Just for the record, there are only 2 "super powers" in this series of 10 that I actually have. And this is one of them, kind of. I mean, I'm still working on it.
Narrowing down what to do for this one was hard. Should I just say, "I PAINT"? I really wanted to do "I PAINT PORTRAITS" because that is one that I really admire.
Eventually I decided to go with "I PAINT WITH OILS," mostly because I think oil painting is awesome. But also I feel like other people have this sort of "super power" attitude about it, like some how its so much harder than acrylics or watercolor or gouache, or digital painting for that matter. I think it just depends who you are. I happen to think oil painting is easier than all of those, but most people seem to disagree with me.
I mean, I take it back. Oil painting is super hard and is a super power.
Seriously. I see people make amazing painterly pictures and I'm amazed and ecstatic and depressed all at once. I mean, I love that these beautiful pictures exist, but I am so not there yet.
Yep. Definitely have some mixed feelings about this super power.
Or copy/paste this: http://society6.com/product/i-paint-with-oils-whats-your-super-power_hoody#7=118&19=144&8=36
This next one might seem a bit strange, but this really is a skill I admire. Its not one I ever plan to develop myself, which makes me appreciate even more that there are people who actually spend the time to get really good at it.
The admiration is a recent thing, because for about 20 years I never really had to worry about it much. But then I decided chop off my waist-length hair (after coming home from the Philippines) and a good hair cut became valuable.
Every day you look in the mirror and see yourself. And a good haircut really helps you to feel good about what you see. You especially know what I'm talking about if you've ever had a really bad haircut. Or tried to do it yourself, the results of which I've seen myself. Not naming any names.
I love when I've recently had my hair cut and my whole head feels so light.
And how and it basically does itself. _
And how you run your fingers through it, but come to the end early.
Yep. Hair cutting is pretty awesome.
Or copy/paste this: http://society6.com/product/i-cut-hair-whats-your-super-power_t-shirt#11=49&4=81
I took ballet for a few years. It was fun, sometimes. But mostly it was hard. And I never even made it to the level where we got to use pointe shoes.
Ballerinas are crazy strong and tough. For proof, you can search "ballerina feet" in google images. But not if you're squeamish.
And that is why I think dancing ballet is a super power.
Or copy/paste this link: http://society6.com/product/i-dance-ballet-whats-your-superpower_t-shirt#11=50&4=83
The second in my "Whats your super power?" series is one I've dabbled in, but I haven't dedicated the time to really develop the skill set. Whenever I've attempted something really difficult, I've always had some super skilled/super-powered individual to walk me through the process.
But seriously. Sewing is hard. Especially clothes, that like, fit.
I always end up putting the wrong side up at some point and having to pull out all the stitches. Or the bobbin gets all tangled and you have to take it out and cut out the knots and put it all back in. That is, assuming that you got the machine threaded correctly in the first place.
And then patterns are a whole 'nother headache. There are little triangles and squares and arrows that are supposed to line up with something somewhere, and also presumably make sense. Which they don't, usually. To me anyway. Maybe one day I'll get it all figured out.
Some people can sew. Whats your super power?
Or copy/paste this: http://society6.com/product/i-sew-whats-your-superpower_vneck-tshirt#37=291&39=329
Everybody who follows me on facebook is probably sick of my sourdough pictures. I keep posting them. I can't help it--I'm so excited about what I've learned. I've really come a long way from my first small, flat, brick-like, much-too-sour loaf. Was that only a couple months ago?
I have now learned to harness the powers of organisms too small to see to make something beautiful and delicious!
Its basically like a superpower.
I thought, Wouldn't that be great on a shirt?
Or if that link doesn't work, copy/paste this:
The idea didn't stop there, though.
I thought, there are a whole lot of skills that take a lot of time and study to develop. Skills that are amazing and difficult to understand. So, why not do a whole series of super power images?
Thats what I did.
I have created designs for 10 real-life "superpowers", most of which I don't actually have, but wish I did. I think that the people who do should be able to show off their skills with an awesome t-shirt or poster.
