a brain that felt like pancake batter

Your daily dose of cognitive science:

"Most people are able to shut out the constant stream of incoming stimuli, but those with low latent inhibition cannot. It is hypothesized that a low level of latent inhibition, or LLI, can cause either psychosis or a high level of creativity,[1] which is usually dependent on the subject's intelligence.[2][3] Those of above average intelligence are thought to be capable of processing this stream effectively, an ability that greatly aids their creativity and ability to learn and which categorizes them as almost creative geniuses. Those with less than average intelligence, on the other hand, are less able to cope, and so as a result are more likely to suffer from mental illness..."

"Eminent creative achievers (participants under 21 years who reported unusually high scores in a single domain of creative achievement) were 7 times more likely to have low rather than high latent inhibition scores."

~ wikipedia, referencing this paper.

The wikipedia article goes on to say that latent inhibition can be lowered by upping the dopamine uptake in the brain. Is this implying that if you take a smart person and supply them with some choice dopamine-enhancing pharmaceuticals, you get creative genius? put that in your pipe and smoke it, eh?

Art60 final project (poster design), AKA what I did all weekend, apart from GOING TO SEE ANDREW BIRD OH MY HECK HE WAS SPLENDID:

Posted bySHELLY! at 2:34 PM 1 comments  

climb in the back with your head in the clouds

  1. "SOMETIMES A KIND OF GLORY lights up the mind of a man. It happens to nearly everyone. You can feel it growing or preparing like a fuse burning toward dynamite. It is a feeling in the stomach, a delight of the nerves, of the forearms. The skin tastes the air, and every deep-drawn breath is sweet. Its beginning has the pleasure of a great stretching yawn; it flashes in the brain and the whole world glows outside your eyes. A man may have lived all his life in the gray, and the land and trees of him dark and somber. The events, even the important ones, may have trooped by faceless and pale. And then -- the glory -- so that a cricket song sweetens his ears, the smell of the earth rises chanting to his noise, and a dappling light under a tree blesses his eyes. Then a man pours outward, a torrent of him, and yet he is not diminished. And I guess a man's importance in the world can be measured by the quality and number of his glories. It is a lonely thing but it relates us to the world. It is the mother of all creativeness, and it sets each man separate from all men.

    ...And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mid, for that is one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost."
    ~ pp. 130 - 131

  2. "Throughout his life Steinbeck signed his letters with his personal 'Pigasus' logo, symbolizing himself as 'a lumbering soul but trying to fly.' His Latin motto 'ad astra per alia porci' translates 'To the stars on the wings of a pig.'"

Exhibits 1 & 2: some reasons why I love John Steinbeck.

Posted bySHELLY! at 10:46 AM 0 comments  

week six

Things that have transpired in the month and a half I've been dead to the blogging world:

- Virtual Reality Intensive Training seminar: I work at a VR lab, creating 3D avatars (after it was established I'm a whole lot better at making things pretty in Photoshop than making coherent and functional programs with Python).

Here's a texture I made for one of our VR demonstration worlds:

- I took on a second job doing graphics for the Stanford Daily. whoo overcommitment!

- Band roadtrip to U$C, and subsequent GREATESTUPSETEVER, and the subsequent celebratory jubilation/multiple renditions of All Right Now. ROCK ON.

- School.

- I love ArtStudio 60 (the design class) a lot. Projects eat my life, but in a thoroughly enjoyable way. I've never done so much abstract stuff before, but every design 'problem' is such a cool opportunity to play around with ideas and 'visual language' and art and AHH if only I could do this for the rest of my Stanford career. Even when things don't work out, it's all part of the process. Half the time I feel like a three year old mucking around in a sandbox--I have no delusions about my design ability--but I'm driven to keep improving. I stay up til 3 playing around with different compositions, listening to my iPod, and life could not be better. I stop only when I absolutely have to: when there's other work to be done, or I'm so tired my eyes no longer focus.

My only regret is that I have so much work for other classes, and I can't devote as much time to my ideas for projects as they demand.

(above is a half-finished study of a leaf for one of the assignments. I used the cheapest pencils I could find from the bookstore, and a kitchen knife and scalpel to carve the fine white lines. I've done 5 other pieces so far, but my camera broke, so they will remain unshown)

- I've spent $300 on art supples. WHY ARE THINGS SO EXPENSIVE?

- Co-op life: cooking is one of the best forms of procrastination, ever. It's an art that I have yet to master. I like all aspects of cook shifts so far. Chopping vegetables is very zen for me -- I zone out and think of nothing but the knife and the chopping. I like it when things get a little hectic and crazy and there's concoctions boiling and steaming on the stove and everyone in the kitchen is, for the time being, completely devoted to making delicious food.

Still have yet to find the same kind of beauty in bathroom cleans. (am still too concerned about accidentally mixing the bleach and the ammonia and causing a cloud of chlorine gas to fill the house, killing everyone inside. sadface!).

- My inability to keep track of anything/bad luck with electronics deepens: My laptop died (as in, it wouldn't turn on), my camera broke (the lens won't open), I got sand in my cell phone (and can't understand anyone who calls very well anymore), I lost my cell phone charger, and I lost the notebook containing all of my class notes/assignments. I think my desk lamp and my printer are my only devices that have retained their full functionality.

