Temptations

Job search

Those of you who know me from other online presences may recall that I’ve applied for a job which I’m pretty sure I don’t want, because it may open a path to a job I do want. That’s a gatekeeping dysfunction of my particular jurisdiction. As much as I could use the money, I also really don’t want to have to deal with the setting, or the politics…or the certain eventuality that I’ll be (unnecessarily) exposed to COVID.

I’m — also — just not a social person. Being social is not my strength, but work in Public Services in a Public Library demands social skills and tolerance for social interaction, in spades. This may relate to what I read in my Library Science program which stated that Melvil Dewey (1851-1931) thought that women would make better librarians because women were innately more caring than men.

Keep in mind that On the Origin of Species was published when Dewey was around eight years old. There was something of a frenzy over classifying things (which Dewey participated in via his creation of Dewey Decimal Classification), once people learned about biological evolution and the Tree of Life. I expect the beginning of outright eugenics and Social Darwinism to follow not far behind, though with the Civil War beginning in 1861, there had obviously already been groundwork where it came to the idea of race (see also: the idea of gender) and the justification of slavery; that one group of people were best fit for a certain type of work due to their biology.

I don’t remember where I read that comment of Dewey’s. It was in the first semester of my program. It stirred some unwanted anger that blindsided me, and was one reason I nearly did not return to complete my degree. The fact that a circa-100-year-old sexist stereotype is still impacting the field (where it’s known that middle-class white women predominantly make up the work force — except for the very top positions and the positions below the glass ceiling) and how people think about Librarians in the present day…just, no. Do I want to have to deal directly, with the face of that, every day–? No.

Of course, this was likely beneficent sexism: maybe the only other routes of self-sufficiency a woman could obtain (at the time) would be sex work, nursing, teaching, being a secretary, or other routes where sociability and caring matter…but I’m not living in the year 1900. I just really don’t want to consent to play that social game. I don’t want to take care of other people (other than those who have cared for me) for the rest of my life. I’m not inclined to do it, and there are better ways to spend the life I have left.

And I realize that not wanting to play the social game is a major reason why I can’t consent to identifying as a woman, at this point, if I want to maintain what health I have. It’s not 1900. I have other options.

The last paragraph pretty much explains the discomfort I had in being viewed as a woman in a public space…which I may have tolerated, for way too long.


Let me get off of that

On the 11th, I did — actually — get back to painting. I know what to do, now. I’m not totally crazy about utilizing the paints I have, which seem to have been purchased fresh six years ago (I’m not kidding), if not longer, but the act of blending colors was a lot easier than I thought it would be, even after all this time.

Essentially, I’m working with a lot of earth tones, plus two or three brights (Indian Yellow and Cerulean, plus Phthalo Blue [Green Shade], which I originally misremembered as Ultramarine [Red Shade]). Because the palette in the original piece is so restricted, it makes it very, very easy to mimic the original hues and values. I’m no longer worried about being able to produce a passable version after the original wall-hanging.

At the same time, I also want to get back into so much more that I left off of, when I stopped my visual art practice. I have a lot of questions, and in many cases the most direct manner of answering those questions, lies in just using the materials.

For instance, I noticed that three of my paints — Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, and Cerulean — had a gummy graininess that I thought might be the consequence of an aged acrylic binder. However, I’ve also noticed issues with earth pigments and Cerulean in specific, in my watercolors…and I’m wondering if the graininess at least partially has to do with the pigment itself.

If I recall correctly, all three of these pigments have a tendency to granulate, in watercolors…more or less. More than Phthalocyanine Blue, let’s say — which is pretty much saying nothing, because Phthalo Blue is one of the smoothest pigments I know.

None of the other paints I laid out to use, had this specific type of graininess; they were all creamy, even though they’re the same age or older. By working the brush into the paint, I’m able to dissolve (or at least suspend) the grains into a more-or-less fluid mixture (it just takes work).

In this, I’m basically just using water, though I did realize toward the end of my session that something like acrylic glazing medium would be better where it came to paint adhesion (it didn’t help that the hinge of the lid on the glazing medium, snapped and broke: the lids are always the first to go, it seems).

Now this reminds me of having gotten a store-brand acrylic and having to actually distribute the pigment particles into the (milky white) binder with my brush, before using the paint. In that case, however, the problem could have been easily fixed at the factory.

In this case, it may be an example of disuse/aging, which causes me to ask myself if the issue extends all the way through the tube, or if it’s isolated only to what cured via exposure to air. Is there still good paint in there? is the question. (Of course, I had to throw out a tube which had nearly entirely solidified…which means that the paint doesn’t have to be directly exposed to air, in order to cure.)

I’ll be able to check out how much this is an issue, when I tint the canvas…though I’m not particularly looking forward to that (I believe the canvas is 30″x30″). It’s necessary if I want to move on with the project, however: I’ll just have to rotate the canvas once in order to cover the edges of it, so as not to permanently color my easel.

As always, there is more to say, but the body demands sleep. Plus, I might be able to gesso that canvas, tomorrow…


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