beadwork, craft, creativity, design, fashion design

Switching modes…is difficult.

As is making even not-so-difficult decisions about whether to accept an interview (for a temporary position) offered by HR. The HR that let me go, after 10 years of service. That HR.

Then there is my Vocational program assuming that I’ll either be in college or working…when right now I’m re-evaluating my life and what I want to do with it (a.k.a. finding reasons to stay alive — which is important)…which doesn’t quite involve them.

And then there is University, which I’m only in to get an inroad into a job I may actually be able to tolerate long-term, where we’ve entered the end phase of tons of group work and have stopped communicating. I want to ask when we will get started…

Then there is my personal life, which is beginning to turn over into creative work: particularly, sewing and beadwork. I’ve gotten enough together that I could make a good return beading…though I wonder, at this point, if I would be willing to sell patterns as well as (or instead of) finished objects.

The major issue with either is that many beadwork patterns are easy to deconstruct, if you know what you’re doing…and I’d venture to say that all can be replicated, with the right skill set. But I have bought some self-published books that are as good as, or better than, books coming from the major publishers…which would be Kalmbach, Interweave, and Lark Crafts, for beadwork.

There are some decent books from other publishers, too, but as we move from craft domain to domain — the publishers change. The people who publish books on silversmithing might not be into bead knitting, for example. So far as I can see, those are totally different market segments, with different motivations, different investments, and different levels of familiarity with different technologies. But both of them can make a bracelet.

Beadwork (often) entails a love of color, while hot metalwork entails a love of form and fire (and is relatively starved of color work, in my experience — with the exception of enameling, and working with brass and copper [which also technically fall under “silversmithing”, as non-ferrous metalworking which is not goldsmithing]).

I would only expect the love of color and texture to be magnified in bead knitting, which is kind of a hybrid between straight-out beadwork and the tactile and meditative pleasures of knitting…but I haven’t yet tried it. I do have a set of Size 1 knitting needles now, though. I also know a couple of places where I can get (heavyweight) spooled silk beading thread.

The thing is, to do this, you have to have interest and skill in knitting, which is an area I touch on tangentially, not fully. Lacemaking is another area I’m touching on, specifically with tatting — because I could see its application in craft jewelry.

A while back, I taught myself shuttle tatting, though that’s harder to do in a jewelry context than needle tatting. I started working with the latter just recently to see what I could do, without having to wind a shuttle to the middle of the work. Right now, I know I can make button loops with C-Lon Standard (TEX 210) and the heavyweight C-Lon TEX 400. This is with Sizes #5 and #3 tatting needles, respectively.

The resulting buttonholes are large, round, and relatively stiff…not that much of an improvement over making my own toggles out of glass seed beads (which I’m always afraid will crush or chip [after having heard the squeal of Mother-of-Pearl against glass]), but definitely more finished-appearing than a braided loop.

Using anything finer than TEX 210 and 400 basically requires using a shuttle…the needles I’ve been using (Handy Hands) just aren’t the right diameter. In shuttle tatting, you’re wrapping the thread around another loop of thread; in needle tatting, you’re wrapping it around the needle, which may not be the same diameter as the thread. With something like C-Lon, which doesn’t have a lot of stretch, that means it’s hard, with finer diameters, to slide the knots off of the needle and onto the thread itself.

It makes sense now, intuitively, as to why the heavier diameters would be easier to use: you get a lot more wiggle room in relation to the size of the cord. The cord is also harder to flex to create the double knots, which gives extra space next to the needle.

C-Lon Micro (TEX 70), for example…doesn’t work well with any of the needles I have, as it catches at the eye of the most appropriate-sized tatting needle. It will, however, work with a shuttle. C-Lon Fine (TEX 135) also doesn’t work with any of my needles. Either the needle is too wide (causing a “scrunchie effect” once completed), or I can’t fit the thread through the needle’s eye.

I have also tried working with Milliner’s needles, prior to having broken down and bought the Tatting needles: it works, but I question if they’re long enough. (Milliner’s needles are also much sharper, so you have to be careful not to scratch or stab yourself when forming the hitches.)

If I hadn’t tried this, I’d still be thinking of the possibility, but not the reality, of using tatting to form buttonholes for clasps. I still can do it, but the possibility is now limited, in my mind. Either use TEX 210 and 400 with tatting needles, or try TEX 135 or 70 with a shuttle…and keep in mind that you may get a stiff and very round buttonhole.

The other route is to find a set of tatting needles which will work with finer threads, meaning that the eyes have to be especially fine. Given how firm all forms of C-Lon cord I’ve used are, I’m not betting that I’ll be able to fit something like that through (or over) those needles. Tatting (to make lace) is generally done with softer threads — which beads may damage.

On the other hand, I’ve just finished a necklace which has been years in the making. Using the C-Lon Micro for it seems to have been a very good choice: it feels tough, and was thick enough to hold knots at the terminations. As I’ve been using clamshell bead tips to finish the work, I was glad when the knots were large enough not to slip through the holes.

Finding out possibilities and what they actually look and feel like in action, is extremely important. At least so, from a design + construction perspective. Thinking up dreams of, “what could be,” is something I did for years; it doesn’t necessarily get anything done. It takes experimentation to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Maybe I should say, it takes the risk of failure, to find out what works, and what doesn’t.

The forgiving thing about beadwork is that if your design doesn’t work out, you can clip your piece apart and try again.

It feels difficult to get myself out of Academic Mode and into Creative Mode. It’s even harder to let go of Creative Mode, once I’m in it, and slide back into Academic Mode: I want to stay where I am. I get involved with my projects. This happens even knowing I have to get back into Academics at some time, which tends to fill me with dread and anxiety. It’s hard to get out of Academic Mode in the first place, because I have a level of guilt for not spending my time studying.

I’m thinking that’s not a good way to enjoy living. Especially if what you’re studying, in order to earn a livable salary, doesn’t fit your core drives (or relieve your core banes: like uncleanliness, and random social interaction with strangers). It’s just something you do so you aren’t homeless or dependent. It’s not like you actually want to do it, or in a perfect world, would choose to do it. At least not after you’ve encountered the reality of the job and environment.

And it’s like, how many more years, how much more of my resources, am I going to commit to this? For the sake of a salary?