- Full Moon on the Quad: awkwardpants. Highlights include being propositioned by a small Asian girl and a grad student caressing my keytar.

- Poster for an upcoming event on campus. It ended up looking kind of like a book cover. my favorite part of poster design is playing around with fonts. I love fonts. ...but that's a topic for a different post.

Posted bySHELLY! at 5:08 PM 1 comments  


I think that graffiti can be a beautiful thing. To me, it epitomizes the underground, the underbelly, the alternative, the anti-establishment. It's true that some of it is ugly--I still remember going to play at the neighborhood playground to find it covered with spraypainted swastikas--but as an art form, its got meaning and grit and flair. I like how it can be employed as a playful and insightful upraised middle finger to everything too uptight and narrowminded about authority (see banksy). I love seeing colors and shapes bloom on a decaying urban wall. It's a pleasant surprise. It shouldn't be there. But it is, evidence of humanity's drive to create things, to share ideas, to express itself, regardless of rules or location or abundance of artistic materials. It's ingenious and clever. It's about making something extraordinary out of something ordinary, creating a diversion from and a commentary about the mundane.

I just finished reading the wikipedia article about it. Here are some highlights:

"The eruption of Vesuvius preserved graffiti in Pompeii... One inscription shows a phallus accompanied by the text, mansueta tene: "Handle with care"."

"Disappointed love also found its way onto walls in antiquity:

Whoever loves, go to hell. I want to break Venus's ribs
with a club and deform her hips.
If she can break my tender heart
why can't I hit her over the head?"
"This 2nd-century representation of a crucified donkey is believed by some to be the first representation of Jesus"

With the popularity and legitimization of graffiti has come a level of commercialization. In 2001, computer giant IBM launched an advertising campaign which involved people in various states spray painting on sidewalks a peace symbol, a heart, and a penguin (Linux mascot), to represent "Peace, Love, and Linux." However due to illegalities some of the "street artists" were arrested and charged with vandalism"

"Modern graffiti art often incorporates additional arts and technologies. For example, Graffiti Research Lab has encouraged the use of projected images and magnetic Light-emitting diodes as new mediums for graffiti writers. The Italian artist Kaso is pursuing regenerative graffi through experimentation with abstract shapes and deliberate modification of previous Graffiti artworks."

See the Graffiti Research Lab for yourself. The "light graffiti" it advocates is not only aesthetically awesome, but leaves behind no paint or scratches...so it technically isn't vandalism

With Hektor, graffiti gets digital. Hektor's a "portable spray paint output device for laptop computers". props to Hektor's creators! what a cool machine.


I tried my hand at cardboard stenciling and spraypaint, a la banksy, last quarter. It was hard. There's a lot of advance planning involved--with complex pictures, you have to figure out what to cut out first and how, and how to lay the paint down (which was difficult in itself! aerosol paintcans are temperamental) so you get the right colors down.

I managed to snag some free spray paint (five colors, including turquoise, silver, and royal purple) from an outgoing product design student right before I left school for the summer. Hopefully I'll have time to experiment with them. artistically and legally, of course.


And of course, some facebook Graffiti that I'm particularly proud of. It came out during finals week and became the bane of my spring quarter GPA. I became a Graffiti junkie. Mostly I just made bad stick figure drawings, but some of them turned out well.

from top to bottom:

1. Moon Woman, or Best Use of Time Spent Procrastinating an IHUM Paper
2. Karen's Birthday Unicorn
3. Man and Burro Traversing Sideways Cliff in Front of Burnt Sienna Sky (done completely with my laptop mouse)

People I owe Graffiti to:
- Ben
- Jessica
- Amy
- Alex O
- Kontien

Posted bySHELLY! at 5:45 PM 0 comments  

all warfare is deception

Currently watching: Planet Earth. It's gorgeous, brilliant, entrancing, plus a million other superlatives. Nature shows are my anti-drug.
Currently reading: Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind (a history of human civilization written during the Enlightenment by Marquis de Condorcet), and The Art of War by Sun-Tzu. Pretentious much?

[to the left: detail shot; to the right: full image]

I redid
her face so it no longer looks as freaky, however, I'm off-put by how perfect she looks. It's hard to draw normal looking people. Imperfections. Disproportions. Although I enjoy looking at beautiful digital illustration, a lot of the "pretty woman/man/or androgynous figure in intricate clothing in lovely environment" paintings always strike me as empty. I want to create something that's more meaningful and more moving than that. I have plenty of 'deeper' or more interesting ideas in my head, but I've never actually composed or executed them.

I have an excuse with this painting: it's a present for a friend (shoutout to Rhea!) and practice for a lot of different techniques (figure drawing, rendering water, composing a piece that seamlessly integrates the foreground with the background, choosing a more uniform color palette), but after this, I'm going to devote myself more to substance than style.

