Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Frustration Is Needed, But Annoyingly Painful

This post is a late response to the video above. It's Will Terry's video, "Are You Frustrated With Your Art?" that is on his YouTube channel. I agree and disagree on several things, but the reason this is a late post is I had to decide if I wanted to rant a post or write something people could learn from. Latter took over. However, anyone reading this should watch that video as Will Terry does hit some major points. To simply summarize my rant with both agreeing and disagreeing to the video: schools(all levels) are rushing through the process of teaching and mainly just skimming instead of teaching a subject in depth, schools are throwing away important skills and job training to just keep putting the same stuff(just harder and harder levels) into kids and adults', and last schools believe in the "Random Character" method for preparing us which is great for beginning in school, but it results in us being worst off once getting into high school, college, or jumping into the pool that is life. That's sums up what my opinions are that are resulting in not just artists becoming frustrated as they try to get to their dream, but also people of all job fields.

Oh, and to summarize what a Random Character is, instead of going in the gaming term, I'll tell you what broad sense I am using it for. It's referring to someone who is learning to know everything, like a Jack of All Trades, but do not have the actually experience in any of it enough to be helpful. Basically, for the artist version, that guy who keeps collecting all sorts of drawing books and looking up tutorials, but never doing any of the practice and such to get that knowledge into skills. Hence, it's better to be a Jack of All Trades where you at least got the experience and defined enough skills to possibly go from a Master of None to a Master of Something. Though, sometimes it's not the person's fault for this to happen, but either way it does cause a lot of frustration when you do try to become good at something.

I can do complex figures again!
Now, everyone has had rough spots in their lives. It can be just something simple like the coffee maker dying. Or it can be something big like that painting you been working on for so long being destroyed right when you are almost done or you lose your day job. However, there is no way to really escape the frustration that comes after it. I dealt with a lot of frustrations through my life and I think everyone can agree they at least been mad at something before. However, a lot more people are finding themselves dealing with this now than ever for many reasons. We'll just stick around what artists starting out deal with for this post.
Doing Line Art Is Much Easier, too!
 One of this does relate back to the video at the start of this post. This is also common for not just artists, but a lot of job fields. It's the Catch 22 people find themselves in either with getting out of school and trying to find a job or switching careers. You want to get that job, earn money, and such, but you lack work experience or the experience and skills for the job? So, what do you do? Apply all over the place or go back to school? Well, the apply all over the place(for both your degree type job and others), you might get you a lousy job, but hey, we got to start somewhere. You can at least begin to earn some money to get supplies and such to practice and get your artistic talent off the ground. Though, this in itself can become a frustration as that lousy job wears you out or it's an okay job that eats up a lot of your time. The other choice of going back to school is like stepping into political cartoon area and I rather also not rant. So, I will just say that college degrees are becoming too much of a cost just to get a job. Also, for artists, there are now alternatives that are affordable like School of Visual Storytelling and Chris Oatley's Magic Box that you can also do while working either a part-time or full-time job easier makes more sense than college. In fact, Noah Bradley has started up his Art Camp again with this time two Art Camps to choose from or do both for a good rate for a 12-week online course. Not saying college is bad, but it's system is bleeding students dry while making the teachers who really love doing their job and doing it right suffer as well.
Coloring was annoying at first, but got better.
Hence, you can already see some frustrations in that last paragraph many people could be thinking. "Why did I get this job?" "Why can't I get work?" "Why did I go to college for this?" Why did I spend all that money for college?" There are plenty more, but I rather keep this post from turning into an essay. However, this is to point out you cannot escape being frustrated. It will and always will happen even when your are prepared for it. It will range in size and complexity, but it will always. However, there is one thing that I see and realize I almost fell into after work dried for me after my first big freelance gig(and still have not got any since). That problem which also leads to many quitting their dreams and future careers too early and putting them in regret is the fact they will not face what is bothering them. Which is actually an important process that a lot of people learn from without knowing till later on in life.

