Category Archives: Week 1

Tradition

When did tradition become a dirty word? How did tradition come to be in people’s minds something malleable moment to moment?

Cambridge Dictionary defines tradition as “a belief, principle, or way of acting that people in a particular society or group have continued to follow for a long time, or all of these beliefs, etc. in a particular society or group.”

Oxford Dictionary defines it as “the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on. A long-established custom or belief that has been passed on. [in singular] An artistic or literary method or style established by an artist, writer, or movement, and subsequently followed by others.”

Key to both of these is a past tense having been passed on state. Present action to create a new tradition is by nature merely a breaking of tradition, it cannot be a new tradition until it has been passed to a future generation actively and they are holding as tradition. Not to be misunderstood, I am not saying one should always follow tradition or accept all traditions. However, understand the tradition, not just the actions but the reasons, the emotional and group impacts, what is being honored, upheld, passed on, developed, or reinforced. My family had traditions and from time to time all the kids keep them, not religiously or constantly, but we remember and we feel the reassuring and strengthening connection to our past when we do. Mother was quite determined that we all learn to think, we make decisions, and we live. Thinking just like her was not the requirement; though she believed we would, based on data, follow her beliefs. Making our own decisions inherently means we do not always follow her’s, we choose our own path. Living life means trying things, going places, not acting in fear and not letting others control us. Political, religious, social or other pressure to conform with non-conformation just like them, to follow this correct path, to destroy this mindset in favor of this other, are all control factors that hinder thinking and deciding. I may or may not decide to be religious or political, but my decision is mine and where it takes me is not pressured by other’s belief in where it should.

“Never break a rule you don’t understand.” My mother quoted that or similar at us frequently. Her issue was not the breaking of the rule, though I think that was lost on many people. Her issue was a lack of thought, knowledge, understanding, and research. Understanding, not just knowing by rote is vital. Why and from whence is important not extraneous fluff? Why do we have such a convoluted system to begin with? People learned to act on the letter and the rote not the intent and purpose. Thus they made it more complicated and gave more specifics and less intent.

What does this have to do with tradition? I shall ask a question in answer. Why do you feel the need to break tradition? Is a bad memory a reason to pick and choose your past and change your history? Does your childhood still control your future? Yes, there were bad things in my childhood. Yet I am an adult, I choose to see the beauty in each place I am and live today, not to heal but just to live. If I live in the past, I am not truly aware of my present. If I live in my future, I am missing my present. I choose to live in today but be aware of the past and future, to actively see where I have been and where I am going. By doing so I can see the intent and move out of the emotional impact into a strength of the family traditions I might have missed or thought just my parent’s oddities. At any rate, my choice of activity will not be a tradition even if wanted it to – I have no kids to begin the tradition after my time.

Back to Steampunk and my project. I am still debating with myself what extent writing and research falls into an acceptable piece for my year long project. Writing, research, and reading is and has always been a passion. Given that, some of my projects should be writings – both fiction and research. I am uncertain at the moment if today will be one of those, but I am going to reflect on Steampunk for a moment. First let me clarify some connection to my previous topic. First research is in itself a tradition in my family, as is writing, publishing, and creation of …well anything. Second, Steampunk is a sort of tradition or collective of traditions. Time is developing branches and sub-genres within the culture but that is to be expected. Thus my research on the word, the subject, the forms, the art, the concept, the culture, and more was spawned. Where this will go will be determined as the year progresses but let me begin with the word.

Cambridge dictionary: books or movies about an imagined time when machines use steam for power rather than modern engines and methods, or a style of fashion based on this

Oxford Dictionary: noun – a genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.

