Yesterday, I started out with my new resolution of doing half as much in a day. In fact I did just as much as usual, but much of it included screwing around on my computer trying to download podcasts and photos. I had a look at my product photos. They are a little better than the last ones (you can actually see the shirts) but not very good. Master photographer I am not. I am limited by my point-and-shoot camera, but I have managed to take decent photos with it before, so I think it might be my skill that's the problem. I will need to work on that.
Non-Etsy quality product photo.
For my warm-up I was to choose a motif to explore over and over again in my work. I think there is a motif that has found me: leaves. I don't know what it is about leaves, but I keep using them. They all look different, of course. At least most of them. I would have liked for my motif to be trees (which are very symbolic for me) but my trees never really turn out. So leaves it is.
For my podcast, I listened to the conclusion of the lecture that I was previously listening to, about craft and social movements in India. Today, there is a lot going on in the world of Indian crafts. Crafts are considered to be part of the heritage of India, but they are generally being replaced with mass-market goods, often from China. Sometimes Chinese mass-market goods are even made to look like Indian crafts! There are special stores, including government stores, who sell Indian crafts, and the growing middle class in India, who want quality products, is a new market for the crafts, as are craft collectors overseas. Some Indian crafts are of exceptional quality, as are the blockprints in this link
. Notice how many steps are involved in creating the beadspread. However, some Indian crafts are not of such high quality, and the presenter didn't believe that people should buy the products just because they were handmade. He wanted to work with artisans and his design students to develop better products that would appeal to a larger audience, especially those who want something high-quality and don't care if it's handmade or not. There have been many problems with the artisan community in India. Most live below the poverty line, and people sometimes steal their ideas. The concept of intellectual property rights often a new idea to these people. There have been a number of suicides as people have watched their livelihoods become unviable. Often the artisans are women, who face additional social, economic, and political hurdles. However, artisanship is the second-largest employer in India (the first being agriculture) so it is essential to the economic development of the country. The speaker wanted to help the artisans use crafts to lift themselves out of their poverty and experience dignity.
I continued to work on my yarn-ball drawing. It is coming along, albeit slowly. I'm still not very happy with it. Unfortunately, it is the ball of yarn I've been weaving with, and I've run out of yarn on my shuttle, so I can't continue to weave until I've finished the drawing. I don't want any more scenes changing on me before I've finished them!
That weird grey thing is a kneaded eraser.
For surface design, I tried two new techniques: Elmer's school glue resist with watered-down textile paint, and pole-wrap immersion dyeing. I have washed both out now and will post photos when they are dry and ironed.
Today, I started out with business study. I have now estimated all of my start-up costs and most of my monthly costs. The start-up costs are reassuring: I probably won't need a bank loan. However, my monthly costs are scaring me. I have no idea how many transactions to expect in a given day, and there are only two days of sales, and my products will be priced pretty high so I don't know if I'll be selling lots of them. I certainly hope I do! But there's no guarantee. But I suppose I will really only have to make about $200 a day to make those costs, which is one or two sales. If I could make two sales a day at that silly Catholic Church craft fair I attended last year, I could probably make more than that at the Portland Saturday Market!
Design. Oh, design. I wish this book had assignments because I am sucky at coming up with them on my own. Today's chapter was about shape. Shapes can imitate natural forms or they can be imaginary and abstract. There are geometric shapes, which we are all familiar with from elementary school, as well as biomorphic shapes, which suggest natural forms or forces (you could have a shape like a human body, or what you thought the wind looked like). Shapes do not have to have distinct boundaries: they can be suggested through closure, or implied shape. There is also amorphous shape, which is a blurry image which suggests a shape. Shapes can either be two- or three-dimensional, whether in sculpture or a 2-D picture plane. Mass refers to shapes on the picture plane and volume is the empty spaces. Shapes can appear 3-D while on a 2-D surface (plastic). This can be achieved by tilting the shapes in space, foershortening them, overlapping them, or grading the color, value, or texture. This is especially important when representing shapes like spheres or ovoids that do not have any flat surfaces. Use of perspective is one way of making shapes appear 3-D. A weird and cool effect can be created when the perspective lines tilt toward the viewer: it looks like you are looking through the shape. Some artists use 3-D effects without using perspective: medieval artists did not know about perspective, and more modern artists sometimes find it too constricting. Shapes can be used for the same compositional aspects that we previously studied: harmony and variety, either in the shape itself (a repeating motif) or the lines or interior shapes of the image; dominance, or making one shape more dominant than the rest of the image; movement, or the interior lines of viewing the shapes within the image; balance, in which we consider the visual weight of the shape, the negative area around it, the placement, size, and emphasis of the shape. I will continue with the shape composition in my next study.
I hope to continue to work on my stepmom's scarf today as part of my personal projects. I also might go over and review things in my design book to see how well they are actually sticking. The point of all this is to improve my design, after all.
