In-Depth Post 3

This last two weeks of portraiture have been quite a struggle. While I am improving on sketching the facial proportions, blending and smudging decently is a lot harder to do. I only have one acceptable mediocre sketch to show for this, as the other 3 turned out quite frightening.

in-depth-obama

The trouble with blending is the specific technique that it requires. First, it is important to keep a sharp pencil and light hand when first laying down the graphite. Some parts of the face will need to be darker, but it’s also necessary to estimate how much darker the shade will become once blended. The smudging tools that I use are rolled up pieces of paper (for precise and tiny details) and cotton swabs (for the soft texture of the skin). Using the correct material at the appropriate time will refine the texture to what we are trying to achieve. It also helps get an even blend over the entire surface, hopefully without overdoing some areas before others. One of my worst mistakes is that I don’t pay enough attention to the edges of the surface so the middle of the picture looks blurry but the rest is rough. To conclude, it takes a specific type of effort to make blending look good. I’m still not a big fan of how it looks in the end, especially because having stroke likes in portraiture isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In my last meeting with Ms. Kim, I was able to apply some of Edward De Bono’s principles into our short conversation about this singular, low quality work. I exercised the “how to respond” chapter more than “how to be interesting”, mainly because it provided me with more opportunity for direct corrections. I generated interest by connecting matters together when I addressed the hardships that I faced when drawing hair. Ms. Kim searched up some examples of curly hair that could refer to, because it is nothing like the hair I drew the week prior. I still need to get a grasp on this issue as soon as possible, because I don’t want it to ruin the quality of who I’m drawing at the moment. Ms. Kim also pointed out that the shading on the face is relatively patchy, and that I need to paint a full wash onto it before I proceed with the highlights and shadows. I agreed with this because the slenderness of the original face made the tone differences quite angular, so this advice is particularly helpful to me.

Corrections for this week:

  • remember the eye highlights
  • add more detail (sharp stroke) into the hair and correspond the shades to the shape of the head; make the hair fluffy by blending too
  • smoothen and unify the skin by blending initial tone and then shades with another material

In-depth Post 2

Over the last two weeks, I have been able to review and refresh the portraiture skills that I learned in art 9. This hasn’t been a difficult process, but rather interesting because of the complexities of starting to view people in the same way. The tones, textures, and dimensions of the face take practice to comprehend and replicate. I have created two (or three) different portraits recently, which didn’t turn out too bad considering they are the first this year.

portrait1

portrait2-1

I took the second one with me to my CL meeting with Ms. Kim. While it is of rough quality, I really appreciate how she was able to overlook that and provide me with very constructive feedback. I highly agree with everything she commented on, especially the ongoing contrast and shading issue that made the drawing look flat. If the reflections on skin were lights, and hair highlights and neck were darkened, then it would bring a more youthful look to the woman. Skin lines, such as the nasolabial folds, should also be blended nicely with the neighbouring skin. I took these notes down as Ms. Kim talked, in order to remember them as well as to encourage her to point anything else that would help me.

One thing that I didn’t disagree with but did differ on is the shading technique that I like to use. In previous experience, I have found that any bad quality shading can be detrimental to a drawing. Lacking the necessary precision, I gave up on the cotton or paper towel shading methods a long time ago. Ms. Kim suggested that spending time going over every crevice and surface (on a new drawing, perhaps) can turn out a lot nicer than an incomplete version of cross-hatching. I was not aware that proper blending includes the irises, lips, and other small details. Additionally, when shading these tiny areas, it is important to use a very tiny tool. I realized that my mentor and I have different opinions of the future, so it is important to consider that this technique is likely something that she was successful with. After coming back home and practicing, I realized that even though the tiny, blended areas aren’t extremely smooth, they are a similar texture to the rest of the drawing. Earlier, my issue was that I didn’t achieve that similar texture in some areas as much as others, which is why the face looked so inconsistent. I am glad that I used her recommendation even if I was a little hesitant with it. Nonetheless, cross-hatching still is my most favoured shading technique. In the end, I can only hope that these faces get less funny over the course of the next 5 months.

