career, creative writing, creativity, work, writing

Records, Distractability, and Commitment

I’ve rediscovered one of the major reasons I have continued to write. If I don’t, I have a tendency to forget what has happened. Days blend into each other; I lose my sense of self; I lose continuity.

It was only through writing responses to others in my field that I realized the fact that I can use my Creative Writing degree to run Creative Writing groups, should I become a full-fledged Librarian. At the time of my realization, I also found that there could be a purpose for getting an MFA in Creative Writing: It would teach me how to teach Creative Writing, or at least give me the experience so that I could do so, better.

Of course, though: writing is just one of the multitude of activities I could be pursuing in my off-hours. It’s something that I do already, and something it could be said that I need to do. Along with this goes the need to be reading, which is also something that…well, you know, greatly helps if you’re a Librarian.

This has got me thinking back on the graphic novel project that I had been musing over…and have started to write out. It’s possible that I could work this out in a literature format (which would ease demands over certain things like only involving what I am confident in being able to draw), but I still have no expectations over being able to make money with it.

Traditional publishing is not an easy thing to break into, as an author. But if I’m employed in a library, am well-read, research my Publishing Houses before targeting them, keep up my writing practice, and have an BA in Creative Writing…all of those things should increase my chances of acceptance.

There is the question, I’m asking myself right now, as to whether my medium has to be that thing I need to do, like I need to breathe or eat. In that case, writing is it. I basically can’t avoid writing, and expect to hold who I am, together.

Then there are the other things.

There’s study and continuous learning related to my primary career, which is — for now — Adult Services Librarianship (or aiming for that, at least). In addition to reading broadly, there are competencies that can best be approached by study. Then there is second language acquisition…which, at least, keeps things fresh.

My barrier to Spanish language acquisition is lower by miles than my barrier to Japanese language acquisition. As I have a lot of other things I want to be doing, and I’ve realized some of the skewed viewpoint I got in my Middle and High School language classes, I’ve decided to give Spanish a shot. Even though it is basically fraught with political, social, and religious land mines for me.

However, if I want to study the legacy of colonialism on Central and South America (and the Philippines), it’s a good language to have. Not to say that colonialism only hit there, but looking at postcolonialism in, say, Africa, is likely going to be more difficult for me (unless I learn other Western European languages). It’s a start.

Then there is the problem of what can’t be communicated through words. I’m not a good enough poet at this point to be able to verbally elicit what I mean through methods other than prose. As a youth, I didn’t have the vocabulary to really say (audibly) what I needed to say. Of course, I can study poetry now — maybe some of it will rub off on me, and I know where to find it — the issue is dealing with the idea that I’m participating in frippery while the world is going down the toilet.

That, however, forgets the power of words and the inspiration they can elicit. I might be able to inspire many people to help — and they might do more work than I would able to do, if I directly applied myself. So, I suppose, I shouldn’t think of reading, or writing, as purely recreational or useless (even if it is fiction or poetry).

There’s also the point that writing is hard; emotionally speaking. Especially so, where it comes to writing about things one has experienced which are so damaging and idiotic, one may wonder why they take up any space in consciousness at all. I am generally not one to write farces, but I can see their use. Black humor may come into play, in the future. I’ve never considered it a weapon in my arsenal…but times may call for it.

Aside from this…I am so easily distracted. There are tons of things I want to do that I just don’t find time to do, because I’m too busy making up more things to do.

For example, I picked up a set of templates for English Paper Piecing (EPP), recently…whereupon I then designed a different pattern, even nicer than I had envisioned. So right now, I have three different designs for quilts, going on in my head. I should likely do something with that: one is based on EPP, one I drew on graph paper, and the third, I generated from paper-folding.

Do I know what I’m doing? I don’t think I know what I’m doing.

Well, maybe some part of my brain, knows what it’s doing. The color aspect of this…is likely why I continue to be drawn. That, and the similarity of quilts to mandalas. There’s also the geometry thing; I suppose I can’t forget the geometry thing. Math and color? Is that where my brain needs to be to unwind?

I also suppose that there really isn’t any reason why I can’t, or shouldn’t, use watercolor to help design these things. So much of it has to do with color placement and interactions. I mean, a quilt top is basically not much more than a pieced-together sheet, if it’s all the same color…

I’ve also realized that a lot of the books I find, I can use maybe 10-12 pages out of 60. Those 10-12 are really valuable, though. I may have to start keeping files (or more of a file) of the parts of books I can use…

All that to say…I’m formulating ideas about what’s necessary in my life, and what isn’t. It should help me divide my time and energy, so that I can get it all done.

I just hate to have Art take a back seat to language. The fact is, though: I try to write on a regular basis (hopefully, daily). I’m much less committed, with Art. Maybe that’s not a bad thing, for me…it’s just a surprising thing.

I’m going to save analysis of this entry for another day…

organization

I feel kind of bad, for not wanting to make a bead database.

However, making a database to catalog my beads, is overkill. At the end I would have something that could be utilized for (at least a section of) a small bead shop. Do I really want that? No. Not unless I want to be the Inventory Manager for a small bead shop…which I have thought of…

I have, however, thought of taking the label-maker and labeling different storage areas. It would be a step in the right direction. Then, when I separate out beads into these areas (as with the kits I occasionally create), I can note which drawer they’re in, or something. That way, when I’m looking for a specific tube of beads and I know it’s in a kit, and I don’t remember where I left it, I can look back at my records and the last action date, and it will give me a place to begin looking.

