To help myself stay focused I occasionally make myself a “Things I want to do this week” list. This aids the I-already-filmed-now-what-do-I-do crisis of focus that has become a weekly phenomenon.
I use the phrase “want to do”, because saying things I “need to do” usually ends up leading me into a week of depression for not doing something I didn’t really even need to do in the first place. Instead of making myself a list of things I want to do this week, I decided to make a list of things I’d like to do this month.
Get to the Ruby Foundations badge of Team Treehouse. (13 badges to go)
I’ve set out to do several things this year. I’ve listed twenty-one of them, but I have a few things that aren’t specifically on my list. Much of that includes things I’m trying to learn and skills I’d like to develop. I feel that I am uniquely qualified for some things because of how my life is and the time I was born.
I’ve essentially lived on the internet since I was 14. My friendships were kept and often times made online, my social outlet was primarily online, my access to the outside world was (and still is) primarily online, and I’ve been blogging since late 2005. I started out using xanga and moved to blogger where I learned html and css while trying to tweak my theme. My best friend and his best friend started a company doing web design around the same time. Alex taught me xhtml, css, and gave me a start with PHP in 2007 just after I switched to wordpress. I made a few sample sites, and themed and provided tech support for the local chapter of a Teenage Republicans website from 2008 to 2009.
So, to say that the internet comes naturally to me is an understatement; in many ways it is and has been my home. Sad as that may be, I feel this puts myself and others like me in a unique position. As citizens of the internet we quite possibly understand it better than people who have had to adapt to the new technology. What is second nature to me, could be very valuable to others.
This in part is why I decided to use Team Treehouse to get back up to speed with HTML5, CSS3, and learn a new language. I would eventually like to make a wordpress plugin and ideally get paid for part time website management services – where I would tweak, support, and manage a website for a client; similar to what I do now.
I like Team Treehouse and find them better than college courses is for two reasons:
First, they’re current. They are constantly evolving and adding new information as time goes on, which is crucial to internet related work as the nature of it is constantly growing.
Secondly, their format is bite sized, easy to follow, and encouraging. Every so often I’ll unlock a special video, and every set that I do completes a badge. Paired with my nerd-brain, the unlocking of badges offers motivation – much like leveling up.
The problem that I face, is reminding myself that there is value in developing my skill set. I have a tendency to feel guilty about spending money to learn things when there’s no immediate payoff even though I know that it’s the wise, and “grown up” thing to do. When I go for periods of time when I’m not immersed in learning this new skill, the voice inside my head starts berating – telling me it’s not worth completing.
Logically, I know this voice is wrong. Developing my skill set is a good decision for the long term and the immediate future.
It is in learning new things that we’re better equipped to deal with life and find solutions to problems even if the topics are unrelated.
I have learned to overcome the negativity by reminding myself that I am worth it, that learning is worth it, and the unknown opportunities are worth seeing it through. I remind myself of that with every new endeavor, not just web design. Motivation is hard to come by with an internal art/writing/development/brainstorming/acting/rude-and-not-ginger critic.
The one issue that I haven’t addressed so far is portfolios. Or what you have to present before you get paid. It’s difficult. I’ve been spending time brainstorming different ways to market myself – and while I haven’t done a whole lot professionally, I do have experience behind me. It’s complicated in a world where it’s hard to find any job, let alone a good paying one, or one that is sort of niché and would allow me to work very part time so I could pursue the other things that I have going on.
I decided last month, that after I watched all the videos and unlocked all (excluding the iOS) badges, I would make myself a website that was essentially a living-breathing-portfolio. A site that showed my skill and ingenuity and creative thinking; I still plan on creating.
As I was planning, an opportunity to add to my portfolio arrived out of the blue. My strategy for making portfolio pieces, which I’ll share (and still produce) consists of the following:
Make a lovely site with lovely functionality
Make another lovely site with different lovely functionality
Make yet another lovely site, with lovely functionality that I could actually use (probably a book site that’s slightly better than the current splash page I whipped up in 10 minutes).
Rinse, repeat, learn new things.
I’ve also contemplated recording an interview to go along with my resumé and portfolio.
In the meantime, I will enjoy this bit of inspirational perfection and take it to heart.
