My blogging brain has been empty lately. When it does work, I have been helping a friend launch a website and working on editing his blog. It is exciting to help a friend, but it’s a lot more work than I expected and I was sad the other day when I realized how much time and effort I was putting into his blog while neglecting my own. So here we are.
In more positive news, while my blogging brain is empty, my art brain is BURSTING. And it’s about time! Details and some recent art photos are after the cut.
Welp, my post on burning out came at the perfect time. I haven’t completely burnt out, but life did get a lot more hectic since the last post. I’ve been pretty stressed out about life stuff and finding a new job, so I took a tiny blog hiatus and more importantly an impromptu trip to Virginia the day after my last post, and boy did it help! The following photo perfectly sums up my mini-vacation (hanging out with vegans rules because you get to eat their free ice cream dessert at lunch).
This trip was a milestone for me because I didn’t get my license until I was 27 years old and it’s the furthest I’ve ever driven (~2.5-3 hours). I made the trip by myself and it was a really relaxing, beautiful drive. I made the most of it by listening to Audible for half the ride, and Spotify for the other. Sidenote: I’ve just finished the Wool book series and it is AMAZING if you’re into sci-fi. Unfortunately, it took a grand total of four hours back at work last Monday for my blood pressure to go bonkers again. The rest of the week didn’t prove to be any easier and I can’t get into details but work is likely going to be fairly insane for a few weeks and possibly until I leave.
In addition to the work craziness, I recently took over as organizer for the Philadelphia Self Quantifiers meetup group. I am really excited to take over and try to make the group meet more often, but it is pretty time consuming learning the ins-and-outs of running and group and trying to find presenters, etc (speaking of: If you’re into QS and have something cool to present shoot me an email!). All of the above has made my afformentioned mini-research project using the data from Curalate difficult to work on, but I am still reading articles and compiling data here and there when I can. Things are crazy, but hopefully I can balance it out and stay positive and productive in spite of it all.
SPEAKING OF… one of the main things that has been keeping me sane/positive/etc since the beginning of the year is the real star of this post: Life Book 2015. I’ve mentioned this in passing here a few times, and if you follow me on any social media, you’ve seen me posting my Life Book pages and progress photos, but I wanted to touch on this more extensively here.
What is Life Book 2015?
Life Book is a year long mixed media art class organized by the wonderful and talented Tamara Laporte of Willowing Arts. It’s an online course taught by Tam and 25 other really talented art teachers. Each week a new video (or videos) is uploaded, most of the time but not always with an accompanying supplemental PDF. Life Book consists of 34 main lessons and 18 bonus activities. At the end of the year Tam teaches you how to bind your Life Book pages into a book, hence the book part. Life Book (and Tam herself) really focuses a lot on the celebration of self, be it self love, self forgiveness, etc. This is something I can definitely use in my life.
I’ve been a member of Skillshare on and off for the last year but never had a chance to really dive into any classes until recently. I’m signed up for a bunch and have watched bits and pieces of a few here and there but recently I decided I wanted to really make time for these classes and to submit some projects. Part of this is because Skillshare reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in teaching for them (not too big of a deal, anyone can teach a course). This is something I will definitely be doing once I have a space set up to record, so be on the lookout for that!
Anyway, because of their email I became motivated to fully check out a class. The first class I took was Tyson Wheatly‘s course “The Possibilities of Instagram: Sharing Your Best Photos.” I thought I had a pretty good grasp on mobile photo editing before but decided to check it out anyway. Tyson went over some apps I am familiar with (VSCOcam, SKRWT, Snapseed, etc) but also introduced me to some I had heard of but hadn’t tried before (Photoshop Express, Afterlight). The class is really helpful if you’re new to mobile photography, and I highly recommend it! (A post on how I personally edit my photos is coming soon).
