• Graphite II

    Having found a new way to avoid my homework, I’m entailed to use it:

    (Jennifer Garner)

    I wanted to include the photograph that I got if from, but I don’t have Photoshop to resize it. A quick Google Image search should find it, if you’re interested.I choose this photograph because I though it was more of a challenge, which it was. I did however, once again, flake out on the hair. I can only avoid my work for so long.Things I learned this time around:1. When making your initial line drawings, use a hard pencil and thread lightly. Otherwise, it will be still be visible even after being erased.2. The hair seems to take just as long as or longer than the features to get right. If you’re not willing to put in that time, your hair will look like mine. (or choose bald people to draw…)On another, related note, when my dad saw this finished, he asked my brother who had done it. Finding it was me, he put it to close inspection and saw my graph.“Oh, he used a graph. Anybody can do that.”This was meant as a putdown, I’m sure, but is true none the less. If only certain people could do it, then what would be the point of all the “Learn to Draw (Insert Anything Here)” books and art classes? The hope is that eventually you no longer need the tools that helped you on the way. Like you once thought of individual letters to make words, then words to make sentences, and sentences to make paragraphs (some of us haven’t made it this far, yet), so to will you find the draftsman using rules of proportion, perspective lines, and measurements to learn his craft. (On a side note to the side note, draftsmen no longer draft much of anything by hand.)Of course, if you insist that using a grid is cheating, go tell my favorite polymath , Leo da Vinchi. He used it extensively early in his career and considered it a trade secret. (He was really into the whole secrets things, wasn’t he? Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. Okay, maybe he did.)Oh, and by the way, using a guitar capo just to change keys is cheating!Yours truly,Hippo CreteJa.

  • Electrophoresis and Graphite

    I’m still working on a few things to post next month, but meanwhile I though I’d share some of the stuff I’m up to:

    It took three weeks of lab work to obtain the picture above. The goal of the lab (the class is Molecular Biology) was to transform E. coli by inserting foreign DNA (plasmids which are purchased from genetic engineering lab supply), test for the transformation, isolate the transformed DNA from culture, and finally, make a gel. DNA has a slight positive charge and so can be moved across a medium with electric current in order to separate it by size. A picture of my group’s gel is above (my DNA is the far right one).The coolest part of the lab is coming in a week after transforming your DNA to find them bright blue. The plasmid DNA we inserted coded for a gene which turns bacteria blue in the presence of lactose. If your bacteria are blue, you win! Kind of (there is that horrifying lab report…)


    I found myself with an unexpected hour of free time yesterday. Suddenly, I didn’t have anything to do, which is horrifying when you always have too much to do. So, I took a book that Steph let me borrow on portrait drawing, which was meant for my brother (who decided that it looked much too difficult) and here is my attempt at a portrait:

    I had a great time. It was like watching a print develop in the dark room. It was just a whole bunch of loops and scribbles at first, but add a little shading, a little blending and it resembles somebody. The book has some good tips:1. Concentrate on getting an accurate line drawing first. The book concentrates on a “graphing” approach, where you overlay a grid. This is suppose to allow you to concentrate on shapes instead of drawing from memory. I found this maddening slow in practice. I found it much easier to draw continuous lines, instead of sticking to doing it box by box. However, the graph is a great tool to assure you get your proportions and distances correct. Also, perhaps if you can’t draw at all, perhaps the box by box approach might be for you.2. Get your tones right. I didn’t do a very good job this time around. The basic idea is that you need to make things that are black, black. Hair isn’t gray. Neither are pupils. Some shadows will approach black.3. Blend. This is mostly to above any outlines remaining, which aren’t present in the real world. Things blend into each other. “Outlines make things appear cartoony.”Things I learned this time around:1. Use a soft pencil (something like a 2B – 4B). I used a HB, which is fairly hard. The result is that things become very difficult to erase and your strokes will still be visible after blending.2. Keep your pencil sharp. By the time you’ve gotten to putting in the details, it’ll be almost impossible to get a sharp result.The idea is to eventually do all these things automatically. I’ll post each attempt, partly as a way of documenting my progress. Let’s see if it works out.This Week’s Tangent: Three people so far insist that learning to draw from photographs and real objects is “cheating” and “unproductive”; that one should draw from memory to learn to draw “your own things.” These are the same people that: Decide they want to be a writer and so, first time out, sit down to write a novel. Want to learn computer programming, by writing a 3D first person shooter like say “Halo.” Attempt to shoot their very own “Schindler’s List” as their first project in Video Production 101. Train for a marathon by running 26 miles the day after they sign up, despite never having run more than 1 before. You get it.Ja.

  • All Signs Point to Geek

    So, I’m going to resist the temptation to whine about how much work I have to do (something about how that 250th calc problem conjures up images of fingernails being pulled out with pliers). Not the mention the utter lack of sleep that no self-respecting junior college (otherwise known as high school with cigarettes) student would allow himself to be subjected to.Okay, so I did whine a bit. It’s so nice to have your own website.On that note, I though I’d make up for my absolute neglect of you, my dear reader, for the past few months with a couple of the random thoughts that make me an downright nerd/geek/loser or a neekoser (pronounced do-rk).(Anybody notice that I just used three synonyms in the same sentence? And no, nerd/geek/loser are not synonyms.)1. I’ve been playing a lot of chess lately (I did mention I was a geek?). It’s something I come back to every couple of years. It’s fun, and I seem to get better.So, to get to the point, I was at Fry’s Electronics looking for some knick-knack or the other. I’m walking down the aisle, and ahead of me I see this very cute store employee helping a customer. Then she moved, and behind her was this ugly man/woman thing with bright red lipstick and a three o’ clock shadow. The first thing that popped into my head was, oh shit, discovered attack.2. I’ve developed a habit, most distressingly.

    Oh, sorry. What habit? A little example would serve best:Friend: I want you meet my friend Nick.Friend: Nick, this is Stacy.Stacy: Nice to meet you, Nick.Nick: Nice to meet you, Nick.No, that wasn’t a mistake. I actually introduced myself to, well, myself. Is this just a side-effect of my frequent conversations with myself? (I may be crazy, but I do not bother with introductions with myself every time. Only when I’m not sure who I’m talking to.)So, I’ve done this more than a few times. Am I just that egotistical? (All signs point to yes.)I’ll try post at least once a month.Ja.

  • An unfinished letter

    My aunt died today. Maybe I should be crying, but instead there is just the same dull sadness I’ve felt since I learned how badly she doing. I cried then, feeling hopeless and tired. Now I can only remember how much she meant to me: her courage, her intelligence, and her hope. I will miss her immensely.I started writing her a letter, but it sits unfinished in a notebook. Regret is not kind.For my cousins I am scared and worried. They are going to have to grow up fast now, something I do not wish on anybody.I do not know why I post this except that writing has always been my catharsis.

  • Happy holidays everybody! It’s Christmas

    Happy holidays everybody! It's Christmas morning: Mr. Lennon is singing about the war being over (but it's never over, is it John?), the tamales are getting heated, and we're getting ready to open our presents. It's a week to the new year! Let's hope we did something good in this one, and concentrate on doing something better in the next.

    A very Merry ChristmasAnd a Happy New YearLet's hope it's a good oneWithout any fear-Happy Xmas (War is Over), John Lennon

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