Write. Post. Write. Post. Pic. Post. Sometimes quantity is about reaching for something nearly ineffable that is only marginally knowable through brute force.
This is a post from my “Just Three” Challenge, a 28-day photography project to capture a series of three-photo-story sequences — to tell a brief narrative using just three pictures taken that day. Each day from February 22nd through March 21st I’ll be posting a three-panel photo collection that makes use of one of the six styles of story-telling transition.
After three years of lessons I have to admit… all the practice is starting to pay off. She plays and she plays and she plays, and despite the frustrations the tag along with the effort, there are a thousand more stories hidden amongst the…
Day 18: Notes
Camera: Powershot Elph 330 HS
Subject: Piano Lessons
Post-Processing: Desaturation and some messing around with the contrast.
Story: A girl… and her piano practice in the moments before bedtime.
Technique: Point and click.
Evaluation: Ok, but a little on the pressed-for-time, lazy-side tonight.
How does it feel now that your six year old can play the piano better than you?
It is the emergent deficiency of father-hood in the twenty-first century. In all the ways I try to be a role-model for my daughter the one very obvious and nearly-inexcusable way I fall short, veer off course, and utterly fail to meet the grade is in handwriting. My printing is atrocious.
I could blame many different influences for such a deficiency: the proliferation of smartphones and texting, the advent, rise, and domination of email, the requirement of speedy recording of meeting notes versus the lack of necessity for strong penmanship, or even the waning need for paper and ink in this modern society of ours. But alas, the fault is really my own.
Opinion is sure to vary widely on the topic: do we even need to learn to record letters and numbers on paper with pens and pencils any more? Why aren’t kindergarteners introduced to keyboards instead of pencils, as surely they are much more likely to use the former in their technology-connected lives than the latter?
Writing, it sometimes seems, truly has become — or is at the very least well on its way to becoming — an anachronistic art form.
Claire has been bringing home printing assignments each night lately. We practice printing by writing out “found” words, each day the next letter from the alphabet. I assist by penning out the word first on a small whiteboard in black felt pen and she imitates. Each word I print, however, I find myself wiping clean and re-writing two… three… or sometimes even more times. As I said, my printing is atrocious and I’m hardly a role-model.
The effort, however, has made me slightly more cognisant of this deficiency and as a result I’ve thought it might be an interesting exercise to explore the notion of re-learning my own penmanship skills. Yes, in my mid-thirties, it might finally be time to learn to print legibly.
I see it as a threefold course:
1) Figure Out the Right Way
As should be fairly simple with a five-and-a-half year old daughter bringing home printing assignments and word-shape charts on a regular basis. A study in fonts and styles and form and typography might not hurt, either.
2) Practice, Practice, and More Practice
This is the easy part. Or, at least the notion of it is easy. Re-copying pages of books or finding swaths of text to print out onto paper should be easy. Finding the time, on the other hand…
3) Kill All Those Old Habits
Forcing myself to break down the scrawl: printing neatly and clearly will be an effort in everyday life and work. Speed is going to be a factor. As will the appearance of attending meetings and patiently printing my notes into my notebook.
But the result? It will be good, right? And it will be worth it. Or, at least I’ll have an old fashioned kinda skill to fall back on if this computer-stuff doesn’t work out.
Updates are sure to follow…
I’m home sick again today. This cold is really kicking my ass. It seems to be one of those really crazy illnesses that creeps up on you out of nowhere every couple of years — or less frequently, if you’re lucky — and sends you into spirals of frustration and guilt for needing to — literally — sit out on life for a couple weeks. Oddly enough, I recovered long enough to enjoy Disneyland for a few days. But the old body is making me pay for it now.
Thanks, body. You’re a real pal.
It has given me ample time to sit around and not only catch up on some television (can you ever really catch up?) but also to think and read and try and come up with some good content for this blog. All sorts of ideas wisp through my congested head and try to find some kind of footing there. For example, I could write about trying to process nearly two hours worth of vacation video clips into something watchable. Or I could write about a new idea for a story that I’ve had rolling around in my head for near-on two weeks now, and which is starting to gel into something interesting. I could also entertain you with some thoughts I’ve had on trying to get my mind around this whole blogging thing itself, an effort I dabbled in with a previous post, but didn’t nearly flesh out as deeply as it deserves.
Of course, what you get instead is a rambling non-post like this one — so that shows you just how truly productive I am when I’m ill.
Having down time is a kind of skill, I figure. Being sick takes effort. It is a force of will to shut yourself off from the duties of life and attend to just plain-and-simple recovery from whatever the ailment happens to be.
