creativity, personal

Imagining pretty things = precursor to making them.

It’s another Thursday night, and I can finally say that I did, in fact, make it out to that art store. Mainly, the reason to go was for inspiration, though I found a new brand of linoleum cutters that I’m trying out, and was able to replace my worn Speedball blades. I know now not to use them on hard linoleum, which I didn’t, before. (According to web research, linoleum can have stone powder in it, which is probably what destroyed my X-Acto and Speedball blades. There is also soft linoleum, though, which is what I tested these blades on, tonight.)

As regards those Speedball blades: the handle (I’m using the red version; there’s also a blue one) needs some tweaking to get things in and out cleanly. Basically, the collet unscrews and that loosens a slot that a blade can fit into (on only one side). What’s weird is that loosening the collet to take the blade out doesn’t always do the job; sometimes the blade needs to be rotated in the collet to disengage. That’s not entirely safe, especially with the double-edged knife that got stuck tonight for some reason. I don’t know why, but I do know that I’ve had trouble with that handle from the beginning — maybe it just takes a little experience to use.

But yeah, I was able to pick up a set of replacement blades for not too much, and was really happy with them, when I got them home. I didn’t see any replacement blades for the X-Acto linoleum carving set.

Tonight I began drawing, again. I intended to design a new linocut, but things quickly moved away from that as I began adding (imagined) colors to the intended design. The deal with that is that each new color (aside from gradations), in a block print, necessitates a different block, or at least a different impression. What I’ve got is interesting, though a little busy. I’m fighting the urge to simplify my lines, meaning that I’ve got a lot of stuff that looks like old-style fire or ki.

I’m also trying to finish the Borden & Riley Vellum that I got a really long time ago, because I’ve used all but two sheets in the pad. It doesn’t make sense to hang onto the last two, especially considering how inexpensive B&R paper is. By accident, I got a duplicate pad of Fabriano hot-press watercolor paper, today. Luckily, this means that I don’t have to feel under pressure to make “good” art on it; though it is only 25% cotton. (Most archival-quality watercolor paper is 100% cotton; the lignin in wood pulp causes acidification of the paper, which can cause eventual color change.)

And, I suppose, I could even start out with grisaille sketches again, if I wanted to. Grisaille is basically a term for “greyscale;” it allows one to isolate, compare and adjust values (lightness or darkness) in an image, prior to making a color version. I have Lamp Black watercolor (not to mention, black ink — though I wouldn’t use waterproof ink with delicate brushes — I hear pen cleaner is harsh on them), and I know these types of studies aren’t hard. I might want to tackle that in the near future!

Which reminds me now that I have dip pens and new brushes to try out…I got them a long time ago, and didn’t have the time to devote to using them at all.

I’ve been collecting things to draw for years, too (this being why I have a bunch of the plants that I have, which reminds me that I still need to repot the Dwarf Umbrella plant), so I shouldn’t have a hard time finding a subject. What jumps to mind at first are shells, and my mineral collection, though I’ve also used jewelry. Scarves, maybe combined with jewelry, could be a more advanced study (fabric is notoriously hard to render in painting and drawing). I also have some trinkets and a vase and a pine cone…I really have been collecting stuff, haven’t I?

Yeah, I do have a lot of stuff to make images out of! My poor plants, though. They aren’t in the greatest of health, and that’s majorly because they’re indoors. Particularly, the succulents need more light, but with the amount they need, I would have to put them outside. Given how well the little one in the crack in the front yard is doing (which is basically a weed now), they would probably be okay as regards water; but I also like having them around, too.

The Dwarf Maidenhair Fern is still…ugh. I mean, seriously, I’ve looked up Maidenhair Ferns online and found them referred to as “The Diva of Houseplants,” from more sources than I care to list, though how many of them are copies of each other, I also don’t care to verify… The fact that I have the one I do is basically my own fault, though, because I have a thing for Maidenhair Ferns. When they’re healthy, they’re beautiful. The issue is that they need constant watering and misting and high humidity and don’t tolerate much of anything well (except shade).

My house isn’t cold, dark and damp, so of course the fern isn’t happy. On the other end, we’ve got my hardy Dwarf Umbrella plant, which needs watering once in a while and some light, and it’s happy (though while I was sick, I forgot to water it, and it nearly died).

Luckily…I don’t yet have pets. If I did, I would have to be more vigilant, though I do have a dream of getting two or three guppies. For some reason, I really like guppies–! The fact that they’re also hardy is very good; the major issue is what to do if we end up moving, or where to put the aquarium. See, if I had an aquarium, I could put the fern near it, and that would likely make it humid enough for them.

I also have recurring dreams of having fish that I’ve forgotten about which have died of starvation, though, which is not that encouraging. However, I’ve gotten a lot better about routine essential things…particularly sleep, medication, and caring for the plants. My folks wouldn’t have given me an aquarium unless the plants stayed alive. Right now, though…I wonder just about having an aquarium with aquatic plants in it. I think I would like to have fish in there, who would be able to complete the cycle of food to poop to plant to clean water; but it’s a monetary and care commitment, not to mention what would happen if there were a major earthquake.

Of course…I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve lived through a number of major earthquakes. I wouldn’t call it PTSD, but I once in a while think to myself about what would happen if an earthquake occurred now. This is probably just a survival thing, because it happens more frequently than any major earthquake occurs. But I do know that it’s scary to be in a house with a full aquarium when the ground is rolling — both for the fish and for me. If it weren’t a practical awareness with a practical use, I’d call it anxiety, but it’s probably a good anxiety to have (to a degree).

