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?

beading, Business, career, craft, creativity, jewelry design

Showing up.

Well, I was able to restart my beading. I’m working on a project from (what at least feels like) years ago. The dominant colors are bronze, brown, and green, though I’m also working a little deep red into it, with some success. (Luckily, it doesn’t matter if anyone can recognize it as red, or not! It’s very subtle.) I am having a couple of problems, though:

  1. Just like trying to restart painting from zero, or restart writing from zero, trying to restart beading from zero comes with its own difficulties. I wouldn’t say I’m, “stymied,” just yet, but there’s definitely some practice that will have to come before I can get back into my stride.
  2. I’ve realized how core to my personality my creativity is, so it’s kind of…hard, after having been forced away from it (timewise), for so long.
    And, well, then there’s this one:
  3. I find myself more interested in this than I realized; part of the reason I did continue on with the Library training was to gain entrepreneurial skills. Actually, part of the reason to start the Library training at all, was to support my beadwork and jeweling. It’s not obvious, but being a handcrafter is not a lucrative position to be in; most handcrafters make poverty wages. Nor is being a jeweler, even though the items produced are essentially luxury items.

For the last two or three days, I’ve been moving things around. I’ve freed up a lot of space in my storage, more than I could have ever imagined. The major thing is having to depend on my own documentation to be able to tell what everything is and the cost of each little thing (which isn’t even possible to exactly know, without the initial quantities of each item).

Estimations are kind of crucial, here, when dealing with backstock which is not labeled as to its cost or value. With new stock it’s easier, but that data has to be recorded pretty much as soon as possible and in as much detail as possible, before memory fades (a lot of places don’t give itemized receipts). That is something I learned from an early Library Science class.

Particularly…working in a bead store or helping an established jeweler/beadworker/fiber artist is kind of a dream job, sad as that is. (I would also take fabric store or art-supply store.)

The illuminating part is that I’m more interested in doing informational interviews with small-business owners where it comes to jewelers, beaders, fiber artists, and suppliers, than I am interested in doing informational interviews with Librarians.

Essentially, I’m setting up to run a small business (which I know I can do now) at the same time as I’m dealing with trying to find a job as a Librarian. I’m not sure what liberties I can take in describing my current frustrations with my job, so I won’t. Given the last day or so of being sick (I’ll spare you the details), I didn’t opt to go in, today — which is good, because I was exhausted as it was. The weird thing is that cooperating with people at my job and knowing that I’m providing a helpful service to a community, is most of what’s keeping me there. And that’s bizarre for me to say, because before I started that job, I was basically a loner. However, I was a loner for a reason, which is not valid in adult society.

So I’m kind of dealing with this split but overlapping vision.

I’m realizing the need for cataloging where I got things from, the names of things, the locations of things, the prices and quantities of things, and finding quality vendors. That’s before getting to actually using the things. But it is typical in a small business (in this case, a micro-business) that most of one’s time is spent running the business, not producing the goods.

I’m actually glad that I have taken Business classes, in that way, because now I know that. If I don’t get a job soon, I’m now thinking about taking more Business classes to stave off loan repayment and sharpen my business acumen…though obviously, that’s a last-resort type of thing. From what I’ve heard, I should be able to make the loan repayments and cover them with my current job…we’ll see. I have Summer semester to work it out.

I also have heard that it takes an enormous personal commitment to establish a small business (and can take upwards of 60 hours of work per week [do I say, “hey, that’s just 10 hours per day”?]), but in this case it would be doing something I love (even if I’m not all that confident in my own creativity, all the time).

There are also the upshots that I have a good idea of the kind of work I want to do, where my niche market might lie, the tools I would need, the suppliers I would employ, the people skills involved (networking! How often can I be excited about that???), the community, places to learn, and ideas of places to start to sell (fairs, farmers’ markets, boutiques, flea markets, online). I also have experience, skill, stock, and tools. Which, particularly in silversmithing, aren’t really…things one would think of?

In silversmithing, it’s basically extremely helpful to take classes or apprentice to know what you’re doing, with which tools, in a safe manner…though it’s kind of a back-pocket thing for me, right now. I don’t want to do it, but I may need to, at some point: for instance, if I start getting gouged where it comes to buying pre-made components.