I went to work yesterday morning. I struggled through a few hours of answering emails, chatting with co-workers, attending meetings — and all while chugging back so much tea and cough drops that I probably reeked of chamomile and menthol by the time I tucked my tail between my legs and went home for a three hour nap. And I’m sure my co-workers were just being polite by not adamantly insisting I go home earlier and quit infecting our shared recirculated air. Yes, it was a little stubborn and silly — I admit — but there it is: being sick is a skill. It takes work. And I’m not good at down time.
That said, despite my inability to attend properly to my sniffles and scratches, my body has taken over the job quite nicely and I seem to be on the mend. Seem to be. Seem. The volume of various liquids I’ve been putting into my body today has now exceeded the volume escaping from my sinuses, and I can actually complete a full sentence this morning without breaking into hacking coughs. These are all good signs, right?
Yet, here I am, yearning for a day off — a day to do exactly what I want to do — but hating every moment of a sick day. Why is that? Because down time is an art. Down time takes practice, that’s why. And I — thankfully — haven’t had much of that.
I thought I’d finally kick my New Year’s information management and design reading list off with some purchases from Amazon. Just this morning I put in an order for three new books that should be arriving in the next week. When I get a chance to burrow into each I’ll get some mini-reviews up, but that probably won’t be until February.
What I’m now waiting for is…
“Prioritizing Web Usability”
by Jakob Nielsen
At first glance this seemed like a bit of an old book, especially considering how fast the web is changing, but best practice as-one-might-say is still best-practice, and sometimes these things don’t fundamentally change so much as they are just applied to different systems.
“The Graphic Design Exercise Book”
by Jessica Glaser
Alright, so if you’ve been following along on this blog, you’ll remember I referenced it a few months ago when I started my series on graphic design exercises. I haven’t given up on that effort, but I’ve been pretty busy lately with new work so it been back-burnered. In the meantime, I’ve been into the bricks-and-mortar bookstores and had this one half-way to the til a couple times, so why not, huh?
“Caffeine for the Creative Mind: 250 Exercises to Wake Up Your Brain”
by Stefan Mumaw
This is one of those impulse buys. Amazon recommended it after I added the previous book to my cart, and after flipping through the reviews and a few pages of the “look inside” feature, I decided for the slim price tag it just might be something worth having on my desk-top library.
I may have explained here once that the name for this blog-slash-professional handle came from a short-lived effort at turning myself into a better artist. I called myself the “ersatz artist” and set out to blog on a series of self-imposed art lessons. It flopped, as most any effort at publicly exposed self-education is bound to do, but the effort resulted in (a) this effort herein that you are currently reading, and (b) the lingering feeling that I should probably work on that art-and-drawing stuff anyway. It hung there for a while, stewing in my big mental crock-pot as ideas occasionally do, and about a month ago emerged in a flash of congealed insight as I was walking the dog. Ten strips — five practice and five story — later I’ve opted to just today step-up the publicity campaign for the results of that effort: a fledgling effort at webcomics I’ve called (after a half dozen mis-naming snafus) mezzaverse beta. And with mostly all of Chapter One in the hopper, you won’t be left hanging if you head on over to http://mezzaverse.ersatzowl.com/ and start reading.
What is the mezzaverse?
While that’s not exactly an easy thing to explain — nor do I want to give too much away — for those less inclined to go blindly reading a novice attempt at webcartoonery I’ll give you two assumptions you must make to enter this particular narrative:
1) Assume that the world in which we live is nothing much more than a vast piece of computer software and data, and;
2) Assume that since this software must execute on some kind of hardware, that somewhere outside the scope of our perception lies a vast, possibly infinite, jumble of circuits, chips, resistors, wires, and connectors.
Now, populate that jumble of circuitry with characters and a quasi-philosophical storyline and you have the foundation for a weird — and potentially wonderful — graphic narrative filled with crisp and surreal imagery provided by yours truly.
What is the grand plan?
My humble first steps on this project are going to be not much more than attempting to stumble my way through some (admittedly) formulaic stories that set the stage, establish characters, and let me both practice my drawing-slash-vector-image-puppetry, hopefully building up an ever-more extensive library of poses and models as I weekly (for sure on Saturdays, and occasionally when I’m working ahead, on Wednesdays) release a new strip to an ever-growing audience. At least, that’s how it’s lingering in my head right now.
While I do plan on some behind-the-scenes “ersatz artist” insights for each strip/panel, most of the discussion of the process I’ll be reserving for this blog. So… share and enjoy, and I’m sure I’ll have more to write later.