Now, what do I mean by not facing the frustrations? What I mean is basically figuring out the problem. I do not mean going straight to solving the "problem." There are plenty of artists who have rushed into trying to solve what they think is the problem, only to get into an even worse position. If you do not know roughly what the problem is, then that right there is a frustration on its own, but if you do not figure it out and keep pushing along. It will just haunt you and bother you till A: you work hard to figure it out(making mistakes and all) and improve, B: you quit and give up what you were doing to never come back again, or C: same as B but, like me sometimes, you come back and try again and keep a cycle till you get it. All of them are hard, but the one that will hurt the most will be B as often people will regret it and make themselves more miserable.
Almost Done, Needing Some More Details
However, when you begin to try to figure out the problem first and then solve the problem, you will find yourself often times snowballing into a whole new way of doing things. A great example is someone I follow who is not an artist. His name is Paul Wheaton and he is known as the Duke of Permaculture. His Youtube Channel is his name and here's to it: Paul Wheaton. He also runs the forums known as Permies.com that also leads to articles Paul Wheaton has done. Now, before moving on, Permaculture is "permanent agriculture" which focuses on using what we have and using basic science and ecology to live within one's means. Basically, it's a hod podge of many different ideas and concepts for living, food, and so on. Now, Paul Wheaton was originally an engineer and his buddies and he would always complained about their biggest frustration: pollution. Well, after it nagged him for a while, Paul Wheaton decided to do something about it and began researching about pollution and so on. This lead him looking at energy usage being the cause of pollution and went to those energy efficient light bulbs, so he did an experiment on them. He found the CFLs were a joke, the now illegal in the USA incandescent lightbulbs were not just better, but helped with the bigger issues of energy, and that light was just a TINY fraction of energy usage. Most of the energy we used came from heating, which the incandescent happened to give off freely in the winter. I am going to summarize the rest, but Paul Wheaton basically kept figuring out the problem, but as he solved it he discovered more problems, but also more solutions. It's kind of a never ending process, but its a good one to be in! It means your on the right track!

And My Finished Piece For The Concept Cookie Mother Earth contest.
Now, you are probably wondering why this Paul Wheaton and permaculture has to do with being frustrated, art or not wise? Here's the deal. A lot of people become frustrated, but the keep staying frustrated and do nothing about this. They just live with it and push on with what nags them dragging them back like a ball and chain. However, when someone goes and actually does something they are frustrated about and try to solve the problem, we are either called weirdos, geniuses, and a whole hod podge of other things like Paul Wheaton, mainly other artists, and more people beginning to blaze new trails for fixing problems and trying to help others figure it out as well. Even later he gained the title Duke of Permaculture and the Bad Boy of Permaculture, but back onto the point. If you stay mad at the "bad guys" as Paul Wheaton puts it, nothing will happen and you'll either stagnate, change course and maybe regret it, or so on.

 I can do a real life example with images you are seeing on this post. Each process has it's own little problems, but if you do not learn how to deal with each problem, you can really see it in the finished piece. But, sometimes, learning of and fixing the problem is fun. . So, instead of throwing your pencil or brush away with tired of messing up... Look at work and begin to dissect it down and try to figure out the problem. Sure, you may have to ask for help and even be embarrassed to ask for it, but it's better than becoming so frustrated that you go nuts! As you become a great problem solver, who knows what path it will lead you on. You might become a great artist, a permacultist, or even finally make your dream reality or find your dream without knowing it. Me? At this moment, I am still figuring it out, but I am enjoying every minute of it, even the frustration that comes with it as you can at least laugh at such events once you gotten pass them.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dye Day April 2014

