art, technology

Solving technical difficulties

I had almost forgotten about those text-only posts about the drawing inks and watercolors! Well…let’s see. I do work over the weekend, but midweek I might have time for playing with this, some more. The drawback to posting (color) scans is that I have to use a machine with which I’m not highly familiar.

Then there’s the fact that I trained on Photoshop, but don’t want to pay $20/month to have permission to use it. I think I mentioned somewhere a while ago (maybe on a defunct blog) that I had been using PS Elements — until some update made it suddenly stop working. Was that intentional? I don’t know. But it didn’t make Adobe look good.

Of course, this is part of a long argument propounded by former Photoshop users. There are other solutions, but they take retraining, and their UX is often not as intuitive. Then there’s the fact that Adobe has probably made strides to make sure they get into the classrooms.

I do have half a mind to hook up my drawing tablet again. I took it off for my own reasons, but it reminds me that there are alternatives to Adobe. Not necessarily all open-source…not that open-source is bad, but I wonder what else is out there.

Having worked with watercolor paints recently made me realize something: one of my earlier instructors who was a Digital Illustrator, was right in that he said that digital art was made to emulate physical media, but it wasn’t a replacement for it. I haven’t been through all the art programs out there, but I wonder if anyone has replicated the blossoming of color that happens with good watercolor paint, in wet-in-wet painting. I bet someone has (it’s probably on a Mac, though).

Of course, if I’m photo-editing, I can probably do that better on the computer than in the darkroom (particularly because I don’t know how to process film, and the thought of developing photos has always put me a little on edge).

There is the possibility of getting a Mac tablet and Apple Pencil…but it’s seriously a lot of money. I mean, I’d have to work out a plan and timetable to save up for the thing, and I don’t even know if I’d like it. I guess that’s why there are Apple Stores.

Of course…if I’m going to do that, I could save up for a Mac first, and if I don’t like how the Apple Pencil works upon trying it out, I can apply the savings to a Cintiq. The price has gone down since I last checked.

(Really, Haru? You’re really entertaining this?)

Then there’s this stuff about scanning or photography.

This is kind of too much to think about, right now. I have, however, located a couple of models which would work…the question is…is it that important to me.

That depends on how much time I actually spend making artwork. It hasn’t been much, recently. If, however, I spent as much time painting as I did writing — trying to work on it every day, you know — that…that would be great.

And yes, I do need to give myself permission to make my life not all about my career. Though there is the possibility, I found yesterday…of helping to run the art displays at one or more libraries, which would give me valuable experience if I wanted to work in or run a gallery (and thus get back into the visual art world). It wouldn’t pay — it’s a volunteer position. But still…that’s really interesting, you know?

There is more I have to say about…languages. I realized the other night that while I may have been taught the basic mechanics of Spanish language, no one ever really encouraged me to do any recreational reading in Spanish, or to use the language outside the classroom. That (and the missionary angle of most of my teachers) has very obviously impacted my regard for it.

Also — I’ve realized that if I learn Spanish instead of Japanese — this would give me much more time to work on my Art. (I’ve also realized that the evangelical pamphlet that someone donated the other day, was likely written to be easy to read. I found a book by Neil Gaiman in the Spanish Children’s section the other day, which I couldn’t well read. I could read it well enough to know that it was likely disturbing.) ;)

Relearning Spanish also doesn’t mean that I won’t ever learn Japanese.

Anyway…it’s almost midnight, and I’ve got an early morning, tomorrow. More has happened…but I should get some rest.

art, career, comics, creativity, self care, self-publishing, work

Creativity and adulthood

It wasn’t that long ago that I took a chance on Ecoline transparent watercolors. I still haven’t gotten to use them. Bright side, I did eventually (tonight) get around to flushing and soaking my Pilot Prera — this is the calligraphy nib fountain pen which was filled with orange-red ink. It was drying out, and I realized I needed to do something before it dried out all the way. It’s not my goal to kill my fountain pens, and the Pilots tend to dry out more quickly than the TWSBI Ecos (though less quickly than the LAMY, which I’ve gotten rid of). The TWSBIs have a silicone O-ring under the cap, which screws on, whereas the Pilots just have caps that slide on.

