Author: Mattie Vukmir

Still Life

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I’m sorry this is late.

I’m not sorry that my first post of this new year is about art. Hopefully there will be many more this year focusing on my art.

In my second to last art class, we walked in to see tables set up around a massive still life scene.

I’ve never really painted a still life before. I chose my seat and used a full size easel for the first time. I’m addicted to using one now.

Anyway, after moving things around a bit, I came up with this set up to paint:

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For the background, I wanted a nice natural blueish color. What I came up with was a little darker than intended, but I still liked it enough to not take the time to paint over it. I wanted to use a natural lighter tan for the base before putting in the objects.

After the background and base colors were established, I wasn’t sure how I wanted to go about starting the actual objects. We were told the best approach is to slowly add layers so that each object was in the same state of completeness.

Following these instructions, I blocked out the objects in white, off white, light blue, light yellow, and light green.

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After blocking out everything, I then added shading using matte medium and black much like the landscape we did previously. I don’t have a picture of this middle step, sorry! After the shading, I started detailing the taller bottle and the lemons and limes.

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Sorry the lighting is a little off on this one.

Our last class we were given the opportunity to finish any of our paintings and I chose to work on this still life.

I started by detailing the objects. My instructor and I both agreed that the background was too flat and didn’t fit in with the rest of the painting. I noticed that there was a black smudge on the top left of the painting, so to add some pizzazz and texture, I used a really watered down white, tan, and sometimes black and smudged it down with my finger and more water. I really loved the effect and it transformed the painting.

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At home, I made some updates and added the cloth on the table.

I hate those flowers, so I tried to create the background color again. It took a few attempts to recreate it, but I added the slightly later shades to the background. I really dislike the colors I used for the table, so I’m going to make it significantly lighter and give it more of a natural fold look. I might add a bit of yellow too. I also need to go in and add the background texturing over the newly changed background areas.

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Almost there!

 

 

 

 

One happy little tree

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I had my art class last night. This week we did landscapes. If you’ve checked out my work that I have posted on this blog previously, then you should gather that I love painting landscapes.

This week I learned a new technique to create landscape pieces. We were instructed  to use a tonal under painting or grisaille effect to build layers and create a richer looking painting.

First, we chose photos that we wanted to recreate. I borrowed mine from the internet:

LANDSCAPE MAYBE 2
Photo by Herbert Johan

We then sketched out the basic shapes onto our canvas. After sketching, I took black paint and mixed it with matte medium (one of my new favorite paint additives) to create a greyish watered down black to begin shading in the darker areas for the first layer.

Here is my underpainting!

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My shapes are a bit off as far as the landscape, deal with it.

After that was dry, I put another thin layer of matte medium on top and then used a hair dryer to quickly dry the paint.

The next step was to determine what my basic color blocks should be and apply those colors transparently so the gray underpainting shows through a bit and not to focus on the details of the painting.

I used a very light blueish purple for the sky and brought it down into the farther hills. I then took a darker blueish tealish green and formed the farther hills and brought it down into the closer hills. Finally I used a more natural bright green/yellow to build the foreground and pulled it into the closer hills to blend with the darker green/blue. In words, this makes very little sense. So here:

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Finally, you are to go in and start adding the details to the painting and other layers of paint to create the scene keeping in mind the light source in the painting and the mood. My picture felt serene and calm to me, so I wanted to focus  on creating that feeling for the audience.

We ran out of time for me to get very far into this final process. Last night, I managed to complete the sky/clouds and part of the tree.

I took some color liberty with the sky to give it a sunset affect and as if the sun was striking the clouds.

Here you go:

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More updates to come as I finish the rest of the painting. The last photo looks darker than it actually is. My phone camera isn’t the best.

Acrylic Thursdays

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Remember when I took the water based media class? Well, I’m taking another art class at Root Division. This time I’m taking the Intro to Acrylics class and I’m a fan of it so far.

In the first class we studied color and mixing colors and created a color wheel. I’m a fan of this practice. I usually try to avoid buying colors that I can mix myself. I am used to making my own greens and purples and oranges. It was fun to see what colors you can make with certain hues. I’ve always used Cadmium Yellow Medium. In the class, she suggested we get Cadmium Yellow Light. Aha! The perfect green!

