Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Moar Lessons Learned

So, I had one mistake-slash-failure. I'm not sure exactly what the mistake was, but I have some theories. That got me to thinking about my favorite part of art--there's really no such thing as a mistake. Sure, sometimes you don't get the results you're looking for from the techniques you're using... but there's never anything that can't be salvaged or turned around. A piece may change direction, and it may not come out like you wanted, but it will always have character, and a good story. And I guess, you know, that's kind of a metaphor for life... not to go too deep into left field on you all.

[Side note, I've got the tv to myself for a bit, and holy crap, I forgot how cleverly-written the show House is. Man, I've got to start watching it again, I find it HI-lar-ious.]

Anyways, off of the metaphors and on to the product. I think I might end up giving this one to Mr. Brown, after I'm done with it. So, Lessons Learned: apply gel medium in a thin coat, not a thick one. Make sure none gets on the top side. The peel works best when it's hot water, not room temp. And, I am pretty sure, CD covers are made out of paper that is too thick for this technique. Either that or I am just not patient enough to get the backing off of such thick papers. I got impatient and decided to just draw over the paper I couldn't get off. I really like the neon colors. I just have to add some lettering and maybe some shading and it will be good to go.

So, I took this "failure" in stride and kept going. For some reason I am really drawn to gel medium. I love it. I've got a big project in the works, lots of layers. It's going to take a while to pull together. But, I did a successful gel transfer, and here's that. I haven't quite figured out how to keep the greyish wash film from making it look cloudy when it's dry, but this is a step, at least.

 Below, playing with coffee filters and x-acto knives... I may have to trim it down a little [unfortunately] but it's also a part of the big drawn-out project. While researching this project, I very quickly learned that the whole "Atlas carrying the world" cliche is technically totally untrue. It was actually a misunderstanding that started in like the 1800s or so, when they first started printing books of maps [called an atlas... because he was on the cover of the first book]. He did carry a huge sphere, but the translation is more like, 'the heavens' or in one case I read, it was his task to keep the earth and Uranus separate.

And one last last-minute art... Another successful gel transfer, and I was really nervous about it too, because I was trying to combine my tendency to layer and scrape wax and paint on top of the transfer, but I was afraid that in doing so I might accidentally scratch through the transfer too. Luckily that didn't happen, although I'm still not 100% satisfied with the infinity symbol. I also couldn't find the heart I was hoping to find [seems like all tattoo mags only have sacred hearts], as it was originally going to be on the theme of 'always and forever.' But, like I said, art is about making adjustments. More quick history and culture lesson, mo anam cara is a Gaelic phrase, most simply translated as 'my soul mate'. Like all Gaelic words and phrases, it means something a bit more complicated than that, but you can look it up on your own if you want to.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

I Think it Might be My Favorite

After my most recent post, I got to thinking--as I do from time to time--about I Heart Huckabees. It is by and far one of my favorite movies. I find it hilarious, deep, kitschy, ironic, and actually somehow comforting. I wouldn't call it my 'favorite,' per se, but in reference to one of my other favorite films, I would definitely put it in my Top Five. I knew early on that I Heart Huckabees was more or less a parody of many schools of philosophy, but since it's a subject I managed to miss out on in college, I didn't have the base knowledge to really 'get' some of the references or themes. Luckily for me, someone else with the knowledge and time figured out a basic explanation. Warning: spoilers, deep thoughts, and not for everyone. Anyways, I hope to one day look into this more and maybe take a philosophy class--I don't think that simply reading things on my own is really going to cut it on this subject. I did dive into a little more research, although most of what I found was just reviews.

Yes, I am well aware that it was not Bernard who said that quote.

One thing I did learn, however, was that the epic chalkboard behind Bernard Jaffe is a throwback to an artist named Cy Twombly. He went through a phase where he layered white on dark greys, reminiscent of a chalkboard. He also apparently had an obsession with Classical Mythology, particularly an unhealthy focus on Leda and the Swan.

Cy Twombly, 1969.