I write well, just not here. The difference between my blogging and article writing is simple: Here, is the home for my seemingly endless trains of thought to be broadcast into the great void I like to call the internet. Half, to get them to stop constantly swirling through my head contributing to insomnia, and half because I think maybe someone might find them interesting and I feel a duty to keep these imaginary people updated.
When I write articles, the intention is different. I try to convey a thought, a single idea, in a clear and succinct manner to express my opinion or enlighten someone who happens to have the same question. I was much better at melding the two – blogging and article writing when I was still in high school and did both regularly. Sadly, I feel that the quality of my writing when I was in high school was much better than it is now (not including content – I hope that lives in a dark dark place).
I’ve realized, that while I don’t intend to give up my place of musing in long streams and overuse of commas, It might be nice to get back into writing well. I’d like to brush up on The Elements of Style, and write up a few pieces that I can point to and say “this is an example of my writing”. Because my blog is simply a blog, and not an accurate reflection of my ability to write; just a reflection of my rich internal life and too many thoughts to keep in one brain. Or one blog, for that matter, judging by the amount of notebooks I have that I keep filling.
Future articles that I post here, will be under the “Article” category for safe keeping. Next week I’ll post several articles covering a variety of subject matter to remind myself that I am actually a good writer.
I feel guilty because right now I’m not trading my time for money. Which on bad days makes me feel like I’m just a leech, and on really good days makes me feel incredibly free and useful.
I’m using my time to be productive, learn, and establish myself. Which are all good things, and smart things and lucky things to have time and the (saved) income for…I’m setting up my fake empire and doing all these things at 21 is pretty good. Still, watching people who have less time than I do because of working makes me feel guilty for having so much of it and having so little to show for it. At least, it feels that way.
So, I focus and I do things, and I do a lot of things. I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’m learning, and setting myself up, and that’s a good use of time. I think.
Every night before I fall asleep (somewhat fitfully) for the last few days I’ve had a running scenario/monologue. This isn’t really new to me, but for some reason it’s been fairly consistent the last few days which is somewhat odd.
I’m a guest on my favorite podcast (nerdist) and we’re talking about something and it always goes back to how I haven’t been to college which leads to me then explaining in detail the scenario of why that is, which leads me to trying to figure out if it’s okay that I don’t have a degree or any formal education after high school. Besides the fact that job odds are ever stacked in the opposite of my favor as far as pay goes – which is for many other reasons than just college, admittedly.
I don’t even know that I think college would make me a better person. I’m basically making myself a job by doing art, web-development stuff, both producing and acting in separate web series(es?), and trying to be healthy/fit. As far as time goes, I constantly need to evaluate how I spend it, and I am doing really cool things with it (in my opinion). I know how to learn, and I’m good at learning.
Honestly, as much as I think about having a steady paying job for myself, I’m not actually looking for one, because I’m enjoying doing “Niche Shoppe job” with my time because of the loveliness of my husband (who enables me to do that, and I don’t take it for granted – I try not to, anyway).
But something in the back of my mind is always there. Things from my past that I haven’t rooted out yet. I feel like college would somehow be a culmination of an inner need to tell myself that I can do it, and I don’t have to be the person I thought I was “supposed” to be, and that I’m not turning into that (obviously, the person I thought I was “supposed” to be would look absolutely nothing like me, and she’d have bad hair).
But I don’t have the money. Or the time, frankly. As much as I would love to someday, and may make that a goal in the future, I have other things calling my name – establishing myself, and my series(es), and my art, and taking care of me, and proving to myself that just because I don’t clock in at 9 and out at 5 and don’t actually get a paycheck (yet?) that what I’m doing is just as relevant; and just because I occasionally work in a bathrobe and do things from the comfort of our apartment doesn’t mean that I’m the definition of a “housewife”.
Because I’m really not.
I’m looking at you, dinner.
And dishes, I hate you.
With a passion.
I found this really great video tutorial on Web Design and Development by Team Treehouse. I’ve been watching them and all of the things I forgot about web design I’m now remembering. The beautiful thing about their videos though, is that 1) they start off with the current versions of html and css (HTML 5 and CSS 3) and 2) they INDENT!
