Portfolio Pages

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Drawing Final Project - I Like It. Hate it! Kinda Pleased.

Continuing the (very) belated Spring 2013 Fiber Arts Degree posts with the last of the Spring 2013 Drawing Class Posts:

For our last Drawing class project we were required to create a large scale (4' x 4') layered piece with our choice of content. We were to consider combining 3 layers of the following: do a pattern with a stencil or something drawn/painted, something projected/traced onto the paper, and there should be a third layer, possibly a 3-dimensional element.

Hmmmm. I tossed around a variety of concepts and settled on using my ancestry as the subject matter.
Although I'm a good representation of the All-American "Mutt", the majority of my ancestors were Scott-Irish with a bit of Comanche Indian from my Grandfather.
I named it "Faded Heritage".

I decided I wanted to do a Tree of Life as the first "layer" so I plotted to find a basic drawing that I could project/trace onto the paper. I didn't have to look far and since my favorite was posted by the artist with supporting comments and had website print options, I presumed I wouldn't be infringing a copyright if I used it.
{My apologies…doing this post a year delayed, I can no longer find the design on the internet to give credit where it is definitely due. My profound compliments to the artist - you drew spiffiness.}

My fellow students and I took turns using the elderly {and near-burning hot} Artograph Tracer Projector in a darkened supply closet to trace our chosen pictures onto the 4' square of paper.
I then outlined the large pencil tracing in permanent ink marker and then overlaid it with indian ink (with which I was very enamored after the Landscape project). The instructor suggested I broaden the use of the ink and add shading to give the celtic over-under flow some dimension. I really liked the effect.

Somewhere along the lines (pun-intended!) I decided I wanted to flick indian ink speckles on the paper.
{Woo-hoo!} Stand back, I'm gonna splatter ink!
I also plotted the other layers:
I drew and cut out a celtic knot stencil and I tried to carve a stamp of the Comanche Nation seal from foam (sadly, it's more of an "ode" to the seal rather than something recognizable {sigh}):

And lastly I wanted to represent the Scottish Tartan of my family. I tried to mix the appropriate paint colors to emulate The Royal Stewart Tartan. I applied the paint onto drawing paper and, using my newly-learned Mixed Media Plaiting skills, cut it into strips and then wove it into paper-plaid squares.

I used the tartan-colored paint along with other paints leftover from the Color and Composition Final project to apply the celtic knot stencil onto the page…and I happily took the opportunity to flick more speckles of paint. {Color Speckles! Honestly, it was hard to stop…}

I got pretty colorful too. 
At this point, I rather liked the way the project was turning out.
CooPurr approved too.
{Ok, he would have approved more had I let him lay upon the crinkly, colorful paper…}

But I didn't much care for the idea of applying the plaid squares…they seemed to throw off the knots and speckles:
I did try to use the plaited squares as stamps on the project:

And I experimented with the best way to attach the woven paper pieces, but I still wasn't particularly pleased with the idea of that 3-D/third layer on top of the celtic stamps and tree.

Putting clear packing tape over the area that
I'd be sewing through seemed the best method. 
I could not seem to get past the tartan-layer so I actually attempted to turn in the project without the 3-D layer on the last day of class during the 15-minute review meeting with the instructor.
{Figuring I already had lots of layers of paint and ink…}
Allllllll my drawing work for the semester filled up all three
rows of desks in the class room.
However, the instructor convinced me that last layer was necessary and would improve the piece.
I agreed to do the deed, but the attitude when I got home was a bit grumpy. Here I'd thought I was alllll done, but now I needed to tack on woven bits of painted paper. {whiny sigh, grump, grrr}
{Although it was pretty darn nice of the instructor to let me have another day to tweak the project.}

I setup to work in the "outdoor studio"(back porch) because it's a cat-free zone but it was too windy so I even more grumpily moved inside.
I was well-into the "Hate it!" phase of this art piece. {sigh}

Shortly thereafter, I was gifted with the opportunity to save a life {"Drying feathers and a Loud Chirp"} and that stopped my whinging about re-finishing the drawing project.

After the attitude adjustment, I sewed on the woven tartan bits and turned in my final drawing project.



Although it didn't qualify for a place on the walls of the Pima College Library, it did hang in the Art Department "Gallery" all summer.

And….I'm kinda pleased with it. Kinda. The plaited tartan bits make the piece more interesting, but…

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Elegant Programmer

Many years ago, I was "drafted" into Quality Assurance, "QA".
Just prior to being "drafted", I did a brief stint learning about creating diagrams and user documentation on a Macintosh computer. It was new and spiffy and I was learning a lot every day.
Among other things, I reviewed and documented a PC-based program that had been released from QA and was pending release to clients.
I also documented over 100 issues ("bugs") in that already-tested program.

After reviewing the "bug" list, the programming manager came to visit. Per his direction, I was "drafted" into QA and I began to learn to test programs and to manage data in the QA environment.

Testers and Programmers have an interesting relationship. There is respect and laughter and... sometimes not so much respect and some teeth grinding. ;-) {We are human, after all.}

Going to tell someone that you've found a flaw in their carefully crafted programming code {i.e. "warts on the baby"} is not always the easiest of tasks. And hearing back from the programmers that there was a flaw in your carefully crafted test data {"It's your data."} can inspire deep-breathing exercises.

Yes, there are a few stories on both sides that don't make either group proud. But just a few.
There were also years of amazing joint efforts, clever designs and long-lasting adaptations, pride in what we crafted, repaired, and built - sometimes overnight or over a weekend after a massive install.
Overall, the day-to-day was pretty good.

One of the first and very best complements I received in my QA career was from a quietly legendary programmer. He was the guy who did whatever tasks he was given - and he did them very well.
He had a great smile and a good sense of humor.
The programming manager said he wrote very elegant code - which was very high praise from that brilliant fellow.
And he was one of those rare programmers who was entirely gracious when you found a flaw in his code. No, really - actually gracious, not just polite or kind. Not just factual or magnanimous - Gracious.

He was thorough and adept at testing his own programs so there weren't many flaws to find. As a relatively new QA analyst, I was assigned to test a new program from this gent. And I did find something that sent the code back the programmer for improvements. He resolved the issue and turned the program back over to QA - and he very publicly - and in writing - including management - complimented my Quality Assurance efforts. Yep, gracious.

The use of past-tense verbs is a bit telling.
I'm writing of this gent today because I've been thinking a great deal about the time we worked together, company events/camping trips, when he left the company to program elsewhere, his smile when he talked about meeting the love of his life, pictures from his wedding and some amazing vacations, laughter and e-mails, when he overcame some serious physical challenges, and most recently - because he lost his battle with cancer.

He was truly a good guy and an excellent programmer.
Kind, funny, charming, gracious, and elegantly clever.

He is missed.