Although most of his art is lost on me, I really liked the art on the chalkboard and decided [although it was nearly midnight--I had some rotten insomnia last night] to try my own hand at it. Of course, I'm a bibliophile at heart, so no real piece of my art would be complete without a quote. In the film, the actual quote is, "So, everything's the same, even if it's different?"--It's Albert and Bernard discussing the 'blanket theory,' if you're familiar with the film. So I took that quote and sort of applied it to the film as a whole, and my current mindset, and the chalkboard.

this is the wash & wax I started with...

...and this is when it was finished.
If you can't read it well, it says, "everything is connected / even when it's not".

 I might take one more crack at it before I consider it 'done'. See I thought that buying glow-in-the-dark acrylic was a good idea. Then today, I thought it would be an even better idea to add it to this piece. Turns out, it dries almost clear--not almost white, like I had figured. I'm not sure if it's worth it to view it in low light to get the effect, so I might just redo it with white, or a dark cyan, or maybe something off-the-wall like red or yellow [or that stubborn neon blue that never wants to spritz right]. If you can't see, it says '20/20' and some squares are also in that [non]color.

Point being, that sometimes it is only by looking at the past that you can see connections you had overlooked. It is a short-term obsession of mine, I will probably lose focus and flit over to another topic in a week or so, but for the time being, this is hitting my brain like a sledgehammer. I can't really go into more depth on the topic; either you get it or you don't. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

There is no Irony, Only Hindsight.

Yesterday as I was driving, a really great song came on my shuffled list. I'm talking about "Time is Running Out" by Muse. Remember, I play bass. So, this song was a blast to learn. The timing is a little tough, but it's really fun to play and I love the sound of the bass with some fuzz on it. When I listened to it again I noticed the wet/dry mix they had going--wish I could have done that too--but that's all beside the point. Anyone who knows me knows that aside from a good thumping bass line, one of the most important things to me is a song's lyrics. I've sung this song I don't know how many times, and loved it every time, but for some reason this time I actually paid a deeper attention to the words. I know I haven't done this much on my blog, but I'm going to just paste some lyrics before I go on... keep in mind I have deleted some of the repetitions.

I think I'm drowning
I wanna break this spell
That you've created
You're something beautiful
A contradiction
I wanna play the game
I want the friction
You will be the death of me

Bury it
I won't let you bury it
I won't let you smother it
I won't let you murder it
Our time is running out
Our time is running out
You can't push it underground
You can't stop it screaming out

I wanted freedom
Bound and restricted
I tried to give you up
But I'm addicted
Now that you know I'm trapped
Sense of elation
You'd never dream of
Breaking this fixation
You will squeeze the life out of me

[repeat chorus]

How did it come to this?
You will suck the life out of me

What I realized while singing along--hit me like a hammer, actually--is that this is one of the last songs I learned with my band. My first thought was, "Boy, that sure is ironic. Prophetic, almost." Now don't worry folks, I'm not going to go all mysterious voodoo on you here, but... I love hindsight. Love-Hate, I guess, is more accurate. This song always pulled up strong emotions in me, but I never could put my finger on it. It's one of the few songs that I can sing along to, in public, and while playing, even. And sometimes doing that would almost give me chills. Now I know why: It's almost a direct illustration of my last relationship, as well as my relationship with the band. So I suppose it's only fitting that this would have been the last song I learned with that group of people... If I had only known how much truth there was to the lyrics... Aw but hell, do I even think I would have listened? 

Again, hindsight is such a valuable tool. We tend to ignore things that are uncomfortable. We don't always pick up the vibrations in the universe [which I think may have plans, or show signs, but not on like, a god-like level or anything... existence is just weird, okay?]. We like to turn the other way and let life go on happening. But I've almost always found that retrospect is a very important thing to learn. As enlightened beings [some of us more--or less--than others], it is very important for us to constantly check in, constantly look back to learn lessons that eluded us at the time. That old saying of "Hindsight is 20/20," I never really understood it in theory, but boy do I understand it in practice. So many things make much more sense once you factor in the knowledge and/or experiences that you have gained over time. 