A summary of this week’s corrections:

  • Lighten reflections (especially eyes) + add contrast (use charcoal)
  • Blend lines into surrounding area
  • Make hair more natural by softening tones, darkening highlights, and taking away rigid structure
  • Age can be reduced by darkening neck, softening under eyes, and blending away the pencil strokes that can double as creases
  • Blend or crosshatch; exaggerate whatever technique is used

 

Final ZIP DOL

During your reading break it is important to reflect both on the research you have conducted for your ZIP project, as well as prepare for our presentations, which will occur on January 28th and 29th. In order to do so, please complete a final

This year for ZIP, I asked the question: “what are the benefits and detriments of stenography as a note-taking medium?”. Shorthand is a convenient and versatile skill that used to be widespread, but isn’t anymore. I was keen to find out why it died out, and whether it is something that can help me now. Over the course of my research and practice, one particular question arose that would take another ZIP to answer. At the same time, my initial question did not change. Many issues complementary to shorthand helped me answer my initial question, but also activated my constructive criticism and need to improve these issues.

The major skill that I am still hoping to master is the ability to rapidly transcribe verbal information into stenographic words. In addition to that, I practiced refining notes by putting them into my own words and cutting out unnecessary information. By changing the language to make it my own, it is easier to read the stenography because it is not someone else’s work. I anticipate that writing in stenography will help me take notes in the future, especially in university lectures, interviews, and even when judging synchronized swimming. I will find myself in many situations where rapidly retaining information is required, but filming and recording aren’t appropriate. I want to have a time advantage over everyone else, so I can put more effort into making my notes detailed.

In progressing through the units of the manual, I enjoyed learning about the diversity of English pronunciation. Because Gregg is a phonetic system, there are different symbols for every way that you can pronounce a vowel. This is not the way that I learned English, because I used to think of each word only by how it’s written. The different pronunciations of vowels were something intrinsic that I never thought about. Phoenetic stenography required me to dissect each word into its separate parts. Looking at the language in this new way is interesting. In addition, the manual was written in both a British and American accent, which taught me more about how to use different vowels for a variety of purposes. On the contrary, vowels are taken out in common words in order to write them faster. The purpose of vowels is very interesting, because they contribute to the functionality of a word, but are not always the most necessary part. This information is useful to me because it gives me a better understanding of how language is made. It will also help me learn new languages on a structural level, instead of unconsciously learning the grammar through simple experience.

Lastly, I am constantly striving to improve the lifelong skills of time management and memorization. The ability to manage time is tied to many philosophical ideas and wise realizations that arise throughout life, and is not the product of singular responsibility. Hopefully, if I become very proficient in shorthand, I will take more notes because better and faster notes are worth the time. I may also go back to that information more frequently because it will be more detailed than my average notes. At the same time, good stenographic ability requires me to know many shortcuts for common words. By memorizing the most useful brief forms, I will gain speed while writing and improve my ability to memorize other things at ease.

Simplistically put, I learned a new writing system for the English language throughout this inquiry. I investigated whether this system (Gregg Shorthand) is worth learning despite the effort required to master it and keep it up. Throughout learning this system, I’ve encountered many problems that influence my opinion of it. For example, on the image below, one can notice that the right-motion strokes for the sounds S and TH are very similar, even though the sounds are not. When the strokes for X, O, and U are introduced, any little flaws are detrimental to the outcome of the word. As you can imagine, flaws are a common occurrence when arbitrary lines are scribbled at high speeds.alphabetto

For a writing style that requires some effort to be legible, the addition of many abbreviations only makes it more tedious to work with. Oftentimes, most words will be shortened, which makes it impossible to comprehend the context if there are endless combinations of possible words for the presented symbols. For example, a line like ‘ds n rpli t y rqst o mr 5, svrl o r is actually read as ‘Dear Sir: In reply to your request of March 5, several of our’. The Gregg manual that I used was very good at explaining all of the abbreviations, but I simply couldn’t memorize the vast amount of words presented to me. In order to complete the practice exercises later on in the book, the abbreviations must be adopted and committed to memory. My major problem with this requirement is that the words got more specialized as the chapters went on, eventually making them quite rare in our modern language and/or topic that is being written about. I felt that pointless memorization is unnecessary, so I compiled a small, alphabetized book of the abbreviations. I did not study any units above unit 20, as I learned the basic, most important skills at the beginning of the manual.

In the end, I believe that shorthand is a really cool skill that is very much worth learning if the learner is willing to put in the effort and look past its inconveniences. It is also a skill that should be regularly kept up and employed, as it is easy to forget and then lose the meaning of all previously created notes. The benefits of shorthand are speed, detail, and confidentiality. The detriments of shorthand include the style of the Gregg system, overwhelming abbreviations, and some difficulties with the ancient manual. Personally, I would like to keep on learning this skill because I feel it will come in handy.

