Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's the end of the year. I had a lot of goals for this break between semesters, mostly relating to continuing the art I've worked on in my first semester. What have I accomplished so far?

> I celebrated Yule and the Winter Solstice. It's good to know intellectually that the days are finally getting longer even if I don't yet recognize this physically. February used to be a tough month for me when I lived much farther north.

> The day before Christmas, my phone apparently refused to turn on. Resolving this problem took a a lot of time and effort. In addition to the day's activities, I had to find a cell phone store that was still open and get a diagnosis. The man at DrPhonez said the display was not working. I think that is like a computer monitor that burns out. I wasn't ready to buy a phone with a data plan from his store, but he suggested that I slip my phone's SIM card into a used phone from a pawn shop until I was ready to buy a new phone.
(From "A SIM card, also known as a subscriber identity module, is a smart card that stores data forGSM cellular telephone subscribers. Such data includes user identity, location and phone number, network authorization data, personal security keys, contact lists and stored text messages. Security features include authentication and encryption to protect data and prevent eavesdropping.")
So the day after Christmas, I looked up places online and used my father's cell phone to make calls. I acquired a cheap used phone for temporary use. I spent a lot of time over the next few days researching phones, online and in local stores, and payment plans. The contact list in my SIM card was scrambled and the clerk at a phone repair store tried to explained how the SIM card did that. I have had trouble finding entries for people I need to reach. Because of the New Year's holiday period, I will not have my new phone until at least Jan. 1 or a few days later.
The phone that died is discontinued and I want to learn more about the use of a better phone, so after much research, I'm getting an Android.
If you are reading this, what do you need or want in a cell phone, and what did you get, on what kind of plan? 

> My father and I celebrated Christmas with some friends from First Unitarian Universalist Church. I took a batch of cookies that had a canned cherry in the bottom of each cookie. That turned out to be a nice touch. The hostess not only cooked up a storm but also provided disposable containers so we could take home some leftovers from the edible storm! Delicious!

> As a paid health care aide, I have helped a friend and former neighbor who has some health care issues. This may continue until classes start again or until she decides she no longer requires help.

> I did eight hours of free office work at the office of a hospice where I volunteer. I spent the day alphabetizing and filing all kinds of forms into notebooks for a couple dozen patients, plus answering the phone so employees who were still in town could focus on work. I wasn't trying to read files, most of which are handwritten notes scribbled in sections of forms. But I did review some medical words and health care procedures that I knew from Medical Front Office classes. I also saw a bit of the declining health that the forms document. I was glad to put paperwork chaos into order but also saddened to see evidence of people slipping and sliding into dementia and death.
As a hospice volunteer and as a temporary resident long ago, I've seen two kinds of residents in nursing homes: the mentally aware and those with some dementia.
We often have the idea that people get sick and then sort of fall over, dead, and then we plan accordingly. But more and more often, we lose the mental ability to plan before our bodies decline and die. My mother died like that. I don't want to die like that. What am I going to do about that and when?
I could say more, but this blog is a public forum and I'm not always sure when to stop writing.
If you are reading this, how do you want to approach the end of life and awareness? 

> New Year's Eve is tomorrow. That was my mother's birthday and this will be the first time that my father and I celebrate the event without her.

> I met with my women's group and mentioned some of the depressing exposure to declining health and death that I have experienced since the last meeting. During the meeting, I played with the hostess's dogs and got my "cat fix." I stroked a handsome male orange tabby purr-baby named Ocee or "OC" for, guess what, "orange cat."

> I have continued to exercise and have managed not to gain weight yet during this holiday season. :)

> I worked on more beading with various colors of 11/0 seed beads. I hope to have several pink heart pendants and earrings made well before Valentine's Day, which is Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013.

> I enjoyed reading _The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty_ by Simon Baron-Cohen, borrowed from San Antonio Public Library.

> I've run across many interesting images and turned a few of them into graphic art in Adobe Illustrator. Apparently I have to "export" the AI file to a JPG in order to upload the images to my blog this way.
From the expression, "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain," I extrapolated to: "Life is not about waiting for the drought to end. It's about learning how to play in the sand." I made a Yin Yang version and a Star version. Gee, I didn't even realize I added "how" in the Star version.

