Unfortunately I don't have a definitive answer here. But the purpose of this website is to be my online portfolio and a place for me to explore my technological creativity. But hey, I'll keep you posted if I find the definitive purpose of life.
The Three Body Problem (2008, translated 2014) by Liu Cixin (English translation by Ken Liu) is the most scientific science fiction book I've already read, drawing from quantum mechanics and math in a detailed and believable (to a chemist) way to construct an unforseeable future. Exploring ancient history, 20th century Chinese revolutions and their influence on academia, immersive video games, stewardship of the environment, and the unknowability of the universe, this first installment of Liu's trilogy slowly unfolds at the beginning and builds in pace as you continue.
After a visit to a New York City thrift store in 2022, I acquired a few new inspiring still life objects and arranged them into a suitable composition. I started this painting over a year ago and unintentionally put it on hold for about six months, as I focused on my masters of liberal studies classes, traveled, and did a few smaller art projects.
This summer, I picked back up where I left off on this painting, all the while feeling I was far away from the end. At 16" x 20", this canvas was on the medium/large side for me, and my progress felt slow. Eventually, a switch flipped in my brain, and I realized this weekend that I was close to finishing, close to being happy with it and noticing fewer and fewer sections to be reworked. Then, I finished it late last night, having no reason to stay up late on the night before labor day other than that I was so close to being done.
I think a key part of feeling satisfied with your progress in a representational painting is abandoning the pursuit of perfect realism, of noticing the lovely way you've painted something that accentuates the way light is bouncing around, the way fabrics are folded - drawing the viewer's eyes to the things you liked about your composition in the first place. There is, of course, a delight in succeeding at rendering something well and true to the reference, but this can't be my only goal, as there would be no reason for it to be a painting instead of a photograph.
In 2021, I decided it was about time to make a large acrylic painting. My mom took a lovely photograph of our cat Jasper that inspired me both with its subject and indoor/outdoor light composition. With acrylic, I find I use a lot more layers, both because the paint is more transparent than oils and because I know it will dry faster and I can paint over it on the same day. The layering helped achieve the fluffiness of the cat's fur. Like usual, I spent quite a bit of time on the patterned fabric.
This painting and Rachael were featured in the Golden Employee Art Show along with many other lovely paintings by my coworkers.
Now that I've got a proper large easel, I think more large paintings will be coming (after many hours of labor over several months, of course)!
My lastest a cappella cover is Endlessly by Muse. Arranged, performed, and mixed by me, it took me quite a while, but I am very proud of it. I worked on my range at the top end but especially at the low end in order to actually sing my arrangement. I thought I was picking the "simplest" song by Muse, but I managed to make it exceedingly complex. If a group wanted to sing this arrangement, I would have to rework it for sure to make it more streamlined and...possible to sing live. After countless hours of mixing, it is complete!
I continue my fascination with mirrors and patterned fabrics with my most recent painting, creatively named "Self Portrait Still Life." In college, the professors always made us do at least one self portrait per year, making my portfolio a bit narcissistic. I didn't do a self-portrait in 2019, so I thought I would do one this year, mainly because painting faces is my truest interest. It was nice to have the art deparment's models and my college friends around to sit for me. Alas, in 2020, my only model is me.
I started this painting in February and finished in October. I certainly got distracted by other projects (music) along the way. At least I finished it in the same year!
Being good is laced with sacrifice and guilt
The rain beats down on the windows
The sound is too close
Like the water is inside
Drenching all my possessions
Bacteria and mold growing
I check every time
Only to find everything is dry
My ears at odds with reality
Cars passing by
How can I be truly generous
When I see the bad before the good?
When I see shallowness and stupidity in the stranger?
When I anticipate hurt and loss?
My senses feed filtered information to my brain
How then, to give wholeheartedly?
Interrupt my alluring inner world
Pitter-patter on my window
Walk across my ceiling and remind me
You have a whole life
Without fully understanding you
If the game of life is to be heard
And to be understood
It’s a losing game
But we must play nonetheless.
At work, I helped out on a project involving CSS, and it reinvigorated my interest in webdesign. Thus, I spent Valentine's evening and into the next day (currently 1:47 AM) improving my design. I stretched out the "Anna Perkins" part of the header and made it stick to the top of the page as you scroll. This sort of thing seems to be in fashion on the internet these days. I separated the navigation bar from this header so that not too much of the screen would be taken up by the sticky header.
I got rid of the gradient on the nav bar. I like the tab animation on hover, but that in combination with the gradient started to seem obtrusive to me. Then, I made some minor tweaks here and there, adjusting widths of floating divs, improving mobile compatibility, etc.
I finished an oil painting just before the new year, but I am waiting until I finish the next one to upload it so that I can fill up a new page (rather than having to shift everything over a spot). Next, I think I will paint a self-portrait. At school, the professors always made us do at least one self-portrait a year, and since then I've only produced one self-portait, the oil painting with my pets in 2018 (which is now even more special to me since my parents are selling the house). I didn't make any self-portraits in 2019 - really, I didn't paint any human faces at all in 2019 - so I'd like to do one this year. I plan to start tomorrow, er, today...