I’ve intended to move back into sequential art, but either I’m getting distracted (likely by work, which I’m not sure anyone can call a “distraction”), or I’m just…adulting. I keep being called in for work on days I had designated as rest days. Which, I think, is why someone told me that I needed to have “boundaries” in this job.

Today I had to stay home or be miserable for seven hours — I chose to come home and sleep. Apparently, I’ve picked up some kind of bug (D thinks it’s a cold). It’s early enough in the cycle that I’m probably contagious. I’m pretty sure I must have picked it up yesterday at work…honestly the last few days are a blur, though. It’s like a day is missing in there and I’m not sure which one it is. Though I did get to see “Hamilton”. It’s possible that I got exposed that day on public transit, though that means it would have had to incubate for a few days.

I have been finishing reading a book on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, which is possibly a reason why I was sick, today. We’re all expected to give reviews or information on books in the library. I’m a little miffed that the author didn’t say what was actually going on with the water until 2/3 of the way through the book. What’s actually disappointing about the situation in Flint, as well, is that it could have been rectified by having A CHEMIST ON STAFF. Seriously. There are also a lot of other ways it could have been stopped, but it seems the government was determined to fail in this case.

Anyhow…I’ve been working a lot and reading a lot and my free time for art has suffered. That’s kind of annoying, considering that I have enough materials and am just lacking in time or prioritization. Something that could have mattered, though: I have been trying to fix up a different site online…I’m paying close to $200/year for it, and it’s been locked from the beginning. It was originally for my portfolio, but I have to do work if I want to make that part of it public (which doesn’t seem like the greatest idea). More likely is that I’ll be sectioning off that part of it and using the rest to play around with having a real website, as versus a subdomain at this one.

As I’m aging, that is, I am finding that my portfolio isn’t going to be a great strength — of much more use is the experience I’m getting, on the job. If I make a professional website and update it regularly, as well, it could be worth more than the portfolio.

I think I’m just going to have to either work my creativity into my job, though, or otherwise carve out time for it. I still have to figure out how many hours a week I want to work, and when and where I want to work. There are a couple of local places I hadn’t considered, until seeing how far (and potentially hazardous) it is to get to other branches. There are going to be at least two work sites within 10 minutes’ drive, and not being able yet to drive myself, this can matter.

Anyhow…my habits suggest that if I want to make comics, I should be reading more of them. I might also want to take a look at bookbinding resources. I have been taught how to make ‘zines, but unfortunately I don’t quite remember how to make a 16-page one out of one sheet of paper. That could just be interesting, if I didn’t want to sew the things together myself. It’s possible, that is, to make a large image and then have it printed on one sheet of paper, then cut and fold to create booklets.

Why would I do this? I’m not entirely sure. Especially given that unless the 16-page ‘zine is printed on a huge paper, I’m dealing with very little real estate where it comes to space on each page.

And yes, I do have an interesting idea to just print out a big long spiel on the back of that paper.

Or to default to 8.5″x11″ paper and forgo bleeds (printing to the edge of the page), then write and insert images and have that printed out and perfect-bound like a college Reader.

…I should get back to sleep. I can feel it.

writing

Intentionality. Considering my (future) content.

I’m unsure whether this is a good thing or not, but I’m reaching the point where I’m starting to get okay with not chronicling my life, publicly. Of course, doing so provides me with ample opportunity to hone my writing skills, which I can appreciate.

In my Creative Writing program we were taught to write every day — not necessarily fiction, but anything we could get out. This was generally done so that by the time we got a really good idea for a project, we would still be practiced and fresh, not having to start from zero.

I’ve reached this point with drawing already, not having had the resources of time, energy, confidence, and motivation, to devote to practice during the last two years of the MLIS. Then again, drawing is not as integral to me as is writing…and my drawings have a tendency to devolve into practicing writing in Japanese language.

(No, I don’t know why.)

However, in my program, there was never anything said about writing publicly on a daily basis. In fact, it’s better not to publish online, if one wants to go through a traditional publisher and grant them first publication rights. Or at least, that had been true, before certain high-profile publications like My Milk Toof and 50 Shades of Grey. And, of course, if you’re willing to self-publish…there’s always Amazon. But then again…you’re dealing with Amazon.

