Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Painting class study

We had our third painting class last night, during which we finished the study we started last week. Here's mine. I'm happy to say it doesn't suck. There are definitely things I'd improve on, but it's probably the best that can be expected from two evenings worth of effort.

Both my sis and I had been feeling a bit peeved at the teacher for not giving us more actual help with technique. Last night was better, though. For one thing, the students were asking more questions, and learning from each other as well, so we were having a lot more fun overall.

I signed up for a beginning drawing class at the Art League; the class starts next week. My drawing skills aren't bad, but could definitely use some more work.

Sis and I, and a few friends, went to the Cezanne exhibit at the NGA on Sunday (we also stopped in on the van Mieris and the Dada exhibits -- talk about vastly different schools of art). The Cezanne exhibit was fun. His stuff isn't exactly what I prefer to look at, but it was interesting nontheless, and I can appreciate it; but I like the earlier stuff more than the later. I said (only half-joking) that with a little practice, we could probably do as well as Cezanne; but the Gainsboroughs, not so much.

Some of Cezanne's later work makes me wonder about his eyesight as he got older. I'm sure an art historian would say that his experiments with color and abandonment of literal interpretations of form was all intentional. Cezanne's saving grace is that he really could draw when he wanted to; so I don't doubt his skills as a draftsman and an artist. And he did have a good sense of proportion, even when the image on the canvas really doesn't look like a mountain anymore. (You have to know the rules to know how to break them, etc.) However, many artists today -- I wonder whether they can really draw. I think more often they're out to be different just for the sake of being different. And don't even get me started on performance art.

There was a quote on Marilyn's blog a while ago:
Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art.--Tom Stoppard

Yeah, exactly.

FLAK progress, and DPN needle case

So here's the progress on the FLAK sleeve (yes, I'm still stuck on the first sleeve). I am glad, after all, that I frogged back and added the additional cables.

The second picture is actually of a paintbrush roll I found at A.C. Moore in the art brush section. It was about $7, I think. I marked the sections with a sharpie, starting with the smallest needle size I own. I've been thinking about making a case, but this will certainly do for now, and I can use it for a model if I decide to sew one up later out of nicer fabric.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Embracing my inner Hermione

So the other day I suggested that my sis bring her copy of "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" to class, and she said she didn't want to be Hermione in this class. "Too late", I said. We bought kick-ass easels (mostly because it's easier to transport everything we need using them, but also because they're nifty); we have all the tools we need and then some (people forgot stuff this past class, and we had extra stuff to share); and we've taken sketching classes, which most of the other students have not. Not that we're trying to show anyone else up -- we're not.

I really don't mind being Hermione here. I've embraced my inner eager perfectionist. And, hey, why not?

Anyway, here's the result of last night's class. Used big brush strokes because I figured we didn't have time to get a lot of the details down. Next class, apparently, we're doing details. Well, should be interesting! I was hoping the teacher would give us more info on what brushes to use for what techniques, and demonstrate a bit more than she did. So I hope that's yet to come.

Friday, March 17, 2006

New toys -- easel and stool!

So, the painting class that my sis and I are taking started March 6. The next class is next Monday (the community center was closed this past Monday), and I subcumbed to temptation and bought a French easel like my sister's.

Yeah, it seems like an extravagance, but I got it at Jerry's Artarama for a pretty good price, and got a folding stool while I was at it. I don't need the stool for the class -- they have chairs -- but I'm going to class after work, and was pretty overburdened for the first class, so the easel made a lot of sense. This easel has the advantage of holding everything neatly in one compact package, and it even has a shoulder strap. The teacher gave us some homework -- sketching -- so I've been having a bit of fun with that.

The first class (which I forgot to blog about) was interesting, but it was really apparent which of us had had drawing lessons. My sis and I, and maybe one or two other students, had; the others were still more or less at the grade school level. I was slightly disappointed that the teacher didn't recommend a good drawing book so that the students who were interested could improve their skills, and I don't think she gave enough constructive criticism during the class, either. I know my drawing skills are a bit rusty, but she mostly stood behind each of us in turn saying, "That's nice."

I've gone a bit overboard this week buying art books -- mostly on drawing -- but I know that, while I'm ok with the geometric stuff, I'm lousy at drawing people; and that while I have some basic shading concepts down, I haven't got a clue when it comes to stuff like crosshatching and stippling.

