeling: of doing something I want to do, that I honestly derive joy from, that I’m better off for after having participated in the work; is missing in my career. I wouldn’t know what I wanted to do, without having extended time away from work…and being able to choose my actions, in reality. I’m aware it’s a privilege that most don’t get.

But this isn’t over, yet. I just need to make my own way. I hear that, as intimidating as it is, it’s not unusual…

art, color, painting, self care

Sleepiness and swatch tests

Aw, man! Okay, so…my sleep schedule is bizarre, but maybe it won’t have to be, for much longer. It looks as if the heat wave has broken. Today the skies were gray instead of orange; that is an improvement. I also had to get out of bed in the middle of the night to change clothes, because it was so cold. Right now I’m writing this from bed in full pajamas, because it’s so cold.

Which is weird, when three days ago it seems like it was over 100° F. Right now, it’s 64° F, outside.

And I’m tired, even though I slept over 12 hours. It could be eye strain — I don’t think I’ve had a change in lens prescription in years. (I had to put off an optometry appointment because of the pandemic.) It could also be related to the smoke, or the fact that I am working at night and sleeping through the morning (although I went to bed before midnight last night, and woke up like it was morning, two hours later. Then I conked out at 3:30 and slept into late afternoon). It could also be because I missed the medication that I take for wakefulness…because I slept until 3:30 PM. That’s kind of a Catch-22, isn’t it?

A photo of four different Daniel Smith paints in various shades of green.
These watercolors are the four swatches in the top right of the immediately following image:

Anyway, my green paints and two new brushes came yesterday! :D I had to limit myself — out of enthusiasm, I have a tendency to overbuy (especially when I can’t see or test what I’m buying)…although now I know that painting is likely a good thing for me.

I have found that art is particularly…what’s the opposite of crazy-making? (“sane-making?”) “grounding?” for me. I’m finding watercolor to be also a relatively rewarding pastime in itself.

For some reason, I’m really into color; I can’t explain why, though…aside from the ability to witness how colors mix and merge. Painting has been an organic outgrowth of drawing, for me. I couldn’t cleanly, densely, and easily mix and dilute colors in drawing (the closest I’ve come to that is with markers), and nor could I have total freedom over the size and shape of my color applicator. That all changes, with painting.

A sheet of paper which contains all watercolor paints I might currently use, along with a freeform painting at the bottom right corner.
The left three columns are what is on my palette right now. Everything else either isn’t, or is a retry at getting a good gradient (or, in the case of French Ultramarine, a comparison with the other Ultramarines).

There’s something about the ability to achieve solid blocks of color and fluid gradients, that I really like. Also, the tactile issue is something that my sibling brought up — which could be why I’m not as drawn to computer art. The above swatches (and the little play painting in the corner) were all done with a Neptune #6 round brush. It’s really soft, and holds a lot of water. It will also soak up water if you dry it out a little before touching it to a pool of extra paint on your paper. For most of these, I was using the belly of the brush, not so much the tip.

I haven’t intentionally altered any of the colors here, though the light coming in the window was so yellowish and dim that I had to turn on overhead lighting today (when I took these photos and swatched out the four new greens in the upper right corner).

Right now I have about 45 colors which I’d consider using (there are some in the photo which are used twice). Of those swatched here, I’d eliminate W&N Mars Black (fifth column, third row) as Holbein Lamp Black (third column, seventh row) is smoother; and M. Graham Scarlet Pyrrol (fifth column, sixth row), as it granulates, and is very close to Winsor Orange – Red Shade (second column, third row).

Generally, I tend to prefer paints that have even dispersion and good flow…there are a number of paints I have which didn’t make it to this sheet, because of weird formulations causing a lack of leveling, or poor flow, or grains where I don’t want them, etc. This is just personal preference, however.

Gah, I’m tired. :) (Maybe I can go to sleep and wake up refreshed in 2-3 hours?)