One of the reasons I came back here, as versus using another social media outlet, is the fact that I tend to write voluminously, to the point that I have handled documents (or tried to, anyway) which have been hundreds of pages long. (That was in my teens.) Although I haven’t quite gone to that extreme on social media, it’s easy for me to write with that sort of flow. It’s also out of place, on just about every social media outlet I’ve known.

Not to mention that I dislike having my words picked apart by proprietary technology on a proprietary platform (where I have no control over distribution and analysis and am not being compensated for my content). But that’s part of what makes the Internet great, right?

There is risk that goes into saying anything timely and meaningful. It’s not too much to ask for something in return (more than, for example, specifically targeted advertisements).

I’m thinking of being more intentional about my writing, though in what sense and how, I’m not entirely sure at this point. I do know that I want to build up a writing portfolio, which will not be really…effective, without having done research and reading to enhance and consider my own thoughts.

What I can and have done most recently have been responses to my reading, though it hasn’t been contextual enough (that is, I haven’t brought in enough of others’ work), to really be considered professional. I don’t know to a precise degree the legal ramifications of bringing in others’ works, outside of the academic protections of Fair Use.

If I am dealing with academic essays, that’s one thing. I know how that works. But book reviews? Public commentary? Something to be published with a side effect of personal gain? For that, I’m uncertain.

I also haven’t spent as much time on each article as I’ve needed to; most of my work online is a first or second draft. A third draft or further could be advisable for development from the initial impulses to a fully fleshed-out work — at least for short pieces. Long pieces require more than that, along with being able to track changes (so that, in a fiction piece for example, I’m not unintentionally factually contradicting myself at two different places in the storyline).

I haven’t done fiction in months, and what I have done, have been thinly veiled exercises in observation. I want and/or need to get back into it; I just have trepidation over the possibility of encouraging unhealthy patterns of thought. How would composition work with a relatively healthy brain — not one that runs away on its own assumptions?

This could be why writers work in, “twists,” just to encourage healthy doubt. I mean, even in their own minds.

But right now…I’m thinking of using my desire to write, in my search for better employment. I know we were told that it’s difficult to make a living as a writer, but as supplemental income, it might be worth a shot…

creative writing, creativity, design, organization

Resources divided by devotion: goals and priorities

The positive thing about having a blog (one of them) is having a record of what you were thinking before you went off on some flight-of-fancy/distraction and got lost. :) Right now I have a lot of things I want to do, and as always, time is limited. (Sometimes I feel like I should be five different people working all at once to fulfill all the goals I’ve set before myself…)

Sometimes this is a good thing — like when I talk about having long-term goals that I’m working towards (becoming a Librarian, learning Japanese language, learning Web Programming, etc…though it would be a lie to say I really find Web Programming personally interesting; it would more be, “good stuff to know,” not, “fun stuff to learn”). It means that I’m not stagnant, that I have directions to grow into. It also means that it’s okay not to have attained them yet: they’re long-term.

Then there are shorter-term goals…which aren’t really all that pressing, in my case (with the exception of exercise and hygiene), due to the fact that I still live with family (which, I’m finding, a lot of people in my generation do). The longer-term goals kind of automatically should be broken down into shorter-term goals and dispersed among them, but that’s something I haven’t mastered, yet. There’s also the issue of short-term goals being recurrent…meaning I probably should have some sort of schedule for them.

When I was still taking serious classes (from a University, that is), I started Bullet Journaling to try and organize all of this, because I had no choice. It’s not the most intuitive thing for me — I’d rather use an app — but it works. I’m not sure if I’m the type of person to decorate my pages, though. Most of what is valuable online about Bullet Journaling also seems to be looking at other peoples’ layouts…words seem kind of extraneous.

I should probably start out by listing all my long-term goals and all my short-term and recurrent goals. Then I could try and divide them among the weeks and months. Certain things like Japanese language practice and JavaScript practice would highly benefit from this type of order, because I have a habit of starting things and then not finishing them, or beginning and then leaving off for so long that I forget what I learned.

I’m not considering getting back into Japanese language at this moment. I have my reasons. I’m not going further into it than that.