One of the students asked what the point of this exercise is and then tried to use the store bought green on that section of the color wheel. The point of this exercise, sir, is so that you can learn to make colors on your own.

Sometimes I buy a few different shades of blue and yellow. I usually have black, payne’s grey, and some sort of burnt or raw umber.

Now that you have my color choices down, I will share with you our second week’s assignment.

This week, we were to complete modern style paintings containing squares, rectangles, stripes, and/or triangles. We were then supposed to use our color wheels to create a work using a specific color relationship: Monochrome, Analogous, Complimentary, or split complimentary. I could talk about color relationships for a really long time. This article does a great job of discussing the mixing of colors.

My design consists of a solid background and a triangle/pyramid in the center. Originally I had intended to use true orange as my background and create the shapes in the middle using split complimentary colors of blue/green and blueish purple. My background did not turn out the way I wanted it to and was a bit more red (always add WAY more yellow when making true orange!). So I went straight with complimentary which is the blue/green color and then chose to do the shape in various shades of that color.

We then were to use a tape method to create crisp lines with the acrylics by using matte medium under the tape edges to help create a sharp, crisp line. Upon the next update on this work, I’ll add some pictures of the in between stages. I also want to try this out on other works as this isn’t the style I usually work in. I want to try various shades, etc.

Enough with words and my rambling on what I want to work on.

Behold! The makings of my piece:

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The colors are a little off in this picture. Hopefully by the end, I’ll get some good natural lighting and get a good angle that shows the colors true.

 

 

Observations from a bike commuter

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I am relatively new to cycling. I’ve had my old, heavy steel framed bike for a little over a year and it has definitely had a positive impact on my life. Daily commutes to and from work are the main mile earners for my bike, but I do occasionally go on longer trips to Sausalito and Tiburon.

I’m a safe biker and a defensive biker. I understand that cars are steel boxes of pain and death. I stop at stop signs if there are cars stopped or approaching. I stop at ALL red lights and wait*. I wear a helmet. I use the proper hand signals for turning especially if there is traffic.

On average, I am almost hit by a car at least twice a day. I’ve had friends actually hit. I’ve been bumped into. I’ve almost taken out someone’s windshield. I’m convinced that drivers here feel that after they pass the driving test that certain laws don’t apply to them any longer.

The biggest issue to me?

Turn signals.

I can’t stress this enough. USE YOUR TURN SIGNALS. They are there for a reason. You have to use them when you learn to drive. You live in a city. There are 0 reasons why you shouldn’t use them. I know, it is very hard to comprehend, but no one is a mind reader here. Cyclists. Pedestrians. Other drivers. We don’t know that you’re turning left unless you tell us. We don’t know that you’re going to try and parallel park unless you tell us. How do you let us know? You use a turn signal. These following rules for using a turn signal are taken from the California Driver Handbook:

  • During the last 100 feet before reaching the turning point (left or right turn). Caution!—Even though you signal, do not automatically assume that the space you want to occupy is clear.

  • Before every lane change. Check your mirrors, look over your shoulder, and check your blind spot before changing lanes.

  • At least five seconds before you change lanes on a freeway.

  • Before pulling next to the curb or away from the curb.

  • When you change directions.

  • Even when you do not see other vehicles. A vehicle you do not see may suddenly appear and hit you.

I try to be a good cyclist. I’ll go on the right side of a car if its turning left. I’ll go on the left side of a car if its turning right. If it’s going straight, I might be on either side of you depending on where the bike lane is or if I’m turning left. If I’m turning left, I’ll let you know that I’m turning left to by using my left turn hand signal. Trust me, its more dangerous for me to give a turn signal than it is for you, you don’t have to take your hand off the wheel.

