Media Reviews

Figuring out my taste in music (Part 1 of many)

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Apropos of nothing, I’m going to listen my way through Paste Magazine’s 50 Best Albums of 2018. I have to start somewhere and it was a random purchase of Paste (in print) that led to my first hearing of The National, one of my favorite bands. I’ll be doing this at work, so please enjoy the slight frisson of wasting my employer’s time!

Yo La Tengo – There’s a Riot Going On

I have some knowledge of Yo La Tengo and I like them. Autumn Sweater and that one song that references Horse With No Name come to mind. This should be a good place to start. I’ve listened once through and nothing is jumping out at me. It’s all a bit dull and whisperey. But it generally takes me a few listens to warm up to anything new, so I have it on repeat.

Okay. I’m not being fair. Third time listening, and two of the first four have a kicky beat so far. Let’s see what the Paste review says… ” low-lit haze… atmospheric climate… throbbing percussion…” Oh, ok. This is meant to be super chill. Trouble is, that’s seldom what I’m in the mood for. That’s on me.

Blood Orange – Negro Swan

I’ve never heard of this artist. That’s exciting for starters. Most of the way through the first listen, I’m enjoying this. The bits of speech at the beginning of some of the tracks are oddly comforting to my podcast>music brain. And one of the voices really reminds me of Tricky. It’s also pretty low key but, after that Yo La Tengo, it’s a downright dance party.

Two listens through and I really like this album. I would go through a third time this afternoon, but I’d rather come back and listen later. (Ooh, maybe I’ll do that on Sundays or something.)

Ashley McBryde: Girl Going Nowhere

Looks pretty country from the album cover, but I’m going in with an open mind. Track two is full of good ol’ days nostalgia, which I never like. It’s especially challenging after immersing myself in the struggles of being black and queer with Negro Swan.

I mean, this is good music. It’s miles better than the yay-for-trucks-and-‘Murrica you think of as contemporary country music, but I don’t think I’ll listen to it more than once. That said, I did just put Livin’ Next to Leroy on my 2019 playlist though. A country song about opioid abuse feels very timely.

Those two paragraphs make it sound like I only like bummer topics in my music. Which… is kind of true. I don’t like heavy topics in TV or movies or books, so I think songs are my safe outlet to get sad for 3-5 minutes and then stop. #FunFactsAboutMe And, as I type that, she sings “If you ever get tired of being happy, give me a call” and I’m tempted to put that one on the list.


Finished Works

Day 15: Getting Real

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It’s not a good idea to look at LinkedIn first thing in the morning, but that’s what I did. My feed is a mix of friends from art school getting excited over the latest animation techniques, various companies I started following when I was trying to get jobs from them, and recruiters offering advice to those of us still trying desperately to land jobs. It makes for a challenging mix and it put me in a rough mood starting my poster work.

The artist for the day was Luba Lukova. I really like her work. Along with bold shapes and limited palettes, she makes visual puns, like a woman wearing a muzzle with the face of a man for The Taming of the Shrew, or a dove caged in the prosthetic leg of a veteran. For my poster, I already had it in my head to do something self-promotional. I thought about what two ideas I wanted to combine. Being unemployed for as long as I’ve been is very draining and disheartening and yet, every time I apply for a job, I have to project confidence and positivity.

Day 16: In progress

As of this post, I have an image ready, but not the whole poster. The day’s not over, but a nasty trip on the sidewalk has messed up my right pinky and slowed me down. We’ll see how it goes.


Behind the Scenes

Happy 2017!!!

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Happy New Year, Friend!*

Enough people have pointed out what a maddening year 2016 was, so I won’t dwell on that. Instead, I’m focused on the future, and that includes making the effort to stay in touch with you.

For those who don’t know, I left my insurance career a few years ago to go to art school and study animation. It’s been challenging, but it’s a decision I feel good about. Since I finished school, I’ve gone back and forth between trying to make a go at freelance work versus looking for something full time. Recently, things have been looking up on the freelance front, so I’m turning my efforts more in that direction. I learned just enough about a lot of animation topics to make it hard to choose one to focus on, but I’ve finally settled on Data Visualization. It’s in demand, it lets me be creative, and it gives me the opportunity to take advantage of my left brain skills while I’m at it. I also think that, by helping people become better informed, I can do some good in the world. It’s a win all around. Now I just have to hone my skills and build up a portfolio. Challenge accepted.

Outside of work, things are great as well. I’m living on the north side of Chicago with my boyfriend (of three years as of January 2nd) Bill. We were matched up by an algorithm on OK Cupid, so there’s another reason for me to be a fan of data science! Bill’s a musician also a freelancer (web stuff). We spend a lot of time in coffee shops.

When I’m not working or trying to keep holiday catch-up letters from reading like employment cover letters (I give up – I’m just going to go with it), I’m probably knitting. And if you want to see the overlap between knitting and animation, I strongly encourage you to seek out I’ve been working with Anna for a few years now to make her little knitted creatures come to life in short, funny films. It’s highly gratifying work.

I put out a year-end survey recently (again with the data science) to see if I could glean some insights about my social circles. I didn’t get enough responses to build any cool charts, but I learned that my friends tend to be big readers and sci-fi nerds and that they are not immune to the charms of Hamilton. (So good, right?) Next year, I won’t rely on social media to get responses, so email me back if you want to be included and make your opinions known on books, music, and the appropriate number of bottles of mustard per refrigerator.

More importantly, email me back and tell me about your year and about your life and about your plans for the future.


*Friend: Maybe I used to take a class with you and we’ve lost touch. Maybe we met once at a podcasting event and you made an impression on me. Maybe we’re blood related, but I just didn’t have your address to send you a holiday card.

Where else to find me:

Behind the Scenes

Fun with Images

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My friend Rachel recently set a new personal record for weightlifting – and her husband asked me to commemorate it by Warhol-ing up this photo of her from the competition:

File Apr 02, 10 13 47 PMI looked into some tutorials online, but I wasn’t really impressed by any of them. Mainly, the problem was that they were trying to replicate the iconic Marilyn Monroe print with the 2×2 grid of garishly colored portraits. This picture is asking to be Elvis. Beyond that, a lot of the tutorial images just didn’t look that great. They seemed to lack subtlety.

Another obstacle I had to face is that my friend is wearing a black t-shirt and leggings with a high contrast pattern. After isolating the image, and adding some contrast filters, I made masked layers to specifically lighten the t-shirt and the leggings. I did one for her hair as well. To get the rough lithograph look, I added a Vintage Halftone texture from Creative Market. I selected the colors from the Warhol original and painted them on a multiply layer. This came out darker and more muted than the original, so I added a second, low-opacity version of the colors in Normal mode. In retrospect, adjusting the levels on the existing paint layer would have made more sense, but I was sort of making things up as I went.

Because my levels adjustment had to contend with Rachel’s contrast clothes, the shadows didn’t really pop as much as I’d have liked. I added another layer of Halftone texture and masked it out, painting the shadows back in.

All in all, I’m very happy with how it turned out:


Behind the Scenes

Moving On

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At the end of this week, the great yarn dyeing experiment comes to an end. After an exhausting four and a half months, I’m leaving Lorna’s Laces. Trying to maintain a freelance career on nights and weekends became too much for me.

I learned an important lesson about myself dyeing yarn. Even though I was completely ill-suited to the work, I still did a good job. I need to remember this and not sell myself short going forward.
And as for my future plans? Building my skills and looking for more work doing the things I’m really good at!