Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Epileptics beware

... Epileptics beware, Einstein is here. That's the rhyme this entry needed but no readers wanted. I call this drawing Einstein at a Rave.

It's drawn using Promarker... Uh, markers, and highlighter markers. Interestingly, I couldn't make it blink faster than this. I had diminishing returns when the loop got shorter than 20ms. I can't even be sure how quickly it's flashing right now, I only know that I wanted it to go faster.

I called this a drawing before, but that's not really what it is. Because it's different on paper, right? It doesn't flash. On paper, it's just Einstein in weird colours. Einstein at a Rave ceases to exist as soon as you close the browser. A precarious existence.

I'm going to stop writing this entry now - at this point, you probably want to scroll away from Einstein anyway. Flashing lights and colours are interesting, but can be a tad distressing when you can't avoid them. The clock is 03:15, which is cause for distress.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Two spheroids in a sack

It's been a while and I haven't really been drawing a lot recently. Partly because of a hectic time in school as well as the mounting pressure of finding a job for the summer, both of which problems are now solved, and, well, just not being in the mood. It's hard to force creativity. Sometimes, it's possible, but for the purposes of this blog, maybe it might not be desirable. I realize that the one period of high readership on this blog was thanks to what was a relatively rapid and consistent pace of entry output, but right now I don't think I have the necessary time and motivation for that kind of thing. 

So here we are. Anyway, while I may not have been drawing, that does not mean I haven't been creative. On the contrary, I've spent quite some time crafting things the past week. Foremost, I almost finished my orchestra uniform. I'm a part of Humpsvakar's dancegroup Rumpskakar, and we've got really pretty bright red uniforms. Mine is still missing a few non-essential parts, but it is ready to wear now. This is more of a personal matter than something to blog about, but I do urge everyone to come see us perform at our 55-year jubilee this fall. It's going to be awesome, I guarantee it. 

Now that I've a lot less schoolwork, I once again have found some time for woodworking! I made a pair of poi on the lathe. Really, the wood material is not great, they are still without a finish, and the surface is quite rough. But that's how I'm going to leave them. They're wooden balls that weigh over a 150 grams (I'd wager) and they're going to be spinning about at high velocities. There's no point in making them all too fancy, they're going to hit something at some point anyway.

They're the perfect size, but I expected the wood to be a little bit less dense. They are quite heavy, and while it doesn't quite hurt to hit yourself somewhere on the thigh or the torso, hitting bony parts like an elbow, a knee, or the hipbone does REALLY sting. I don't expect any self-inflicted damage, though.

It's not the cleanest spin as I'm still getting used to the heavier poi.

I also sewed myself a bag! The seams aren't all perfectly straight and tidy, but I love it. I'm not big on sewing, generally, but hey, it's a whole lot more productive than sitting inside, playing video games. I got to make it exactly how I wanted, the length is perfect and it fits about an A4 drawing pad. Which is also appropriately similar to my tablet.

I chose to make most of the seams visible to the outside. It's a distinctly minimalist yet rugged style. If I could do anything differently, I'd make the rectangular area that connects the strap to the bag a little bit taller. They're too square. They could be closer to a 3:2 relationship, to make it more like a golden rectangle (You know. With the golden ratio. Like your computer monitor probably is. Paintings are usually also proportioned like a golden rectangle.). 

It's a pale shade of army green. The cloth is cut from an old shirt!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

microwave porridge

The fish is a symbol of faith, an archetype of Christianity. A fishman is not. I think some would even say it's unholy.

What do you see in this picture? Does it have a fish or human brain? The fish brain would explain why she's walking funny. The head saved this drawing from tedium, but there's really nothing to say about it. Art can be interesting without meaning anything. Sometimes, evoking a feeling is enough. But I'm not sure this does. It's just another sketch from a busy Wednesday evening. It doesn't amount to anything more than the work put in, and the passing interest of a meaningless motive.

One thing that without fail becomes more than it seems is microwave porridge. It requires so little, just water and a bit of oatmeal. Give it a boil and a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, and voilá. It's porridge. It just IS so much more than the ingredients that make it up.

I'm going to have some microwave porridge now.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

unexpected budget cuts

The message from the government to students across Finland is that we have to work harder and graduate faster. So I won't be having time to write this entry. I'm sorry. I'm not going to take a loan just to afford the time, however good the terms may be. I hope you enjoy this picture.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Not art

In an expanded sense of the word, I guess you could claim this to be art. But that's a waste of good words, isn't it? We could just have some other word for it. We probably do have a word that would better describe it, I might just not know it. But by trivializing the meaning and content of words, as one might when one would pass this as art, we reduce the need for having a broad vocabulary. And that's the true shame. Words will disappear. And how might I impress people if I don't know bigger and fancier words than they?