My occasional existential crises about my major/life plan continue to strike. I know I should study what my love--the problem is, I love so many different things! I have so many divergent academic interests! My dream major would be mostly product design (heavy on needfinding and design, easy on engineering and math), anthropology/human biology (People are fascinating!), some neuroscience (Brain & Behavior was a great class, and I liked Psych 1 a lot too), and of course, a good dose of studio art.

For next quarter, I'm debating between the following classes to round out my schedule (with E14, CS106A, Design I, and a 10 hr/week campus job is already looking to be pretty hectic)
- Intro to Theatrical Design: I wanted to help out with set design for The Wild Party, but I had no time or experience. Will this class change things? (requirements filled: none)
- Intro to Art History: I LOVE art museums. I read about art history on wikipedia for fun. but I've always wanted to take a formal art history class. (requirements filled: none)
- Drawing I: I've never taken a formal art class past 8th grade. I need to work on my live figure drawing skills. (fills another product design requirement)
- Human Behavioral Ecology: Biology! Psychology! History! Anthropology! (requirements filled: none. exploration into anthropological science: yes.)
-Environmental Change and Emerging Infectious Diseases: How the way humans treat the environment is resulting in the spread of diseases. Case studies of malaria, HIV, the plague, etc. For the part of me that relished reading every single page of The Hot Zone. (requirements filled: none. exploration into epidemiology/anthropological science: yes.)


Design for the Other 90% rocks my socks.
That is what I want to do with my life. The big question is: how do I get involved with it?

Posted bySHELLY! at 1:30 PM 0 comments  

nature is a cathedral

Many things have transpired since my last post:

- I wrote a 20 page research paper (double spaced!), entitled "Development of Production and Purification Procedures for Calbindin D9k Mutants for Solid State Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy". as the title suggests, it is just as thrilling to read as it was to write.
- I finished my lab internship
- I discovered that my laptop was infected with a horrible virus.
- With the help of some more technologically-savvy friends, we deleted everything on my computer, reformatted the hard drive, and then put everything back. and then some. I now finally have Photoshop CS (no more Photoshop Elements!), Office 2007, and a faux Mac OS X! :)
- I left Washington. I don't know when I'll ever return. :( :( :(
- Chilling with the family here in Ohio is great, however. We have a kitty! He's an adorrrrable orange tabby. The fam named him Simba, but I secretly call him Genghis Khan (clearly the better name of the two).
- There are many. many. cornfields in Ohio. So far the stereotypically Midwestern-ness of this town (cornfields, rolling country roads, barns, and farmhouses) is still charming and amusing to me. I'm glad I'm only here for a few weeks before school starts, because I think small town America will quickly lose its charm for me.
- After several indecisive, agonizing hours spent poring over Axess , the undergraduate engineering handbook, and the course bulletin, I've chosen my classes! I am stoked for sophomore year!
- Design I: Fundamental Visual Language (4 units)
- Drawing I: MAKING DRAWRINGS :D (4 units)
- E14 Statics: Using Math to Make Sure Things Don't Fall Down (3 units)
- CS106A: I hope to God I'm Good at Coding Or Else This Class Will be the Bane of My Existence (4 units)
- HARRY POTTER and the Art of Storytelling (2 units)
...5 classes, but only 17 units? troubling.

Actual art update:

I spent the better part of today working on this. Not bad for my first time using Photoshop CS to paint something. I can't blend as well as I can in opencanvas, but, painting in Photoshop is still an amazing experience.

She's supposed to look youthful and mischievous...not pale and...old. I think it's her mouth. haha. At one point, she looked exactly like Angelina Jolie. Which was cool, but not what I was going for.
I redid her features soooo many times, because her face kept looking glassy-eyed and creepy.

[right] Detail shot
[top top left] Full image. Actual size of working image is something ridiculous, like 2600 x 6000 pixels. The reduction in detail when I resize it to more practical dimensions makes me a little sad inside. I SLAVED OVER EVERY EYELASH!

Posted bySHELLY! at 9:17 PM 1 comments  

the beet is the most intense of vegetables.

Occasionally, I do t-shirt designs for friends because I am kind and generous. and, okay, for monetary compensation too.

Senior girls shirt for Kennewick High's Class of 2006. Their motto reads "As Good As it Gets".

I am a proud alumna of PNNL's Young Women in Science program. In loving memory of all the good times had by all at the lab, we decided to start an annual t-shirt tradition. I can't find the first one I helped design, but here's last year's:

note proper safety attire, like gloves, closed-toe shoes, and safety goggles.

Here's the design for this year. The girls wanted something Charlie's Angels-esque, so I came up with something remniscent of Tomb Raider. This year's shirts will be kelly green. I love kelly green. It's a great color.

the stabby thing she's wielding is not a knife. I took artistic license with a serological pipette. harhar. My biological in-jokes are hilarious!

And last but not least, I haven't forgotten about this picture! I'm about halfway done with the hair. I kept going back and forth between shading it too dark and then compensating by making it too bright and red.

Although I'm pretty pleased with how it's coming along, it's taking along a wiggish (as in, like a wig) quality. Like it should be on the head of another person. This coloring thing is hard.


Posted bySHELLY! at 11:57 PM 1 comments