Not mine, but I want one so bad.
I maybe an artist, but I am also in the Spinners and Weavers of Imperial Calcasieu guild. I love doing fiber arts, though it is more of a hobby than what I do with drawing and other art medias. Mainly due to I use knitting, my main fiber art, to take a break from my current work to chill out... Or cuss out and fuss at a piece of knit I am working on to get all that anger out. Esecially with the shawl I am currently working on... How do I keep twisting my stitches?.. Oh, back on topic. Though I joined the guild roughly a year ago, the last few months of college and early this year had me so busy, I was missing meetings. However, I got back into the monthly meeting schedule last month. This month's meeting was at a guild member's house where before the meeting, to most of the day, we had a Dye Day.
Spoiler: She did end up multicolor by the end of the day because she forgot to wear gloves.
It is basically a loose workshop on how to dye wool and cotton, either as fleece, roving, yarn, or, in my case, the finish product of what is made. Two members of our guild who were more experienced at using dyes showed the rest of us how to properly set up for dying, get the dye to temperature, and then dye the yarn. Then, we were let lose to experiment. I was mainly trying to finish a short scarf which I did finish and dyed it in my crock pot(or now dye pot).We figured out that for me, it was best to boil the water up to temperature in another pot and then use my crock pot to keep the water that is poured it at the right temperature to do the dying.
How to make a rainbow fleece! Put wool and dye in pot! Bonus, cleans the fleece as well!
 Everyone had a fun time either dyeing or working on other projects they brought. We all learned different methods like dipping yarns, making rainbow fleece dies through just a pot or in a cooler. We also went over other methods like natural dyes and the cheap alternatives like Kool-Aid dying and raiding supermarkets after Easter for Easter egg dye kits. Seriously, one member had a whole bag of the stuff there and I might do the same so I can do some dyeing through the year. All our dyed products came out great, even my scarf which I was a little worried with how dark it was originally that the dye I chose would darken it too much. Some pretty yarns below from some of the guild members attempts.

Now, even though this is an traditional craft art form, the making of yarn and such, you might be wondering "Why is this on an artist's blog? It's not important to making a painting or drawing." Well, actually it is. Artists can get inspiration anywhere, be it drawing people in the park or just going out and having fun and just taking notes of ideas they come up with to deal with later. People are always saying "Specialize! Specialize! Be good at only one thing and your set for life!"... Yet, that's not true. Would you be happy if you only planted the same flowers over and over again? Or eating the same meal over and over day in and out? Being an artist 24/7 in one super special niche can hurt the artist if that is all he or she does. If they are focused on the same stuff without allowing for the chance of change even in that field, it becomes tiring, stressful, and their creativity slowly begins to ebb away. Even when they are not focused on the same stuff, working yourself all the time will only lead to burn out. 
Another rainbow fleece, though the cooler dyeing method.
Hence having a hobby or even other forms of art you like to play around in is a great way to mix things up without adding too much onto your workload. It gives you a break and even some extra joys like being able to make your own clothes, which buying clothes is getting expensive nowadays. Sure, it might take me a year to make a set of clothes, but I will be happy with the end result like the good old days decades ago! It doesn't have to be a traditional craft or even art to be your hobby or even just fun time. Maybe you like to fish or go out hiking. Or even, you like to just relax in a hammock after working so many hours, possibly doing super lazy thumbnails or reading a book. Anything that gets you out of your art for just a little bit and gives you a view of the outside world is a good thing. A good example of this is I have started a container garden and every evening I got out and water my garden and my aunt and uncle's tomato garden. It is like a meditation that helps me calm down and enjoy the moment every evening. In this fast pace world where artists compete and clients are demanding so much from not just artists and graphic designers, but so many other professions that many people are being made miserable...
You don't want to be the one going around in circles like this yarn winder does.
 Sometimes slowing down even just a little bit is better than just going faster and faster, breaking apart in the process. When you slow down, you begin to find life and the things you do both for work and play are enjoyable again... Not a choir and  stressful annoyance as you begin to see things you missed with moving super fast and realize faster is not always better. So, why not find one day, be it every week or once a month, to just find something you enjoy and do it that is not your main job. You'll be amazed how recharged you be when you jump right back in the saddle to get back to work. Heck, you might even find yourself brimming with new ideas that cannot be contained the minute you return from either reading that book or dying yourself up a skein of pretty hand spun yarn you done all by yourself.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Noob Review: Yiynova DP10U+ USB Digitizer Tablet