... Fluorescence luminescence condensation perspiration idiosyncratic synchronisability hypervitaminosis...

In the end, words will be but words. But I always wanted a party trick. You know, art is so slow. It may not be unimpressive or even undramatic, but drawing is all about the results. Results that take time. This spinning thing, with these so-called poi, is impressive in the process itself. Like singing, it only exists while you do it. People don't wait until you're done to be in awe, and you don't have to spend a long time in order to accomplish something neat. And as a practitioner of slow art such as drawing, I find that very charming.

I have always been a bit jealous of musicians. Not, like, a lot, but you know, it's annoying. With practice, they can just pick up an instrument and go - instant spectacle. I have to sit down and be calm and tedious for half an hour before I have anything to show for. But, I guess, us canvas artists have the benefit of our work actually staying around. Music literally disappears into thin air, and my canvas will remain to be viewed later and again. I can see how the jealousy would work both ways.

But poi are fun. It's a bit addicting, and I have blisters on my fingers from spinning so much in the past few days. The GIFs are ~realtime. Everything looks just a bit faster because of the low framerate. I have to apologize for the limited range of contrast. I swear it was a limitation of my software, not of my will to produce decent material. GIMP doesn't have a sane way of editing animations or applying filters to multiple layers, which is quite the disappointment.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The standards of beauty

The standards of beauty in society today are... Overrated. I mean beauty itself, is a misguided priority. It has become something that we hold fundamental, even paramount, to attractiveness, when in reality, it should be something worth considering, but nothing more. It's not more important than being a good person, not more important than inspiring trust. There are even things about how we look that are more important than how beautiful we are. Like having a contagious smile, or kind eyes. These things are just as important to attractiveness, which for us in this day has become synonymous to beauty. 

Something can definitely be attractive without being beautiful, is what I'm getting at. Even on a superficial, visual level. For example, I've been doing some sowing lately, fixing broken shoes and a leather wallet. The stitching isn't nice, but it has a rugged, repaired look. The heavy black thread at almost-even intervals tells a story. And I think this enhances the attractiveness of that wallet and those once pristine shoes.

Wearing these things would only heighten my confidence, another thing that can't be seen in itself, but is attractive nonetheless. If I were more confident, maybe I had the strength to be nicer as well. Or might that I just set my mind to being a more agreeable person, I would for sure be a more attractive person for it. You know, hypothetically. This goes for all of us.

And that's important. There are really so many things about how liked we will be, how attractive we are as friends and partners, that are within our control. Such a shame then, that society and the media reduces our appeal as individuals into only a matter of the smoothness of our skin, the prices of our apparel and, uh, BMI. Things so out of our control.

The media, mostly thanks to feminism, has been awakening to this reality. The media challenges itself and it's projection of what constitutes beauty. It makes fair attempts at separating round from ugly, literally widening the image of what is good and beautiful. I've even seen articles about how we're supposed to change our ideas about what constitutes beauty to encompass stretch marks, pregnant bellies and, well, normal human things.

While I see how this is a valiant fight, I don't think it's the right fight. Ideal beauty is a changing thing, uncontrollably so. Maybe we could instead focus on reducing the importance of bodily beauty in attractiveness, and promote healthier ideals of appeal, other ways for us to feel good about ourselves. Much like the ruggedness of my wallet, stretch marks tell a story. Maybe we shouldn't feel so bad about that.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Exciting photography!

Wow, properly artsy photography for once!

Photography is so much less artsy. It's hard to argue against that. Taking photos has become such a trivial thing, that it now takes something more to make it art. Photos themselves become trivial things, quite mundane. A drawing, to me, always contains an element of art. Photos used to be the same way, once, when snapping a picture in itself was an event. But now, we just point and shoot with our phones or digital DSLR:s. It's not difficult to take a photo that has absolutely no artistic value, and it takes more work for your photos to reach a standard of what can be classified as creative photography.

So I don't take a lot of photos. That's not to say I don't like it, because it can be very rewarding at times, but I often find it not as creative as drawing. I don't think photographers have any reason to be offended, though. Everyone has their own favourite medium. I'm just one of those people who dislikes the outdoors and would rather stay inside and scribble on paper. Even basically all of my photography happens indoors.