I'm not the first to have this idea. A quick internet search shows me a few shirts saying "I'm a mom, whats your superpower?" and "I'm a dad, whats your superpower?" and a few others--teacher, nurse, firefighter etc. Those are all cool, but I wanted to focus on skill sets that aren't necessarily an occupation, or whatever you call being a mom or a dad. I created designs for "superpowers" which I haven't already seen on a similar shirt--which isn't to say they don't exist, just that I haven't seen them. And, I wanted them to be well designed--most of those I saw were just illustrated with clipart, if at all. I wasn't too jazzed about the font choices either. And the overall design wasn't amazing either. Yeah, sometimes I can be an art snob.
So, this was also an artistic challenge for myself. I wanted to create a set of images that hang together and look good. My criteria were these:
I'll be posting 1 each weekday starting today, until all 10 are posted. Stay tuned!
Yesterday I came across a video of an Illustrator demonstrating how she uses Adobe Illustrator to create illustrations for children's books. I thought, cool, I should watch this, I use Illustrator and I want to work in children's books. I'll probably learn something.
Well, I was wrong. Watching resulted only in ever-increasing frustration as Illustrator was used ineffectively and slowly--used for things that could be done better/more easily in Photoshop, or tools were used for a certain job that would be done so much better and faster with a different tool.
I eventually started skipping forward, thinking that maybe there would be SOMETHING good in the video. No. I just got more and more frustrated over the fact that, for some strange reason, this person was considered an expert, and actually getting paid to pass on this ineffective knowledge to people who don't know better.
I'm still a little frustrated about this, if you can't tell.
No, I'm not going to link to the video. After I calmed down a bit, I saw the humor in the situation, and made it into a comic. Much better use of my frustrated energy than calling out someone who has found a method that works for them.
(Even if its a bad method. Which it is. Choosing not to link to the horrible video doesn't change my opinion of it.)
My facebook friends may be getting sick of me posting pictures of my bread.
But I just can't get over how beautiful and delicious is. And I made it.
I'll try and control my picture posting though.
After I put these here. Needless to say, my bread baking may be somewhat better than my photography skills. I'm still working on both.
Have a question about bread baking? Not sure if your starter is starting? Want to know the best way to get the softest/crunchiest/whatever-est bread? The people on this site know better than me. And they are eager to share their knowledge and expertise. Its like this great little corner of the internet where the goal is to help everyone make the best bread possible. Go take a look.
Ok, I'm good. No more pictures for the rest of the post. At least, not of my bread.
I thought I'd post a few more things I've learned that have brought me to this point--things I really feel have taken my breads from good to great.
I didn't get a big fancy scale. In fact, this is the scale I bought. Yeah, its cheap, but it gets the job done. Its small and takes up hardly any space in the cupboard. Best of all, it makes it so much easier to see just how much of each ingredient you are putting in your bread.
Which seems weird coming from me, because anyone who has seen me cook knows that I see a recipe as a set of nice ideas, but I'm going to do my own thing, thanks. This is the funny thing--the scale doesn't actually change that. The bread in that last picture--the one with the nice golden crust and big holes--was made in my classic throw-it-all-in-a-bowl fashion (Some white wheat flour.... and how about some red wheat... and then some bread flour... and that left over potato water...) The only difference is, measured everything I put in, and used those measurements to make an educated decision about what else to throw in. Easy. And what were those educated guesses based on?
Switch to weight measurements, instead of volume
This is my kind of recipe. From what I can tell it originated here, and now is apparently used by sourdough bakers all over.
To make your dough, you take (in weight, not volume):
1 part starter
2 parts water/liquid (milk, potato water, etc.)
3 parts flour/dry ingredients
And then you add 2% of the weight of your flour in salt.
So your basic sourdough recipe would look something like this:
Do you realize how awesome this is? Its my new favorite thing. I put it to the test yesterday, with three different types of flour and mashed potato and potato water and plain water all making up parts of the recipe. (Those little lumps in the third picture? Yep. Its potato.) I've found that personally I like my dough a bit wetter, so I put closer to 220 g water in, so the ratio is more like 1:2.2:3 (Darling its better, when dough is wetter, take it from meeeeee!). And it turned out amazing--crunchy crust, soft airy crumb, delicious plain or with just a bit of butter.