There are other things I can do, if cash is my only motivator. I may not be able to afford to live in the San Francisco Bay Area while I’m doing it…but to be honest, most of the world can’t afford to live in the San Francisco Bay Area. We’re dealing with an inflated economy and gentrification, with high-wage earners moving in from outside, displacing the people who made the place what it was: the people who made this a nice place to live. What I can see is that someday — when technology shifts again, or when the climate shifts more completely — this area risks becoming another ghost region.

Early morning, on November 2nd — I began writing a post after having had a conversation with relatives. Its details should likely go into another, separate post, but I realized that through my clothing and jewelry, I could develop my own identity expression. I could also help others define theirs, or at least give them more options.

I’ve had a consistent problem with being able to present myself as I wish, with ready-to-wear clothing. The problem is that the clothes which fit my body usually also code me as a woman, socially — which is not something I’m set on. I began thinking on how to alter that. It’s not like it isn’t possible. It just requires creative thought, and the ability to realize those thoughts in reality.

That is, it’s possible to create clothes cut for and which will fit female bodies, without also making them to code as, “feminine.” It’s not like there isn’t a market for this: or there wouldn’t be so many people who are assumed to be, “women”, wearing men’s clothes. The problem is, after one reaches a certain point in their maturity, men’s clothes don’t quite fit correctly. At least, that’s been my experience. The body type I had in my early 20’s is not the body type I have in my late 30’s.

The point is that there is cultural space and coding made for cisgender men and cisgender women which signify their gender to people on sight. If you’re a gender minority, however: that isn’t necessarily the case. Not only are there no words to describe who you are, but there are no special signifiers that positively match your identity. And if there were, I’m not sure it would be safe…but, progress is being made.

I’d hope that in 40-50 years, there will be vocabulary and a safe place for people who are gender-nonbinary or third-gender, or otherwise currently not provided with correctly-coded tools with which to present. I would also hope that the erasure of gender minorities in the English language and cultural sphere, finds a way to cease in a respectful manner.

The night before last, I realized that I could and should get back to work on the “blouse” I’ve been trying to make for 10 years. I got about halfway through construction (having cut and marked the pieces previously), though I still have some alterations to make. This is Folkwear #111, “Nepali Blouse,” which I’m altering to have a much longer hem, and side inserts. I appreciated the toile, but it was much too short and revealing, for me.

The pattern itself is for something worn as an undergarment in Nepal, which makes sense if you live there, and it’s cold! Instead of the traditional fabric choices, though, I’m going for a dark cotton batik. After this is done, I can work on some outer layers.

And no, I don’t know the gender status of those who would be wearing this, normally. The pattern and styling is just something I like.

At this time, though, I find myself required to get back to my graded work…which I don’t want to do. Of course. Writing this, is kind of edging me back into thinking in words…which I need.

Wow, though. I mean, wow.

I am wondering when the last time was that I was so reticent about getting back into schoolwork…

career, creative writing, creativity, self care, writing

Maybe not to the level of a Professional Editor…

Yesterday, I was able to take a couple of my more creative posts from here, and begin writing out second drafts. Of course, I woke up at about 1:30 AM yesterday morning…and stayed up until 8:30 AM…writing. Right? The time can pass very quickly, when I’m doing that. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m relatively okay with hearing the clock announce the hour on the hour, every hour…

The only reason I didn’t keep going with the writing, was concern that my body wouldn’t be able to keep up with me. I wrote, in total, about eight pages in longhand…in one of my worst-quality notebooks, so I wouldn’t feel bad for having wasted paper. ;) I haven’t heard of anyone getting carpal tunnel syndrome from writing by hand (neither has anyone else around me), but I could feel things starting to turn against me (particularly, tension in my wrist), so I stopped.

That writing session was very therapeutic. I was actually feeling — I don’t know, “normal” (?) later today. I am thinking this was because I was able to get through my “block” and write out what I really wanted to write out. I was able to do that, in turn, by realizing what was holding me back: the fear of being a unique individual person with a voice and influence. That is, someone who has value and power and can contribute to society and breathe life into ideas.

There do happen to be forces which would not like a person like myself to be empowered. But it is not worth it to be another person who tries to blend into the background and hopes to go unseen. That’s not…quite…living. That’s not my taking my full place at the table of Life.

I also looked at what my potential future would be — psychically speaking — if I obeyed my fear. I didn’t really like where that was taking me, so I wrote. For seven hours.

After all, bravery isn’t the absence of fear; it’s experiencing it and doing the work, anyway.

If I look at the breakdown here, I have a little over two pages as a second draft, and six pages as rough drafts of various passages which grew from other material. Those rough drafts, in turn, will serve as seeds for further second drafts when I go back in to rewrite. I expect the pattern to continue; it hasn’t let me down, yet.

Right now, I’m waiting for the freshness of all the new material to wear off, so that I can return and rewrite it again with updates. I’ve decided to do this by hand at this point; revision feels like a different process when I work things out manually, than when I work on the computer. I’m old enough to remember when we used to write out our essays for school on binder paper in pencil, and then copy the finished drafts over in ink…also on binder paper.

Using a word processing program, one may begin a passage and have the option of never coming back to it to actively review or change it, again. Having to copy it over again, to physically form each letter of each word, forces you to pay attention to it — and to how it could be different.

Editing is a different process with a digital file than with a notebook. Or…with looseleaf. I know that to edit what I just wrote, I’m going to have to photocopy out the relevant text, where I can then mark it up and re-copy it over in a newer form. The only other way to do it is to work on another paper surface at the same time as I have the rough draft open. Or, tear out the written pages of the previous draft.

Yeah…did I think this through? Not really. But I wanted everything in one place, and there are drawbacks to that, as well as convenience and — possibly — organization.

There is one thing I’ve learned, however: and that is, while I may have written a lot, do write a lot, and will likely continue to write a lot…I haven’t edited, so much. I think a lot of that has to do with the blog format, where I’ve been depositing a lot of my daily writing: although I am moving back to analog for most of my more sensitive thoughts.

Having friends on social media has gotten me to realize the fact that there’s a difference between having and maintaining friendships, and having and maintaining an audience: your friends don’t necessarily want their direct personal messages to you to go unanswered while they see a proliferation of content on your channel. (Let’s not forget that on social media, the user is the product…which has been made clear to me from the fact that WordPress seems to neglect to upload my posts to my own Reader; depending on how many posts I’ve made, in what pattern, in which recent time frame.)