April's Entry to SVS's 3rd Thursday Contest
Last week I had a fun time with Cyphacon two weekends ago and then Dye Day(which will be my next post in a few days) with the spinning and weaving guild I am in roughly a week ago...However, something I was waiting for came in the mail the day just before Dye Day. With my refund check and some money I had saved up, I had ordered several things off of Amazon: a 32 ounce bottle of Bristle Magic(amazing none of the art stores here had this), Manga Studio 5, and, what the bulk of my money went to, a Yiynova DP10U+ USB Digitizer Tablet. 
Yiynova DP10U+
 Right when I was finishing my illustration for March's 3RD Thursday contest for School of Visual Storytelling, my Vistablet I had for a while was finally beginning to fail me. So, once I had my refund check, I ordered those three items above. However, I also decided to do a review of the Yiynova DP10U+ since there was not many reviews for this new version of the Yiynova DP10U. Excuse my photos, I was quite excited getting this and used my Iphone, but pictures are sometimes better than words. Especially the new package bubbles I never seen before. They are cool and effectively protected my new display!
Materials and Extras with Yiynova
 Now, with unboxing the cheap looking box, I found myself happy with what I got. I got the tablet, the pen for it with a nib remover and two replace news, the manual, a mini-manual for setting it up(my favorite part), the warranty, and a nice velvet bag to keep it in. The tablet's hardware, I will admit, is cheap. I have been born and raised by the Baby Boomer Generation of garage sale hunters and technically a Generation X(or Y with how they keep changing the age range on me) garage sale hunter. I know cheap plastic when I see it, but they did not, at least, go for the super-cheap stuff. It's sturdy enough to travel with. My Yiynova DP10U+ has survived a trip in my computer bag for a day trip to town to prove it.
Testing tablet with my laptop, as did test on my desktop.
 However, after installing the drivers and messing with the Yiynova DP10U+ settings to figure out how to work it, I found that instead of lining their pockets with the profits from using cheap materials... They put all that money right into the software. Oh, before I get into software, I discovered something you who might want to buy this should know. I learned this through my laptop(and thinking at first it was a glitching), but the Yiynova DP10U+ can be used both as a normal graphic tablet with the main monitor selected or as a true pen display when it is selected for the main use screen. So, if you find your pen display not working right off the bat, check to see if the mouse is moving on the main monitor and check the pen display settings if it is to change pen drive to focus on the pen display.
Test in Sketchbook Pro
Now, back to software. Boy, was I a happy camper with this. I knew from the reviews I looked at for the original Yiynova DP10U and DP10U+ that software was pretty dang good for the price. Well, I will state it is an understatement. Even with the small screen, the tablet is very sensitive and the strokes are smooth. It worked great in Photoshop and Manga Studio 5, though I did have to figure out some small issues for Sketchbook Pro 6 and it got working fine after the issues were solved. However, just as some of the reviewers said, this tablet is so sensitive, you can do very light, delicate cross hatching with it which was something I could not do even with a Wacom Intuos tablet I played with before or my old graphic tablet. It is not just sensitive for light touches, it also is very good at register the whole pressure range which you can adjust to how light or hard you often work with a graphic tablet.