I’ve almost been hit by drivers that I THINK are going straight, but actually turn right into me. And then they blame me. It’s not my fault that I didn’t read your mind and know which direction you are turning. No one can. The other day I was biking on the right side of the road along the slow lane on Octavia. This women drives up next to me and then proceeds to kind of smoosh me between cars. Apparently she was trying to park or pull over or something. She didn’t see me. She decided that wasn’t where she wanted to pull over, so she pulled up a little farther ahead. And then again, decides to start pulling over to the side. I had no idea what she was doing. She then almost cuts me off AND smashes me between her and parked cars while I’m unable to do anything and almost flip over the front of her car. When I finally am able to separate myself from the situation and bike on the other side of her car, she doesn’t even notice me. She is on her phone.

Just 15 minutes prior to that, I’m almost hit by a truck that goes through a stop sign.

That brings me to the second biggest issue. Stop signs.

From the handbook:

An eight-sided red STOP sign means you must make a full “STOP” whenever you see this sign. Stop at the white limit line (a wide white line painted on the street) or before entering the crosswalk. If a limit line or crosswalk is not painted on the street, stop before entering the intersection. Check traffic in all directions before proceeding.

This wasn’t the first time I had almost been hit by a car that rolled through a stop sign. Earlier that week, I had almost been hit by a double decker tour bus and then a sports car. The tour bus at least made a show to slow down. The sports car? No, he just bolted through the stop sign almost hitting both me and the other driver taking their turn. He smiled at both of us. These instances weren’t at night, either. They were in mid-day. The truck was the last to arrive at the stop sign on the morning commute. He almost hit 3 bikers and another car. He honked at us.

It’s sad when you hear about fatal accidents involving bikers and drivers. Drivers blame the bikers, bikers blame the drivers.

Who is the real problem? Both. It hasn’t just been drivers that I see break laws or drive recklessly. Bikers do the same. Red lights DO apply to you. Stop signs DO apply to you. Turn signals DO apply to you.

There can be more to this rant, but for now, I’m just going to leave these here. 

The bottom line is really that drivers should use turn signals and actually stop at stop signs. Bikers? Do the same. It could save a life.

*Cyclists: You CAN get a ticket for this. It’s expensive. I’ve watched it happen. I suggest stopping next time. It is the law, after all. Don’t be a dick.

The decline of my good opinion of San Francisco

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On October 10th, I will have lived in San Francisco, California for 2 years exactly. I would say that it has taken me a year and 7 months to slowly start to dislike SF. I know, I know. It is a beautiful city and I agree. It really is!  Its just… where to begin.

If you live here, have thought about living here, are apart of, or follow the effects of the tech boom here in SF, you have probably read multiple articles about the gentrification of San Francisco and the changing culture. In June of 2012, an article about the tech boom and its possible political effects as well as its effects on the culture of the city was published in wake of Twitter’s headquarters opening its doors in the city limits instead of choosing Silicon Valley like its other huge tech counterparts like Google and Apple.

When my friend first sent me the second article, I read through it and while I could sort of see where it was coming from and that these may be viable concerns, I wasn’t completely sold on the idea that San Francisco was changing. After all, I had only been here for less than a year at that time and I knew all manner of artists. In my mind, it was still the place to go for people who want to work for non-profits while being actively involved in the fine and performing arts. Where people could meet like minded individuals and share an experience. Not talk about what they do, how much they make, and what new tech company they were working for.My rent was relatively cheap at $600 a month. I shared a 3 bedroom apartment with 3 others. We had a huge kitchen, everything was clean and tidy, and we had the most amazing view of the Pacific Ocean.

A year later, its a different story and this transformation of the city is what is giving me a bad taste in my mouth and when it comes down to it, I’m out.

I miss living in Berkeley, but alas, I think that even moving across the bay yet again won’t change the fact that I am over this area. I’m over California. I’ve been working in the service industry for almost a year in this city and in that year, and I can see that everything has changed. People have changed. The clientele has changed. The vibe has changed. Not just in my bar, but everywhere. The people I want to be around are feeling to Oakland. I should flee back to Oakland.

I never used to feel totally agitated when going out in public – especially down town. Now? I hate it. These feelings of dislike toward the techies may have a little to do with the guy that called me fat and other things that he said to me and his mannerisms, but I’m seeing that everywhere.