For my final product, I will be taking notes on the Monday presentations. These notes will be the majority of my presentation on Tuesday, along with my practice notebook, and Gregg manual pdf. The Monday notes relate directly back to my inquiry question because they demonstrate the benefits and detriments that I experienced while scribing. I may try to read the notes to my listener, which will show how difficult and inaccurate shorthand can be. Because my main artifact is not made, I cannot include any textual evidence of its connection to the curricular competencies.

Recognize and appreciate how different formsformatsstructures, and features of texts enhance and shape meaning and impact e.g. the use of vowels in shorthand can make us assume the nationality of the person writing
Assess and refine texts to improve clarity and impact e.g. filter out unnecessary language from verbal information when transferring it onto a page

emphasize long words as being ‘keywords’ to the shortened text; keeping some words unabbreviated for clarity

Apply appropriate strategies to comprehend written, oral, visual, and multimodal texts e.g. reading stenography requires special strategies such as knowing the alphabet and understanding words that are lacking vowels

 

While my original question didn’t change much, I am now curious as to how I can correct and adjust the Gregg method to be more precise. Non-phonetic systems such as Issac and Pitman are more angular than Gregg. I do not want to learn another type of stenography, so I will stick with Gregg and use it as I am comfortable with: leave out a bunch of abbreviations and exaggerate letters. I am excited to continue practicing this skill and presenting myself as especially odd to everyone around me. Mastery of it is simply a matter of practice and grit.

Resources: 

https://gregg.angelfishy.net/Annivman.pdf

This is the Gregg Anniversary manual, which is the only Gregg version that I could find a manual for. Nonetheless, this is the stage in the development of the stenography where it is relatively simple and well thought out. Earlier than this it is likely underdeveloped and later it is overcomplicated. This book has very clear lessons, lists, and exercises.

http://gregg.angelfishy.net/trpanu01.shtml

This is the answer key: the only other necessary resource besides the manual. All of the answers are nicely organized by chapter. I enjoyed how easy it was to use both of these resources together.

http://gregg.angelfishy.net/anbfs.shtml

This is a very comprehensive list of all the brief forms for common words. It is significantly more comprehensive than the one I have, but the words I chose are, on average, more common.

http://www.survivorlibrary.com/8-category/125-library-shorthand 

When tackling the problems of Gregg, I turned to this resource to compare Gregg to other systems of shorthand. There aren’t many resources left or entire manuals scanned for the other manuals, so this is one of the best lists that I could find.

 

In-Depth Introduction

The learner’s first entry introduces their project, reasons for their choice and a description of their mentors. 

 

Portraiture is an ancient skill that has undergone many cultural and periodic developments, which makes it all the more interesting to analyze. Because of technological advancements in photography, the ability to precisely replicate people by hand is growing to be more inapplicable in the modern world. Nonetheless, this delicate and impressive art form still deserves attention. During this year’s in-depth project, I want to learn how to draw and paint people reasonably well. This experience will provide me with a better artistic eye and a stronger appreciation for the uniqueness and diversity of people. Thorugh previous attempts, I know that this is a skill that I can develop with practice, which is my plan for the next 5 months.

It is important to take this process step-by-step, organizing each technique sequentially so as to not get discouraged. I will first start off with the most rudimentary way to practice shading: graphite and charcoal. These dry mediums allow the attention to be concentrated on the technique, instead of the inconveniences of the medium. They are also very time-consuming, so there are more opportunities to correct mistakes. After I understand facial structure well enough, I will move onto the wet mediums such as watercolour and oil. Both are very hard to work with, take time to get adjusted to, and make different styles of artwork. More time will be allotted towards these mediums, if I find that they are worthwhile to work with.

I became interested in art again because of art 9 last year. Ms. Kim was my teacher, and it was very fascinating to see significant improvement in my work over such a short period of time. She is spectacular to get feedback from, which is likely the main reason why I want to improve on this skill. I will be visiting her CL class weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) to get corrections on my most recent artwork. Afterward, I will do my best to improve on those corrections for the following week. As I have already been in her class, I should know most of the concepts she will be explaining. This makes it easier for Ms. Kim to mentor me, and gives me more time to practice.

In the end, I really hope that the improvement will be visible in my learning center. I am very excited to see where this adventure takes me!

ZIP DOL 4

What new questions have come up in your inquiry? Will you include these in your final presentation, or might they be saved for future research or assignments? Do these questions help narrow your focus or do they distract you from your original proposal? 