I guess what I'm saying is although I still love this song, I'm sure glad I put a stop to my assisted downward spiral before it got much worse. Although I am still stressed often, and although I still don't really have as much closure as I'd like, I know that I am much better off now. 

Take care of yourselves, people. And always, always glance back.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lots of Feel-Goods

Whew, where to begin?

The other day, I cleaned out my car and reinstalled the boom-boom in the backseat. Although it was unfortunate to see the lovely blue crystals on my battery terminal, the good news is I am competent enough to rewire things in my car. Thus, I has moar bass again. This of course spurned a loud ride to my doctors appointment this morning, blasting Bayside and singing along. And I realized, this guy here, he is one of the best songwriters I've heard--at least, since the likes of Matt Skiba and Dan Andriano. So simple, so straightforward, yet with that play on metaphors I love so much. Snarky, heartfelt word play, showing a glimpse of pain so deep you feel it too. The funny thing about Bayside is that even though his lyrics tend to be fairly specific, they are still so relateable. So, as Mrs. K predicted, I have spent my free time today cleaning my metaphorical wounds with ink and paint. One of the tips I'd been meaning to try was printing onto tissue paper, and holy crap. I'm not done with this one yet, but below is the progress so far. I'm waiting for the clear coat to dry before I start layering the tissue paper on. I'm really excited to see how it turns out, I'm just hoping I don't have the same issue with the ink bleeding that I did when I got into stamping.

One of the other wonderful things--aside from cooking home-made baked ziti from scratch [happy Italian], followed by crock-pot beef stew today... Anyways, now that we're all hungry, moving on.

If you know me at all, you know how pleased I am when I am able to help people. Especially good people. So although tomorrow I have to put the blasted uniform back on, I have been able to help someone because of it. A while back, someone from my bootcamp division separated and based on my descriptions, decided to move to WA. We talked about meeting up to jam a time or two, but it never panned out. After I made an off-handed comment online, he ended up coming over for dinner and socializing. Fun fact is, he's closer to my brother's age than mine! He's enlisted the Italian's help with navigating the VA, and today they have made quite a bit of progress. The boys are getting along famously, which makes me smile inside. As my dad said once, I have quite a soft spot for "puppy dogs and broken boys," and given the chance, I will feed and comfort both of them. When the holidays come around, I make a big effort to invite displaced military folks for meals. I realized last night, that it's almost like I've adopted a little brother--no offense to my actual little brother, he's just a little too cool to talk to me these days. He'll come around eventually, I'm sure, but living three states away doesn't help either.

Anyways, just the interactions between those two cracks me up and makes me happy. Loud music with good words. Making art, exploring, testing, results. Kitty cuddles, especially with a little rumble of purr... surprisingly my typing has yet to disturb Miss Z, who is draped across my arms at this very moment. Homecooked food. And of course, top it off with a bit of British humor. Ah, good days. I can't wait until my life is filled with this on a daily basis and punctuated with school and working with awesome people.

I hope you are all having some small victories or small happiness, and leave you with this--so at least if nothing else, you can say you saw a cute cat picture today.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Finally! [x2]

Two awesome things happened today. Two awesome, plus one really nice, plus one pretty damn bad.

Awesome #1:
The bedframe came today, and now it is finally assembled and situated, and we live like civilized people. I don't think I've had a bed with a frame in.... oh, at least five years. And a headboard? I can't even remember. It's nice.

Awesome #2:
While I was flipping through magazines to trash in the name of art, I found a smaller version of the photo I have been trying to work into my latest piece. I thought it was a lost cause, but when I found this smaller version, I took the lesson I learned [lighten the background before you use gel medium] and applied it. I stuck down a white tissue paper heart, and gel'ed the hell out of it on top of that. And finally, finally, I have achieved the look I was going for! Or at least.... close enough. Excuse the blur, I'm tired.