Which brings me to another new favorite thing:
Using Potato Water and/or Mashed Potato as part of your liquid
Which really shouldn't have surprised me, considering that growing up, I liked when my mom got us potato bread almost as much as when she bought sourdough.
I first tried it after stumbling across this video, and I'm not going back. Its not at all hard to chop up a potato and boil it before putting your dough together. The potato makes your baked bread nice and soft in the middle, while also letting the outer crust stay nice and crispy. Adding butter or oil would make your whole loaf soft, including the crust--which I guess is fine, depending what you're going for. I also really love the flavor of the potato--yes, its subtle, but definitely there. Try it. Its worth it.
Stretch and Fold vs. Kneading
Of course I knew what kneading is, but only when I started learning about artisan sourdough did I encounter a method called "stretch and fold". Here is a quick video showing the technique. The video series I linked to above (the one with the potato water) also uses stretch-and-fold in a slightly different way.
Both kneading and stretch-and-fold are good ways to develop gluten in your dough. I've tried both, but I'm no expert. From my limited experience and reading, Stretch-and-fold is good when:
I've done both. When kneading, it was nice to actually feel the dough change texture in my hands. Stretch-and-fold required less hands-on time, and the dough seemed to do its own work for me.
Both have worked for me. Do what works for you.
Weird word, huh? To me, it looks like it should rhyme with "eyes" but in videos I've watched on baking, it usually seems to rhyme most often with "lease".
Here is a more detailed post on what it means.
In practice, what I've done is mix my starter, flour, and most of my water and let it sit for awhile--say, 30 mins--then, dissolve the salt in the remaining water and knead/stretch-and-fold it in. Easy. It seems to especially help with whole wheat flours, which soak up more water.
Thats all I've got for today. Because I'm hungry and want another piece of my bread. Go bake your own. ;-)
So I was pretty good about keeping up with that art challenge for a few days, and then totally missed it on the last day. Life happened. Nothing crazy, just... life.
In addition to life happening, I wasn't really sure what to post for this last day. Then I thought, why not post some REALLY OLD stuff? Its nice to see how far I've come.
So, here are some paintings I did in high school... plus one from college. I admit, the photographs aren't that great--I'm still a worse photographer than I am painter, and that was truer then than it is now. But still, it's fun to look back sometimes.
For over a year before my mission and a couple years after, I worked on-campus illustrating for Independent Study, helping to create BYU's online classes. It was a chance to draw, experiment, learn, and get paid for it.
For almost every project I decided on a different style to fit the subject matter. I will admit, some of the styles I tried ended up being less successful than others, but the chance to experiment was invaluable. I don't think my supervisor, Suzy Gerhart, quite knew what to do with me--the only thing she could predict that I would do is try something new. I prided myself, however, on sticking to my deadlines as much as possible--I did miss a few, but by and large I got them done on time, and when I was going to be late, I let Suzy know.
I worked almost exclusively in Illustrator, while nearly all of the other illustrators there chose to work in Photoshop. As I experimented stylistically, I got to know that program inside and out, which turned out to be an amazing advantage as I left school. I certainly don't know everything about illustrator, but I'm confident that I can figure out how to do anything I want to do using that program.
One of the best things I learned working for Independent Study was to not take a critique personally. It helped a lot that Suzy was pretty good-natured about my experimenting, and nearly always gave helpful feedback. Most of her suggestions either legitimately improved my illustrations or were just a matter of opinion, and in neither case did it hurt me to make the requested changes.
I still have a few things from Independent Study on my portfolio page. Here are a few more, most of which aren't on that page, in no particular order:
One of my favorite classes I took as an Illustration major was Head Painting, taught by Chris Thornock. Its funny though, because I never thought I'd really love portrait painting, mostly because I always struggled to get a good likeness when I draw.
Well, painting and drawing are not the same. I feel like paint is more fluid (well, physically, but I also mean in how I use it) and that its easier for me to think in shapes instead of lines. I found that, working in paint, I could get a good likeness as often as not. And that portrait painting was actually, you know... fun. Who knew?
I want to get back into the habit of portrait painting, because it's been awhile and I know I'm losing alot of the skills and habits I developed. Thats why I did that painting of Richard a couple weeks ago. I need to get back to that.
I just grabbed a bunch of random photos I took of work from that class. In no particular order:
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