Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reading Courtesans and Fishsticks

subtitled "the consuming passions of classical athens", a book about fish, and prostitution (pornai), and hetaera (courtesans), and women's limited options in ancient athens. (I am only a third of the way through the book so far). And anyway the book makes being female in ancient athens seem so dreary. I am sure not every woman's life was, such as maybe a strong lady raised on a farm who then married a farmer. A woman could probably be happy at her family and community's discretion without that being the norm.

I am reading this book because my boyfriend used it as his main source for an essay he wrote as a final paper, a paper that made me really angry because when we were talking about it he insisted that women were for children or sex (depending if they were wives or prostitutes) in ancient greece, and men were for love, and boys were for (I sort of forget, a complicated sexual/mentoring relationship)... And since he was saying that they just didn't have the role of hetero lovers, I said some young people must certainly have fallen in love and married and had lives together and he said I didn't get it and wives were exclusively for children and running a household so I started to cry because I felt like by extension he felt if he knew me under different circumstances he wouldn't love me, wouldn't have the capacity to love me. He apologized and said he was sorry to be so insistent but he had been the one to research and write and rewrite the paper I was contradicting without looking at the sources. His paper is not an argument, so a lot of the material is just what is in this book with additional sources, because apparently that is the requirement for history papers.

I read that brothels and prostitution was legal, with a whore tax, but adultery was punishable by death, such as if a man were caught with "a member of the family", that is, another man's daughter or sister or mother or of course wife, he could be killed. I forget exactly what the rule was for having sex with slaves who weren't yours, but it was something like a fine. For slaves who were yours it was considered legal but disrespectful because they lived in the same household as your wife.

So anyway. A third of the way through this book and I am again taking it personally, wondering what if I had lived under those circumstances? There isn't a chance I would have to be a prostitute in modern times because women can do all kinds of jobs, besides which I am very lucky to be supported while I go to school, and lucky to be smart enough to go, and if I weren't my family and friends would still shelter me I am sure. And if I needed social services for a time that is available. But what on earth would I be able to do in classical athens? I wouldn't have any access to education, or be able to date. Would I be able to be a hetaera? (The book makes that sound like the most power women could have as they controlled their finances in that situation, running a household alone, free to go outdoors, as well as having powerful friends.) I don't really think so. I am shy and much better at projects and thinking than party conversation and, I assume, haggling over seduction.* I think I couldn't have been a prostitute in a brothel, as I would die of angst, but then all the women who had to work in them probably felt that way and most managed anyway.

I have concluded that while never having access to education would make me a different person, I would still enjoy and excel at producing things by hand. I don't think women could be artisans, but could do textile work, so maybe that is where I would have found my place.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Moon animals Painting

This is the largest painting I have ever done. I did not measure the width, but it is about 25 inches tall. I started it in summer, then hung it up and worked on other things, and now I am excited to be nearly done with it.
I built it a stretcher

I was so proud that I took a picture of my estimation skills. I picked up a handful of nails, right? And then I nailed all the way around the canvas on the front of the painting at about 5 inch intervals. And then I cut masonite triangles to put in the corners, and hammered 5 nails into each. Then when I got to the last masonite triangle, I realized I had exactly the right number to finish, didn't need to put any away or get any more out. (The nail on the top was improperly formed and is unusable.) I also can estimate lengths of wood to within half an inch. Mostly. I will look at a stick and think it is 18", and measure it and it is near 19", but then again my optimism means sometimes I look at a 17" stick and think, yeah, that might be big enough, that might be 20".

I'll start with photos of each part. This is the moon.
This is the cow skull hill. I wanted to just get it done so I didn't find/use a reference for what bones look like so it looks like a cross between a cow head and a cow skull, but as it turns out the texture is soft and rich, and I like it.
horse-this is my least favorite of the animals pictured and I wish I had found a photo to use. (When i looked up falling horses, they were of course never falling like this so I had to use a photo of a rearing horse)
giraffe- trouble with the legs but the dainty hooves and bulby head make me happy. Also the giraffe is my favorite animal.
cow-cribbed almost exactly from Bosch and it came out better than the other 4.
what I had when I got to art class today. (umbrella is for scale)

I was impressed by how quickly the sunset started to look layered and rich
So here's the whole thing. It was 6pm by the time I reached a stopping point so I should retake this picture in sunlight. I hope I am not required to write an artist statement: Menagerie of spirit animals playfully leaping over their moon. Giraffe and horse freehanded without reference, cow and goat based on Bosch, stag from a medieval engraving. Surreal landscape drawn from objects that caught my fleeting attention: pictish stone, 3 legged ceramic pig (it's upside down), friend's hand, cow skull (from a green t shirt). The hand stands in for the setting sun.