In order to have legible letters, it is important to write in a larger font with incredible precision. Because the shape of the Gregg letters are very cumbersome, I have started exploring different types of stenography, like Pittman or Teeline.

Pittman

Image result for pittman stenography alphabet

Teeline

Image result for teeline stenography alphabet

Gregg

Image result for gregg shorthand

As you can see, other types of stenography are a lot more angular, therefore, the letters are more easily distinguishable. Because it will take a long time to learn another type of shorthand and all of its abbreviations, I will definitely stick with Gregg for the meantime. While searching for other resources, I also found an old edition of another Gregg manual, adapted for medical terminology. As that is something I would like to go into, this is a great additional perk of choosing this type of stenography.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/485408175/1950s-the-medical-stenographer-shorthand 

Another topic of interest is the adaptation of Gregg into another language. While simply learning to write in Russian is something that I can work on, why not just adapt these letters to portray the same ideas, only in a significantly simpler way? Of course, I would need to come up with new brief forms for common words, but this is manageable because stenography is phonetic anyways.

In the end, there aren’t very many questions that arise while learning this skill. I would like to achieve competence in it soon, because the inability to comprehend the writing will make this too tedious a process.

ZIP DOL 3

Take a moment to reflect on you inquiry plan (calendar). Do you need to make any revisions to your original plan? If so, why? If you haven’t made any changes to your plan, why do you feel you have been so successful in sticking to it?

 

When writing my plan, I purposefully wrote it with a lot of ambition, so as to put maximum effort in keeping up with it. As expected, I am not able to complete all of the 22 units by the end of this week. The reason for this is that there isn’t enough time to practice, and it is important to master the absolute basics before moving onto new skills. From reading ahead, I found that the later chapters become less useful my type of simplistic notetaking. If I need to be able to take notes by the 30th of January, then I cannot afford to use my time learning unnecessary accessories to shorthand. With the knowledge of the first 15 chapters, I am already confused enough when it comes to using all the strategies. Likewise, the reading practices are becoming more and more difficult because of all the new abbreviations. I think that this is the time for me to stop going by the book, and start applying shorthand into practice by way of podcasts and journal entries. In the end, I am adjusting my plan to stop studying the manual earlier, to allow more time to gain speed.

ZIP DOL 2

Relating to your learning evidence, what have you done to make retrieving information easier or more effective in class? 

In the last couple of days, I have really struggled with reading the shorthand passages because they contain so many abbreviated words. While all the brief forms for common words are clearly provided for me by chapter, the bulk amount of them is very difficult to memorize. To combat this problem, I have alphabetized all of the connotations into a small paper booklet, up until page 50 in the manual. Since the beginning chapters start with very basic concepts and most common words, these abbreviations are likely the most important to know, anyways. While I gain speed in taking notes, this accessible collection will help me memorize and build a habit of writing these words all in a similar way. I hope to utilize the abbreviations from next chapters as well, as soon as I get the foundation built with these ones. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether I am able to read to work of someone else. Mastering the most difficult techniques isn’t crucial, but  I likely will attempt to if I find shorthand to be a worthwhile skill. As long as it gives me an advantage over normal writing in terms of speed and detail, this project would be a success.

It has also been a little bit difficult to transition from simply reviewing information to physically writing down my thoughts, as there is a lot of choices to make about stroke direction and sound. For example, the S and TH strokes can go either right or left motion, which is convenient for quick scribbles, but also takes a while to master. One of the biggest difficulties, though, are the vowels. There are 12 total types of sound, which need to be quickly recalled on the spot. The different types of A, U, O, and E differ by possessing a different accent (line or dot). When writing, I oftentimes focus so much on the technique that I forget what I am writing about. Nonetheless, this simply takes practice, which I am currently doing with simple journal entries in my notebook.

ZIP DOL 1

Describe the ups and downs you have encountered to date in your inquiry. Specifically, when you were frustrated or struggling in your inquiry, what did you do to address the situation?

While going over the first 10 basic chapters of the stenography manual, I have really come to appreciate the structure of the lessons. They are so easy to understand, and some current instructional books could really learn from the literature of John Gregg. Every chapter explains the skills as well is it can, before providing us with some practice phrases, brief forms for common words, and then the reading practice.

screenshot-6 screenshot-7

 

The major problem with shorthand is that it’s difficult to navigate the vast amounts of common words that are inserted into the readings, if these are not committed to memory before moving onto the next chapter. Because these are brief, it is hard to read them without knowing the connotation. if you don’t then you can only read it as a strange sound in the middle of the sentence. I haven’t been memorizing them to the best of my ability, because the majority of them are targeted to a specific subject and literary style, so I will never use them. For my own ease off use, I think it will be useful to amalgamate an alphabetical list of the important abbreviations, in order to have an easier time going through the practices in the book. I’m not sure how I would be doing this, especially if I want to add more words later on. Perhaps it will be organized only by the first letter of the word per page of the booklet.