My main bead store for years consistently had overpriced metals, which I didn’t fully realize until I started making my own earwires. It’s also not difficult to hard-solder jump rings, but you need to know how to pick-solder, which I didn’t, for years. You also need to know how to quickly clean up and polish that stuff after it’s made, because time is money, and trust me, it looks horrible after having been blasted with fire.

(And yes, I did eventually look up how to do granulation, online: it isn’t looking easy. But I wonder if one could get a granulated-look from macramé plus bead embroidery?)

I think the major issues I would have, would be financial; like which web host to use, or which payment processor to employ.

So I know that I’m not going to be a goldsmith, and I’m looking at being a beadworker with the enhancements of fiber work and minor silversmithing. Basically, a major reason to go into Public Library work is that I’d be able to use my experience here to help other people, and thus have a reason to continue pouring resources and time into this current, “hobby.”

And yet, I’m spending so little time actually beading. I realized today that I couldn’t even remember yesterday (my computer told me I’d been off of it for two days, today), and then I realized that I had been sorting loads of beads into tiny containers for most of the amount of time I had been up.

Well — sorting and labeling. Probably like most crafters, I feel like I do more stashing than actually using what I have. In Art, we hear that most of the work is just showing up to the bench, every day. That gives the possibility of making, “good art,” but not the guarantee. The thing is, not showing up at all means there is no possibility.

Of course, “good art,” is subjective; “good design,” not to such a degree. But still…at least I engaged with my materials, and I can see pairings of beads jumping out at me, now (from colors I never thought I’d use)! Right now I have the forward side section of this necklace worked out; I’m not sure if I should be thinking of it like music with different verses…I just am. I don’t know if it will help, though.

color, drawing, fine arts, organization, painting, storage

Yes, organization profoundly impacts usage.

Today has been full of organizing things, though most particularly my art stuff. While I was doing that, I found the majority of the 2-D work I did that still speaks to me, was done in ink, or in paint. I also did a major rearrangement of my flat storage and of my bead and craft storage (though I just now realize that I didn’t touch the papercrafting section, or anything that had to do with metalwork).

I’m getting rid of a bunch of art from Community College and before, which isn’t portfolio-quality…and to be honest, I’m not going to miss most of it. Basically, a lot of it just records my growth (or was, at one time, a medium for it), and has been taking up space in my flat storage. Having so much stuff just taking up space, I think, has led me to the point of thinking that I’ve already done what there is to do…which is not a mindset to cultivate, in the Arts.

I realize now that I love color — more than that, I love solid color, and the character it gives things. That seems to peg me as more of a painter than someone into drawing, but as I think I’ve mentioned before, drawing organically led me into painting (as I realized the limitations and encumbrances of drawing, and dry media).

At this point, I’ve got to wonder if transparent watercolor will lead me into acrylic (I’ve done work in both, and acrylic enables more spontaneity, for me, as opacity is achievable). However: gouache is a step between the two (Acryla Gouache moreso), and the working methods between transparent watercolors and gouache aren’t even similar. That is if I could be said to have developed a working technique for gouache, which I’m doubting, at this point.

I’ve decided not to work in oils for now, though water-soluble oil paint would be a first step. (Yes, it exists.)

The thing is, dealing with shape and fields of color, as versus line and mark exclusively, is a newer thing to me than drawing, and so I can start with a drawing and then add color, and the effect is not really like the monochrome that it was before. I’m not entirely sure what to do about this, but I’m thinking it’s a point to grow on. The benefit of using transparent watercolor is that I can still let the underdrawing show through. Gouache doesn’t allow this, unless the painting is approached very delicately, from the start.

In regard to acrylics, though: I’ve also discovered that I have a good number of boards (hardboard, canvas board) to practice on — they just need to be gessoed over, and I can use my acrylic brushes from the Art program. I also have a couple of stretched canvases.

Do I know what to paint? No. I think it will have to develop organically: but I can start with still-lifes of flowers and produce. Or, I could do some throwaway graphite sketches in my cheap paper sketchbook, and see if anything comes up.

I’ve also got to hang a bunch of my work, though. That way, it can stop living on my bedroom table.