Today might have been one of those days that people would point to as an example of why unCollege doesn't work. Which is silly, because I remember quite a bit more noodling around from my traditional college days. It would take three hours to write a paragraph for a paper because I was screwing around on Facebook and Youtube most of the time. So I was actually quite a bit more productive today than I would have been back in my undergrad days, even though I was feeling really lazy and didn't accomplish much compared to the other days.
Today's warm-up was a complete bust, as the assignment was to go through your best friend's stash. This would not be possible for me today, and even if it was I would feel pretty uncomfortable about it. I don't like it when people go through my things, so why would it be okay for me to do it to someone else? So I knitted instead. Being super-unproductive, I knitted about 4 rows before I quit.
I worked on my weaving while I listened to today's podcast. It was a continuation of yesterday's and talked about the rage for chintz (in the traditional sense of painted cotton) in Europe. It was crazy-popular in England, although it was relatively inexpensive so people who were trying to show off how rich they were would wear silk underneath. It was also very popular in Holland. It didn't make much of a splash in Italy or France. In England, rich women would give chintz clothes to their servants, so people complained that they couldn't tell what class people were by looking at them (the horror!). It started out being popular for bedspreads and that sort of thing, but then made its way to fashion, which led some to gripe about people wearing their bedsheets. Because it was so popular and relatively inexpensive, local cloth manufacturers were having a difficult time. Most cloth manufacturers in England were producing wool and linen cloth, which are much more difficult to clean than cotton. So the importation of chintz was outlawed. People were very creative in finding ways around the laws so chintz continued to be worn. Eventually European importers began to request certain themes or motifs on their chintz, which the Indian manufacturers would carry out. For example, trees were very popular in Holland.
My weaving, which is not chintz.
Note the herringbone pattern. I should also mention that I actually taught myself how to read a weaving pattern today. Mostly.
Next I worked on drawing. This was one of the assignments where I felt I was the laziest. I set up a very simple still life. Very simple. I think it took me 20 minutes to draw it. My last drawing took about five hours.
I promise I will take better photos one day. I want to scan this, but the scanner isn't talking to my computer. This should be indicative of my general technology-savviness.
I studied my design book after that. This unit was about other principles in 2-D design (harmony being the one that I looked at yesterday). I looked at variety, the counterpart to harmony. This could involve contrast, meaning opposition or dissimilarity. Contrast could be in color, value, or placement. Elaboration of an area that lacked visual interest is another way of achieving variety. Finally, one must take into account the dualism of harmony and variety. You could, for example, achieve harmony by repeating shapes, and variety by making those shapes different colors. Another principle is balance, which is what we perceive should happen with the objects in the work. For example, a picture of a ball at the top of a painting gives a sense of tension, as we expect the ball to fall down. Additionally, the way we perceive things, it doesn't look right when the mat around the painting is equal on all sides. Usually the bottom part will be a bit larger, which makes things seem more balanced. There are different kinds of balance: symmetrical balance, in which the two halves of the work mirror each other; approximate symmetrical balance, where equal visual weights are on both halves of the work, even though those halves aren't identical; and radial balance, where the visuals radiate out from a certain point on the work; asymmetrical balance, in which colors, shapes, lines, and negative area balance each other out (this I know when I see but don't know how to reproduce it myself). Next I looked at proportion, which is the relationship in placement in a work. The golden mean is a part of that, although I must admit that I don't really understand the golden mean and how it works. I understand that there is some sort of ratio that the shapes have to each other, but that's the extent of what I understand. Proportion could also mean the proportion of the work itself to the surrounding areas, or how much room the subject(s) of the painting take up within the picture frame. In ancient art, the most important figure would be the largest, with other figures smaller. Dominance is another principle. Dominance occurs when a figure or shape dominates the surrounding space, whether through size, color, value, or something else. Movement is the direction of the viewers eyes to different parts of the work. Artists can manipulate what order the viewer looks at the image in by placing points of interest in different places on the work. Economy is another principle of design, where the artist seeks to eliminate that which is unnecessary or confusing. Finally, there is the problem of space: what sort of visual plane the artist wants to appear on the work. A 2-D work with a flat plane is referred to as decorative and one with a deep plane is called three-dimensional or plastic.
Next, I worked on the dreaded task of removing the dye from my sample cloths. Some of the overdyes ended up being quite interesting.
Tie-dye without stones
Tie-dye with stones
Folded. I like that this one kind of looks like ikat.
Finally, I worked on my business study. I am still trying to come up with numbers for my start-up costs. It is hard to get some straight answers about how much something will cost me. I'm also trying to figure out if I need a business license. I apparently don't need to be a citizen to sell at the Saturday market, but if I make over $15,000 a year I need a business license, and I don't know the legalities of that. I guess it's a good thing that I have to figure all that stuff out before I can get started and cost myself a pile of money or accidently break rules. But I've decided to figure out start-up and ongoing costs before I move to the next thing in the book. Otherwise I will get too confused. I really hate trying to figure money out but I also hate working for other people so I guess I'd better get over that!