Oh, right. I wanted to show you the Daniel Smith dot card swatches. The below were done with a very small flat…probably a Robert Simmons’ Sapphire, but I’m not sure and am too tired to look, right now. :) You can probably tell that I was tending to use too little water on my brush, for most of these…

Most of the Daniel Smith dot card set, painted out onto a sheet of paper.
Most of a Daniel Smith dot card (168 dots). I probably painted out more like 120 swatches (talk about tedious. No, I haven’t counted them.) There were four cards in the set, and I worked with approximately three.

I’ve swatched out everything here except for the special colors (like the Duochromes, etc., on the fourth card) and colors which I expressly knew were associated with asbestos (Tiger’s Eye, Burnt Tiger’s Eye [though I believe that in Tiger’s Eye, quartz has replaced the asbestos component], and Serpentine). I did, however, swatch out Kyanite, even though I know it’s fibrous by nature (I am not sure, but I don’t think it’s related to asbestos). I was curious. :)

What I find interesting about a lot of these is that a number of the gem colors (I suspect they’re PrimaTeks) are sparkly — particularly, Sugilite Genuine — though maybe I just got a lucky sample.

If I was going to add to my palette, swatching out both of these was a good idea, to avoid overlaps…a tedious, painstaking, good idea. :) It’s very apparent to me right now that I have a high-key palette going already…so maybe I shouldn’t really worry too much about getting bright colors. (I can always mix them down; there’s also the fact that the paints I’m using often seem to dull as they dry.)

As for the brushes…I ordered two, both Robert Simmons White Sable. One was to replace M’s very old and worn 1/2″ flat, the other was to replace a #8 Robert Simmons Sapphire flat that I killed, somehow. (The ferrule is loose. I only know of one way that would have happened. Never leave your brushes standing in water!)

Okay, I believe…that I am going to sleep now…

art, color, occupational hazards, work, writing

Not getting much done :)

It’s OK. I already have my degree. ;) Actually, though: when I planned on taking two classes for the month of August, I didn’t factor in natural disasters on top of a pandemic. I also didn’t factor in the knowledge that I might figure out what I wanted to do, while I was unemployed.

Yesterday when I woke up (and I woke up several times), the sky was orange, and I had a scattering of ashes all over my computer and desk (only some of which I’ve yet cleaned up). Pretty much nothing got going until after noon, though I was able to initiate Week 1 of XSLT and Week 4 of Vocabulary Design. It just wasn’t enough to hold my attention, however. (It would have been better if I had caught up on Week 3.5 and 4 of XML when I had the surprise week off…)

I do kind of wonder if I should be back in the Visual Arts, though I have to realize that is a dream…which won’t come to fruition, without practice. I would have more time to practice now, except I’m filling that time with building professional job skills to get me out of the service sector (what I’m calling front-line work with the public, although I believe according to some U.S. government sources [I can’t remember the website, unfortunately], all work that isn’t either farming or manufacturing is categorized as “service” work).

What it’s looking like, however, is that I may be in for a future of gig work. That is, I need to get my portfolio completed and online (and updated), because it will likely be key in helping me obtain gainful (and desirable — for me) employment. I should also likely hone my LinkedIn profile, for the same reason. Maybe start a Behance profile, or create an in-depth online portfolio including images and written work, aside from my Library work.


The place I’ve been laid off from, has just opened recruitment for “Librarian” positions…but the thing is, I don’t really want to work there, now. Especially not, now. Basically, the only thing it’s got going for it is that it’s not a long commute (depending on the branch). I realize that my application may be submitted without any effort on my part due to the fact that I was laid off, but seriously:

Like I’ve said, I have OCD and a germ phobia at baseline, and guardedness around the public as a starting point. On top of that, I’m not even very social; I have issues with strangers constantly misrecognizing and underestimating me on sight, which leads to their testing me; and we’re in the middle of a pandemic; and as such, Public Services in a Public Library is not where I want to be. There are too many stressors.

