money, personal, self care, small business planning

Still alive.

Thankfully, yes, life still continues in my corner of the world.

I’ve been doing a lot of jewelry design work and, concomitantly, a lot of beadwork. I’ve got three piles of fabric to iron (I was afraid washing yellows with any other color might dull them: so there were blue + green, violet + red, and yellow + orange, loads). At the outset of lockdown, I didn’t realize that buying a relatively small amount of elastic would make it so that I wouldn’t have to spend 40 minutes per face covering (?), and I-don’t-even-want-to-count how many yards of fabric, making ties.

Winter weather has set in, meaning that now, rain and cold temperatures (as cold as it normally gets, here) are normal. Today Yesterday, the first loads of vaccine were shipped out, and the President-Elect was officially voted into office. I also learned what “dumpster fire” meant, a few days ago…and realized why some people were using the term…!

So even though it’s cold and rainy, things aren’t really so bad. Both my parents are still alive, no one’s sick (that I know of). Even though I did lose two of my older relatives earlier in COVID lockdown, and two other relatives are either going through chemotherapy or healing from injuries that could have killed them had the spirits not been with them…we haven’t lost anyone else, so far.

I also haven’t been applying for jobs. I’ve been, well, making things. Of course, one of my first pieces went out to a new friend who should be testing out the clasp mechanism for me. I haven’t quite…clarified?…that with them, though?

So, Xmas is just about 10 days away. I’ve had the idea to make a bunch of face coverings and send them out so people can look stylish as they protect themselves and others from the virus…the thing is…Xmas is about 10 days away. And we aren’t meeting. That means I have to depend on deliveries…which take time. I’m probably going to miss the Xmas deadline, but hey: it’s not like anyone is desperately awaiting a face covering they don’t know is coming. I hope.

Today was spent cleaning out a section of the living quarters — for me particularly: my bedroom, my bathroom, and my study. I really wish there were some better way of cleaning the tops of books, other than with a vacuum and brush attachment. (I still didn’t do it, though. Didn’t even try.)

As we get deeper into this…well…I’ve been spending a lot more time actually doing things with my hands, principally cleaning, preparing food, and crafting. I suppose you could say it’s pretty grounding…which can be necessary, these days. It’s really not until I came back here today that I realized how much I hadn’t been keeping up with the blog circuit. I mean, there were days worth of posts that I hadn’t seen!

In any case…it’s been pretty clear — to me — that I’ve been going back and forth over whether to have an open online presence (with, you know, opinions), or whether to go mostly private for things like communications with friends, in logging my progress (on whatever), etc., while maintaining a separate business presence. The major issue is not knowing whether it will actually ever be possible for me to have a Web presence while constantly keeping my opinions to myself. Especially as I have a tendency to be a very inward-directed and intimate writer: most of my life is internal, not external.

That is, is establishing a Web presence devoid of my own personality a goal that can (or should) be achieved? I can think of at least one obvious Web presence that doesn’t even try to separate personal opinion and business. They have strong branding, but at the same time, turn off a lot of people who don’t agree with their politics…which could also be said for a soap company I tried and didn’t fall in love with. The fact that I had to ignore their writing plastered all over the outside of the bottle…didn’t help.

The question would seem to be what demographic I’m going for as regards my audience. “Highly politicized” is not my demographic. And, I mean, I know I’m left-wing, but I also know where that can fail. I guess maybe it isn’t an issue until people start to be offended…and we just have to discount the people who are easily offended by free speech (by people like myself) in general.

On the other hand…being a presence by and for people who are just trying to live their lives fully and in peace, that’s something else. I mean, seriously: what I’ve documented on this site is just me living my life. That includes my coming into my own as a nonbinary person (I’m going to avoid getting into subtypes right now…I know what I am, but not how to name it or think of it in a way that makes sense to others), and my ongoing cultural discoveries as a mixed-race person who was not exempt from dysfunctional interracial (and intra-racial, for that matter) dynamics in my extended families.

As I write this, I’m thinking that…I’m much calmer right now than I’ve been in months, if not years. I’m not certain if that’s because I’ve spent all day cleaning my spaces, if it’s because I haven’t gone in to work, if it’s because I’m doing what I want to be doing, if it’s because of the presence of hope…? Of gratitude that I have what I do right now, even if I’ve barely been out in the last nine months…?

Seriously, this trial has been like…not a vacation, so much, as an extended Thanksgiving. You know each time your dad laughs at some silly little thing which happens, or each time your mom offers to help you, that it’s not a given and has never been a given that you would get that — or that you’ll continue to get it. So you appreciate it in the moment, knowing that you won’t always have it. Which makes it more…special. Precious.

Stringing and knotting together little beads is like this…they’re not worth much on their own, but together they can make something beautiful. Even if its value isn’t high to anyone except the people who love and appreciate what you’ve done. And they’re the people that should matter. They are your market…if you can make and sell these things in a way in which they can afford to pay you what you need to be paid, to keep doing what you’re doing.

That’s like an exchange of love. It feels like an exchange of love.

(And of course, there are the sweet people who are overjoyed at getting something for free!)

I wonder how much of this is me feeling relieved…hopeful. sekai no naka ni chiisai ii desu.

If I thought…at all…that there were any future for me in Japan, I might not have dropped off of my Japanese language lessons. Unfortunately, I’m not at all sure of that. I’m planning to take up Spanish lessons again. Not tonight. But soon. We’ll see how far I can get before the gendered nouns catch up to me…if I can think of “gender” as more of a grammatical designation and think less about how gendered nouns seem to deeply impact thought processes…I might be able to do it.

Besides, Japan isn’t the greatest place in the world, just because I’m related to people there…and I need to realize that there are “woke” hispanohablantes. In particular…there are other members of the African Diaspora in Spanish-speaking countries…I wouldn’t be alone. Of course, I wouldn’t have reached this stage without seeing that one guy on NHK World who was talking about being bullied for his race in Argentina — and being able to understand most of what he was saying, in Spanish.

And sites like afrofeminas.com, which I was led to by Repeating Islands.

Wow, I’m just a mishmash of cultures, aren’t I…? But I guess when you grow up in a place and situation like mine…you realize that there’s much to be lost in only learning the cultural heritage associated with your lineage…or one of your lineages, as the case may be…that what one may be physically related to, is not necessarily the greatest thing in the world just because of one’s disputable membership in its group.

But I can get into that another time (I’m thinking of martial arts [I’ve trained in four different styles], and my experience in Undergrad [Ethnic Studies!], for future reference).

art, color, painting, self care

Sleepiness and swatch tests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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