Still to do: carved symbols, scallop edges to mimic stretched hide, paint wood black, find permanent rose paint and layer it over the pink part of the sunset, find sketch of little flying bosch man with a ladder and paint it on the right to balance it, pick a color for the hearts and paint them it.

Egg in the Hole (a breakfast)

Well, I read of this forever ago (I think in an American Girl Doll book set in WW2) but never tried it.

(you make the hole with a small cup) I think this is exciting because eggs is my favorite breakfast but I am always running late and now I can carry an egg along with me.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Abstraction from Model

First our instructor, Frank, showed us a demonstration of painting in fauvist style, then abstract style. He stressed that the forms you take from the model will be more engaging and developed than ones you invent.
The model was very hard to work from as she wore a large had with her head down, and it wasn't sunny today, and her dress was made of mesh that overlapped and was ragged, and I could not really see distinct shapes for most of her. So I focused on her legs and arm.
And despite my best efforts it is marginally recognizable.

For an idea of the variation in the interpretation of the assignment, those three small paintings are all different students work from today's model.

Rhinoceros Painting


This is a rhinoceros. It isn't done but I am very tired of it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Intro to Painting: building a canvas

One of the projects for intro to acrylic painting is to build a canvas stretcher and stretch then gesso canvas over it. We were shown how to do this one of the first days of term, but some of the wood hadn't arrived yet so there was really only enough for perhaps 2 small canvasses. But the wood arrived, and our professor advised us to make our canvas as soon as possible, before the woodshop is swamped. It's a big shop I think, but is shared by all the painting classes (three main ones, plus "special topics" series) and the sculpture classes. But, no classes actually meet there, so you just pop in between 12 and 5, or something. Sometimes it's open a bit later. So today I finished just as it was time to leave, didn't have time to do my canvas but I'd left it home anyway. (I didn't plan on going over to the shop until my professor mentioned we should do it soon)So! Here it is! Small because I cut up part of my big canvas roll to make a vest for my Halloween costume that I ended up not using, and so I only have 2 medium rectangles of canvas left. And it's already primed, since I bought it before term started and I got the official materials list. I'm a bit proud of it, although I had trouble measuring the quarter rounds (that's the border, it keeps the nails and staples from making bumps in the canvas) so the corners have little crooked gaps.
I finished my mid quarter conference so I finally got to bring home my favorite works and put them up! Whenever people come into my room they always compliment the ones I had up, which were only up to keep them out of harm's way and put some color on the wall, not representing subjects i really like or anything like that.

My mid quarter conference went well. The professor is cryptic and tells long, meandering stories and it is very hard to gauge what he means. He usually goes around and gives suggestions as we work. Saturday he gave students very specific suggestions and when he got to me he just said "having fun?" I said I was. Then today I was working on a rhinocerous and he asked if it was my spirit animal and I said no. Then he suggested I use bright orange as the background for my rhinocerous and I said that would make my green rhinocerous recede and he said it would be nonrealism, and i should at least do it and if i didn't like it i could paint over it. And I did like it, but I would rather something else.
This is the image I am working from. See how it wants a grey background? Or a gray violet background? But no, it has orange. (The painting is drying in my locker, didn't want to carry it and chance ruining it or my clothes)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Meditative Rose Painting

I learned a lot about my favorite Dali painting sitting staring at it intently with 4 paintbrushes (yellow, red, dark red, blue/purple) clutched in my left hand so I'd have them at the ready when I noticed a shadowy patch, or a patch that should be red orange.

(Click for a proper view) I did this in 2 sessions and it was really enjoyable. All in all took about 5 hours and it's 12x17 or something. The assignment was to grid a favorite painting, transcribe it to a canvas, and copy it. Now I want to copy it again but bigger, maybe in black and white?

Oh my gosh. I just realized I left off the dew drop. I was saving it till last and then apparently I forgot. Alright, this isn't quite done.

Here is the original for comparison.

