Saturday, September 21, 2013

how i spent my summer vacation, by jeremy b., age 26

it's now the tail end of September, and it still feels weird to not have the school year to make it official. The passage of temporal landmarks with decreasing noticeability scares me a whole lot, like I'll have a midlife crisis before I know it. I haven't really written anything good in a couple of months (it's okay, it's true), because there's nothing really going on, and games and movies (my usual writing fodder) are leaving an increasingly small impression on me. That's even scarier.

I kind of did other things this Summer, and it makes me sad because historically, I've enjoyed writing this thing the more than anything. So that I can get some kind of article fodder out of the last few months, I'll try to post what I can here.

1. Amateur Art

I developed my most recent craving for drawing, something I've done off and on since high school. While I was never really that great at it, and never pursued it seriously, it was always a ton of fun and I did legitimately get better with each cycle. I still had my sketchbook laying around, even though I hadn't touched it in what I believe was years, and whipped up a few drawings. I'm not at a level where I'm able to generate my own unique pictures, so all of these below had a reference image (usually from the net) that I was copying. As a whole, they still came out pretty well. They're listed in order of completion.

Fist bump!

Good ol' Spidey. I have a genuine hope that I'll never see the day that I'm not a Spider-fan. My normal method of drawing is to do a sort of copy by grid, except without a grid. I'll essentially try to recreate every line and shade as best as I can, functionally doing the completed image first. This marks one of the first times I didn't do that. Instead, I looked at the image in one of my comics, and copied what I've seen actual artists do; I started by first building out a skeleton of ovals and circles. The main difference it made was that if I made an error, I could compensate later by adjusting the final image. If, for example, the fist was too high in the basic sketch, that was okay; the final image would just have a higher fist. This was something I couldn't do with a line-by-line copy, because a single mess-up usually ruins the whole image. It's nothing special, but it's one of the better images I'd ever done. 

It started as Chris Redfield.
I was satisfied enough with Spider-Man to not get discouraged, and continued by grabbing someone else's drawing of Wolverine from Google, and seeing if I could do a better job than I did last time. I used the same procedure I'd listed above, but by this time had simply gained a little more familiarity. The resulting image, I feel, came out much better.

The Keyblade only chooses cross-eyed masters

You can probably see that I ran into some problems here. My first two drawings had given me enough confidence to try and use color this time. I even bought a new, fancy set of colored pencils, but I wasn't able to get the result I'd wanted. I don't think it had anything to do with the fact that color was new to me; I'm pretty sure I made mistakes early on with the size and shape of the head. I think Kingdom Hears 1 Sora is supposed to have a larger than average head (he's relatively young, and kids and babies are usually drawn that way), but something about this one just didn't turn out right, in the eyes especially. I erased and redrew them until the paper couldn't take it any more, but I just couldn't make them line up right. He looks cross-eyed or something, though to be fair the original drawing was that way.  The original artist just pulled it off somehow.

I'm this many!
Bounced back from the mild defeat that was Sora-In-Color, and tried again with Piccolo. It went better than expected, really. The original image was printed out and taped to the corner for reference, so you can more easily see what I was going for (originally, it was just so I didn't have to use my computer screen). Not a bad replication if I do say so. Working with color was a lot more fun (if more simplistic). Because I'm mostly recreating cartoons when using color, the images are going to be less complex than the pencil sketches. Both have their unique challenges.

2. Moved Out

At the tender young age of 26, I finally moved out of my parents' house. I was in the unique position of still living at home and having parents that didn't mind at all, who would have let me stay indefinitely. But it was starting to become embarrassing to me to still be this old and not legitimately taking care of myself. I paid car, phone, and stuff like that, but was also having stuff like my laundry done without even asking. I'm absolutely shocked by how much being out of the house ... doesn't feel different. My bank account is just leaner now, and I have less free time. The most noteworthy part of the new place to me? My toilet faces the bathroom mirror, so when I'm using it, I have to decide whether it's more awkward to make eye contact with myself or avoid it.

Yes: I'm wearing pants, they're all the way up, and that's a slider phone.

3. Studied More

I reviewed the Rosetta Stone software a while back, and gave it a positive review, even though I don't really give proper ratings. I recommend it, at least, and I've continued to use it. Instead of being limited to saying "the boy is eating bread", I can now say "the boy is not eating bread" too. So progress is being made. And if you're ever in Japan and see a kid with a loaf of bread, and need to communicate whether he is eating said bread, I'm your guy. The takeaway here is that I haven't quit.


4. +1 Dexterity, +1 Strength

I started working out about a year ago, due to a vague feeling that it was just something I needed. I hated the stale feeling of never getting exercise, because I was out of school and had moved to office work from a retail job. While I was at it, I guessed it would be good to see if I could lose some weight. I've lost about 30 pounds since I started, bringing myself down to my doctor-recommended maximum of 185. It's come with other unexpected side-effect, the largest of which is this: I don't drop or bump into things nearly as often. I have a much better sense of my physical self, and as a result I'm much less clumsy. Clumsiness, along with most of my defining characteristics like shyness, affinity for video games, and (sweet, sweet) cynicism have tapered off, and I feel like exercise was a big part of why. I hear tell that it changes the way chemicals in your body are circulated. It's strange, but an okay change.

So, all-in-all, not a wasted Summer. I know in my last article I said I was going try to be less "show and tell" ish. I'll try to do a more interesting post next time.

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