There’s also the fact that until recently, most of my other (nonacademic) written work has been journaling. Keeping a journal is good to maintain the practice of writing anything at all — which is essential when you want to track your thoughts for a big project, especially. Or, when you’re trying to break out of writer’s block, and you need that gentle daily nudging to surface the reason you aren’t writing what you really want to write. (It can take a while to get bored of, “today the world is ending again,” you know. But even what the writer doesn’t say [and I pay attention to what I’m not saying], sends a message to an alert and introspective person.)

When you want to write, and you want that writing time both to be quality (as regards content) and to last…you can run out of things to write about, if you’re just recording your day. It’s like recounting what happened at work or school to someone else, after-the-fact. If you can break from that diary form and go into something either more informed, or more imaginative, or more daring, there’s a lot that can be generated.

That is…Literary Arts exist. Or: language can be used in multiple ways; not just to recount and represent objective reality. Which…well, parallels my recent experiences with Visual Arts. I’ve also wondered why I would be learning Japanese language (or writing at all), if I were afraid to use it to actually communicate.

Anyhow, for now I’m working with Creative Nonfiction, which may drift into straight-out Fiction. But anonymization and embellishment should come toward the end, I believe. Not that I’ve had so much practice with that, recently…but it will give me practice in Editing.

Which I haven’t had a lot of since my undergraduate days, mind. The obvious thing to do is to join one or more Writers’ Workshops, in order to get back into the practice of giving feedback on others’ work — if I want to be an Editor and not a Writer. But it’s fairly clear that I’m much more suited to Writing, temperamentally speaking, that Editing. Everything I’ve read says that Editing is more interpersonally intensive…and one of my Professors of old told us, it wasn’t actually a creative field.

That doesn’t sound like me. I’m more solitary, studious, quiet. And I’m not a bad writer, actually: especially when I get angry enough to be absurd. My problem is breaking the insular wall which protects me from the rest of the world, and actually joining the rest of the world.

creative writing, personal, philosophy, psychology, self care, writing

Emotional honesty.

In my last post, I intended to write about, “Fear“…however, I ran way off topic. I realize now that it’s likely people didn’t know to differentiate this piece from the storyline of “Prologue“: they’re two separate but (for now) linked projects. The voice is different; the narrators are either different people, or the same person of different age; and the stories are different. I’ve just been attempting to cohere them into one whole (in order to get to work on anything). Maybe that’s a wrong approach. (They don’t even have to be in the same world.)

In actuality, “Fear,” is based further into this reality than the other story — even though this project might appreciate some abstraction and worldbuilding, as the players are fairly neutral but can be easily misunderstood if sticking too close to reality, or mythos from within a shared reality. There’s also the fact that I don’t think my own internal world is really represented so much, in Literature (or Science Fiction/Fantasy), but I can’t be sure, as I haven’t been an avid reader of Fiction for a very long time. I would call, “Fear,” an instance of Creative Nonfiction…for now.

My own scenario which was in the back of my head while writing, “Fear,” doesn’t correspond with any reality I’ve met outside of myself, so far (though it was inspired by a book I read as a child, called Anpao: An American Indian Odyssey, which I believe from a quick search, was written by Jamake Highwater). Within the book, the main character throws a hoop into the air and splits himself into two selves, then re-merges, later. (He didn’t really have a choice about it.)

For some reason, that had an impact on me, as a kid.

I also majored in Creative Writing as an Undergraduate, and so I know how to loosen the reins in order to allow (what feels like) freedom of expression, which merges into Art (when you really let the reins loose, and stop even trying to cling to shared reality). This, within reason (and EULAs). And also with some damage to the popular notion of my character, quite possibly. :) But it’s really, really hard to take risks in one’s writing if one is worried about how others will see them. The thing about being a Fiction author is that there’s the option to keep everyone guessing as to where that last piece came from… ;)

In writing, “Fear”…it’s very interesting what occurred. I found myself being able to write with emotional honesty without needing verifiable facts with which to structure and defend my arguments. That is, I can be emotionally honest and open to vulnerability (this is useful; whether it is intelligent, is another question) without being factually honest (except where it comes to the possibility of libel — which is another reason not to be factually honest). I can put forth crazy suppositions about how things are working, even if I know them not to be true (or, alternately, just don’t know them to be true), and it’s actually OK — because it’s Fiction! No one expects it to be real (or possibly, even defensible. Of course, if you go too far that way, you get into farce — or, propaganda).

That right there…could be a workable formula, for me, of Fiction writing. As versus, say, trying to prop up and support my own, “faith,” which is the largest flaw I’ve seen in the fictions (and reading habits) of others. It seems that when people read to support their faith (only), they intend to extend their provisional beliefs which they enter into in their reading, beyond themselves and into the real world.

That is, I’ve met people who wanted to live within the illusions of books. I’m not sure how workable (or healthy), that is. Although, I can understand it.

(I say, as I wear my ceramic ring. Actually, now that I look at it: this ring is black ceramic; black is symbolic of Earth, and the ring itself is made of Earth [zirconia]. Maybe it could symbolize, “grounding,” for me, as well as being my reminder of commitment? I like that!)

If I can keep some kind of boundary going between reality and fantasy, it’s likely that working with this thread could be very fruitful (and enjoyable/cathartic). It’s kind of my take on (what I think) Method Acting (must be like). :) As I wrote in my journal yesterday (Pink A5, 121): “The practice of writing fiction allows one to take on provisional beliefs during the period of that writing, and slough them off upon re-entering communal, or shared, reality.”

Due to my ability to seriously enter into these provisional realities…I might actually make a good author of paranormal/psychological thrillers. I mean, seriously. I would just need to be able to ground myself, outside of that. It’s extremely possible that I could do that with my art (particularly, painting; and within that, painting abstracts — at least, for now. Maybe I’ll eventually find a preferred subject).

After all, I’m well aware that my mind is likely my most dangerous enemy: what else knows how to get to you and is always with you? Making art derails its processes, for me (though I know it doesn’t do that, for everyone). I think that the freedom inherent in Art (for me) does this, though I’m not entirely sure what separates myself from people who compulsively draw the same thing over and over.