Of course, though, there is also the anxiety of being far from home…which relates to my job search. Particularly…in a natural disaster, I might be called in to work, and in a disaster like Loma Prieta, which knocked out a major bridge, tunnel, and freeway leading to the Peninsula, it might take a very long time to get there (while my house might be in danger of burning down).

The practical thing is to move closer to work; but housing prices are exorbitant in this area, and there’s the question of what I would do if I lost my job.

Maybe I can just make a terrarium, eh? Put a little Venus Flytrap in there and some soil and rocks and lights, or something. A fern might like that…the only question is how to avoid steaminess in there, or the eventual development of mold.

Maybe I should read up on it.

Right now, it’s become Friday morning…I should probably do something like sleep (though I accidentally fell asleep, right before dinner). Tomorrow, I need to work on my Dewey unit…hmm. I know it was suggested that we see the Pikachu movie then, but I think that with everything going on — to be responsible, I should at least start my next unit (I haven’t touched it, so far). I only have until Monday, to get it done.

The biggest pain with that is actually taking notes. I don’t mind the reading or watching videos; the annoying thing is trying to guess what information is important, and trying to recall it. I could have done that instead of writing this…but I didn’t want to.

creativity, drawing, fine arts, painting, self care

Moving forward: arts.

I was actually able to visit an art store today, and not buy anything for myself. We’re planning on going out again, tomorrow, to a different art supply place…I’m kind of excited, though I look back on my own work and wonder if it is too naive. That’s not a thing I should be asking, though.

The thing is…I’ve done a lot of work with colored pencils, fineliners, and had begun to break into watercolor (with colored pencil and fineliner) by the time I was done with my community-college stint. I have a tendency to have a tight style, as evinced by my colored pencil work, and some of the sketches I made when younger, done in mechanical pencil (yes, with shading and all — I was not one to let a tiny point of contact, or monochrome drawing materials, stop me from making nice art).

I am thinking that trying to move away from the relatively tight style I’ve been to some degree stuck in, is counterproductive to getting (any) artwork done. Maybe, like I mentioned not so long ago, I need to stop letting other peoples’ judgments as to what I do, influence what I do (or don’t do). I may have really loved the art teachers who tried to get me to work more loosely, but that doesn’t mean that it’s particularly right (for me) to work more loosely, even if it’s right (for them).

For that matter, I could be overestimating my own tightness.

I suppose it depends on the media, as well — it’s much harder to be exact in acrylics or gouache or pastel, than it is in transparent watercolor or colored pencil (or marker, depending on its tip). I need to qualify that: it’s relatively easy to control what areas will get color, in watercolor; but not where that color flows, when working in certain manners (like wet-into-wet, or in washes).

Right now I have a family member who is getting into artist coloring books, and it’s reminded me of my kind of journey from dealing with coloring books as a little kid, through drawing and refining my own outlined images, and adding my own color to them. Right when I got my AA, I was starting to do work on my own that did not have dark outlining, though it was reserved for out-of-focus areas. Now, when I look at the prime example of this, I realize that the out-of-focus, complex area with no lines and defined by hue (color), and value (lightness or darkness) heavily contributes to the balance of the piece.

In fact, it does have lines: they’re just extremely light pencil lines (2H, if I’m right), which are nearly invisible in the finished painting.

I know that in school, it was discouraged for us to make drawings or paintings which were like coloring books…as for why, that may have been more about my teacher than about me. Kind of like the insistence on painting the border of the canvas. I didn’t care, and still don’t; and I have a right not to care, and also a right to never do it again (though I probably will — when I want to or when it matters).

But if I can encourage my family member to draw or paint or color just because they want to, why would I discourage myself for doing something beyond it? It’s too naive? No one should make art like that?

I haven’t seriously drawn or painted (more than design sketches, anyway) in quite a long time. Having been to the art store reminds me of all the image-making stuff I’ve put away because I don’t feel like I’m doing it “right”. But what is “right”? Whatever way I’m not doing it?

Maybe this is more about me than it is about people inferring I’m not doing things right (or not doing things the way they would do them).

For that matter…I know I have been discouraged from painting from photographs. I understand why, now: having an image pre-made for you discourages you from “altering” it or from interpreting things your own way, without a frozen reference. However…there are times when taking a picture is actually a good thing. It’s possible to get large images of small things with a camera. It’s not easy to do that using your eyes alone, especially when you would have to zoom in to two inches away from your subject, upside-down and at an angle, to get into proper viewing position to reference your painting.

And, right, you would have to buy the miniature rose.

I do gravitate toward (relatively) large images of small things.

For that matter, I’ve gravitated towards images of weeds, wild plants, peppers, chiles, onions, and tomatillos, in addition to succulents and flowers — tiny flowers, mostly.

No, I don’t know why, except they have nice colors and interesting forms (also, who expects an Anaheim pepper to show up in a still-life). Now that I think of it, it’s been rare for me to want to draw something large — the plaza in Japantown, and botanical gardens (landscape), being exceptions.

There are some plants in bloom here that I just noticed, today. One of them, I really love — it’s this overarching plant with big yellow blossoms — but it is usually full of bees. I’m not sure I want to stay under it, for too long. There’s another time a camera would save me.

My energy is waning, so I’ll sign off, here. I am thinking that I may work on some images, though I am still working on that last necklace, too. Maybe a change of pace is good?