Reading these I was reminded of a conversation I recently had regarding what Steampunk meant to each of us. This conversation inherently bothered me at the time and I couldn’t put my finger on why or clearly articulate my issue. I see it now in these definitions – there is no inherent time setting. Past, present and future are equal with the elements, elegance, technology, and thought processes of a particular time and society. What I feel missing in these definitions and in a more recent prevalence of Steampunk work is the elegance and the type of research and creative approach. But is that something fitting to a dictionary? How do you define in a short sentence the difference in research approaches, aesthetic, and cultural dynamic? Stories and imagery that Steampunk is rooted in embraced the possible. I have seen many references to their embracing of technology and the future, but my observation so far is of an embracing of possible that was inherent in a time of development and wonders amid great hardship and changes. This is what I see a key to the science – the possible, not the known or understood. Probability, rationality, and details of science were less important than trying it and imagining it, seeing how it could make things better. Great hope is only possible in need, without need, there is little to hope for. Yes there was much suffering in society at the time but there was also amazing development, wondrous innovation, imaginings beyond what was vital and into sublime. This is also where I see some of the aesthetic, luxury, and Victorian details as vital to Steampunk. It is not the Victorian specifically but the pointless luxuries indicating improvements so vast basic needs were not the issue.

Understanding that, I return to the open time scope of Steampunk. This is what prompted the discussion previously mentioned. I am interested in the blending of timelines and merging of timescapes not for purely aesthetic reasons but in a socio-cultural context. One of the primary reasons Science Fiction appeals to me is the use of science in what-if scenarios often exploring the impact on cultures of a technology or development. How this leads me to Steampunk should be obvious if you know the genre, it is inherently a what-if scenario. Can a genre be that diverse in each person and remain a genre? Evidence says more than yes, but that it will be strengthened, explored, developed, and expanded more than a rigid form. I also like Cyberpunk but it is much less broad, for many reasons. One key is likely the distance. Distance of time, place, thought, culture, technology, society, and more have opened the interpretive possibilities. Cyberpunk inherently uses current technology in new combinations in what-if scenarios, not readily accessible technology, but existing or developing elements put to actual use in places current regimes would never allow them. Is this different from those texts that developed Steampunk? Yes and no, as I see it. The way of viewing research itself has changed from a broad scope of possible ideas and find a way to examine details and follow paths to expected and predictable results. Cyberpunk seems a way to break that but in a very different way than Steampunk does and less extreme. But they view the possible from very different perspectives. One is a moral vacuum and one an ethical vacuum; neither answering should we do this but rather can we do this.

Cyberpunk is a dystopian future, a society so vast and gritty the disillusionment doesn’t allow hope and the exploration of the possible examines expected impacts of science developed without restriction. Steampunk is a time of what would have happened if we developed a different technology, rooted in a British colonial ethic that removes ethical restriction from the need to develop at all cost and advance. Cyberpunk moral vacuum explores development of technology above all else and at the exclusion of all else. Steampunk ethical vacuum explores potentialities of could it have been different for society if? What would hold over in society and what wouldn’t? This is why the growing sub-genres are such a logical development. Cyberpunk is all about image and technology, Steampunk is about development at all cost. Vital distinctions that show very different directions, not branches of the same. The type of technology itself is a major part of the reason Steampunk cannot be a part of Cyberpunk. By nature it explores what might have been and Cyberpunk explores what could be from this society and technology. This may sound minor but the very core of each is involved. Traditions held over in many Steampunk stories are important because of the social evaluation. What is the tradition in a Cyberpunk story? The nature of the story is technology and corporations gone rampant and destroying the existing in place of the new. Steampunk often wonders what might not have been destroyed if technology followed that path.

Freedom through Restriction

My husband said it looked like it was done on hammered copper, I like that thought.
My husband said it looked like it was done on hammered copper, I like that thought.

This is one of those rare moments for me of actually liking a piece I did. As I worked on this piece it just wasn’t going well, was just off somehow and all of a sudden I had a moment of “that’s it! Done.” I always have more to do on my pieces. This particular trait was one of the things prompting me to embark on this project; the need to post a piece each day limits the amount of obsessing over the piece I can do to my available time to work. Another aspect of this same requirement is that I must consistently work on my art in some form or another. This week has been rather heavier in the computer drawing than I am practiced with. I have wanted to improve my skills in this area for some time and have taken this a a time to focus and develop skills and traits beneficial to my art and life. 