But that “emotional reality” without “verifiable reality” part of the equation is something I hadn’t really…understood, before. The last major time I wrote fiction, I was in Undergrad, about 15 years ago. I really didn’t understand it, then; and there’s value in admitting that now, because I get to look back on it with more experience (if I allow myself to do so). If I admit to myself that I didn’t understand, that means there’s more to learn. And, allowing myself to believe there’s more to learn, paradoxically means I gain the ability to find it.

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, 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)…

beading, creativity, psychology, self care

I’ve gotta say… (Trigger warning: mention of suicide as an extreme of cultural erasure)

…that going through a job search without limiting myself to either libraries or self-employment, is infinitely more hopeful. I’m not, you know, hemmed in by the limits of my own imagination, there. I’m actually dealing with reality (even if the reality is someone illegitimately looking for personal information).

Last night, I started disassembling strands of beads and loading them into labeled vials. I’ve been looking around online for quality sellers, and I’ve found at least one new one. (I also found a seller who I am going to be careful about ordering from, again — though they did give me two strands of beads which are gorgeous, after washing. The thing is: they required washing.) I’m also collecting information on shops I knew from a while back, and compiling them into a spreadsheet. Not all of them are still great (if they ever were any better, more than having name recognition).

This is after I realized that I just didn’t have the tenacity to get through itemizing another receipt…gah. But there is one left from the middle of May (of this year), that I really should work on. I didn’t, because for one thing, there are about 30 different items on the list. That store in particular, though? I’ve seen a price spike there, recently, and I’m not sure if it’s because of limited stock from the global shutdown. Less stock, more demand, same rent, higher prices. Basic microeconomics…

I do think that I still am dealing with a fear of being creative, though it’s not as strong as it historically has been. That’s why it was easier to store and categorize things, yesterday, than it was to actually build anything. And, yeah, I guess it was easier to play with MS Excel (and look for jobs?) than it was to build anything. Planning on running a jewelry microbusiness really isn’t going to go anywhere if I don’t actually, you know, make things.

And then there’s the question of the value of making things if I have to let those things go in order to create more things of value. In that way, value is produced…but unless I charge enough, I don’t get to see much of it. This is what has happened with my making face coverings. I began doing it for myself and my parents, then basically needed to give some to my sibling and sell some to people who can’t sew. So I have maybe 12-14 for myself and my parents, now (it takes at least one hour to go from start to finish), even though I’ve likely put at least 24 hours into making them, in total. Likely more, if I count fabric choice and acquisition and preparation and design.

And I actually, probably should make more. It’s comforting to have something ready when I need to go out.

The entire creativity/fear thing…it’s pretty…well, I’d say it’s pretty commonplace, given that there’s actually a book called Art and Fear (by David Bayles and Ted Orland, which I’ve read), but…you know. Fear of the unknown, and all that. (Fear of generation? Fear of response?) I’m not sure if the unknown is better than the stories my mind has made up to fill the yawning gap in my knowledge, at this point.

I don’t even want to get into the stories. They sound like either fiction or craziness. And they can get me targeted by other people whose own crazy latches on. But the stories are very creative. As for whether or not I publicly engage with those narratives: does that equate to whether or not I engage with my creativity? I know it makes it, “feel more real,” when it’s not just myself who knows it…

But if the problem with disclosure is the fact that if I’m not believed, I come off as crazy; and if I am believed, I come off as possibly harmful (depending on one’s ideology); that makes disclosure pretty much, a “no,” proposition. If it’s reality: lack of disclosure of reality doesn’t make it any less real. My open acknowledgment of reality doesn’t make that reality come into being. Not talking about it just makes it less tangible, and produces fewer outward reminders.

It also keeps things, “living,” instead of, “dead,” if I’m thinking back to my books on Daoism. Red Pine may have said something about that (I have a copy of his translation of the Taoteching).

The question is, now, whether to live my life as though this core belief (the reasoning behind my pushing myself to be creative) is true, or whether to question it and lose my mooring. Do I have a calling, that is, and am I ambivalent about having it? Or just afraid to exert it? (The latter is true: there is power here; I believe I question whether I am right [or have a right] to exercise it.)

I’ve had some time between beginning this post after midnight this morning, and now — it’s nearly midnight again — to actually write some things in my private journal about this topic. I’ve realized that I’ve grown out of rehashing the narrative I was speaking of, above. It’s not new anymore. What to do about now, is what I have to deal with.


How, that is, can I lower my barrier to producing? How do I get out of idea generation and back into making — into construction? And how do I keep capitalism from sucking the life out of myself and my work? What do I do if I find out that one of my suppliers is doing something that violates my ethics?

Maybe I should just make the stuff I want to make, first. Without regard to whether they’ll be taken from me — just make them. If I were to do that, I could be motivated on the mask aspect again. I’d also have to set a firm boundary on what I will and won’t sell — if the goal is to be productive.

Pearl necklace in green and violet.
From February 2019. The pearls are mostly from The Bead Gallery in Honolulu, HI.

For the pearls…I know I don’t need them. (Who needs pearls?) I also know that I can make some gorgeous jewelry. Maybe if I spent less time in research (reading, YouTube), and more time figuring things out on my own, I will be able to more easily turn out what has been on the back burner for weeks, if not months (or years). I should also list my projects in-progress (kind of like what’s on Ravelry), so that I can keep track of what my beads and cords are doing, and how long they’ve been sitting there.

A set of pearl trident drop earrings in gold and mauve.

Right now I can think of at least five major undone/in-progress projects, plus one which I need to re-knot and lengthen, and two samples which I may cut apart to gather more beads (they were made as I figured out technique). Then there are projects I’ve envisioned and simply haven’t done (like more pearl earrings of a type which…I’m not sure I’ve yet shared on this blog; you can see them to the left), and a successful trial which is waiting for…something, to be made into earrings (below).

An in-process photo of an earring in purple, blue and orange. It looks like a banner, with glass beads making an eye-spot below it.
This one’s waiting for something. May 2020.

And maybe I should just terminate some projects, like things I began simply to learn how to do them, which have become dull and rote (and ugly), at this point. (I try not to make technique samples out of what I’d actually use in a piece of jewelry, because of the fairly common fear of running out of needed supplies. Unfortunately, that means I get samples which look like flags, and discourage further interest.)