As for the other stuff: beading, fiber arts, sewing, drawing, writing…it’s kind of hard to prioritize among these. Obviously, writing comes in as a big #1, where it comes to what I need to do to stay sane. But what else I really need to do, of these things…it’s not easy to tell. Drawing obviously goes with the writing, in case I want to author a graphic novel. That prioritizes drawing with pencil, fineliner, and marker; also reading graphic novels, and books on how to create graphic novels.

That is, of course, unless I write the thing as literature instead…though sometimes hard elements of the plot come through in my drawings, moreso than in my text. (I have a habit of expressing things I didn’t know I was feeling, through my art.)

Anyhow, the things I can think of that I’m interested in at the moment are lacemaking (how femme can you get, right), sewing, embroidery, and beadwork (including beaded micromacramé). Aside from that are painting (acrylic, watercolor, gouache), sculpture (air-dry clay, silversmithing), printmaking (linocuts), and knitting and crochet. I’ve basically given up on the latter two because they eat up too much of my time with repetitive work, but I have the stuff to restart if I want to. Which…I don’t.

There’s also working on the back end of a website and learning to be my own Full-Stack Developer, which is not what I want to be doing.

Graphic Design and Web Design are something else, though. Interaction Design combined with Graphic Design can be interesting, and I’m generally relatively motivated to work on that. The technical portion…I understand it brings in more money, but the more Computer Science-like and less Design- and Psychology-like it gets, the less interested I am, unfortunately?

The other thing that I can and should be doing is reading, though I know that now — where a person with a smartphone has multimedia at their fingertips — this is not the only reliable — or even all the time the best — way of transmitting information.

I should also note that Web Publishing is only really important for me if I do start up my own business or site online, say for publishing original works of fiction (though I would likely make more money going the traditional route), or selling jewelry. Right now, though…that’s not high on my list, and I say that mostly because I’m not at the level where I can even really consider it. There’s too much back-end work to do that I don’t yet understand…though I keep doing this, and I’ll get there. Long-range goals, right?

Of course, it also happens to be a moving goal…but maybe this is enough to keep me at my JavaScript course. I’m still waiting to get into JQuery and PHP (I need to do that self-starting thing, again) and I know that I’m at the very beginning stages of learning Web Programming. I probably shouldn’t get discouraged just because I didn’t learn it in University (there are going to be lots of things I didn’t learn in University).

If I look at it this way…if I’m going to write — using either a literary format or a sequential art one — it’s worth my time to read, to write, to draw, to learn to digitally edit images, to learn to run a website, and to learn to design and populate a website. Of course, this is missing sound and moving images…but I can only ask so much of myself.

And, okay: I did major in Creative Writing, but I don’t know how much that will actually help me in my life, as versus help me wreck my life by oversharing.

I guess that’s why people fictionalize things. :)

Beyond that…well, that is a lot to take on! Especially considering the content I want to express in my writing. I mean, it could keep me busy, all by itself.

Maybe I should relegate beadwork and fiber arts to second chair — beadwork (including micromacramé) coming before sewing, lacemaking, etc.? The big reason I even picked up lacemaking is that I could easily work it into my beadwork designs! And sewing…the main reason to do that is to gain some control over what I wear, and to self-soothe.

Right now I’ve got two projects in the works, which are just stalled. I need to get back into them, though I’m still in the process of cutting out one, while the other has not even been marked yet (though I have the pattern). The issue is that the fabric takes up a lot of space, and it’s easy to mark something wrong (or accidentally delete a mark). Plus, I need to clear off the craft table to use a sewing machine.

And beadwork just isn’t relaxing when you’re planning to sell! But like sewing, it gives me more control over what I wear. I didn’t realize that commonality before, but I do, now.

Then, there’s work…I mean, can I keep work, work, and deal with hobbies as hobbies? At least until I get up to the level of running my own website? What is the level of importance of making jewelry, in the scheme of things? If I had a well-paying and stable job, I wouldn’t have to worry about it at all. Maybe I should be putting my efforts more into getting and keeping that stable job, than into making a fall-back option…

…which could very well become my writing, or my work online.

Hmm. I think this is going to take more than one night of consideration…