This year, I delved into the world of music production. I really missed a cappella and chorus, and I wanted to keep arranging and singing - the problem was, I no longer had a group to perform with! While I couldn't replace the joy of singing with other people, I still wanted a place to be musically creative. Upon researching, I realized that it wouldn't cost me that much money to purchase my own recording equipment. The microphone, headphones, preamp, cables, and mic stand together cost me around $350, and I used a free digital audio workstation.
Arranging and recording were pretty straightforward for me, since I had prior experience, but the producing...that was a steep learning curve. I learned a lot about mixing from YouTube, and eventually I finished my first song, a cover of Eet by Regina Spektor. I like the way it turned out, but obviously there was room for improvement - I needed to record louder to minimize background noise, I needed to leave a half-second or two empty at the beginning to prevent a jarring playback, etc.
My new song, a mashup of Lizzo's Cuz I Love You and Regina Spektor's Fidelity (yes, Regina Spektor again), took me a lot less time and turned out a lot cleaner. I went through a lot of iterations, polling friends and family for feedback, and I'm feeling pretty confident about it at this point. Of course, it can never truly be perfect when one is not willing to pay for an autotune plugin, but I like the realness of no pitch-correction. I like my voice, and if I miss a note, I prefer to re-record, rather than manipulate in the mix.
In other news, I have added my acrylic painting, Bubbles, to the acrylic page. The bismuth crystal painting to the right is an oil painting I did of a bismuth crystal given to me by a friend who crystallized it himself.
My painting for the annual RoCo 6"x6" is revealed! I was inspired by my cat, Jasper, and this quilt (also featured in Assembly, 2017) that I found at a secondhand store. Click the image for a larger view. Someone bought it on opening night, which certainly boosted my ego. I'm actually amazed someone bought it so soon, considering it was in the back room, in the corner, and at the bottom near the floor. Took me a while to find it in there. I used Golden Open Acrylics for this painting, my first time in a few years painting with acrylics. Of course, now that I work so much with acrylics for my job, I will certainly be experimenting with more acrylic materials.
Open Acrylics are slower-drying than typical acrylics, making them a good choice for slow workers like myself and oil painters who may be looking for an acrylic compromise. In the low humidity of January, I found they dried fairly quickly, and I dismissed them. I found that when I tried them again in February/March, they were slower-drying, and to my pleasant surprise, I could leave them out overnight with no problem. Actually, once I mixed all the colors I would need for this painting and finished my first session, I covered them with plastic wrap and didn't come back to them for a week - still wet! Thicker puddles take forever to dry, so your colors on the palette will stay wet, while your thin strokes on your painting substrate will dry in the span of a few hours (of course, depending on the humidity). While they don't feel or behave at all like oil paints, Open Acrylics eliminate a big drawback for me of using acrylics - drying time.
It was a hard decision...but I nixed the sidebar on most of the pages. The top nav is mostly sufficient for this kind of website, and everything looks more modern and simplistic without the extraneous sidebar. I have left it on the (newly created) blog page for organization purposes and as extra navigation for the artwork pages, which are subdivided by medium.
I have *hopefully* fixed the footer such that it stays down at the bottom of the page even when the content is not very tall. Should now be sufficiently compatible across browsers so that it at least doesn't float in the middle of the page over the content (looking at you, IE). This website should work across browsers, but please use Chrome (for my sanity).
I have also improved the mobile compatibility so that the text isn't tiny, and the (rare) sidebars disappear so that they aren't competing with the content.
I am pleased with how my website looks and functions - all that's left to do is fill out the "about" page...the hardest part. Like, should I write it in a professional way? Would that mean it has to be in third person, like I'm writing myself a recommendation? Who is the target audience here, potential customers or my friends? Should I talk about myself as a whole person or just about my artist experiences? Yes, I am procrastinating on answering these questions by finding more coding improvements.
I have completed fleshing out the artwork section of this website! The most important part, of course. I have the "easy" parts left, like filling out the "Contact" and "About" sections. Easy to code, not easy to write. How much should I share about myself with the internet? What do the actual professional artists do? I'll have to do some more research on that. I know that a lot of them list their past shows and residencies and accolades...I'm 23, so there's not that much to put on such a list. Especially since I haven't been working my entire life toward becoming a professional artist. Sure, an artist was the first thing I ever wanted to be, but going to school kicked that idea out of me (for a while). You have to do something "useful." You can't do anything fun because fun things cost money, and fun things don't make you any money unless you're one of the select few who can network and market yourself to be successful. I could go on...
I'm excited that I have figured out how to include an image gallery, so you can click on and expand the works you want to take a better look at. Certainly, the paintings section is the most populated, but please also take a look at my drawings and sculptures. I will hopefully finish this website in the next couple of weeks.
When I semi-recently visited the Everson Museum in Syracuse, I had the pleasure of seeing the Jeff Donaldson exhibit. An African-American modernist painter inspired by jazz and African history, his work is riddled with patterns and symbols (many Egyptian glyphs, musical instruments, religious symmetry, politcally-charged movie poster satires). You can browse some of his work here. A personal favorite of mine is "One for Bear Den."