Another thing that I struggle with is making the strokes legible. This relates directly to the agility of the hand, which has severely degraded over the last year of typing so often. My printing used to be splendid, but now it’s gnarly and strange. If you look at the Gregg alphabet, you can see that the strokes differ from one another in their length, and angle. It is crucial that a consistent habit of these be developed, as the slightest error will throw off the entire sentence.

Image result for gregg shorthand alphabet

Zip Proposal

What are the benefits and detriments of stenography as a note-taking medium?

For this year’s zip project, I am really excited to research and practice the ancient skill of shorthand. Also called stenography, it is a series of lines and dots that phonetically and concisely represent words. As opposed to longhand, shorthand was made with the goal of quickly writing down verbal information before the invention of inexpensive videos or recordings.  I will be learning Gregg Anniversary stenography because I already have the manual and answer key.

Image result for gregg shorthand

I would like to know the benefits and detriments of –this particular- stenography as a note-taking medium. While I can already infer the good and the bad, it takes firsthand experience to be able to know. This can help me determine whether this skill is something worth learning for the future. When mastered and maintained, shorthand can be an extremely helpful tool during university lectures. By the end of this project, I am hoping to be able to quickly write all information mentioned in class, refine my notes of unnecessary words, and then be able to interpret them afterward. While I have already started practicing the baseline concepts of this craft, my skill level is nowhere up to par to be able to take notes in real time. I know the alphabet and the most common abbreviations, but my strokes are messy and illegible.

Sadly, not many people learn this anymore. The one woman that introduced me to shorthand is a swimming judge who invented her own way of tracking synchronized swimming elements. While I do have the main two necessary resources to be able to master this skill, I will be using several different audiobooks / podcasts in order to practice taking notes. Because shorthand was at peak popularity at the end of the 19th century, there are barely any sources left to refer to other than the manual. Nonetheless, the manual is self-sufficient and explains everything very well because this stenography method was taught in 95 percent of American schools back then. One major problem is that, since the author of this manual was born in Scotland, the entire thing is to be interpreted with a Scottish accent. While translating the shorthand into words, I noticed that vowels tended to be shorter and many “A” monophthongs were made into the simple “ah” sound. It is significantly easier to read Gregg’s works with some sort of European accent.

https://gregg.angelfishy.net/Annivman.pdf 

When concluding this project, I have reserved to be in the second presenter group in order to take notes on the first. Those notes will then be shown as my main artifact, proving that I am able to keep up with the speakers. Additionally, I will also be showing my practice journal, plus the notes that I took on podcasts, shows, etc…

The process of learning is quite straightforward. The layout of my time is as follows:

Days Progress
January 2nd to 9th (absent from school) Review units 1 – 5
Jan 10th (school) Do units 6 and 7
Jan 14th (school) Do units 8 and 9
Jan 15th (school) Do units 10 and 11
Jan 16th (school) Do units 12 and 13
Jan 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th (away) Do units 14 and 15
Jan 21st, 22nd, 23rd (home) Do units 16, 17, 18
Jan 24th and 25th (home) Do practices for units 19, 20, 21, 22
Following weekend (home) Netflix and notes

A Wizard of EarthSea Literary Style

Overall, I would describe Le Guin’s writing style as having a heavy emphasis on literary artistic please. She chooses to fill up the pages with immense visual detail, oftentimes hindering the plot’s ability to effectively progress. An example of this is the last paragraph on page 33, which describes the “lay over one night at Kembermouth, the northern port of Way Island, and the next at a little town on the entrance of Felkway Bay, and the next day passed the northern cape of O and entered the Ebavnor Straits.” Along with various other details about their endeavor, these mystical names and adventurous journey really elongate the duration of this –almost expository- moment. Of course, having read only a portion of the book, I cannot assume that this is unimportant detail. Many authors use such information to later aid the explanation of the plot. Yet, if this is Le Guin’s strategy, she is simply confusing the readers by providing too much information in many scenes that they will not remember. Everyone’s values are different, and this composition is splendid if vivid illustrations and a wizardry tale are what you’re looking for.