I have filled in an application to volunteer at the Museum of Contemporary Craft. I will most likely be handling transactions or directing customers, but it will give me the chance to see how a gallery works. Besides, it's my favorite gallery in town. So I will keep you posted on my progress.
Yesterday, I forgot to mention that I got my very own unCollege student ID card! My wonderful friend Melanie Wallace, who has a laminator, made it for me. Thanks Mel!
Yesterday I only worked a little bit on my education. I was having guest over so I had to prepare for most of the day (I was cooking a bit of a complicated dinner). So I only worked on Design and Surface Design.
In my design book I read about attitudes that people have when viewing art. Some art is difficult to understand, particularly if it is in a new form. Sometimes the public reacts negatively to a work of art, which occasionally means that the art has to be removed and even sometimes destroyed. I learned about how to develop ideas as an artist: looking for stimulating ideas in your travels, observe how people relate to each other, study nature, doodle, or look at existing artwork, for example. I learned about critiquing and analysis: examine the subject, form and content and see how each of those measures up. I learned about basic concepts in two-dimensional art, such as having a flat plane or three-dimensional effect, and how the picture frame can be in any shape you want, not just rectangular canvas. I learned that negative areas are just as important as positive areas. In three-dimensional art, the shape, mass, and volume have to be taken into account. Sculpting includes several methods for creating: subtraction, or taking away material; manipulation, or modeling; addition, or adding materials onto the item; and substitution, or casting. Finally, the chapter discussed some three-dimensional art forms that use these methods: sculpture, architecture, metalwork, glass design, ceramics, fibers (yay!), and product design.
I also worked on washing out the dye from my low-water immersion dyeing experiments. Washing out dye is my least favorite task in surface design. I think it took me about an hour to get it all out. Here are the results:
This is tie-dye.
This one was pleated. I made the pleats into different sizes.
This one was scrunched into the toe of old pantyhose.
This one was tie-dyed using little pebbles. The circles are smaller, rounder, and more regular than the plain tie-dyeing.
This one was folded into squares.
It was an interesting experiment. My favorite were the tie-dyes and the scrunching.
Today I had a full day. I started with the warm-up that I missed last time, making a little altered-art card. I took a map and found Spokane, where my husband did his undergrad. I gave it as a gift to him.
This is a horrible photo, for which I apologize. It's also backward. I regularly lose the battery charger for my camera, so I take a lot of bad photos.
Next, I listened to a podcast. It was a lecture by a woman who was an expert in Indian cotton. It was quite a fascinating lecture. India has been producing cotton cloth for tens of thousands of years! More recently, in the middle ages, there has been a lively trade with Indian cotton in Arabia, and Persia. They started to trade with Europe when the Portuguese came in the fifteenth century, and have traded with both the Dutch and British East India companies. They have also traded with Indonesia, Thailand, and China, where Indian cotton was very highly prized and worn in the royal court. India has a rich tradition of textile arts involving cotton: the block printing of Gujarat, embroidery, ikat, and other decorative weaving. It is difficult studying the history of textiles because textiles tend to deteriorate after a hundred years or so. In India, these cloths have been used until they were dead, and so most information about Indian textiles comes from the places they've traded with.
I finished my drawing in the park today. I drew as many leaves as I was willing to draw. I wanted to draw the gravel but there was no way I was going to draw each and every pebble. Also, somewhat annoyingly, some of the details that were on the ground before, such as pinecones, were blown away by leafblower before I could get started. Who leafblows a path?
Again, sorry for the terrible photographs.
Next I worked on design. The chapter I am on now is about form. Basically, I looked at the principle of harmony that can exist in a work. This can be achieved through repetition, rhythm (a concept I am still trying to get my head around and don't understand well enough to describe yet), pattern, closure (when your brain supplies missing information), visual linking in which two items touch each other, linking through extensions (in which there are items in the visual that form shapes by themselves, such as a triangle around three heads) and the problem of excessive use of harmony, which creates monotony.
For surface design I am overdying my just-dyed cloths using the same methods I used previously. I used the same low-water immersion dying that I did last time, but with blue dye this time.
In business, I started studying finances. I am having quite a bit of trouble with this part. I am not very good at crunching numbers and complex formulas really confuse me. I will probably have to have someone help me out with this part. I have to estimate start-up and ongoing costs, which is going to take a fair bit of research and can't really be done in one day. I have to figure out my own wage, which has me quite surprised because the authors insist that I must pay myself well. That would mean making more money than I have ever made before--a lot more. Like double of my previous best. I am still kind of shocked that it may be possible for me to be middle-class with my business. Can that really happen with art? The authors seem to think so. So this amazing wage that I am paying myself is to be calculated into the price of the items I am making. Of course I still need to figure out my material costs, because I honestly have no idea what I spend on materials.
Now, I'm going to play around with my website a bit to see if I can't spiff it up!