Nothing is more annoying than un-indented and hard to read code. Maybe it’s because my husband writes lovely code and he’s the one who taught me, but when I view the source of pages and it’s all over the place and there aren’t any indents or easy ways to find what belongs where it’s really irritating. Admittedly, I don’t do this as much as I used to, but still.
Anyway, I watched the intro and the text series so far, and HTML 4/5 is much more simple than what I was writing a few years ago (xhtml). The videos are *really* basic too. Sometimes annoyingly so, because I already have a grasp on the language, but if someone is just starting out, they would be absolutely perfect (and hey, I love them) because they’re so easy to follow. Interestingly, they give a bit of background on the history of it too, which I found fascinating.
I downloaded MAMP and Alex did the thingy to connect it to my sites folder so I can practice locally, which is handy, but unfortunately, because it’s local, I can’t actually share linkage to my clever bits so a screenshot will have to suffice (it’s only HTML, nothing fancy at all).
I didn’t mean to be gone all week without posting, but sometimes life decides to take over and give you…a life, and blogging gets moved because of this weird thing called sleep and exhaustion.
– Monday and Tuesday I tried to just take it easy, I didn’t do the whole wake-up-and-exercise-thing because I wasn’t sure if I was coming down with something, and with a trip on Wednesday I didn’t want to overexert myself. I did, however, carve pumpkins on Sunday night and walk around town like someone from Harry Potter on Halloween.
-Wednesday (what I really want to get to) I, and a bunch of other artists/groups from Maine went down to Worcester, MA for the 10th “Idea Swap” put on by NEFA. It was my groups’ first time going and there were three of us in the van with a bunch of other Maine-ers. I didn’t really know what to expect when we got there, but the experience and mingling and finding out what kinds of (preforming) art other people from all over New England were working on bringing to their communities was great.
It was also very interesting to get a sort of “inside look” at what it takes to feasibly bring events, and people, and ideas to New England, and that’s kind of what NEFA helps with (to the best that I understood it). And also to find out what kinds of things people want to bring – some of the ones that caught my attention were Silents are Golden, A Tribute to Benny Goodman (and the guy who presented that brought packets with CDs ^.^), and one that is a multi-media piece of art that has dancing and film and…everything, and can be displayed in galleries *and* preformed (as I understand it) – the name of that one is currently alluding me.
Another important aspect that the meeting focused on was the level of community involvement that would be brought as a result of having the artist/groups come, and the various things that the performers themselves could do for and with the community/area they were showing in. Silents are Golden goes to schools and I believe does segments on silent acting and/or pantomime. I found this intriguing because aside from the obvious commercial part of bringing acts to New England (getting people to come and pay to see the various things) they’re trying to bring it into the community in a more hands on/educational way. I’m not sure how standard that is, (because for me, it was like sitting in on a board room or business meeting where most of the stuff goes way over your head, but you try to take in as much as you can and get the general idea of what exactly is going on) but I imagine it’s not particularly uncommon either.
It was really quite fascinating, and the people themselves were great to talk to. We sat with some really interesting people who try to bring art/theater into the more…ghetto-ey? (for lack of a better term) areas of Boston, and it was just amazing to talk to them and hear their story and goals (I really hope that it all goes well) too.
Last night I went to an artist panel hosted by the local creative arts association that I just joined. The topic was basically how we write ant talk about art, and how we *should* be and what ways are helpful to engage the public. We had a journalist, historian, and a director from a gallery that works in tandem with MECA.
We talked about how art is a business and how culture/art and the economy go hand in hand. Art festivals are great because people who wouldn’t usually go to a gallery will come and be exposed to the arts. We talked about how the arts in Maine are changing and picking up speed, how many people really do care about the arts even if their not vocal about it, and we talked about how there are so many opportunities to learn, or to teach and make it all accessible.
What struck me
We talked a bit about how to know what good art is and how a lot of that is subjective. How people today have advantages to “build their eye” because we can see everything on the internet. Not just art, but subconsciously, design. How the biggest thing we can do to develop our “eye” is to keep looking. everywhere. cartoons, internet, books, galleries, fairs. Art is everywhere and becoming more and more accessible. We can learn anything we need to with the tools that we have at our fingertips (not to discount classes…). But, we need to start a dialogue. We’re not used to having honest discussions about art, and we should be having those conversations.