Before I was laid off, I was losing weight due to stress. Losing weight isn’t necessarily a bad thing; especially in my case where I have medication-induced weight gain; but when it’s for the wrong reasons and uncontrolled, it is a physical indicator that something needs to change. That it’s not just mental anymore. And it’s not fake. My job (was) physically making me sick. That, with more power and responsibility, doesn’t look good for anyone.

Though I guess I can just say that, if I get called in for an interview. It’s not a good fit. In fact, it’s a terrible fit. I don’t like being expected to care for and about people who disrespect me (by the people who disrespect me), and disrespect (at times ramping up to abuse) occurs on a daily basis in Public Libraries. At some point I’m led to wonder if I was a time bomb in that situation, waiting for someone to say something in precisely the wrong way at precisely the wrong time, which could tempt me to lash out — not just because of what they said, but because of my entire history and set of stresses, leading up to that point. (My awareness of the fact that others are ignorant of my situation, and that they don’t deserve to be punished for a lifetime of other people’s slights, has prevented a number of these incidents.)

And no, no one expects that from me, because I’m female, hence they label me as a “girl” and think I would never get to the point of violence against anyone but myself. My problem (and it is my problem) is that I have layers of accumulated rage around people constantly assuming I am someone I’m not. And sometimes it has to get to the level of my protective facade cracking for them to see that they’re wrong, and that they need to back off.

That’s too far, for me. I don’t like being in that place.

The problem I have here is that my alternative is hormone therapy which will gradually cause me to appear more male (or, alternatively, suddenly more male). The problem is that there’s only one other safe option, and it still doesn’t fit. I’d be satisfied if people could just stop seeing me as a body or role, and approach me as a human. But that seems beyond the grasp of most people.

If I do have a masculine gender identity, which I’m in no way sure about, it’s based more in what I see in the natural world than anything I’ve seen in this culture. Suddenly appearing male also comes with its own set of stigmas and dangers, especially because my skin is dark and because I’m not a typical (heteronormative) man; and both of those things, tend to threaten people (though at this moment, I’m kind of wondering if women threaten, “people”, and that’s why it seems so important all the time to reduce them to their bodies).

This is to the point that I have a hard time seeing myself as a man, at all — though I tried to, at one time. The thing that I share with (most) men is that constantly being seen as a woman isn’t something I want, and that could escalate out of control; given the fact that most of reality insists on seeing me as a woman. Which is, in fact, why I write: disembodied text doesn’t carry the same social cues.

I suppose that is what I gleaned from my time as a Library Assistant. No more public service. At least, if I can help it. If my housing and food depend on it, I can do it. Like, if I’ll be homeless otherwise, I’ll take Public Service. But it won’t make me happy.

Yeah, I didn’t intend to get into that. Anyhow…the art thing…and the writing, thing. Right.

(I go into some of this stuff with you all because I wouldn’t be able to function as a writer, without being honest with myself and with you. Thank you for putting up with it.) ;)


Right now, I’m intending to look for an alternative to Aureolin. This is cobalt yellow, a fairly toxic pigment by ingestion. This concerns me now because I keep noticing myself accidentally dropping water into the carpet when changing out water or washing brushes. I’ve lived with carpet long enough to know that not all of that comes out, and that it might only start to come out, with shampooing.

In any case…today I went back to my palette and swatched out everything that was on there, plus everything I intended to use, that wasn’t. (There are a number of paints which I’ve found inferior to what I’ve decided to utilize, including several different Viridians and Prussian Blues, plus a granulating Pyrrol color [it’s either Scarlet Pyrrol or Pyrrol Scarlet, which are two different colors in two different product lines].) Cobalt colors…I would say I have a love/hate relationship with them, but really, it’s just Aureolin that I have some misgivings with, at the moment.

There are several other cobalt colors, including Cobalt Blue, Cerulean, Cerulean Blue Chromium (you don’t want to eat Chromium, either), Cobalt Teal, Cobalt Turquoise, Cobalt Turquoise Light, Cobalt Violet, Cobalt Blue/Violet, Cobalt Yellow, etc.