There’s also the fact that I believe I turned to art and writing when speech was not enough, or when I felt I couldn’t speak. On that front, it’s even more vital that I don’t take down these avenues of expression, as well. Especially as, to reference the above, there is power in expression. I have known people who didn’t want the world to know they existed. (Problematically for me, I can understand that.) I don’t want to end up in that place: because I know there are people in this world who don’t want me to exist; but as a second-best choice, they don’t want anyone to know that I exist. And I don’t want to make their job easier for them, because the ultimate in silencing is suicide.

There are people who would like that. Not everyone is a good person.

I don’t want to let the world push me to that.

There is something about pearls and glass…the way they’re made. I’m going to try to avoid waxing poetic about this, here, but maybe there’s a reason (beyond the fact that they look nice, and at least can be affordable) that I’m using pearls and glass in my work. I think that my reasoning would be obvious.

But then, maybe it’s like I recognize that most flowers contain both sexes, meaning the plants themselves contain both sexes…and no one claims them to be ugly or unnatural for it. But flowers are generally seen to relate to women, moreso than men. Why?

Fire-polished beads with seed beads and fiber, knotted together in a bracelet. The color scheme ranges from iris green to red-violet.

And it’s essentially midnight, again. Hello, June 14th. There are things I want to do and things I have to do. Tomorrow…I have homework. At least, there’s some structure there.

I might want to set up work hours for myself — for my own beading and sewing projects — in addition to the job search, and my study.

I received two precious little pearls from Hawaii, today. Made my day. :)

career, color, craft, design, fabric, sewing

Needing to work my own way.

I did get some work done, today. It’s worth noting that I didn’t get anything done before I decided that it was OK to trust my perfectionist urges and pre-wash/pre-shrink my fabric. This was largely due to puzzling over it…for days…and then reading instructions that M had printed out for a different pattern: to wash and dry the fabric as hot as was feasible, at least 2-3 times before cutting it.

Everything has been washed and dried on medium-high or high twice, depending on how I felt things would bleed or dry (there is, for instance, a lot less of the orange and yellow fabrics, meaning I knew they would dry quickly).

Previously…M and D had said it was OK to cut the fabric without pre-washing, but to cut the pieces a little larger to account for shrinkage. I’ve been cutting everything out to 9.5″x6.5″, to allow a 1/4″ seam allowance on all sides and give me a nice even 9″x6″ panel to work with when it comes to the proportions of the mask proper. It also helped that my quilting ruler has markings specifically at 9.5″x6.5″ (I think the entire ruler is 6.5″x19″).

So…there were a few problems with cutting things out without pre-shrinking, first. The first thing is that I’d have to either eyeball the size (which meant I couldn’t trust the seam allowance to be an accurate 1/4″ away from the stitching line when sewing), or spend extra time determining the size of the mask face when cutting (likely using the guides on my cutting mat).

The second thing is that I didn’t know how the fabric was going to shrink, as I imagined the warp and weft would not shrink evenly. That meant that my masks may unpredictably distort once they were finally washed.

The third thing is that if you’re not quilting the mask layers together, they tend to separate in the wash and require ironing to straighten them out again. With two panels of different sizes, those things may never lay flat.

What I did today was undo the pinning and finger-pleating in the two mask faces that were in-progress. These were the two I was working on when I burned my thumb with steam from the iron, about four days ago (this was bad enough to hurt when ice was put on it). The burn was enough to keep me away for a while (physically, I was better the next day, without even a blister; mentally, not so much), but I looked around that area today and saw that there was work in progress. It was enough to get me to work on this, again.

In any case…the finger-pleats were waiting for the iron (all I had to do was plug it in and press), but I realized that I could experiment on them — especially as one of them would never be used by anyone but me (I messed up the integrity of the mask by trimming the seam allowances too close, and had to hand-stitch the turning hole closed [my normal stitching line, 1/8″ in, would have missed the raw edges]).

What I did was run two lines of stitching down the masks from top to bottom, approximately 1/3 of the way in, on either side. I’m not sure if this ruins their feasibility as doing anything to stop COVID-19, but I’m hoping that with washing, the needle punctures will close up and the mask will be functional, and easier to care for than the first model. I’ll be able to see, once it’s completed and washed. My point was to keep those two pieces of fabric from separating.

Anyhow…I have a lot of fabric, right now. The oranges, pinks, and violets have all been laundered and dried (twice), and ironed to get the kinks out of them. I still have to deal with the blues and greens, though they finished drying earlier tonight. They’re folded and awaiting ironing, in the morning. Hopefully, that “morning” will not be 2 AM. ;)

I’ve also learned…not to buy fabric in 1/2 yard lengths, unless I’m just sampling. I know it’s twice as big as a Fat Quarter, but it still makes me feel like those colors are…precious. I guess it isn’t like I didn’t feel the Fat Quarters were precious, in the first place. But those were just the beginning. I’m also using Kona cottons, which come in a gorgeous array of colors which I’m unsure I’ll be able to match via computer screen.

I actually was talking with D about this, earlier: computer and smartphone screens (RGB color) really aren’t the best thing with which to try and represent a color. Especially not, when there are subtle gradations and variations between colors. I don’t think printouts would even work (CMYK color space doesn’t represent the full diversity of colors our eyes can optimally sense — nor does RGB); when doing mail-order, it’s like you try your best to pick a color which you think is right, and then when it comes, you’re pleasantly surprised. Hopefully.

I really don’t even know if the colors I received were the ones I ordered — I didn’t check that carefully. So right now…if I want more of these, I have to go by my receipts and see what I bought when, in which quantity; play the fabric lottery and make my best guess combined with the receipts, or wait until I can see and match the fabric from scraps, in-person. I really don’t recall how to calibrate my monitor so it’s as close to true-color as possible. I know it can be done; I just can’t remember how (if I ever knew).

Intro to Graphic Design was a great class. That’s where I learned the stuff about color spaces, or color gamuts; though that was reinforced with other computer art classes. In turn…this is a big reason why I don’t necessarily want to go digital, with my art. There are just so many restrictions, on the computer.