These images are not real typographic art in the style that my Graphic Design instructor specified. I wonder if I can create typographic art like that out of one of these expressions.

The "Face Figure-Ground" is inspired by the movie poster of "The Duchess," which I ran into on the Internet. I want to substitute vegetation, leaves and birds or insect life, for her skin.

These were educational to create. I tried a lot of effects on the words and the star image without good results. I want to try Gaussian blurring on the face to imitate the shadowing shown on Keira Knightly's face in the poster.

I have done a little bit of hand-drawn art, tracing images from a manga instruction book, and I have printed several inspiration pieces for pen/ink and for pencil.
What more can I accomplish before the Spring semester starts?
If you are reading this, what do you hope to accomplish in the next, oh, few weeks? 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

12-20-2012 End of Fall 2012 Semester

I am a student of graphic design at San Antonio College in Texas, and I want to use this blog for several purposes:
>  to show off exciting art I've found on the Internet
>  to communicate with other graphic artists and designers about design and small business issues
> to show my own journey through art and life.

I just finished my first semester of this two-year program, the Fall semester, with Basic Illustration, Introduction to Computer Illustration, and Basic Graphic Design.
Basic Illustration took us through geometric forms and shading with graphite pencils, colored pencils and a still life based on a leather saddle, gouache for birds, architectural drawing with pen and a gouache wash, and a scratch board project illustrating a radio broadcast. We touched on Elements and Principles of Design, color theory, use of text and other things I've forgotten. This was probably the standard introduction to illustration.
Computer Illustration threw us into Photoshop and the infamous pen tool and ended up in Adobe Illustrator and InDesign. We approached each project from the point of view of a graphic designer working with a client.
Basic Graphic Design also used Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, plus a pen tool exercise. Naturally, this class spent more time on Elements and Principles of Design, Gestalt, Color Theory and Rules of Composition than the other classes did. In fact, all but the last were the subjects of separate projects. I also learned some neat tricks, like how to copy and rotate an object around a circle.

All these classes covered other things:
> We were introduced to expressing our concepts in thumbnails and roughs.
> We learned to mat finished works on mat board according to the demands of different "clients" or instructors.
> We practiced the design process: discuss the concept with the clients, research with words and pictures, express the concept in thumbnails and roughs and discuss those with the clients, execution, matting and critique, and revision and critique.
I loved seeing what my classmates had done with the same subjects and same restrictions I had faced.
I revised several projects according to critiques partly to raise my grades and partly because I wanted the satisfaction of producing a better product. Of course, all those revisions made it harder to keep up in class.

In addition, all instructors used technology effectively. They employed overhead projectors from the instructor computer to show useful websites and demonstrate techniques.
In the two computer-based classes, students had to drop assignment files or folders with the correct file name into the correct electronic drop box, and this was still a source of some confusion at the end of the semester.
I was surprised how many students did not save frequently, and did not save incrementally under a succession of file names, like the instructors advised. During a "performance" exam, one student lost all her work to some computer glitch and walked out of the building to get control over her frustration. No one realized that the exterior building doors had been locked. She did not have her cell phone or coat with her and it was unseasonably cold outside. She was able to get back into the building with only 15 minutes left to frantically finish the exercise!
In the computer-based classes, I was pleased to be able to take notes in Word in one window and switch to the work in progress in another window or to the PDF project handout in a third window. I took notes on loose paper in the Illustration class, and now I wish I had used a spiral notebook, lined or unlined. I don't know how other students managed to keep track of information that was not in handouts, and some of them clearly didn't keep track.
On the first day of class, both computer-based instructors explained differences between the Mac computers in the classroom and the PCs that some of us had at home.

I also felt that I started near the bottom of the skill and experience bell curves in drawing on paper and use of Adobe CS programs compared with some other students. A few of us were in the same three classes, but other students were in different tracks or in different stages of the program. I learned that one stellar classmate had a BFA and was an art teacher, and other classmates had other related work experience.
But I was glad that I had experience in DrawPerfect, PageMaker and Paint, as well as Word, of course.
My preferred media include paper cutting, polymer clay, and bead embroidery and bead weaving, none of which prepared me to draw on paper or in a computer program.
Finally, I owe thanks to each of my instructors, who sometimes showed me the way they wished I would do something and then tried to put their vision and experience into words to help me learn.