The Vigilant Robot

a watchful eye of creative complexity

Monthly Archives: March 2013

Painting with Colors & Bottles

Earlier this month I took a 3-hour painting class with my sister and a cousin that we purchased through Groupon. The company, or whatever it is, was called Colors & Bottles and the class was hosted at The Motel Bar. We  signed up for this particular class because the example of that night’s painting was a gorilla in front of a colorful abstract background. We thought that painting a gorilla would be fun(ny). It was!

During the class, the teacher said we could really paint whatever we want, but he was going to paint a gorilla and we could follow along with his technique for whatever it was that we decided to paint. We all painted our own abstract backgrounds the way we wanted. Everyone’s was different. For the image, most people decided to paint something other than a gorilla; however, my sister, cousin and I all decided to paint a gorilla, since that’s what excited us to begin with. While I have done many other artforms, I had never really painted before except for maybe one still-life painting freshman year of high school. It was really great to paint and to do so in a care-free way. Because I am always such a perfectionist about everything, I really tried to not care too much about every tiny detail and think of it as more of a therapeutic event. I think it worked out really well and in the end I was pretty happy about the time I spent painting and the outcome. It was pretty dark in the venue, which I thought was pretty bad for a painting class, and it wasn’t until I took a picture with my cousin’s iPhone that I was able to see what it really looked like because of the flash. I was worried because I thought the bottom ended up being very dark with muddy colors, but it turned out not to be the case and I was relieved.




PS: The $3.50 burger I ate from the venue was amazing, too.

Letterpress: By Any Means Necessary

During the past weekend, I attended a letterpress class that I signed up for through Dabble. I have a small amount of printmaking experience and knew a bit about how letterpress works, but never actually letterpressed much myself except for maybe once during undergrad. The class was taught by Rebecca from RAR RAR Press. It was a wonderful class where we learned everything from the terminology, to typesetting, to printing. One of the coolest things was simply being in that space. Rebecca’s studio is really amazing. When I stepped into the studio, I felt a bit like I stumbled into Heaven: really great posters and images tacked to the walls, a comfy couch, a bookcase filled with all sorts of artsy related books, a computer set-up, and of course, all of the equipment and type needed for a letterpress studio. It was beautiful.


sorry for the poor lighting :(

sorry for the poor lighting 😦


hallway before entrance to the actual studio

hallway before entrance to the actual studio


wood type!

wood type!


Typesetting the first word was frustrating. Measuring the size of the line and the x-height and then sifting through the little pieces of metal for the proper kerning and leading and putting it all together was a bit challenging for me at first (remember, I am a perfectionist so I drive myself insane sometimes for no reason at all). The second line was a piece of cake. Once you typeset the first line, it becomes a bit easier. I probably would have made some mistake or two if Rebecca didn’t help me fill in the spaces in the end, but I’m glad she was there to fix whatever little mistakes I had made. The first print came out beautifully… that is, until I realized I spelled “necessary” wrong because I must have dropped the “a” somewhere in the process. I was a bit heartbroken. Thankfully, Rebecca has the amazing typesetting surgical skills needed to remedy the situation and lo and behold, it was pretty much fixed! I wish there was a little bit more ink coverage, but I do like the look.


IMAG0421         IMAG0416

my lock-up

my lock-up


I had no idea what to print, but these were the first words that popped into my head while wandering around the beautiful studio. What better than an ode to Malcolm X?


on my wall with other malcolm x related prints and a malcolm x photography

on my wall with another Malcolm X related print and a Malcolm X photograph/postcard


Images Inspired by the Music of Olafur Arnalds

Only the Winds

Only the Winds
The street was wet and glistening. I saw you in the distance.
You were looking away, out into the world beyond.
You were so close to me. So close.
You were so far.
I could not reach you.
I wanted to yell. I tried to yell.
I could not.
You ascended, higher and higher. Climbing, until the wispy clouds clothed you, made you transparent.
You were bathed in grey, bathed in white.
I ran.
I ran so fast. I stumbled. I skidded in the rain.
The puddles splashing all around me. I was soaking.
My eyes were so drenched. They were burning badly.
I ran. I kept running.
When I came upon the sole of your foot, I collapsed.
You were fading away. You weren’t ascending.
You were falling.
Falling so quickly from the clouds as if they unraveled and threw you.
Tossed an unwanted being. Ridding itself of all that is unnecessary.
I put out my hand for you. For you to catch, to grab.
Instead you looked at me and placed a finger to your lips.
A sweep of blue crashed below you, and instantly, the wind pushed and pulled, carrying you into the sea. Holding you as your eyes closed.
I climbed, ascended. The breeze engulfed me, swallowed me as I followed its current.
Soon I was bathed in blue and I could see you.
I could see your lips, pursed, with a finger over them. Eyes closed.
I smiled.