Anyhow! Today…was a bit fruitful, at least. But I need to keep track of how long I spend doing this stuff! I feel like I’ve been doing it since at least 2:30, until dinnertime (maybe 8:30?).

Hah, man. So right now, I’m focused on this…I’ve got two weeks before I may be able to work again, which will require face coverings. I’m not too hot on it. I don’t feel like the system is taking the danger of workers getting sick, seriously enough. We see multitudes of people all day, not all of them are courteous, not all of them are healthy, and some are hostile. Hostile + sick is a bad combination, because then you can get weaponized sickness.

But…yeah, I’ll deal with that, later.

Luckily, I’m still in with my employment program, and they will be able to tell why I’m incompatible with this job — especially, now (germ phobia [in a dirty environment], elderly parents [whom I still depend on], paranoia [high stress], tactless [vulnerable to being picked on], not a “people person” [people aren’t the center of my universe, and I don’t love them unconditionally]). They may be able to help me find one more suited…which means I should really also devote time to redeveloping my ePortfolio site.

It shouldn’t take a lot of brainpower…though I only have until June 1 to get this done via the Classic Editor (11 days). It’s significantly more difficult to link inline to PDFs in the Block Editor, though I’ve found a workaround.

I didn’t even mention the cords for macramé. I got some pretty cords. Which is another reason why I know the color display on my monitor is off. But…well, I do have the option of buying the other colors…I just won’t know what they are until I see them…

art, color, creativity, painting, spirituality

Forgetting stuff and experiencing so much

I think that the entropic sleep schedule I’ve been keeping is starting to impact my memory. (“Entropy”: tendency towards decay or randomness in an ordered system. Apparently, it’s the Second Law of Thermodynamics; but I’ve understood entropy in this way for years, not recalling its origin.) While I do appreciate the fact that my creativity is surfacing, and I don’t mind the willingness to engage spiritual explanations that has come with it, a lot of the insights I’ve been having are things that I may only remember in the future if the memory is triggered by an event.

This is why I’ve been writing things down. While not everything is information which I would feel comfortable making public; if I let other people know about it, that means the information doesn’t die with me. Then there’s the question of whether I even want to get into it, as it took several steps to get this far…which is probably why so many people don’t explain where they’re coming from or how any extrasensory perception is working.

Plus, should it be true, the knowledge could be abused. I’m thinking there are better places to record this than on my blog. Particularly as posting it here would be an admission that it’s just a flight of fancy and not even possibly real. I’ve made that mistake before, at least twice. Let’s not do that again.

What I can say is that the insight I had a couple of nights ago made clear what was actually going on in my spirit contact (and what spirits are). I wouldn’t have been able to get to that point without having a firm base in the belief that we are all connected to divinity (to a greater or lesser extent; some have wandered off or lost that connection).

For some of us, that information may be all that’s necessary to explain what I’m thinking of; I know that in the past, I’ve read some things of a metaphysical nature and had two or three different interpretations ring off at the same time. This, however, has to do with the nature of life, interconnectedness, and co-creation. Kind of as though we are all parts (emanations) of the same being. I’m not sure how far one would get with this…if one tried to maintain the illusion of separateness (as versus oneness with all we are).

I think the illusion of (Existential?) separateness — each separate to the other, to the world, to God (when I don’t put it in quotes, it means the God [of Life] I’ve intuited over years; not the Judeo-Christian one, and I don’t use it lightly) — may be the reason we have so much on our plate now as regards the immediate task of survival.

And it must mean something if so many of us have the potential to link in, even despite feeling crazy for doing it. (I’ve noticed I get a lot of interest for these posts, which must mean I’m reaching someone.)

Right now…gah. I need to write this down somewhere. But right now…well, it’s close to the anniversary of the death of someone close to me. He keeps showing up in my dreams as a young man; much happier than when he was alive. It does make me happy to see him happy. And I’m pretty sure, at this point, that it was him. He just feels…relieved of burdens. Light.

I guess it’s possible to be sad but happy at the same time.

In any case, I am being encouraged on all fronts to continue with the creativity stuff. I have at least four buyers if I want to continue doing the face masks, having sent off six (!) in a care package, already. (If I had known there would be so much demand, I might not have sent as many…!)

I had no idea how rare it is to find a person willing and able to sew, with a good aesthetic eye.

I’ve also restarted watercolors. I’m thinking about cutting known toxic paints out of my palette (or at least cutting down on their use). This is basically to honor the fact that I’m doing this as a spiritual endeavor, and to attempt to avoid harming the planet (and others) by my practice.

I don’t know what category that reasoning falls under…but at least it’s a guide. The biggest issue I have here is that I’ve gotten a beautiful Cobalt Blue (which I still haven’t posted images of), which it would be a shame not to use…at least, last time I used it, I found it could make seriously gorgeous violet tones when mixed with Ultramarine Pink and Ultramarine Violet.

The issue is that Cobalt is a heavy metal, and toxic. I know paint companies say not to rinse paints down the drain or into waterways, but the only real way I see to clean this up and not rinse, is to wet the paint and scrub off the majority of it with a paper towel, then dispose of the paper towel in a way so that maybe it goes to a Hazardous Waste facility and not to a landfill. Otherwise, just minimize the use of these colors. I can’t do anything about the brush rinsewater except let it evaporate. (Actually, maybe let it settle, pour the water off, then clean out the bottom of the cup with paper towels?)

(Thanks, you guys.) I totally didn’t have that in consciousness before now. :)

Of course, it seems that a lot of these paints are toxic, even my beloved Prussian Blue. Maybe I should just throw all the dirtied paper towels in a bin…though I probably wouldn’t need the airtight kind that oil painters do.

Anyhow…I have some images of what I’ve been doing, but the color’s not coming out appropriately. I’m not sure why, though right now I think it may be an exposure issue. And, I mean, the color is kind of the point: I’ve been doing mixing exercises (though not formal ones). I also do recall, however: that my eyes can see more than the computer can display. The sun’s going down right now, too.

Yes, yes I am getting a little annoyed with not knowing how to photograph things, :) but like someone close to me has said, the only way you get better at taking photographs, is by taking photographs. Lots and lots of bad photographs. :)

I’ve got to go…

art, creativity, painting, psychology, spirituality

And that’s the way you develop.