Really Nice:
Date day! Chinese buffet, followed by Guardians of the Galaxy. The theatre has these awesome recliner chairs, so you feel like you're at home. But they make snuggling a little difficult.

Pretty Damn Bad:
Checked the mail only to find out that the apartment complex thinks I should pay $1700 for the repairs on the apartment. I know it wasn't in the greatest shape when I left, and I expected a couple charges. But a whole paycheck? I think they need to readjust what they consider to be "normal wear and tear" to consider the fact that I had been renting that place for about six years. I mean seriously. I don't know how much I can get them to knock it down, but that's a little uncalled for. Luckily I found a site dedicated to quick pro bono legal advice, so I shot them an email to ask for more resources. Hopefully I can get them to knock down the charges a little bit. I mean, $6 to replace four lightbulbs? Really? To hell with that.

Bring on the laundry. Bring on the boxes. Bring on the yoga. Bring on the cleaning. Bring on the arts. Bring on the cat box. Bring on the car. Here's hoping I wake up with more energy than I did today, so I can actually get a large chunk of it done. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

It Really Works.

I wonder if I could get a note from my doc saying that I need to leave work early [x]-number of times a week to participate in Art Therapy. I mean, forreal. I hardly know what I'm doing and I am having a blast. I don't know why it helps, I don't know what about it is making me feel better, but something is working. I don't have a whole lot of ideas, at least not cohesive ones. But I do bits and pieces and things come together sometimes. I am continuously learning and expressing, and boy if it isn't just the greatest thing ever. It's more positive than writing--although writing does seem to help me think and process more. I suppose somehow Mrs. K was right, and the best way to work through my frustrations, fears, and issues right now is to turn to creativity. I may not sort as much out this way, but it certainly is soothing.

mmmmm, silly string. 

That being said, I also spent a bit on RockSmith today. I'm still not totally sold on it. Part of that is because I've learned songs a certain way and I'm not the most flexibly-minded person on the planet. But, on the other hand, I did pick up a new song that otherwise would've taken me a bit longer to learn on my own. I have complaints, sure--their tabs are upside down [heaviest string on top, when you look at it] which is counter-intuitive to anyone who has ever read tabs; they have their own mechanics of gameplay and they call things by different names--but all in all I can see how it can be a useful tool. After adventuring with the program today, it's looking more like the Italian is going to learn bass, which leaves a nice Epi SG all to yours truly. I've been talking about picking up the guitar for months, if not years, now, so I guess I'd better make good on that claim.

Nothing beats playing with other people though, and I'm planning on going out to a weekly Rock-a-Roke event this weekend. For those of you who don't know, which seems to be everyone outside of WA, Rock-a-Roke is basically like Karaoke with a live band. Except you don't have to sing... I could look through their books, walk up, and say "I want to play [song] on bass. Gimmie!" and they would turn me loose. Not a bad gig really, considering that they are probably getting paid to show up, and really only having to play x-amount of the time... but the time they are playing, they have to be on point. They have to cover for newbies, novices, and drunkards; and let me tell you, from my experiences in Corson, that is not always easy. And also not all it's cracked up to be.

I've been settling in and putting things away little by little... by VERY little. I suppose when the bedframe gets here tomorrow that might give me a little more inspiration. I was hoping to get the whole garage cleaned out on this time away from work, but I think I'll settle for bedroom fixed up and the garage with boxes neatly stacked instead of the random pile of moving mess that we have now. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Break Time!

Taking a break from organizing all teh books... It's a little overwhelming to organize them when I've got this new system in place. On the shelf next to my desk, all the books I own that I have not read. The other two shelves [maybe three, we'll see?]... well. It's hard to explain or express, but they are basically categorized in a few chunks: Astrology, politics, humor, Indian fiction, Irish and Celtic, novels/literature, and other textbooks. When I have a collection of a specific author [see also: Henry Rollins, Salman Rushdie, Chuck Palahnuik, and Chuck Klosterman] I have them organized by the date they were printed. Yes, I am that OCD. However, you know you've got a problem when not once but TWICE you find that you have two copies of the same book...... And then this happened. In case you doubt my authenticity, check the authors on the top row there... or check this blog for other photos of Derpy Bill.