But when  it all come down to it, I really just can’t afford it anymore. No one in the service industry or arts or non-profits can. All of my friends in those industries are packing up and heading out to places like Daly City and the Oakland Hills. Rent is cheaper. Commute time? Way longer. And we don’t have those shuttles taking us to our jobs like those at Google and Facebook do. We get to cram together on BART and Muni with the tweakers and guys who take a dump on transit. I kid you not, that happens regularly.

And then we get to go to our jobs and get treated like we’re less than anyone else because we’re serving them drinks and food, and not programming the next app that will allow your farts to download straight to your nose (that right there is a South Park reference).  I know I sound a bit bitter here, but today I had a tech guy come in, order $50 worth of food, and he tipped me a penny. Thanks, dude. Oh, and right after that I had a whole group from some tech start up come in, all order food and at least one beer, and 3 of them left me a hefty $1 tip. She asked if they could reserve a group of tables once a month. I said maybe. I don’t need to go out of my way for you if you’re not tipping me.

Tip your servers. Even if you’re ordering at a register.

Anyway, I need to go.

This place isn’t for me anymore. I’m not feeling the love. I’m feeling the cold embraces of Java (the code kind, not the delicious beverage kind) and python (the code kind, not the snake kind) … if Java and Python could could hug. I’m sure someone could program a digital hug. If they did, I’m guessing it would be cold.

I’m sure there are others out there that feel like I’m just bitching because I can’t cut it out here in this tech industry laden city. You might be right. I have been struggling for work for the last two years, but I’ll have you know I know how to code and I have a degree in engineering. I just chose not to follow that path and to go a different way with my life. It has been a struggle, but it has made me who I am today. I’m ambitious, but not for the car or the fancy apartment, but to find a position at a place that I want to wake up and go into almost every day. Maybe think about the fact that I don’t want to. I’ve had interviews at start-ups. I’ve visited one of them and was ultimately turned down, but the more I think about the people I would be working with, the less excited I was to work there.

They are my peers now. They are who live in this beautiful city. It’s not artists. It’s not musicians. It’s not bartenders crafting delicious concoctions at off the grid bars. We just can’t afford it. Rent in most places is double or tripling. Landlords are slowly booting people with rent control so that they can live in these locations for 6 months, and then rent them out for even greater sums.

If you think I’m crazy, check out this amazing infographic on how many minimum wage jobs you need to live in each part of the city.

I’ll tell you that I have a full time job and two part time jobs, and its not going to be enough to pay all of my bills AND save. I have not one, not two, but 5 roommates.

I have no interest in living here any longer. I’ve been here for almost 2 years. I have a 6 month gig starting next week. In 6 months? I’m gone. In a way, it is a bit unfortunate as one of my best friends just moved here from Boulder (She opted for Oakland). But I need a change. I need to get the bad taste of the City by the Bay.

My next stop? I’m thinking Seattle. There is a 6 month to a year long paid internship I have my eye on. I’ve been told by everyone that knows me and understands me and that has been to Seattle that I would love it there and thrive there. I think that city loves me more, too. I’ve tweeted about Seattle twice. TWICE. I have 4 influential followers from Seattle now. I don’t think I have that many from SF and I’ve tweeted about it many many times.

Here I come, Seattle… in 6 months.

*Update: Here is an article from June this year which describes perfectly my feelings toward the changes in SF’s culture. Read it.

So… a guy called me fat.

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Lets set some things straight here.

I’m a little over 5’2″. On a good day, I’m 138 lbs. On a bad day, 142 lbs – bad days are that gross time before that time of the month where I just feel massively bloated. My legs are really long. ‘Short’ Pants are too short. My inseam is about a 34 – which is long for a girl of my stature.

Here is a picture of me trying on dresses for a wedding this weekend. I think I rocked it. (PS, I’m not wearing this dress. I’m wearing a different one that is more wedding appropriate)

photo (1)

About a month ago, this dude I was semi-seeing told me that he didn’t want to get intimate with me anymore because ‘I’m not his type, sexually, because of my height.’.

