Monday, January 18, 2010

Rapidograph Rant.

So, being the child, step-child and grandchild of professional writer stock, I'll call that my excuse to love pens. I do, I love pens. One of my earliest memories of drawing anything involves these cheap, black metal ballpoint pens with some sort of government inscription on the side that my Dad always seemed to have laying around the house (in my vague, couldn't-read-yet, three-year-old's perspective, I want to say they just said "U.S. Government" on the side, but since I couldn't actually read yet, they could have said "Uncle Barney's Government Surplus and Podiatric Supplies," yet, I can hardly see how that would have fit on the side of the pen). Those black ballpoint pens were so sleak, simple, fun to chew on and made a nice, even, smooth line on whatever paper I could find (or the radiator in the dining room). Since that time, I've gone through many different styles of pens: Ballpoints, which eventually grew thin on my patience with their inconsistent skipping and oily, uneven marks, erasable pens, which, until I learned to write sideways, simply amplified the left-handed curse of "black pinkie knuckle," rollerballs, which, though beautiful, smeared way too easily, no matter how long I left myself in suspended animation with my hand poised above the page, thinking, certainly, it was dry by now.

With this love of permanent writing impliments, coupled with my artistic inclination, it was only a matter of time before I went down that slippery slope to my affection for drafting pens. For whatever reason, my fascination with their permanent, archival nature was only peaked when I found out that you could buy them with tips so fine you could perform a trachiotomy on a housefly with one. Not cheap these little buggers were, either. And it seemed, the finer the point, the more expensive they were, and the more difficult to care for. It seemed also that the tiniest of points on these pens were also insanely fragile. Couple that with the fact that the diameter of the tip now approached the molecular diameter of the ink particles, and you've got a rather expensive, no-one-told-me-this-was-a-one-use-only pen. As a teen, I managed to save up my nickels until I could afford to buy one of my own, only to get completely burned by my own lack of experience and care, getting the thing utterly clogged with ink and the tip bent irreparably at the same time. I have no idea what happened to that pen. I hope it is burning in pen hell.

That being said, I completely forgot this lesson a couple years ago (or perhaps I thought I was mature enough, as those of us over forty sometimes think, to own something complicated and expensive without effing it up) and bought myself a set of four Rapidograph pens from Koh-i-noor. Old school, just like the one I toasted in high school, only now there's four of them. I had completely forgotten the labor involved in keeping them functional, and today is a lesson in patience, wherein I am presently waiting for the nib of one of them (pictured above) to dry after cleaning the clots of old India ink out of them. I really just wanted to draw something real quick and be done with it.
But hey, my loss is your, well, also loss, since this is probably the most rambling-on-about-nothing blog posting I've ever written. I think the nib is dry now, but now someone needs to be driven somewhere, so I guess it'll be especially dry by the time I get back.

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Year, Resolutions, and a New Project!

In honor of the New Year, I decided to create a new project for myself to keep me productive throughout the year. I had considered joining one of the groups on Flickr or Facebook along the lines of "52 Weeks of ..." but I couldn't find a project that I really wanted to do. So I started my own group! I sent out invitations to all of the artist friends I have, and now there's a group of about 45 of us. The idea is that each of us commits to ourselves to start and finish one piece along our chosen theme each week. The theme and medium is up to each participant, as we have photographers, painters, jewelers, a bit of everything, and we all seem to be inspired by different ideas. I couldn't decide, so I chose two, 52 Weeks of Creatures and 52 Weeks of Vocabulary Words. We also have 52 Weeks of: Squares, insects, monsters, journaling, spirituality and "undeclared" (I think there's a bunch of those--don't judge! It's enough for most artists just to commit to this kind of schedule in the first place!).

You can find the group here: 52 Weeks of Creations!

Here are my entries for this week. The first one is for 52 Weeks of Vocabulary Words, and this week's word is "Miasmata":
miasmata. n. plural of miasma.

1. noxious exhalations from putrescent organic matter; poisonous effluvia or germs polluting the atmosphere.

2. a dangerous, foreboding, or deathlike influence or atmosphere.

While the singular, "miasma", is pretty cool, I thought the plural of this word was even better. In the olden days (before the germ theory of disease transmission) it was thought that illness and disease were emitted from dead and decaying materials and that they carried through the air like a spirit.

Entry #1 for the 52 Weeks of Creatures is my "Devil Child Waiting for the Bus":

She requires far less explanation. She is simply a little girl waiting for her bus. She just happens to have horns and a tail, for which her Mommy has lovingly crafted her a matching set of hat and, umm, tail-mitten?
She reminds me of the two adorable girls (twins) who lived behind us. They were the cutest little blue-eyed blonde girls, who would spend their spare time verbally torturing our dogs over the wall and trying to knock birds' nests out of trees with sticks. I used to call them the Evil Twins.
Just because something's cute doesn't mean it won't try to eat your face off.
Neither piece is listed for sale in my shop just yet, still trying to decide if I should do so. Stay tuned.