How they got a yellow out of that, I don’t know; what I do know is that on top of its toxicity, Aureolin is rumored to discolor over time (which was proven over on handprint [check out PY40, which is Aureolin’s (not Aureolin Hue’s) pigment number]).

The reason I even have it on my palette is that it was required for my Beginning Watercolor class, as a green-leaning yellow. Once I had been initially exposed to it (transdermally, and this in the effort to avoid touching it [my glove got wrapped around the tube, which spread the seeping paint all over the tube: I didn’t realize it until taking off the glove to try to remove the jammed lid with my bare hands — and I was in the field]), it didn’t seem like a big deal to keep it on the palette, and I already knew how to mix with it. However, basically everything else I have, appears safer than Aureolin.

Of course, that’s only apparently.

I am actually fairly interested in color families which I see over and over again at this point, like the Pyrrols and Perinones and Ultramarines and Hansas, etc. (I found an Ultramarine Pink and Ultramarine Violet Deep from M. Graham which are…fairly gorgeous, even though the violet would compete with Dioxazine Violet. The major difference I see right off is that Ultramarine Violet Deep has less tinting strength and is a more delicate pigment, in general [think, “fringed gentian,” though a little pinker]…whereas Dioxazine Violet can easily overpower the rest of a painting.)

I am also curious about the Cadmiums (apparently, there’s now a “Cadmium Green”; looks like a bunch of convenience mixtures), but if you’ve followed me for any length of time, you probably know that I know (and have been concerned) about cadmium poisoning: it’s not pretty. I did read about it recently in Toxic Archipelago by Brett L. Walker, a book about industrial poisoning in the Tokugawa and Meiji eras in Japan, after having accidentally run across the Wikipedia article on itai-itai (which freaked me out a bit), and having found limited English-language resources about it, online (I believe one of them was a map of the Jinzu River Basin?).

My major issue here was about not being required to use Cadmium pigments in my painting classes, as soluble cadmium salts can be absorbed transdermally. The trick, for me at least, seems to be finding insoluble salts that I won’t absorb, and can wash off of my hands. Not that I’ve tried, yet…

Chapter 4 of Toxic Archipelago, Engineering Pain in the Jinzu River Basin, focuses on cadmium poisoning. (Most copies I’ve found of this book are e-books. I don’t know why [and the e-book version of this on Amazon costs more than the printed one] — but searching WorldCat, you may be able to find a copy close to you. Note that I can’t be responsible if you get sick from a library book [although I believe most libraries are quarantining items to wait for any COVID-19 to die]. Just saying…)

What I learned from reading this is that there were a number of concomitant factors involved in the genesis of itai-itai byou (lit. “it hurts-it hurts disease,” the Japanese name for cadmium poisoning) including Vitamin D deficiency and large numbers of childbirths (most who contracted it were older women [e.g. postmenopausal] who had a lot of children and shaded themselves from the sun). This contributed to osteoporosis and osteomalacia. So I am aware now that I probably don’t have to worry so much about contracting itai-itai itself, but Cadmium is still a heavy metal, toxic, bioaccumulative, and a carcinogen…not great, but not necessarily a death sentence to use.

That being said, I know a lot of artists who have been through battles with cancer, and who have known other artists who have had cancer.

Also, some of the newer pigment families (e.g. Hansas, Pyrrols) were specifically created to be less toxic, to the best of my knowledge.

In any case…Hansa Yellow Light is radiant and gorgeous (this is M. Graham’s “Hansa Yellow” I’m using; check out PY3 on handprint), and I’m thinking of using that plus the Green Golds (there are at least two formulations of this: Winsor & Newton’s “Green Gold” (PY129) approximates Daniel Smith’s “Rich Green Gold” (PY 129) [DS’s regular “Green Gold” is something I’ve never seen before]), in order to brighten greens. I had some success with that, tonight…and according to a tiny bit of research and experimentation, it looks like I’m on the right track.

Hey, maybe I don’t need to replace Aureolin. I could use these three, instead.