Photoshop test, with some crosshatching
Now, the pen, though also of cheap plastic, is also MUCH more comfortable for me to use compared to other pens. It's light like a nib holder and fits in my hand just like large one. In fact, it is so much like a nib holder... I began to do my little habit with nib holders and traditional pens I use. I will rotate them in my hand while working, either to change direction or just thinking. This had me cussing for a bit till I figured out what was going on while playing in Manga Studio 5. I did not realize the buttons on Yiynova DP10U+ pen were already connected to shortcuts(though I would have set them myself). Each time I hit the top of the two buttons on the pen, the eyedropper came up in Manga Studio 5 and changed my color to wherever the pen was hovering over. Still, once I figured out that issue, I found myself having a better flow with Yiynova DP10U+ due to not just seeing my work right where I was working, but because the pen felt a lot more natural to me compared to other graphic tablet pens.
A simple, but comfortable digital pen...And just realized a random sock there.
However, just as there are good things, there are some bad things. Though, these are minor. This pen display takes up two USB ports to use. This is fine with my laptop since it has a built in keyboard and mouse and lots of USB ports on my desktop... However, if you are a heavy user of your USB ports, then this tablet might not be for you. Another issue is the screen. I am not talking about resolution or even the size. Those are great. The issue of comes with its viewing angles and colors. The viewing angles have improved from the original, but if you get two far back from "up and down" then you get a funny glare. The same with going "side to side," hence the best angles are when you are either right above it or have it up roughly at the angle a book stand would have it. Hence when I begin this year's garage sale expeditions, I will be looking for a sturdy little book stand to have it up at a better angle for my wrist. Now, colors on the screen are also off, though I heard this is also a problem with the Wacom Cintiq. Since the Yiynova DP10U+ is used as technically an extra screen... Instead of turning off your main display when you work with the Yiynova DP10U+, the best way to work with this color issue is to take advantage of the two screens. My main displays(both for my laptop and desktop) are pretty close to proper colors, so when I am working in Photoshop or Mang Studio 5, I make an extra window of my work and out it in the computer's main display to check for the proper colors and such. This is a good habit to get into as since you won't mess with the extra window with zoom in and such, it allows you to see the whole image instead of just the small part you a working with on the pen display. Haven't figure out how to do it in Sketchbook Pro so if anyone knows, let me know. Also, as you get to the every edge of the screen with the pen, the mouse icon and pen are begin to move apart and not right next to each other. Though, you get used to the change in distance after some practice.
Test in my brand new Manga Studio 5. Also playing with the tools I got with it.
Now, I bet everyone who is reading this wants to know the price and if it is worth the price. As of the moment I post this review, it is still the price I got at: $319 with free shipping off of Amazon.com from Panda City. This is roughly a little cheaper than the Wacom's Intuos Pro Medium graphic tablet which is $349. However, even with the minor problems I had with Yiynova DP10U+, I say for sure that the Yiynova DP10U+ blows the Intuos Pro out of the water as well as many other graphic tablets. The reason being is it is not awkward to use the Yiynova DP10U+ like normal graphic tablets. 
With graphic tablets, you are always looking at the screen, but your drawing on the tablet while not looking at it. When you look down at the tablet to see your work, it's not there because it's on the screen. This may sound like it should not be a problem, but for people who are used to working in tradition or used the mouse to work with, it's actually quite odd. This is why Wacom dominated the market for a while as they were the only ones with the Cintiq which put the graphic tablet and computer display together. However, makers of Yiynova and other graphic tablets are realizing the need for smaller, cheaper versions of graphic pen displays and are trying to deliver such that. There is still some work to be done to reach the level of the Wacom Cintiq, but with smaller graphic pen displays like the Yiynova DP10U+ that are affordable to even entry level digital artists and CAD program users... Wacom now has some serious competition as these pen displays make current graphic tablets like the Intuos series almost obsolete once these companies do get the right formula for their models in my opinion.
For my first impression review, I give this a thumbs up as it great for both beginners and professional. Yiynova also have larger models which many believe the MVP22U, their 21.5" model, is up there with the Cintiq and has high reviews on Amazon along with the 19" model. I will probably upgrade to the larger models once I saved up enough money as now focus on some fiscal goals like hitting my goal of having my emergency fund set up by the end of the year and saving up so I can take online classes from Chris Oatley's Magic Box and courses from the School of Visual Storytelling. Also, if you are wondering, the first image on this post is the first illustration I made with using the Yiynova DP10U+. I am still improving, but I will say that my new little tool has just made working in digital illustration all that better. However, I will be starting back in traditional work soon now that I can do oil painting again and wanting to build up an inventory for possibly doing some galleries and festivals.
Band gloves: so universal.
Oh, extra thing before finishing this post off. For those with already graphic pen displays, here's a little life hack for those snazzy smudge guard gloves I seen. If you live in an area that is big on football games and have marching bands within either high school or college level... See if you can find a music shop that sells band gloves(or if your friends or your children are in marching band, see if you can steal away some stained ones for free). They are inexpensive and they are made of cloth that does not smuge since many insturment players have to keep their horns clean of smudges. In my case, I stole a pair of my sister's gloves since I was a clarinet player and she was a trombone player. My gloves already had holes so I could play my instrument(great for inking and drawing though!), so I took an old stained pair of hers. All I did was snip off the portion with fingers I did not need so I could still grip my pen and wallah! Instant smudge guard that works pretty good!