Today, I also resolved to make better use of the miniature sets of drawers that I’ve gotten. I’ve re-labeled what I could. I also refilled a couple of pens, which oddly enough haven’t clogged yet from non-use; and generally just put stuff away.

The types of beads which are more useful than others have also been getting clearer to me. For example, I would use Long Magatamas for kumihimo braiding (which is why I originally got them, before I realized that beaded kumihimo is difficult when you don’t know what you’re doing) — or maybe bead crochet (though I haven’t tried bead crochet with Long Magatamas yet); but because their holes are so large, I find them less well-suited for beadweaving, as they remain loose and relatively mobile. Because I dislike the aesthetics there, I may want to move them out of my prime storage areas.

I’ve also realized the utility of cheap paper sketch journals. I have one from a while back which I began to fill with sketches of imaginary flowers, including — I now realize — a set of remembered Alstroemeria sketches (I love Alstroemeria!) with the round and narrow petals reversed. It isn’t that the drawing is aesthetically unpleasant; it’s that it’s anatomically incorrect, like if you drew someone with legs for arms and arms for legs because you were unfamiliar with human anatomy. The people could even seem beautiful to an observer who also didn’t pay attention to human anatomy… ;) …and I’m having flashbacks to the Mannerism topic in Art History…

Probably, though, I shouldn’t let that stop me from drawing. The feeling was there, even if the accuracy wasn’t.

I’m actually kind of surprised at the effect I can get with just a pencil and paper…

I still have a lot more cleaning and organization to do, particularly where it comes to the bedroom and office. I also found a bunch of journals. Apparently I have a trait of making a new journal every time a sufficiently new topic arises. Like, I have a journal for rough drafts of blog posts; I have a journal for note-taking when reading nonfiction; I have a journal on jewelry design ideas, and one on things I learn while making that jewelry, etc.

I should catalog them. :)

beading, beadweaving, beadwork, glass beads, seed beads

Colors.

Last night — or yesterday, rather — M and I made a run to the quilt store. We went there instead of the big box fabric store, as (given an easy choice) I would rather give my money to support local small business, than to grow a large corporation. There’s that, and the quality of the fabrics at the quilt store is really nice (even if they mostly have cottons and silks). It may just be me being a color nut, but also; just looking at all the different shades of fabric is awesome.

It can, however, be a bit intimidating when you’re choosing just what color scheme to use in a project! I was able to help M out with color selection, and pick up a nice batik to use in the side slits in the Nepali Blouse. The way it’s turning out, I may have a minor skirt at the bottom of this blouse! (If, that is, it becomes necessary to raise the side slits back to their original position, and insert a panel to cover my skin.)

Because I would only be going to a certain convention this time around to pick up C-Lon cording, we decided against it. I was able to find a different supplier, which is a good thing!

The other thing interesting, yesterday, was breaking back into my beadwork. There’s a friend who gave me a couple of bracelets to mend, although I said at the outset that I doubted I could fix them.

A while ago (2011), I tried fixing one, requiring some disassembly, and realized the thing had been made with a double-needle netting technique (which I still don’t know, though I could probably figure it out). That in itself was only part of the problem; the larger part is that the beads are so faded and tiny that I can’t tell which color is which, unless they’re pre-grouped.

M suggested that I return this attempt and make this friend a new bracelet (basically an apology bracelet, like the apology earrings I’ve now realized I have no record of on WordPress, as versus in my archives). The below is the swatch I produced by toying around with stuff last night. I brought together a set of colors which is obviously intended both to be beautiful, creative, and relatively gender-neutral.

blue and topaz beadweaving sample.

To the left, here, is a photo of that trial swatch. I basically knew I wanted to try something with SuperDuos…and I had these cream SuperDuos and blue MiniDuos. I really didn’t know if they would work together, but it was worth a shot; and it seems they do!

SuperDuos — or maybe I should say, beads that I’ve seen sold as SuperDuos — can vary in shape, from bean-looking things, to almost DiamonDuo or GemDuo shape (that is, rhombuses). SuperDuos are a bit more curvy in their edges, than either DiamonDuos or GemDuos, though; at least if I’m correct. Of course, though, I have SuperDuos from the early days, meaning I may have some very old-model beads!