Having done all this work, it’s fairly obvious which paints I would really want to get from the Daniel Smith lineup. Things that would be difficult to mix, for which I don’t have a lot of representation. There are some really nice earth tones, in particular.

I’ve read that a number of other companies (Schmincke Horadam, Winsor & Newton, Sennelier, Da Vinci) sell dot-card sets, but I think I’ve done enough dot cards, for now!

The other thing I’m thinking of is re-introducing Holbein Isoindolinone Yellow (PY110) to my palette; I had begun to use Daniel Smith Permanent Yellow Deep (PY110), but…it’s actually duller than the Holbein! (I had heard things about brush-handling qualities of Holbein watercolors as versus basically all the other major brands, which drew me to remove it from use…but it’s cleaner and brighter.)


The other thing…writing. Right. If I’m going to be a writer, it would help to decide what to write about...which…well, it’s obvious that I’ve got something right here in this post, but it’s difficult to see as though I stood outside of myself. I don’t have a lot of people to bounce this off of (I get misread a lot, even by friends, because I’m not forthcoming about things they do or concepts they have, which I perceive as wrong — even when it comes to my self-definition and my privileges to define what does and does not happen within my own house. So I just end up not dealing with them, and not inviting them over).

There’s the opportunity to write about art at the same time as I practice art, which would enable me to double-task the artwork! Then again, I took up Librarianship because I wanted to double-task my reading, and we see where that ended up. :) I neglected ten years ago to see that Librarianship was about people, not about books.

If I did want to be all about books, Writing basically requires extensive knowledge of the field one writes within, and it’s said (like Art) to be lonely work, though I’m well-suited to that. (Editing, on the other hand, is said to be interpersonally intensive.) Cataloging is also apparently a fairly solitary activity, though it would seem…technical, I guess.

(For me, “technical” is better than “social”…)

I’ve got a long way to go if I want to be a professional illustrator or artist, but I think I do have an angle on things that is not-mainstream, and which is valuable.

I wonder what would happen if I created, and successfully published, a graphic novel, or an illustrated book?

art, comics, creativity, psychology, self care, spirituality

Another heat wave. Stationery, art, and metaphysics?

I’ve been largely offline for a couple of days, and that’s due to another heat wave passing through the area. When I associate the computer with work (or back pain…or ill health from being sedentary), it tends to cause me to find reasons not to be on the computer.

Over the long term, this is probably an important self-preservation skill, as regards my physical and mental well-being, but in the short term it means that things either go unlogged, or they get logged in hard copy, which is (understandably) harder to scan for content. Hyperlinks help.


If you don’t want to read about stationery, hop on down to the separator bar, below.

Right now I’m on page 115 of 160 in my journal, and have found myself wanting to finish it. After having tried a number of different brands, I found one I really like using: it’s an 80-leaf A5 Kokuyo Soft Ring notebook. The squishable spine (allowing one to lay their hand flat on the pages) may be a gimmick, but it’s a nice one.

This notebook is very good at avoiding bleedthrough of fountain pen ink, the words on the other side of the page don’t show through to a distracting degree, the paper feels nice under fountain pens (I say this even though my first fountain pen [a Pilot Metropolitan] is still my favorite one), and 80 leaves at an A5 size means that the page divisions suit the length of time I can tolerate writing (clearly) by hand.

The one thing I don’t like about this notebook is that my Pilot Iroshizuku inks tend to smear even after they have dried. I am not certain why this is, but I think it has to do with a coating on the pages.

I’ve also found that the one Noodler’s ink I’m using (Black Swan in Australian Roses [BSAR]) has a hard time drying and needs to be blotted. It also doesn’t show the black tone of the ink very well in this notebook — BSAR’s black component (it’s pink with black overtones) shows up much better on cheaper paper — but this may be due to the formulation of the ink. I’ve had BSAR in a Broad Kaweco Sport for months, and it hasn’t dried out or needed to be refilled even with rare use, which I find curious. I’m not sure if it has to do with the quality of the seal on the Sport, or if it has to do with something in the ink preventing it from evaporating.