So, as far as the Gel Medium goes, if you were keeping track... lesson learned. Fun fact: Gel Medium is mostly translucent, so, yeah, um, trying to transfer prints onto something dark, not so good. Either my art tips and ideas book didn't warn me, or I didn't pay attention to that detail. But rather than try a third time, I decided to run with it. The streaks are from the scraps of paper I left on from the first pass, I kind of like that... Well, I can live with it, at least. And now I know better--and I see when when I did my test transfer [on white paper] it worked so well. I'm looking forward to playing with this some more in the future, but I'm kind of waiting for something to strike me as strongly as this compilation did.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Day Two of Temporary Freedom.

Not quite going as I had expected. Don't get me wrong, I am loving this. Of course I have a giant multi-page list of things that I want to get done in these too-short ten days, and so far I'm not sure I've actually accomplished a damn thing on it. But then again, part of being on leave is recuperating and relaxing. So I figure tomorrow will start my productive days.

I haven't cleaned up much, but we did sort of reorganize the upstairs. Moved my desk, but still waiting for the bed frame to show up. I put a little bit of stuff away, but nothing significant. The Moving Process is still in progress. I don't really remember what we did on Monday besides watch a movie, and then I made fried rice. Snack Bar is still continuously in awe of the combination of my culinary skills and the multitude of delicious food places T-Town has to offer. Like Italian delivery--not just pizza, but I mean like, homestyle Italian food, delivered to your house. Moral of the Story: After we get settled in, we are all definitely going to have to start working out. Because I certainly can't stop cooking. The boys would never allow that.

Today was supposed to be my first productive day... but... the universe has a sense of humor, or irony, or just timing, I suppose. This morning was supposed to be up-n-at-em-Atom-Ant to drop off a car for service down south, followed by a breakfast date and matinee of Guardians of the Galaxy. But alas, a good friend was leaving the new house on his motorcycle around midnight, and ended up crashing. Hit-n-Run. Seriously. So, we picked him up and took him home so his wifey could see he was in one piece, and then the guys left to pick up the bike and we had some girl time.

She's very spiritual and into art and such, so we generally have some good conversation. She showed me her newest tarot deck and indulged me with a brief reading. We even have the same opinion of such things--There is an inherent wisdom, but things like tarot and astrology are tools, and they are what you make of them. Like, they are a frame work, a way of organizing you thoughts or looking at things in a different way. So I think I will be getting back into that world a bit more these days. I have never been a particularly intuitive or spiritual person, but I do like to analyze these mechanisms in a logical or physiological manner. I find it interesting. When I step back and thing about it, I am almost a jack-of-all-trades... I have many many interests, but I don't necessarily delve deep or stay consistent. I take things in bits and pieces.

On a sad note, my dad had to put down the family dog, Molly. She as a really great dog, an Aussie, and loved the family as much as they loved her. I'm bummed for them. His birthday is in a couple weeks, maybe they will fill the gap with a new puppy. Sometimes it helps. But, with his birthday coming up, I sort of stumbled on making him some art. He always wraps my birthday presents in the spare aviation maps from his trips, and I think they are awesome. When I was setting up the art room, I found a few pages of them, and laid them out. For some reason, a flying fish stood out, so I slapped that on there too. Then I started putting the ideas together, and I took a quote of his for the finishing touch. He always supported me, even when I was stupid and rebellious. He raised me with this idea firmly rooted in my head, and I just wish I could figure out a way to make it happen. He sure has, and it never ceases to amaze me.

I experimented with Gel Medium once, and it worked phenomenally... but when I set this peice up for the official go, it completely failed. I actually went out and got another copy of the magazine just to get that photo again, because it's so crucial to the imagery that I can't replace it. Second try is pending, I'll be sure to update everyone if it works out or not.