As I've written before, the creative process of dealing with limitations in photography is what appeals to me the most. There really is a strong methodical process to photography, unlike say, pencil art, where you just... Well, you just draw. In photography, you'd set up lights, tweak your camera settings, take the actual shot (read: struggle to get a shot of yourself where you don't look like a fool (Only applies to those of us too shy to photograph others, and too stubborn to ask anyone for help)), then maybe a bit of postprocessing. Sometimes, a lot of postprocessing. Which can also be exciting.

One of the things I found most thrilling about this picture is that I was able to compose it using only freeware editing environments. As those who have been reading this blog for a long time might remember, I use GIMP instead of Photoshop. That basically just boils down to habit and what I'm used to. I feel there isn't a lot you can not do in GIMP. Well, there is one thing, and that is editing RAW files.

I used to use Lightroom, which is really a quite splendidly powerful photo editing suite. Though I always thought it was too complicated for it's own good. I guess I might not be saying that, if I just knew how to use it better. But nevertheless, Lightrooms seemingly gratuitous complexities we're a always a bit of a turnoff.

So I scoured the web and almost right away I stumbled upon this free RAW image editor called Photivo. Great fun. It feels and looks like a true image editing tool. A lot of sliders, nothing fancy. The editing process in Photivo is in no way as refined as Lightroom's, but it made me feel right at home. It seems I have a thing for using the underdogs of image editing software. I'm not going to go out and say Photivo is great software that everyone should have installed, I'm saying it does everything that I need it to. And that's not bad.

Here are some snapshots of my so-called creative process. For a backdrop, I used a black bedding sheet hung over some cabinet doors. For creating the "glasses", which by the way is just a macro photo of the LED-flash on my phone, I used my classic trick of flipping the lens over. What I also did was cover the lens opening with a piece of paper with a tiny hole in it. Photographing a bright light, I gladly sacrificed some exposure for the practicality of deeper depth of field. I had to do this because when the lens is free from the body, it always shoots at the widest aperture. I'll admit this method is quite fiddly, but I can't afford some fancy macro-lens. I set my camera up on my bed, and used my DIY Aux-cable shutter release to take the shot. For light, I used a lamp on a stick. Literally just a bulb taped to a scrap aluminium foil packet. Hey, what works, works. That's how I find excitement in photography.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

20% of my life

Today is a special day. It marks the fourth anniversary of one of my most adored projects. An undertaking that has collectively cost me hundreds upon hundreds of hours of work, and somehow rewarded me for every one of them. It has done more for me than I can express in words. When I look back, I'm filled with pride, wonder, and sometimes, shame. But that is the natural way of things. Embarrassment is a side-effect of progress.

I'm talking, of course, about this blog. Four years is a long time. A lot can and will happen in that time. And it's all here. My thoughts, my values, my art, the ups and the downs, it's all beautifully preserved here. I think that's wonderful. Even if this blog would never amount to anything tangible, it would still be important to me. Because, well, it is me! This blog is part of my identity, and my growth as a person.

I've composed a short list of entries that I really like and remember well (that are also so far back no one will read em unless I put them out there..). In no particular order:

the spectrum of happiness

endorphins and blogger stuff

with big spaghetti comes great confidence

Nostalgic egoboost

implications of life

None of them are among my most read entries, but I almost think they deserve to be. Well, to me, they just bring back memories. Drawing, writing past bedtime. Late evenings are what built this blog.

To you, my readers, I say only...

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The dream I didn't follow

Those who have known me or read this blog for longer than a year would surely know that for a long time, my plan in life was to become an architect! Now, that didn't go exactly as I had planned, and I ended up studying engineering instead. What happened? Well. I just failed the entrance exam, and was too embittered to try again. 

No... I kid. While it surely struck a sour blow, I had a whole year to recuperate from that disappointment before it was time to try again. And during those many months, I had some time to mull over what being an architect would realistically mean in my life. And those thoughts steered me away from trying again. I'm not going to delve very much deeper into that, but it was a battle between what I thought, or supposed, was my dream calling, and safety. Engineering certainly wasn't just "the safe option", that's not how I made the choice in the end, but it certainly felt like that sort of dilemma.

Anyhow, last week I had the chance to try out what my life as a student of architecture might have been like! Well, to say I had the chance might be somewhat of an exaggeration. I sort of just did it. I went and participated in a drawing class for architecture students!

Yes, we had a live nude bare-assed model in there! That was a first, and a lot of fun!

I look so happy you might think I'm now convinced I made the wrong choice in education after all. Not at all. It was the first time in I guess about two years I drew anything with coal, and on an easel. And, uh, as confident as I may have appeared, I was just simmering with negative competitive energy. And I think that's fine, competitiveness can be turned into something positive under the right circumstances, but is this art thing that suddenly made me so self-conscious and jittery really something I want to build my career around? Maybe not. It seems like a stressful life.