Also, though: Iroshizuku’s Yama-Budo competes directly with BSAR; they’re very minorly different in appearance, but apparently not so in formulation. Yama-Budo is, to my eye, a reddish purple; just a little more purple than BSAR. Yama-Budo also doesn’t have the weird drying-time issue, but BSAR might be more permanent if accidentally re-wet. (I’m not sure: haven’t done the test for myself, yet.)

Two other notebooks I enjoy using are the Maruman SeptCouleur and the Maruman Mnemosyne (although I’ve only tried writing in their dot grid layout, so far. I have purchased a lined version, but don’t yet know if I like it: there’s some possibly culturally-specific stuff going on with dividing a B5-size page up into thirds).

I’ve also tried Kyokuto (the Expedient and their F.O.B Coop), but I wouldn’t put anything too…important, in there. The Expedient has issues with bleedthrough of my fountain pens, although I do still really like the Expedient’s dot grid, which falls back enough visually not to worry me. Looking back on it, the Expedient performed well with gel pens (I was using it as a Bullet Journal in grad school) — it’s just not great with the fluid inks I’m using.

These are largely Pilot Iroshizuku inks, some Sailor Shikiori inks, and that one Noodler’s (BSAR), with the Shikiori and Noodler’s reserved for non-Pilot pens (sometimes Pilot pens are only recommended to be used with Pilot inks). I did try out Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts briefly, before I read/saw that it can gel up inside one’s pen. That didn’t happen to me, but 54th Massachusetts gave me problems with nib creep (on a Noodler’s Ahab, no less) and bleedthrough on my pages. (Nib creep is what happens when ink seeps out of the nib when you aren’t using it, and seems to want to cover the nib, of its own accord. I found weird buildup under the nib when I disassembled and cleaned the pen out. Later, I used the same pen with both Shikiori Souten and Nioi-Sumire inks. No issues.)

The F.O.B Coop notebook I have is a Cross-Grid layout, which is basically like a dot grid but with little + and × marks instead of dots. I wouldn’t recommend it except for broad, flex, and stub nibs; otherwise, the crosses distract (me) from the text. Combine that with the fact that I often can see the writing on the back of the page (though never a full bleedthrough, even when I accidentally dropped a bunch of Sailor Shikiori Yodaki ink onto the paper), and that for legibility I need to double-space on this paper (5mm spacing isn’t quite wide enough to give my eye space to rest between lines); and the situation gets a little busy and ugly for my tastes. (I don’t know, however, how this paper would fare if someone were writing in a language that uses a grid rather than lines. I can see the use for the extra crosses, for example, in learning how to write kanji.)

I much prefer the paper in the Kokuyo Soft Ring notebooks (which, in my version, include tiny marks on the lines which give one a sense of space, somewhat like tab stops every 6mm) although I wonder what uses the Cross-Grid can be put to. For example, I could see the Cross-Grid being useful in modeling page layout. The pages really aren’t designed to be torn out for reproduction, however. Neither are the Kyokuto Expedient pages. The Kokuyo Soft Ring and the Maruman Septcouleur notebook pages do have tear lines; so do the Maruman Mnemosyne notebook pages.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to get into international stationery. Hmm.

Disclaimer: I bought all of these items with my own funds, I do not represent anyone but myself, and I am not materially gaining anything (no kickbacks, etc.) by writing this.


I’ve been working with a lot of paper. Particularly, journals (including an art journal and a sketchbook I recently decided to use again), books, and watercolor paper. I’ve been going through books focused around art on my bookshelf, which I initially intended to read, and didn’t get around to.

Today — well, yesterday, Sunday — I woke up at 5:30 AM after a few hours of sleep. I don’t entirely remember what I was doing, but I do know that for a portion of that time, I was drawing (because I have the drawings). If my memory is correct, I could have been going through the art books I mentioned, to try and glean what each was about…but I honestly don’t recall if I did that before or after I slept.

I’ve decided to just go ahead and mark these books up. Someone at Goodwill will appreciate them after I’m done (generally speaking, writing in a book greatly decreases its resale value).