The major issue I can see right now is not having recorded (or even, sometimes, not even having the data to record) the descriptive information on each type of bead I have. This collection dates back to the 1990’s, so it’s likely that there is data that has been permanently lost (particularly price, initial quantity, and color name), because I didn’t think it mattered.

I guess I could remedy this by making a numerical Item ID field (with information correspondent to a record on each bag or vial…reminiscent of what I’ve seen in use, in bead stores, and in my library), but somehow that also seems to be overkill…

And I find myself going off-track with this stuff. I was on a roll until I tried to bring Information Science into it…whereas I think I was good before, because I was doing what I wanted to do (making jewelry), not what I thought I was supposed to be doing (organizing).

Anyhow, I still need to re-pot my Dwarf Umbrella Plant, and clean my bedroom and my office. It’s not like I really want to do either of the latter two things, but it will help. I’ll just have to take (yet another) shower, tonight…though if I bind up my hair right now, it will be much easier.

I should also remember to look at my records here, if I find myself without any idea of what I should be doing…

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, beadwork, glass beads, jewelry design, seed beads

Hyperfocus.

I wanted to write this last night, but by the time I was willing to call it quits, it was 2:30 AM. Also, as I have an unofficial policy of not taking photos of my work after sundown…sleep was preferable to staying up further into the early morning. I’ve had severe problems with sleep dysregulation before, and I have responsibilities, so taking care of myself has to come in sometime (even if I’m hyper-focused!).

Last night, I learned a number of things…the largest of which, relates to my preferred color schemes…the second largest of which, encompassed two rules:

  1. Don’t tie off a macramé pattern directly to a clasp, or you get the disadvantage of built-in stiffness on the connection. Tying off to a metal ring, then attaching the ring to another ring, alleviates the stress on that join.
  2. Don’t cut the excess cord off of knots before sealing those knots, first. Otherwise, your knots will unravel and your work will start to fall apart (at the very end!).

Today, I’ve basically been working all day at making jewelry. My folks call it a, “hobby,” moreso than a, “side hustle.” Is a hobby this serious? I don’t know.

About the color combinations…I’ve found that I want to stay away from monochromatic color schemes. This was surprising. In the past — as a youth, I had been much more hesitant about using color, so it would be more likely for me to stick with blues and greys. Hematite (an iron ore) was a particular favorite material, as it easily integrates with silver, has a nice weight and heft, plus a gunmetal metallic luster, and has been relatively inexpensive (for a natural stone).

It was relatively amazing that I was able to figure out the optimal pattern for this bracelet and write it down and then follow it. When I look at the knotting pattern on the sample I was working out initially, I can see it was trial-and-error; all over the place. I had to unravel a good amount of the work I did when I first started yesterday. This is because reversing the three-knot pattern (which reverses between every bead) essentially messes up the spacing of the beads.

Although I’ve made it to the point where I use some colors more enthusiastically than others, I also have certain hues that I am more attracted to, than others. Looking at my little bead palette things, which I’ve posted about before on this blog (scroll down), I see a lot of warm blues, greens, and violets, ranging into violet-pink…not so many yellows or oranges — or the browns that I intensely want to use. I already know that I’m not even trying to use reds, because reds are generally so intense that they overpower everything else. Pinks are also difficult to use, because of the fact that they are often either dyed (thus possibly not lightfast), or because they tend to be extremely pale.

The first trial version of this bracelet style, I made in a color palette extremely similar to the one above, but I used Capri Blue and Capri Blue Silverlined (S/L) for two of the three 6/0 bead colors that I used. The second trial bracelet (above) used Transparent Emerald (a blue-leaning green) in place of the Capri Blue S/L, and because of the lack of silver lining in the bead hole, the green falls back much more and becomes very subtle.

I’m planning to remake the first trial. I basically ruined it by cutting the threads before sealing the knots, which caused the piece to begin to unravel. I also tied it directly to the clasp, which I shouldn’t have done. I have three options:

  1. Wear the bracelet until it randomly falls apart and then remake it
  2. Cut the bracelet apart and re-knot it properly
  3. Buy another string of 4mm green iris fire-polished Czech rounds, give up the extra gold-luster 8/0s, and make a duplicate.

Although S/L beads are eye-catching in the store, they can overpower a piece if used indiscriminately. When I was a youth, I would use a lot of these, and so maybe it’s this that causes me to look at some bead combinations and think that they look like something I would have made at 16 years old.

I’ve also found that I have a tendency to like luster beads, especially Gold Luster; that opaque beads are much more useful than I would expect, advancing in compositions; that matte beads are welcome contrasts to metallic and glossy beads; that iris beads can be the foundation of a piece; and that transparent beads often fall back in a piece, while S/Ls advance.

Cobalt Blue is also extremely difficult for me to use, on par with red, because of its intensity and nearness to violet.

On top of all this, I find myself hesitant to use dyed and color-lined beads, because I’m pretty sure they’re categorically susceptible to fading (even though many colors cannot be made without these options).

I need to keep a journal on this information, including information about knotting patterns. Right now, my design notes are on temporary papers. I need to do something better.

There’s more I have to say — in regard to using SuperDuos and MiniDuos — but it will have to wait for another night. I’ve worked out two more swatches of a pattern than my initial two so far, using a double-needle technique which is much easier than I predicted (with the main issues being accidental loops, and going through the right piercings in the right directions). The third and fourth iterations (using Magatamas, Fringe beads, and Demi Round and O-beads) are very interesting, but I don’t have photos, right now.

What I can say is that for some reason, beadweaving is less stressful for me than micro-macramé, likely because I’m abrading my hands less (even though I did give myself a pretty nasty scratch by storing a needle in the fabric of my pants)…