Well, I did do something emotionally and psychologically significant, today. I used gouache. For a very long time, I had been hesitant to get back into making art, namely because the act of creation is a spiritual one, to me. I’m thinking I might have an inkling as to…how to manage that now, though.

In short: we co-create what we support. I had been concerned about the ramifications of image-making while I was still in the Art program…particularly because I made a dystopian painting (which I don’t like to look at; I think I know where it might be, but am not really wanting to see it right now) depicting some troubles which have come to pass. I would be surprised if all of them have…but either I’m really sharp and just not in denial about the state of the world, or there is something else going on.

I’m thinking that the second is more likely. I’m also…thinking that there’s a lot more going on than I know about (on both sides of this veil…I haven’t locked out the possibility of others), which it might behoove me to investigate.

One of the problems in co-creation is that people don’t realize they’re doing it. What we give attention to, what we celebrate: it creates what is made in the world.

This is me getting spiritual. It’s resounded with me since I started being okay with being creative again…which was needed, because of the mask thing. When I was making them, I knew that there were energies contained in them…I’m hoping that they can help support the people they’re for, or at least…if they need healing, help to heal.

So far, at least, everyone I know has seen my creative rebound as a good thing. Thing is, it comes with…it comes with stuff. Basically, stuff that I had trouble coping with, as a pre-teen and teen. I was sensitive; to the point that the sounds of our upstairs neighbors fighting, and the sounds of ambulances on the freeway at night, would trouble me.

Right now I’m wearing my ring…which I just resumed wearing, a number of days ago. I should have a timestamp on a message referencing the situation from when I was thinking about getting back into this, and got a go-ahead from my counselor. (The ring is a marker or reminder of my commitment.) I essentially have a number of beliefs which are real enough…but easily dismissed as, I don’t know, weird innately feminine stuff, or psychosis (meaning, “detachment from ‘reality’,” not, “wanting to kill people”). I don’t remember a lot of the terms used for mystics from the mid-to-late-1800s-on, though I’ve studied that era and that topic within that era.

There were a number of movements: Spiritualism, Theosophy, Anthroposophy…in addition to the blooming of the Western Mystery Tradition and Occultism, which led to the modern New Age and NeoPagan movements (though I see much less of the latter, these days, than I saw in the earlier 2000’s).

In any case…although I’ve come to recognize the output of some “New Age” publishers as commercially-based more than being grounded in intellectual rigor (though this is not necessarily the fault of the authors, more than a publishers’ underestimation of their potential market)…there might be something to the deeper currents, there. But one needs to be careful about what one takes as truth. Mistruths can lead to mistaken beliefs, which can then basically poison further inquiry into reality and its nature. You want to start with your feet on solid ground (for some reason, I’m wanting to continue that sentence with: “…not a sinkhole”).

Basically…and no, I haven’t read The Secret, and no, I don’t know if this is the premise, but: I’m thinking that what we imagine as our future lays tracks toward that future (regardless of the valuation we place on our imaginings). That means that if we’re invested in ignorance and greed and violence and horror and pain, if we repeat and reinforce those connections in our own bodies, we send a line out toward the set of futures that are built on that. If we imagine something else…we’re at least not drawing ourselves closer to what (it could be said) we don’t want to happen.

That doesn’t mean to be so focused on happy dreams that one is blindsided by horror and tragedy. That doesn’t mean to take risks for no reason. But that means that if we can’t imagine a better future, we can’t make a better future. Of course, “better” is subjective, especially if you’re deranged. But there are always fewer of those than there are, otherwise. And on the whole, we get through things like this.

My thinking is that this, “we”…it’s bigger than I’ve thought. And it includes those whose forms have been returned to the Earth, as well as those who never had forms here.

It makes me feel better. That doesn’t mean it’s true. But it’s plausible enough to explore.

Imagination wasn’t made to reproduce and reinforce what already exists. That’s my key out of my hesitance towards using my own creative abilities, I think. I have the ability to interpret and envision what I want to come into being; to break the banal cycle. And…I don’t have to do it literally or photographically. The energy is what matters.

I actually don’t even have to plan what I’m doing. The work grows on its own as it reveals itself.

A lot of this is getting in line with my subconscious (or unconscious) mind…which seems to know something about what it’s doing.

People say that creativity isn’t innately linked with mental illness, as there are creative people without mental illness, and mentally ill people who aren’t creative. I happen to be a person, though, who can’t be creative (now) unless I allow myself to be. Allowing myself to be entails taking my thoughts seriously; which results in being aware of, and living through having, odd beliefs. And it’s hard to acknowledge those odd beliefs and at the same time, never speak about them to anyone else.

Of course, when you base your life on your weird idiosyncratic beliefs that you can’t get rid of…well, you become an artist, I guess??? :D Or a psychic or medium. Or a writer. Or all of them.

But, like so many things in life, I’m thinking it makes it easier if you commit and follow through.

An aside: I was making more masks yesterday with the steam setting on the iron, for once in my life, and then I wondered just why I hadn’t used it thoroughly, before. To save water??? To keep the cheap iron that will likely be dead two years from now, from getting kettle fur? The steam setting works so much better!

Also as an aside: I’ve found out that the Kona cotton does feel more substantial as a lining, than does regular quilting cotton; not talking about batiks…but I didn’t know that until I made masks with all three different materials. Hence, I didn’t know what I was talking about earlier. I’m gaining more experience, and as a result, my outcomes are improving.

Anyhow. To get back to what I opened with: gouache is opaque watercolor…a lot of it, beautiful. I also have a good deal of it which is not toxic, which is a bit better than I can say for my transparent watercolors.

I had been bumbling around my paintbrushes and acrylic inks (granted that I’ve decided to hold off on using the Ecoline colors, for now), when I found a jar of Daler-Rowney Pro White ink. So I have two of these, now; considering that I could get the lid off, this time, and I could mix the paint, and it wasn’t off-color. I have no idea what pigment is in there, at the moment, but the jar had an AP seal, not a Caution Label; so I’m thinking it isn’t Lead White.

Of course, I tried painting with this, and it was seriously underwhelming (translucent) when used with a brush, especially when contrasted with Titanium White gouache, on top of tinted paper. The Pro White ink starts out okay, then fades as it dries. I’m not even sure it’s worth posting an image of it. I might try again later with a dip pen nib, instead; or, a glass pen might hold the ink better. If it is really that bad, though, even after all that? I’m not sure I’ll be getting it again.