The day before that — I think it was Saturday — I did complete painting out the vast majority of the Daniel Smith dot cards I got, however long ago. That was a chore. I probably should have stopped at some point, but I was like, “I only have one more card to go!” Same thing I do with books.

So, generally speaking, I’m succeeding in incorporating more things that I actually want to do, into my life. Making art, learning Japanese language, journaling, reading.

There have been issues coming up from my reading about learning to be stifled (to put it shortly), when creativity is an overall human trait. I’ve been thinking about the necessity of “play,” in, “art,” the freedom kids have in making art, how most of us lose that as we age; and how I’ve found artists and artwork to be generally undervalued. I’m wondering if this is because artists are expected to explain their worth and what they do in verbal language, to which the portion of the brain involved in creating art, has no access.

For that matter, a number of references have come up to learning, “the rules of art,” with one author (a social psychologist and artist) saying we’re better off if we don’t know them and hence aren’t restricted by them; while to others (this was likely an art critic and not an artist), art can’t even be art if no one interacts with it. So on one hand you’ve got Outsider Art, on the other…someone I don’t want to be like, but then there is the constant question of What Art Is, which is the title of a book on the philosophy of Art I picked up, quite a while ago.

I’m guessing I take what works, and leave the rest.

I’ve also begun to look into the books from the bibliography of Rethinking Information Work. They aren’t that great (without discarding 92% of what the book says because I either already know it or it doesn’t apply to me)…with the exception of Jump-Start Your Career as a Digital Librarian. I guess that’s what happens when you’ve been through decades of introspection and therapy and counseling. You kind of end up knowing yourself better than some random book that wasn’t intended for you, does.

And…yes. I know I want to learn Japanese language, and I know I want to create art. The two are likely linked in that I find fulfillment in creating and decoding texts, and Japanese language — in text — is partially ideographic, which may be triggering a part of my brain that hasn’t been used. (That is, when I write using kanji, I am also writing in pictures, not just sounds. The same could be said of my sketches, my past “comics,” and my art.)

Cataloging, Classification, and Metadata are more like logic puzzles. They stimulate a part of my brain which is already very strong — my analytical and verbal skills. I am not sure if I would have chosen Librarianship as a career without the influence of my Vocational program, but I’m here now, and there are ways forward from this. One of these is Translation; one is Editing, one is Writing. And, of course, there are Library Technical Services, and/or working for a Library Vendor or Aggregator, or otherwise within the Publishing industry.

What I’m learning to do is compartmentalize the times when I deal with rules (as in my career), and the times when I know I can choose my own rules (as in my creating).

I haven’t scanned or photographed anything for a few days, but I’m learning not to become ashamed when my art is comic-style art (and hence to try and do things more realistically); or when my drawings don’t resemble reality. That’s possibly a good thing. It means I’m being inventive. It doesn’t mean I need to be different, to change who I am and what comes out of me, because other people have personal issues with the genres my style is associated with.

I’m not normally a person who deals in faith, but that doesn’t mean I won’t consider an idea that could help me. One of those ideas is that I did not come into being in order to reify what I see around me. My creativity was not given to me so that I could copy my surroundings. I have something to contribute, even if finding it is akin to asking a fish to recognize water.

What I believe isn’t necessarily true. I see the validity in that statement by looking at everyone else and then finding my commonality with, “everyone else.” So there really isn’t harm, not now for me, at least, to try on the provisional belief that maybe I have a soul. Even if I can’t understand the workings of the universe with my primate brain, that doesn’t mean that things are as bad as they seem. I got here once. The Universe provided me with a life.

In a system I can’t control and don’t understand, maybe just trusting — myself, the Universe, and if there is anything Divine, the Divine — will help me through. At least, through this method of creation.