I’m going to have to remove the “root beer” bead in between the two amber 3mm Magatama drops, in order for this to turn out flat. Right now, the fringes are overlapping a bit, as the three-bead fringe (two 3mm Magatamas and one matte Fringe bead, possibly Czech in origin) is slightly wider than one full-size SuperDuo. If I repeated the three-bead blue fringe every time I could, the overlap would be noticeable.

Tonight, D and I went out to an Asian discount store which is closing its doors; I found two “Quilting Totebags” for about $2.50 each, and brought home three smaller chirimen bags which are still big enough to contain tubes of beads, and projects. I’ve been wanting to take this stuff to work, and this seems like a good way in which to do so.

One thing I’ve learned over the course of years is that the method of storage affects the use of what is stored: if two things are stored far apart or segregated by size or shape, for example, it is less likely they’ll find it into combination, unless measures are taken to counter this.

I also realized that right now, with my design, I have a tendency to start with color and color combinations, and combine everything I can find into a desired color scheme, then take what shapes I have in those colors, and attempt to assemble them into a form. (It’s kind of a creative exercise.)

In the future, I may attempt to get all the shapes I can in some neutral shade, and work at the form first, before choosing the colors.

I feel the need to note some things about design, for myself in the future:

  • Beadweaving is kind of like using Legos. Structurally (aside from cabochons and bead embroidery, the latter of which can range into sewing), you generally have two main design elements: piercings, and lines.
  • Any line must go through or around a bead, which has one or more piercings through which a line may pass.
  • That line must then either wrap around another line (as with Brick Stitch), or pass through a piercing.
  • In bead weaving, we generally attempt to cover exposed threads with beads, in order to avoid damage to those threads.
  • In beaded micromacramé, not all cords must be covered, as the cords themselves are a visual as well as structural design element (with the possibility of becoming a dominant design element). These cords are also generally strong enough to withstand exposure.

Right now, I absolutely know I need a shower before tomorrow, so I’m going to end this, here. I will note, however, that I have a lot of new reading material from the bookstore…it would be nice to get around to it!

craft, garments, sewing

Getting back to projects :)

I thought this post would go best on Hidden Jewels, as it’s a craft post. What I was doing last night is a continuation of the Nepali Blouse project (Folkwear #111) which I seem to have last posted about in 2010. I finished the toile (muslin mockup) for this project last night, along with working on the toile of the Japanese Field Clothing (I’m using the monpe/mompei section) pattern (Folkwear #112), to the point that I can see how it’s supposed to fit.

The thing about leaving a project unfinished for almost a decade is that your body shape can change during that time. In my case, I changed from a Medium to a Large (I think?) in the Nepali Blouse. I learned not to cut a pattern along the line which currently fits, now; I cut out the pattern to Medium size in 2010, so now that I need the Large size…I’ve cut off and thrown out what I needed, as waste. Of course, now I need it, as over the last 9 years (about a quarter of my life so far), I’ve put on a bit of weight (which is to be expected).

Instead of eyeballing the differences in sizes for that pattern, because it’s so complex, I decided to just get another copy. So far, it looks like the same pattern, but I’m just referring to the copyright date here: I have not matched up the components. I’m not really looking forward to cutting out all the pattern pieces again, so if I could match up pieces I’ve already cut and confirm them as the same, it would be great.

Right now, I could be working on this project. But just like last night I felt best working on something with my hands instead of writing, right now I feel the need to keep records.

It’s amazing how easy it was to switch out my computer for the sewing machine. I mean, seriously: I can just clear off a section of the craft table and sew on it. It’s kind of awesome.

The other pattern — the monpe — I had to scale up, though it was relatively simple to do so, looking at the differences in measurement between each size. The current version of Folkwear #112 isn’t the same as the one I have, though. However, as the pieces are mostly rectangles, and the changes in sizing are only along one side of a pattern piece, I feel okay with doing the calculations on my own.

The hard part about that pattern was telling the front from the back of the fabric (and the inside of the pant from the outside), which shouldn’t be too much of an issue with the fabric I have (a one-sided print).