I was a little offended by that, but you know, nothing I can do about it, so I started moving on and seeing other people. But its the 21st century, and so I continued ‘dating’ this guy. Why? I honestly don’t know. I was told by several people that they didn’t like him and by dating, I mean we did things together like going to outside lands and cooking and sometimes held hands, and usually ended up in the same bed, but you know, for sleeping and that’s about all.

So we were discussing pictures of me throughout my college years when I was experimenting with hair color and had my lip pierced and he decided to comment on my height compared to all of my other friends. So I jokingly made fun of him for commenting on my height and not anything else like the drastic physical changes I went through hair and lip wise. And then we got to pictures from freshman year of college and he told me he liked one of me in my dress at a formal because I ‘looked really skinny in it’.

Ok, boy, you’re treading on thin ice there.

And then it happened.

“You know, can I be honest for a minute here. It’s not your height that bothers me, it’s your weight.”

He didn’t tell me this in person either. This was on gchat. If he did, fist to balls right there.

You never tell a woman she is fat. If that is the reason you’re not into her anymore, don’t say that. Ever. I was floored. He said he was really sorry that he was shallow about it and that he didn’t know what to do.

My response to this was ‘Go F*ck yourself and never speak to me again.”

I guess it’s a good thing though that he was that brutally honest. It gave me a wake up call and a good out. Its what I needed to say goodbye.  It’s not the first time he has insulted me and I’ve let it slide, but still held onto resentment or still been bruised by the comment weeks later. He’s insulted my job (I’m a bartender) and has generally been not the best person to me despite telling me I’m his closest friend here in the Bay Area. If your someone’s closest friend, they generally should put some effort into seeing you. If you’re having a bad day, and they tell you they will talk to you later about it, they would talk to you later about it. 

Sorry, this is turning into a rant about everything that I resented or didn’t like about this relationship and thats not what I want to do. I have to completely let it go and move on.

What I really want to say is never tell a girl her weight is an issue. Especially if she really isn’t that fat and isn’t unhealthy. Its just how my body is and how it always has been and I was comfortable with it. The problem is that this comment is still bothering me a week later and I really don’t see an end in sight to the hurting it is causing.

I’ve been told by two different amazing people that I am in charge of the way I feel about something. I’m the one who is in charge of the way things effect me. I need to use this anger and this hurt to work on myself. Not to work out to look hotter in the eyes of this one man, sorry, boy. But to feel even better about who I am and feel confident again. My confidence has slowly been fleeting after interactions with this guy and I don’t think I’ll be able to truly find someone i can be myself with until I love myself and feel comfortable and confident in the body I have.

This sounds easy, but I know it won’t be. Its hard not to dislike your body especially as a woman with the ‘sexy’ norms pushed at us in the media. But I don’t want to get into that. Really I just want to talk about how this last week has made me realize that I was losing sight of myself again and how I really need to think about what I need to be happy with myself before introducing another person into it.

It wasn’t just because of him, either. The last two months have been stressful and not the most productive for me in terms of self discovery /self rejuvenation or overall just figuring out what I want right now. I realized – with the help of the movie Lola Versus - that working on myself should be the most important thing to me right now and that I really need to find my direction.

In the film, Lola (Greta Gerwig) goes through a nasty break up after her fiance breaks off their wedding weeks before the event. She then goes to destroy her relationships with her friends and lose herself in the following few months. At the end, she realizes that she needs to rebuild her friendships, and take a step back from being with someone to really evaluate her life and discover herself.

So that’s what I need to do for a while and see where life takes me.

“I’m taken. By myself. I just gotta do me for a while.” – Lola Versus

Tuesday Afternoon Art Projects

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Yesterday I stumbled upon this nifty photo of a leaf that someone found in a lake.

VRoOQ1v

 

I loved the little designs and have been looking for different patterns other than my trees for a special project that I’ve been working on.

So I took those little swirls and created some new postcard art with India ink and my quills. Two are of the leaf design and two are based on a necklace pendant that I have.

Enjoy!

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Green leaf

 

black leaf

 

two