Don't get me wrong, I had a ton of fun, and I was genuinely beaming. But if that was my life, what was a thrilling and exciting thing would just be reduced to normalcy. There's no guarantee I would be happy in the long run. But all those negative feelings would remain, I'm sure.

Rather I just keep this a hobby, like I do. I think it might be more fulfilling for me that way, too. After all, I'm good enough at other things. I don't have to make a career out of this.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Unconventional coping


We're always encouraged to talk about problems. If there's one piece of advice that fits problems universally, it's to have a discussion with someone you trust. A wise friend, a parent, almost anyone can help you by simply being there. It's funny, I've said it a hundred times to so many different people. And it does work, I've seen it. Strength in unity. Together we seem to become more than the sum of our parts.

Through talking, we build trust. We cover common ground. It generates positive feedback. A certain degree of vulnerability is paramount to creating confidence in one-another, and that's what brings people closer. Just like you can't get good credit without ever taking a loan, you can't bind in deep friendship without giving a bit of yourself. It makes you relatable.

I'll gladly listen, but I rarely ever do the talking. It's not something that bothers me, not at all, but others have noticed. I internalize most everything. And I think that's fine.

Because most of my own troubles are a collection of social circumstances, existing uniquely between myself and some other person. How can I talk about those problems I face, without implicating another person? Therein lies the rub. Privacy and integrity are things I hold very dearly. All my troubles are not worth breaking the confidentiality of personal circumstance. What right do I have to bring something private to me and someone else to the scrutiny of others, however keenly I may feel the need for a second opinion? None, truly.

There's a fine line between processing your own social troubles and gossiping. Often, this line is walked carelessly, because the advice we so readily give each other is to talk freely. It creates an unhospitable social playing field, where everyone knows a bit too much about everyone, and no one has a clean slate. It's a typical small-town dilemma. To me, it is a revolting thought.

Privacy... For the rest of my problems, the ones singularly personal, my value in integrity would again be an obstacle. In this culture of gossip, who could I trust with my secrets? Could I trust that people understand and value the confidentiality of a discussion between two sets of eyes? In my experience, that isn't the case.

So when I encourage people to talk about their problems, what I really mean is internalise what you can, and see a shrink if there is something you can't possibly handle on your own. I realize that is unconventional advice. Perhaps you should simply have more faith in people than I do.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

It's a new year!

And what a year it was. Above all, it was filled with change. Everything changed! Many times!

First I was unemployed, fresh out of the army. In that void of activity, I once again picked up the noble art of blogging, after what had basically been a years break. I went on to find work at a cafe, which I thought was a very exciting and interesting thing for me. It was a taste of adulthood, perhaps. I left a relationship, and I found dear new friends, or rather, it were like they found me for indeed I had felt alone. Come late summer I stopped working to move hundreds of kilometres south to the Aalto campus in Otaniemi. There, a new life began and has since been taking shape. While time flies here at school, this year has felt long. 

Longer perhaps than any before it.

It's said our perception of time accelerates as we get older. It's a scary thought, it really is. But I don't necessarily believe it to be true anymore. Or, atleast, the effect hasn't been significant. When I was in the army, time passed quickly. Quicker than ever, really. The week sped rapidly towards the weekend, which seemed to last only a heartbeat. The passage of time slowed, and my time at the cafe flowed only leisurely.

Christmas went by at my parents place. It feels very strange. I've changed so much since I left home 4 years ago, but somehow I feel precisely like my old self when I'm there.

Anyhow, I bought paper for myself for christmas! A most fabulous present for oneself, I know. So the drawing above is the first one I've done on A4 size paper since back when I went to school in Vasa. I've grown to love my A5 Canson 120g/m^2 sketchbooks maybe a bit too much, but the fact is that many of my projects felt cramped on that small area. I've gone through 3 of those sketchbooks by now. They're specifically Cansons Sketch pads, at 120g/m^2. It's the paper itself, the grain is exquisite. I bought two new pads, one Canson Mix Media A4 at 200g/m^2 and one A5 Canson Drawing, at 180g/m^2 - I was suprised to find both had a weaker grain structure than the Canson pads I had been used to for so long.

Which I think is a shame. I find a rough paper texture both pleasing to draw on, and a subtle but important part of the stylistic direction of my graphite drawings. Anyhow, I had a lot of fun with this one. I used two references, a nude for the outline and rough proportions, and a picture of a goat skull.