On this note of introspection that could lead to a long discussion, the automaton is going to sleep. One more very early morning and then I have a brief break from such sleep banishing torments. I hope you enjoy my pieces and my ramblings, I am learning to see my art in a new way already, even if it sometimes takes posting the piece before I feel that way.

Steampunk chair based on a basic Victorian rocker in metal, done in GIMP.

Automaton by automaton

Steampunk Automoton
Brass, wood, and leather drink automaton drawn in pencil and colored in GIMP.

Steampunk Drink Automaton

Having a lot of time to think when training dogs or walking them around the lakes, I have a lot to discuss. However, extreme lack of sleep is beginning to tell on me and I am not certain I could be truly coherent. Tomorrow will most likely be a repeat of same automaton nature of my brain. I will briefly say I was thinking of people I have known and their diets through part of the day. Both lifestyle diets and those frequently on one diet or another. a trend is apparent showing two basic approaches to diet, regardless of details. One, is the deprivation, denial, and restriction approach. The other is a fulfillment of need, desire, or an attempt of similar.

Deprivation eating restricts some portion and often most of a persons eating, often to excess. Observation says this often leads to drastic deviations from restrictions and shortage of a sort that must be corrected by other means such as drinks or vitamins. This however, is not my point. My thought was how quite unhealthy this seems; not merely from a physical standpoint but from a mental and emotional standpoint. How does this constant focus of restriction, deprivation, and avoiding the things you crave or are interested in impact your other portions of self?

Personally, I do not diet. I have eaten fairly restricted dies, such as vegetarian, at times. But for me it is not a matter of restricting my intake, it is a result of paying attention to my system, my body, my activity, my environment, and my health to know what I need and what cravings are indicating. A craving for sugar is quite specific if you have learned to pay attention to the differences. Is it ice cream, soda, sweet tea, fruit, candy, what are you craving. What is going on in your life or system that is causing this. Now you should know what you really need. For me those particular cravings usually indicate a need for potassium, calcium, C, or a couple other things. Environment and local climate alters cravings and needs.

Anyway…back to the matter at hand. I drew a steampunk drink automaton in pencil very old using motorcycle parts as a base. I then uploaded into GIMP and added color. I made a decision to leave it partially shaded to highlight the feel of the drawing and the sketch quality. I hope you enjoy. I am also uploading a slightly different version of my color work. He runs on leather tracks set in wood and brass fittings and has an extendable, bi-rotational tray arm to maintain balance of drink tray.

Alternate coloring
Brass, wood, and leather drink automaton drawn in pencil and colored in GIMP.

 

Cat Play Area Drawing

Today at work I was working with the dogs (I’m an assistant trainer at a pet resort, and I take care of the guests as requested) and considering the difference between varies breeds, categories, and pet types. I have cats personally and don’t really want dogs, but I enjoy working with them. It is interesting the things you can consistently expect from various types of dogs. Some examples I thought of: All retrievers have shared traits, and labs have some that most other retrievers may not have. One thing retrievers do constantly, many breeds don’t, is eat dirt and rocks. All bulldogs have some similarities and I really blame people for the miss-categorization of their personalities. I find them great to work with, they are fun to train. Their personality tendencies, mix of intelligence and plain denseness, loyalty pushing overprotective zeal, and their strength make a nice do but one you have to watch their triggers and know what they react to. That is a key with all breads though – what do they react to without thought. You can see in their eye the moment the brain kicks back in after a reaction. It is unfair to punish them for a reaction to something they should not have been exposed to, it seems to me.