For my second class, I stuck with mobile photography and signed up for the “Everyday Surrealism: Creating Art From Photos” taught by Chuck Anderson. This class is really neat and I learned a lot of cool mobile editing tricks I wouldn’t have come up with on my own! It’s really amazing how much you can do just using a phone these days, however, I found the assignment to be way harder than anticipated. Part of this is because the material I’ve been shooting lately isn’t really great for merging and making artsy, part is that I’m not as good at the apps as I’d like to be (specifically photoshop), and part of it is just my brain refusing to be creative. I kept at it and came up with the following images (so far). *Warning: Post is image heavy after the break*
I’m about two weeks into the Emotiblob project and it’s really opening a lot of windows in my mind. Relating emotions to color is harder than anticipated. A lot of this has to do with hues and tones. What color is stress? What color is pain? Can the same color be indicative of both?
Ideally I had imagined Emotiblobs as a more private journal, like my previous art journals. I had envisioned looking at the Emotiblobs later and being able to easily identify what things I was feeling on each specific day. This expectation seems to be thwarted with the realization of how many colors and emotions overlap. Red is associated with pain but also love. A cadet greyish blue is associated with tiredness, but a similar shade of blue with calm. Is a tiny additional dash of grey to indicate tiredness vs calm something I’ll be able to identify later? So far the answer is no. Does it matter? I’m not sure. Maybe what makes the Emotiblobs special and interesting is how many different ways they can be interpreted by each individual.
There’s still the struggle of wanting each blob to be aesthetically pleasing vs wanting them to be emotionally accurate. I recently had a great day where a close friend brought me belated flowers (all I wanted was flowers for my birthday but wanted them without asking, I was surprised and happy this friend nailed it), however at the same brunch I found out another dear friend had been very sick in the hospital and I was unaware. A yellow/orange blob of happiness quickly accumulated a black line around it (the first time I’ve ever used pure black in a blob). I was hesitant to add the line, but it was so significant, a prime example of aesthetic vs true emotion.
I honestly hate the aesthetics of most of the blobs so far, but I think it’s important for the project to evolve organically and not be forced, so I am sticking to it. I am also trying to learn how to use photoshop more quickly so I can put the blobs on a pure white background. A friend did this for me and the blob stands out more and looks much more beautiful. Hopefully, I can figure this out eventually and re-post the blobs on white backgrounds so you can really see the vibrant colors used.
First off, what a bummer that I made one post then the blog dropped off. This seems to be typical on the web so it isn’t completely surprising, but it is disappointing. What I can say about this is: Do not launch a blog before you’re ready to just because someone is interviewing you for an article. I should have been more prepared with blog drafts or at the very least outlines (I did have my sources lined up but not much else). I had thought that if I launched it would force me to get the drafts finished in a timely manner but was completely wrong. Definitely a lesson learned!
All that said, the productivity posts will come with time, but for now I’d like to touch on another project I’ve been working on: Emotiblobs!
I had a vision the other night of a painting where hands were holding this big blob of colors. The colors would be indicative of all of the different emotions I was feeling in response to some personal challenges I was facing. I sat down and painted a small version and ended up really liking the aesthetics of the blob by itself. I then thought about an app I used for almost two years called Expereal. Expereal is an app that allows you to rate your feelings on a scale from 1-10, when you put a rating in you choose it from a visually stunning color wheel (hard to explain). When I first discovered the app at a QS Philly Meetup, I questioned the color choices. For example, a rating of 10 is red, but a rating of 2 is purple. Purple happens to be my favorite color, so I associate it with positive emotions rather than negative. The purpose of the app wasn’t really to associate color with emotion, but it got me thinking along those lines. The combination of the existing blob and thinking about Expereal made me want to start a project combining color and emotion, and Emotiblobs were born.
I am defining Emotiblobs as an experimental visual daily journal of feelings expressed over time in color.
So far the first two Emotiblobs look very different (see below). This is because the first blob was made at the end of a day, where I combined all of the emotions at one time, whereas the second blob was started upon waking and continued throughout my day until completion. I like them both a lot for differing reasons. I feel like the process of the second blob is more authentic and maybe a more accurate way of tracking emotion, but I will play with different methods as the process continues to figure out what works best. I am excited to document both the project and it’s evolution over time.