I wrote a lot more in my notebook that makes sense to me, but I can’t translate it into a coherent post separated from the context in the ink strokes. I write in lines, and when I see them I understand the context and the subtext on a subconscious level, but getting that out of the lines and ink and into words on a screen takes a while of chewing and musing and letting the words create themselves.
Shortly after my meeting in August I went through my old notebook and wrote down a few things about my art – what movements I identify with, what I’d like to improve/want to see, and what I need to do.
my art is inspired by:
idealism – art is imagination, psyche over body
mannerism – perspective less important, idealized figures
romanticism – authentic, intuition, non utilitarian
post/impressionism – not telling morals, follow own vision, emotional
aestheticism – art for the sake of art, subtle moods/color
post/modernism – exploration of vision, noticing the world changing, art is imperfect
futurism – new and vital, celebrates technology
to have more depth in my figures so they look less flat. To learn how to create more convincing backgrounds and how to create glowing effects/more luminosity. To learn how to shade better
to practice and research everything I want to get better at and understand.
It must be a weird thing, because I trust my ability to find things on the internet more than my ability to find what I’m looking for in a book. I think my biggest fear is: a book, is a book, it’s there, it’s not changing or updating, I could find a book that could be erroneous or horribly outdated and I wouldn’t really know. I could get an art history book that’s huge, but might have less accuracy because of the time and viewpoint of it’s writing. So I’m weirdly more apt to trust a google search and look at multiple sources and hope that I get a more whole view. The problem is finding out where to start. I did a search on VanGogh last week, I guess I’ll just search for things as I feel like I should learn about them and when I’m inspired to look up particular topics.
Anyway, after the meeting I feel a mix of self conscious in my creating and validated in my quirky methods (cartoons/tv + internet). I’m still very much trying to bridge the gap and everyone in that room has been creating for years, and I presume, have closed that gap. Although, I suppose, I shouldn’t assume that. Then again, I was the youngest in the room, and I’m pretty sure I’m the youngest in the group. I have so much to learn, and honestly it’s a bit intimidating. Doesn’t help that I have this thing where I jump between different things, which is great for me because then I learn a variety at once, but hard when I need to figure out what to start first. Maybe I’ll make a list of things to research and then go through that. It might be easier to do if it’s not “RESEARCH ALL THE THINGS!”.
If you’ve made it this far without being bored from my rambling, thank you. With that I’ll leave you with a bit of something I wish I remembered more often. From Pinterest.
I’m going to say right now, that the title has absolutely nothing to do with what I’m writing about, I just wanted to say it.
In a bit here I’m going to start working on illustrations and stuff, but I wanted to take a sec to post something I discovered today.
Van Gogh is similar to me. Although, hopefully I never come down with the same mental disorders – I don’t drink Absinthe or use lead paints either. Anyway, interestingness ensues when I learn that he didn’t really start painting until he was 20 ish – and that he had an eclectic art education (school, private, and self teaching). There’s something inspiring about the man who thought himself a failure and yet has made such an impact in the world.
I feel so..small and unimportant most of the time. I have so much to learn, and the more I learn the more I learn how much I have left to learn. Something about knowing that Van Gogh didn’t actually seriously start getting into art until he was my age makes me feel less behind…
I spent all of last night experimenting with Illustrator – I’m a fireworks girl and I think I won’t mind taking a few extra steps to get basically the same result with a program I like better. But it was still good to try, I might try to do some more things with the 30 day trial, but as it’s more of a print thing, I think fireworks is probably more suited to my graphics making experiment.
Learning seems to feed an appetite for more learning. At least in me. The more I learn about art and techniques I’m finding the more things I want to learn and try – not even in the same genre, but in general. Somehow reading about acrylic techniques lead me to reading about photorealistic design which reminded me of making GIFs, which then lead me to wonder about animation, which I would also like to try – which then somehow ends up feeding back into reading more fantasy and art books and painting more. It’s a lovely cycle that leaves me excited and hungry for more and I realize there aren’t enough hours in the day.