So, I was basically just playing around with some Holbein Permanent (Titanium) White gouache, after I found that the Daler-Rowney was translucent…and that I didn’t know what was in it. Some white pigments, I’ve heard (like Zinc Sulfide, which is different from Zinc Oxide), will eventually change color. Titanium White, won’t; and it’s the most opaque white that I have used.

A bonus is that it’s relatively safe when used in painting, as the particles are bonded to some degree to the paper or other surface. There isn’t free dust flying around which can get into one’s lungs and cause disease — unless one abrades the paint. This, along with extreme color mutability and variability of point of contact with the surface, is one of the reasons that I’m attracted to the medium.

A bunch of squiggles in gouache.

In addition…I pulled out two non-toxic paints which I really enjoy working with: Yellow Ochre, and Peacock Blue (a Phthalo convenience mixture), both Holbein. The rest of my time was spent with these three (I also accidentally introduced Zinc White, which is more translucent than Titanium), making yellows, blues, and greens; in a tinted-paper art journal with a Size 1 round brush.

What’s funny is that the marks I make, and the colors I use, themselves suggest subconscious meaning or the basis of a new work…meaning, that to get ideas, I’ll…well…likely want to work in an Art Journal. Never never thought I’d say that (but maybe I’d been secretly hoping it)!

In the past, I had been intimidated about filling out an art journal…but now I see it’s just a place to experiment, play, and generate ideas. It doesn’t have to be full of “great” artwork, whatever that means.

I basically have got to stop telling myself, as well, that I shouldn’t do artwork that is simple. I can see what I did last night as foundational…watching the work unfold; making compositional decisions that might be more or less, “on it”; practicing working through the scale of underwork to overwork; mixing colors and seeing what they turn out to be; practicing brushwork.

I particularly was attracted to the toned paper journal because it wasn’t either black or white, and I knew that this paper (Strathmore Toned Gray) is quality enough to accept moderate doses of wet media.

And, interestingly enough: with the frame of mind I’m in, the purpose of my actions is expressed through my actions, regardless of whether anyone sees it or not; regardless of its critical acclaim. The work is accomplished in doing…

art, creativity, drawing, illustration, self care

Caterpillars

First of all, I want to apologize for not posting images, in this post. I could, but right now, they’re feeling kind of intimate (no, not in the way I expect the Internet to think). There are two images I have which are especially suitable for posting; however, I’m still in-process. I feel that if I post prematurely, I might disrupt my creative process. That’s why they aren’t here.

Today is Day 38 of COVID-19 Shelter-In-Place. Not that I’m complaining. I’d rather be here than have to worry about people coughing at work. Speaking of which, my parents and I all have an off-and-on mystery cough. Fun times.

I realize now that as I near the end of a project, I need to line the next project up, right afterwards. There always seems to be at least a day or two in which I basically stall and don’t know what to do with myself. I had been building up to a seminar on Monday (two days ago) which was basically…well, it was a seminar. Not a great one.

Yesterday (Tuesday)…for one thing, I can’t entirely remember it, but I was working on a design which…well, it’s cute. For some reason, I’ve got caterpillars on my mind.

As I was listening in on Monday, I started doodling (and writing in Japanese) in my notes, until the notes were basically all doodles. The day after, I was working with this design more…to the point that I have a colored design (which doesn’t look quite the same as the black-and-white version…I’m not sure what to do about this).

Right now, I’ve got a caterpillar character design, which grew out of some doodles I did in the Art program…and out of calligraphy practice strokes. I used to make this design and go, “ew;” recently, though, I’ve decided to go with the, “ew,” and see what I can make of it.

The sources of inspiration with this are twofold: one, the animated TV show Final Space, in which there is a character named Mooncake who is named after the main character’s pet caterpillar (from when he was a child). Two, when I was in second grade I had a pet silkworm (for as long as silkworms live).

It grossed M out, but was cute, to me. It would live in a tin and eat the mulberry leaves we had gathered for it. I remember it as being pretty big before it pupated, maybe 3″ long (but I was small back then, too). Silkworms are incredibly soft and fuzzy, especially as one would think all insects to be hard — so naturally, I spent a lot of time petting it. (I don’t think M wanted to touch it — 30-year-old memories, though.) I think there was some talk of my traumatizing it by giving it so much attention. :)

Mine died when I tried to help it out of its cocoon. There is a chemical process which has to happen when the moth is trying to come out. If it gets any help, that chemical process doesn’t happen, and it won’t survive. (No one warned me!)

I haven’t named the drawn character yet, which came from playing with design elements. Only later did I look at actual caterpillars. Luckily, actual caterpillars are so diverse that made-up patterns seem viable. I’m a little enamored with how he seems so fat and vulnerable, and how his ridges originated from hearts. The number of drawing skills I remember, still amazes me — from taking an idea from play, to plotting a line of action and center line, to breaking the image down into basic shapes, 3-D visualizing, visualizing foreground/middle ground/background, and introducing irregularity.

As eye-spots and symmetry are so much a part of this (I have trouble getting away from them), I thought it would be an interesting exercise.

What I have now is good, but it could be better; the majority of yesterday and last night was spent refining the images. By which I mean — redrawing things to see how they worked. The most successful of these had pencil underdrawings, though I still have the images from a more primitive stage.

Up next is likely seeing how a caterpillar would look if it was twisting itself around something, like a twig — in short, not drawing the subject as independent of its background, and not drawing it, “flat.” In doing so, I’m getting away from the original design, but the one that’s developing is more useful. The thing I’m having to do is abandon the original loop pattern that the rest of the caterpillar is based on. Not sure how I feel about that, aesthetically as versus from an engineering standpoint, but it works.

I may do a series of moths and/or butterflies, following this.

Otherwise…I need to get on making masks, again. Demand is high. I could wash what I haven’t used of my Fat Quarters, tonight…there are a bunch of them. I just wasn’t up to working on them today — instead, I got some apparently very poor-quality sleep. Would anyone blame me if I stayed up until 3 AM again tonight, sewing?

Mystery cough, though.

Working without a schedule is so…difficult.