Frogging the FLAK sleeve

So I decided to frog the sleeve (first picture) back to where I started knitting in the round and knit it flat instead, and add a few more cables while I was at it, laddering back to the start of the sleeve. The problems: first, no matter what I did, knitting it with dpns or a 16" cable needle or my aborted attempts at magic loop, my hands didn't like it; and second, I was bored silly with all that seed stitch. I think it'll go faster this time, knitting flat. Sounds contradictory -- I usually go pretty fast knitting in the round on dpnsd when knitting socks -- but if my hands aren't protesting, I ought to get up to speed pretty quickly.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Donuts! And other stuff.

First, the donuts -- and a happy soldier! This time it went much better, with charcoal in the stove instead of wood, and better weather.

The pic of the soldier is modeled after a WW1 film clip that someone there mentioned, which showed a soldier happily walking along with his coffee mug and five donuts on the fingers of one hand, taking a bite from each donut as if to say, "These are MINE, you can't have any!" The guy in the pic has such a great grin that we just had to use him for the pic.
Here's me knitting at the event. I didn't get much done, and it was mostly for show anyway. Lost a needle later that evening, so I'm probably going to just rip this out and start again later. I have too many projects to finish before I can really start another one.

When I got home on Sunday, the anemones and crocuses had started blooming. Last year they weren't blooming until the beginning of April, which means they're about three weeks early. Global warming? What global warming?

Friday, March 10, 2006

FLAK note, ,art, and this weekend

So, for the FLAK sweater -- no, I didn't ladder back to add cables; I've just gone too far to go back, and am too far behind to go back, too (I'm about a third of the way through the first sleeve).

I regret not knitting the sleeves flat. It was easier on my hands. None of the solutions I've tried work very well for me (no, I didn't like the "magic loop" method), and I'm finally just knitting them on 16" circs.

I signed up for a painting class with my sis, which started Monday. The first class the teacher had us sketching, to see where our skill levels were. S. and I have both taken drawing lessons, so we did ok, comparatively speaking; we signed up for this class to learn the techniques of painting (it's one thing to have the paints, another thing to know how to use them). But the sketching practice wasn't a bad thing, and she sent us home with instructions to practice more. Another excuse to buy art supplies -- not a bad thing! I'm debating buying a French easel, since I've seen some for not too much money and they have the advantage of getting everything in one package that's easy to carry (my problem with my current equipment).

So, this weekend is the World War 1 event, and I'm nearly all packed -- still have to pack my clothes and buy a few groceries. I got a cheap CD/MP3 player (it plays CDs from MP3s, and only cost about $25), and a very cheap pair of speakers for it, and found a bunch of period MP3s at meloware.com and firstworldwar.com, so when I don't feel like cranking the actual gramophone, I can play the MP3s under a tablecloth. Will have to actually see if the guys mind that -- I wouldn't bring the MP3s without having the actual gramophone and records there to lend some plausibility.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Buddhism and Postmodernism

Am listening right now to the podcast of a lecture by Ethan Nichtern, "Being Skeptical, Being Cynical, and Being Buddhist" -- re: postmodernism and belief, courtesy of http://www.betherigden.com/.

Kind of interesting discussion about the postmodern malaise. He's right -- scepticism can be very paralyzing. At a certain point you have to stop doing that and just jump into life with both feet (even at the risk of drowning) and do stuff you enjoy even if you're afraid the mockers are still sitting on the shore smirking at you.

After all, you're the one that's swimming. What do they know? You just have to LIVE.

I let the paralysis of uncertainty claim me entirely too much. The times I've enjoyed most have been when I've decided that I just don't care, I'm just going to do what I enjoy and the hell with it.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Quiet day, with dogs

I've been contemplating laddering back to add some more cables to the FLAK sweater sleeve, and now, after seeing JennyRae's sweater, I'm pretty convinced. I asked K., and he doesn't care one way or the other (the sweater is for him), so if I made this change it'd mostly be to please my own design sense.

I worked from home today. I try to be very productive (respond to emails promptly, get a lot of work done -- in fact, sometimes I think I'm more productive than at the office, because there are fewer chances to talk to coworkers), but it's nice to take a break to get a cup of tea, switch a load of laundry over to the dryer, and pat the dogs.

Got the flooring all done last night, phew! Need to do the crown molding and baseboard now. But not tonight. And this weekend looks pretty busy, too (stuff for the event next weekend, and more work on my sis's wedding dress).