Pictish Stones

Like my teacup stonehenge I made this pictish stone model for Andy.
Polymer clay staked with toothpicks and brushed with acrylic glaze that I then wiped off.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I have a lot to do, but I like taking a little bit of time to do fun, silly things, so I am entering a blog contest.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Halloween Dragon Mask

Wheee! Fall is my favorite ever! The air, the trees, the birthdayCaitlan/birthdayDad/Dia De Los Muertes/Halloween/All Saints/birthdayAndrew/birthdayMom/guy fawkes (and elections!) is just this explosion of fun! It is my favorite part of the year I think. So I made this mask as part of my "St George and The Dragon" pair costume. I've got a red dress, a black lace vest, thigh high red socks with black threads, and knee high black boots. I was thinking to do all kinds of stuff for my costume, a little skirt with tattered ribbons and a small pair of wings made of thin fabric with fabric stiffener and wire, but i think it is a good costume the way it is already, it just came right together. Andy hasn't started his though, I said i'd do his halo and cape. That and a big red cross on a plain shirt will do him nicely if he doesn't find time to work on his costume.
The painting isn't done. It is almost done but a few things need stronger black (it rubbed off a bit while I worked) and possibly silver or white accents?
Oh yes, I have been much, much to busy to do my nails in more than a week, and I am hard on them. This is the inside of the mask. I plan to paint the foil red or just paint it anything really, since it looks unfinished. I used clay sparingly on the underside. Fimo is very light and this is thin, but I don't want to get a headache or have it fall off.

Electronics for Intermedia Project 1

The first project: a prototype or working component of our final project, a practical electrical arduino project. It was supposed to have working multiple LEDS and a potentiometer and a switch. Mine only has the LEDs. I know how to wire the pot and I know what a switch looks like. I was really close to learning how to do those: when the TA got to me after more than an hour he had time to sit and ask what I needed help with and then the professor called me up to discuss my proposal. My proposal for this!

After going thrifting 2 seperate times and finding nothing I was nervous I'd have to use my old art briefcase, which I am using to store stationary and it is brown and has a map painted on it, just really not right for this project and already used for something. But Andy's dad John had this excellent, excellent samsonite briefcase from we guess the 1980s. It is so perfect. It's so well made, and in great condition, and it's the right size for me to actually use.
Here is the excellent interior. The left compartment holds a casette! The right compartment is the same size as the cassette one, so andy said "It's for the casette you need immediate access to!" and we laughed because what is on a cassette? Why would some need strong plastic walls and others be adequately protected by a strap? Then we thought it might be a floppy disk. I am actually old enough to have used a floppy disk, but only have a fuzzy memory of it. The top has a snappy part and they are not floppy.

Anyway! The samsonite is fantastic but it was made indestructable! I need a lot of holes for my leds. My prof suggested using a hammer and nail, which made a tiny divot but didn't make a hole. (I bet someone could make a hole in a samsonite briefcase, but I was working with a little electronics for intermedia hammer and...) So, I went to the woodshop! Which I love! I tried to find an awl but had to use a tiny drill bit, a corer.
Wait, no, I had to make little dents* with a nail and hammer, and then I could drill. Indestructible.

So here is the setup. The pot meter is just chilling in the corner because I planned to connect it up but ran out of time.

Here are the hands free devices for soldering, dancing because they are so happy I got everything to work. The middle LED looked bright when I plugged them in one by one to check them, but next to the other ones it looks dull. At least it's symmetrical. There is a lot of solder, heat shrink tubing, and hotglue keeping that thing together (I plan to really use this as a briefcase from now on, and it's due in 7 weeks so it has to hold up) so getting out that LED... and then soldering inside a briefcase... and I won't be able to heat shrink anything because it might melt the hot glue...
Look, a "schematic". Yellow is ground, red is power, 225 resistors... It's only 15 soldered joins which I think would take only 45 minutes if everything went smoothly and you didn't need heat shrink plastic. The worst is when an LED cracked and I had to un heat shrink plastic everything around it. The stuff is really tough, and in the process I crimped a wire really a lot and had to replace it as I was afraid it would snap... I don't think I will use any heat shrink stuff for my main led part, too time consuming. Did you know LEDs can crack? Mine got too close to the heat gun I was using to shrink plastic.
So this is what the hot glue looks like on the inside. Hot glue is a mess but my prof suggested epoxy and I wanted it a lot more reversible in case anything breaks. It was really hard to do because there is no real way to look straight and up close at this part of the briefcase.
And here is what the hot glue looks like on the outside. I am very good with hot glue, actually, and made little frosted bubbles so the LEDs wouldn't be exposed (they're recessed, but the drilled holes are rough and everything, I thought smooth bumps would be better than rough indents both visually and practically).
So now I just need an RFID reader and tags set up by the next due date in 2 weeks. (If you don't do computer things, LEDS are to RFID as crawling is to dancing. It is quite a near deadline.)
*Well, I am saying nail to save face, but in the intermedia lab I couldn't find one so I used a small thing, like a straight screwdriver, and in the woodshop I was embarrassed to ask where the nails were so I used a screw. I felt a bit silly using a hammer to nail a screw into a briefcase, but it worked.