Anyway, this is all very unrelated to my piece…actually it’s not really. I drew, in pencil, a cat climbing thing. I am planning on taking a wall or two and the tops of a few others in our house and making them a cat place. This stemmed from that idea, but is only a beginning. I had a whole other section for the piece but really don’t have time today. Maybe when I do a computer version, I’ll add a couple sections. I should also mention that I am slowly making the house over in a steampunk Alice general concept inspired by the video game Alice. As you can see in this piece, it is often subtle, though the entire kitchen/ dining area is dark red. I build furniture when I have a place to work and like to design pieces whether I make them or not – they inspire me when I do start to build. My actual pieces tend to develop rather organically as I build and the plan I so painstakingly drew is left behind as a lovely fiction. Mother always said I saw the world from a different perspective than everyone else, thus why my drawings are always at odd perspectives not used by others, often impossible ones to actually view the object or scene from in life.

day 5 Cat play zone
Pencil drawing of part of a steampunk Alice cat play zone in my head.

Steampunk Mini and Memories of Mom

Hey, it’s cool to actually see improvement in a skill. I did another GIMP project today. Started with another motorcycle but after 2 discards, went with a Mini Cooper. I drive a Mini and have been wanting to do this. Image

I’m actually pretty pleased with this one. Still some things to work on in how to use the program and details, but I’m definitely learning.

Working on the 363 day project, the blog, and actually putting my work out public however it resolves has really made me think of my mother. I would not be doing this without her input, direction, pushing, faith, and support. I miss her, but will continue to listen to her and the words she left behind. It seems simple to say nothing will happen with my art until I really focus on it and do it or until I show it to others, but in practice that is rather like pulling teeth.

I don’t think I have mentioned, probably should add it to the about, but all work on this site is property of the artist, namely me, and is not for open distribution without credit and notification. Please do not use my work for monetary gain without both crediting and allowing the artist commission. Thank you. See the official stuff is done for now.

Day 2 – Steampunk Benelli in GIMP

Today I downloaded the GIMP program. I used it a lot years ago, but am ridiculously out of practice.

Steampunk Motorcycle
Steampunk GIMP Benelli motorcycle with a lot of practice parts.

I’m not actually thrilled with the results, but got a lot done in setting up GIMP and remembering how to use it. This is definitely a skill I will be working on over this year to improve. But it is a start, and I have the program ready to use now.

I have been reading 365: A Daily Creativity Journal (http://amzn.com/B00BQ1RF3W) as I mentioned yesterday. This project started from the day 2 suggestion, though not everyone would readily see that. It is for a favorite animal 🙂 we have cats and motorcycles at our house, one current restoration project is a 1967 Benelli. I wanted to do a Steampunk design for it. I’ll try again later. I may actually hand draw it, or I’ll use it as another learning day for GIMP.

There are a couple of fonts used in the image today. I don’t have the names on me but will before I use them again.

This piece took much longer than I expected, I could have done it faster by hand and probably liked it better. But, it is good practice. It has some elements I really like. Tell me what you think and what your suggestions are.

First Action, First Day!

Well, here goes. Having never done a blog, a year long project, or publicly posted myself and my art, I am starting today on my one year journey. Taking advice from a book (I’ll post the link tomorrow to the book, it’s late) I started with a small project using things I already had on hand. Because most of my available time today was spent creating my internet presence and finding the battery for my camera, I went with an earring. As I stated In my profile, an medium or project is fair game, if I think I can do it one day or the portion of day available. Day after my first wedding anniversary seemed a good day to start.

Steampunk has been a passion for some time and it crosses into many areas of interest and life as will be seen as we progress. Some examples are motorcycles, cats, weaponry, Alice, and science fiction. As I journey through this process, I will examine steampunk, what it means to others, what it means to me, how various mediums impact the ideas, how various topics and genres impact the ideas and lead to medium choices, and how in depth is the concept in my brain. I will also learn how to work the blog site better as we go 🙂

Today’s piece is a Jewelry, found object piece. An earring made from object on my dresser. Just a small thing to get me started and show the idea.

Steampunk Earring 1
This piece was made with bits of watch, broken earrings, and pieces I found on the dresser.