Sunday, December 27, 2015

Happy Holidays!

I found a completely unused set of coloured pencils at my parents house. They're probably mine. Honestly, I think I can remember getting them last christmas or the year before that. This is an excellent example of my usage of different traditional drawing mediums. I have similar sets of charcoal, watercolour and regular graphite pencils, but I never use anything else than my trusty mechanical 0,5 B pencil. And today I was reminded of the reason I never use colour pencils.

They're just incredibly unwieldy to draw with. They're hard, they scrape and flatten the paper, they're simply nothing alike the graphite medium I'm used to. Someone else might find this to be positively challenging, and go ahead mastering colour pencils. Well, I don't feel that way. To me, they're just a frustrating and flawed medium. But, of course, that's just because I don't have any skill with them. The spirit of artistry is to do and make something with what you're given. This has always been what I found to be true, so obviously, I'm just being bitter. Is it justified? Yes. Is it right? No.

The next time you see me, remind me to draw more, blog more, and blog better! It is both jusitified AND the right thing to do. Happy holidays!

Friday, December 18, 2015

wooden knight and creative drive

I have something quite different for you today. I haven't been drawing a lot (I really need to get back on that horse). I've been spending some of my recently begun Christmas break in a woodshop, though. I was quite thrilled to find out that the Architechtural programmes in Aalto university have a woodshop, with all kinds of fun tools. (Even though I once aspired to be an architect, I am not one of the students there. It seems the woodshop is for all students to use, even though its name on campus grounds suggests otherwise.)

I was most excited to hear that they have a lathe. I've always been very fascinated by the lathe, but never really had the chance to try it out for myself. But now I do! And I have! It puts me in an incredibly good mood. The lathe is mesmerising like the fire. It pulls me in, and then it puts a smile on my face.

I don't often get the chance to really work with my hands. I study engineering, but the first year or so is solely focused on theory. Maths and physics, mostly. Labor by hand isn't part of my schedule, and that's a bit of a shame. I guess drawing kind of counts, but it's not quite what I need. I had a bike puncture the other day, on my way to the woodshop after lunch. But I didn't mind at all. I headed inside and turned this chess piece, and when I was done I walked the bike home and happily set about fixing the tyre. It may seem like a chore, but it's such a relaxing thing to just shut off your brain and let your hands do all the work. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit.

Almost every time I go to my parents, I go to out and check up on all the bikes in the garage. Well, mostly my brothers bike, because it's always broken in some way when I come home. And I do this because it's satisfying. I like it, I like fixing things. I enjoy building things. And I like to create things. I would almost say I'm driven to.

I guess that's why I write this blog. Partly, no doubt. This isn't some new thing, either. Drawing has always been my main medium of creation, but those who know me well might know I've had some woodworking projects in the past. And when I was 12 or 13 I was really excited about learning and creating computer models and animations in 3D software, which lasted for a year or two. Admittedly, everything I made back then was quite unfocused and just bad mostly, but it was all still the same kind of release for that drive.

This is by no means great work, but I think it's entirely adequate for a first-time lathe project. I find the lathe is just such a wonderful tool for shutting down and simply creating. The top part was done mostly on the bandsaw and a sander, with a bit of filing and sanding by hand. I figured I'd yet give this piece a couple coats of polyurethane finish, and that's why it still has a nub in the bottom with a piece of string attached. It just makes the finishing a lot easier.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The other cheek

I think this ranks as the most awful self-portrait I've ever drawn. 

It's difficult to be positive. It's way harder to see the bright side and the ups than what's bad and foul. And I don't mean in art, I mean in life. It's easy to be bitter. Humans are vindictive creatures. It takes effort to forgive. Everything has to fall in line in order for happiness to happen, and just one thing needs to go wrong in order to potentially ruin your day. After that you're never too far from shouting at babies, throwing obscenities in traffic, and just about giving up on friendship. Revenge.

Being mean can be a means instant gratification, to say something and hurt another can feel like a victory. It can just feel good. Or at least we think it will make us feel better. But negativity is always the easy way out. To give up and give in. Being nice often implies something sacrificed, and the returns are hardly ever felt right away.

But they're there, right? They must be. The rewards lie somewhere in the long run. Being mean is chocolate, diplomacy is a diet and being nice is physical exercise. In a moment of weakness, it's tempting to give in. We've all been there. Said and done things we're not proud of, and maybe, in absolute honesty, it had more to do with ourselves than anyone else. It was not their fault, but your problem. Projection.

So we need to try. We need to make an effort. It will always be easier to break than to build. It takes courage to give happiness a chance, and we can't always be courageous. But we owe it to ourselves to try.

Turn the other cheek, Jesus said. I'm not a religious man, but there is wisdom here. It's not easy, but it's probably worth it.