Could it hurt? I mean, with discernment: could it hurt?

art, color, drawing

In the middle of the night…

I suppose that once you photograph a pencil drawing, it does show you where you could have stood to use a harder lead…note that the version of the drawing I’ve posted here is a PNG. It’s going to look bizarre if you download it, as I edited out the background in order to make the background match the background of this blog. (It even looks bizarre on my machine, if I try to look at it as a standalone file.)

It could be worth it to me, to enhance the original file and then retry the process I underwent to select and then paste the image information…

Last night I realized I couldn’t sleep, even though I had gone to bed early enough. I had been thinking about the last painting I did and how it reminded me of a cave with water. That, in turn, reminded me of cenotes, which are water-filled sinkholes — limestone caves with caved-in skylights — which occur in the rainforests of Mexico.

Drawing from within a cenote, or underground lake, within a limestone cave. Green vines drop from the skylight, and stalactites hang from the darkness on the right.
This really wants color.

From what I know, these have been known to be gates to the underworld. It’s not the same thing as a Hell, as the other world isn’t necessarily a site of suffering. Because of their association with the underworld, though (and likely also because their mythos of reference is not Christian), they are rumored to have been places of human sacrifice. They also seem to have served as sources of clean (fresh?) water.

The eerie thing about cenotes — aside from the otherworldly blue color they often have — is that they tend to be very, very clear and beautiful. From the surface, they’re basically holes in the ground into which one can disappear into if one isn’t careful. The underground lakes are connected through underground waterways which people are known to have perished in while exploring.

Basically, since the caves are limestone, they have been dissolved away by the rain. The edges of the skylights can harbor hanging gardens; even sometimes, waterfalls.

If I were to re-learn Spanish, researching the cenotes and their Mesoamerican connections would be among my strongest reasons.

I came up with this design while thinking of what I saw in the painting I did the other night. I made a simple sketch in my sleep journal, then got up and sketched the whole thing out in a Wet Media sketchbook with Hi-Uni soft graphite pencils. (Mostly, the very soft ones.) It’s not the same as it is in my mind, without color.

The water should be a Cobalt Turquoise Light, with greenery hanging down from the top, the sunlight filtering through the closer vines; then the cave itself is white with a glowing bluish cast from the lit portion of the water, and whitish reflections on its roof (lifted paint?) from the surface of the water, and shadows setting off whitish/yellow stalactites and stalagmites.

I’m not certain of next steps as regards watercolor — planning the layers may take some work — but having this quick sketch should help. (I had intended just to sketch various thumbnails, but I got a full-size drawing out of this!)

Right now, I’m trying to break out of realism and back into imagination…I’m unsure to what extent I will or won’t use visual references. Reflected light off of water, I clearly need to research; but types of plants? Photos from within cenotes (even though my composition seems fine right now)? What got me to this point last night was really being inspired by a watercolor book I seem to have last used, several years ago (if the bookmark is any indication)…

art, color, painting

“Living Water.” Abstract.

Okay. I’m so wiped out that I’m not sure what I’ve been doing since I woke up…anyhow, this is a non-adjusted image of what I was doing, last night. I’m kind of surprised the purple dropped back as much as it did, in this photo.

Abstract watercolor painting in blue, yellow, and violet.

As mentioned in my last post, I need to find ways of producing more intense deep greens. I started this painting out planning on a mostly subdued palette of Ultramarine and earth tones (Raw Umber, Yellow Ochre), but then Prussian Blue snuck in there, and Dioxazine Violet, and they helped so much that it just kind of spiraled. I even ended up highlighting with Hansa Yellow, at the end. I think that the yellow here is mostly Isoindolinone Deep (which has orange tones which dulled out the greens), but I’m not sure. I’m kind of too tired to verify it.

At various times while I was working on this, I found myself seeing a tornado, then the inside of a cave looking out towards the sunlight, then a scorpion’s tail throwing a ball of water.

No, I don’t know how much my current reading (Bad Water, by Robert Stolz; I wouldn’t recommend it at this time, it’s mostly about politics) is influencing this.

I know I should have 2.5 more hours of natural light, but I think I’m going back to sleep. :) It’s not like I have to go to work, tomorrow…