Words of Amber

Words of Amber


This Place is a Shelter

This Place is a Shelter



We (too) Shall Rest


Carry Me Anew

Carry Me Anew


All images were made—drawn, painted, or photo manipulated—and text written while listening to the named song under each piece. I love Olafur Arnald’s music. It is truly beautiful and evokes so much that the emotion can only be expressed through the songs.

Ideas + (Procrastination x Perfectionism) = (No Sleep x Headaches) + Satisfaction

At the end of last year I wrote a blog post that was essentially about how I need to stop procrastinating with my project ideas, stop slacking on this blog, and start doing, doing, doing. My life was this equation: Ideas + (Procrastination x Perfectionism) = (No Sleep x Headaches) + Satisfaction, and my goal was to lessen the procrastination and get some more sleep so that I could be better satisfied with the execution of my ideas and life, without being sick, without headaches, and with full mental clarity and movement. I am writing now as a check-in, to see how I have kept up with the ten things with which I said I would keep up. These are the ten things I said I would commit to:

 1. I will keep up with this blog. Before 2012 is over I will write at least one more post. Not good enough? Okay okay, I will write two more!

2. In 2013, I will work on a project that involves doing something every single day of the year.

3. I will work on publishing my thesis. I’ve really been slacking on this one.

4. I will redo my website and my thesis website (and then I can post them here).

5. I will make music.

6. I will make more stuff, from mosaics to infographics, and collages to other modes of fine art (I need to be vague because I’m not sure what this stuff entails, but I have a lot of ideas brewing and I just need to do)!

7. I will sleep more. (Do I really lack the motivation even for that?)

8. In 2013, I will make at least 2 written blog posts per week.

9. I will create a logo for this blog.

10. I will stop buying books in mass quantities when I still have so many books on my bookshelf and floor that I have not read yet. I will not stop myself from buying other books because it’s just so satisfying to obtain a new book, but I will tone that down. I have actually toned it down very much, but getting through the unread books I do have has been an extremely slow process. Here are the books that I own that I plan to read before April (in no particular order):

Out of Place by Edward Said
On Suicide by Jean Améry
Accidental Death of an Anarchist by Dario Fo
There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz
What is the What by Dave Eggers
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Seeing by Jose Saramago

So, where am I at?

1. Well, I completed that one. Yay! Too bad it was still for last year and not this year.

2. I started working on a social justice image per day and then after a couple weeks I stopped. It’s really hard for someone like me to keep up with something every single day. Procrastination is in every inch of my body. Maybe I should have started small and did some sort of tiny project or drawing once a week?

3. Still slacking on this. Oh, but I think about it all the time! o_O

4. Yeah… still slacking on these, too.

5. I don’t see this happening, but I have been contemplating the purchase of a keyboard for a few months now. Maybe I will make the purchase once I receive my very small tax refund.

6. I did one painting. I also made a letterpress print. I did a couple drawings. I haven’t really done any of the big projects I’ve wanted to though. I haven’t even started them.

7. Sleep more? HAHAHAHA who was I kidding?!

8. 2 written blog posts per week? Clearly I have already failed at that! Okay, I will try to do so; I really will.

9. Obviously I haven’t done this one either, but I do have a few things sketched onto a piece of paper. That’s something, right?

10. Well, I still buy some books even though I haven’t read all the ones I have, but my book buying has drastically decreased and the majority of them are art related (and professionally related), so it’s O.K. Of the books I’ve listed I read Accidental Death of an Anarchist (amazing and hilarious) and Slaughterhouse-Five (another winner by Vonnegut), but I have also read a book that I didn’t list since I was in the mood to read that instead: Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women, and I am currently reading Cities of Salt. I am three books behind my goal, unfortunately, but I hope to pick up the pace.

Some other positives this year despite my procrastination is that I actually made some deadlines. I had a few goals and some projects to work on like submit a paper and some art to a conference, create a logo for someone’s chorus, participate in an exhibition about health and trauma, and submit work to 3 different contests. I made most of these deadlines last minute, but I did it! Usually when it becomes really late and the deadline is right around the corner, I chuck the idea out the window thinking that I probably won’t win or won’t get accepted and it’s really late so why bother. My friends, I have stopped thinking in such a way. I knew that I would be upset with myself if I resigned to procrastination and the failure to meet a deadline. Even though it’s not the most important deadline and one I just set for myself, I should still regard it as important, just like I did my thesis deadline, the deadline to do my taxes, etc.

I have accepted that procrastination and the inability to sleep like a normal human being is just who I am. Instead of trying to change it, I should learn to work around it. It sounds unhealthy, and it probably is, but I am at a loss for what to do. I do, however, lack motivation these days and that is the only thing I can possibly change. Right?

Oh, I’m just a looney toon.