Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Begin Again

Aren't those the most mystifying, freeing, beautiful (sometimes aggravating) words in the English language? While they are separate, they seem rather harmless, but put them together and you have one end-all-be-all phrase. It is also something that I have pondered often especially with the beginning of my freshman year of college next week. This summer I took quite a bit of time to recover from the stress (not to mention sleep deprivation) that I experienced during my junior and senior years of high school. I realized how out of balance I was living my life- I had gained weight, I felt constantly tired, I felt ready to cry for no reason most days, and my self-confidence was nonexistent. I certainly didn't feel myself and hadn't for quite a while. I remember very distinctly a heated discussion I had with my mom one night when I felt ready to either explode or crumble. She said to me "Are you ever happy?".  At the time I felt very crushed and angry that my mother saw me as depressed and never content, but in retrospect I could see how she viewed me that way. With my friends, I felt a bit better, but I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied at home. I tend to think that those emotions were entirely normal for someone ready to be independent, but it was still very difficult. So, at some point at the start of the summer, I began on my journey towards recovery and wholeness.  My mistake, however, was assuming this was the sole beginning.
I began a fitness regime and what I ate was extremely restricted. I went to the gym two, sometimes three times a day. This went on for a while, but when weight wasn't coming off, I got very indignant. I was offended by my own body's stubbornness and lack of cooperation. My resolve was further squished at a doctor's appointment when she said I could loose a few pounds. I was absolutely perplexed because I had a much better diet than my friends and I would work out much more as well and I still weighed 20-30 pounds heavier than all of them. I loathed looking at myself in the mirror and I refused to take pictures because I didn't want to look at myself in them. I couldn't find the answers I needed and so I curved off the extreme schedule of workouts and relaxed my diet. So when I gained even more weight, I was about ready to tear my hair out. What was more was that I still was depressed and extremely unhappy with the place I was at regarding nearly all aspects of my life- my creativity, my relationships, my confidence, everything. Talking with my mom helped, however, and soon I was trying again to make changes- changes including more stress-relief and emotional care. This worked alright for a while, but I still had self-perception issues and that brought down my other efforts. So you see, much of summer was long line of attempts (and seemingly, failures) to improve my overall balance and well-being.
Then my mother and I made a decision to go on vacation to the Oregon Coast. We spent a couple days in Portland, then headed out to Cannon Beach. It would take a whole other post to describe how heavenly this place was for us. Going on hikes, walking forever on the beach, staring at the ocean and strolling through the streets and galleries of the unimposing town was just as therapeutic for me as it was for my mother. The experience was wonderful and it gave me space and time to think. It helped me to form concrete thoughts about what I had learned this summer and one of them was this: One's life journey does not consist of a single beginning, but many beginnings and many times when we must reapply ourselves and grasp again the goal of living fully and in wholeness. Each new and miraculous day comes bearing gifts and it is this "begin again" that allows us to receive those gifts with an open, untainted heart. May we all take each new moment that passes us as a chance to begin again. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What Never Fails to Make Me Happy?

My dog. Easiest answer ever! His name is Scout and he is the best companion you could find anywhere.

What never fails to make you happy?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Los Altibajos

As a language enthusiast, it's a lifetime foal of mine to become fluent in several languages (like I said, it's a lifetime goal). I am currently studying Spanish at my high school and a word on one of my vocabulary lists caught my eye: altibajos. The translation: ups and downs. I liked how Spanish summed it upped all in one word. It reflects how the two opposites really do come together in one package...
I have in my bookcase a truly inspired book, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, written by Sarah Ban Breathnach. As my mom astutely put it, "I do believe she was touched by grace when she wrote that." The book is composed of 366 essays that gently teach us to find grand yet simple abundance in our everyday lives, cultivate a more fulfilling life, and above all find our authentic selves. The person we dream, both consciously and subconsciously, about becoming. I swear she has an essay over just about anything and I've discovered something new each time I open it. Even the entries I have read before hold new meaning when I revisit them. More pertinent to "altibajos," she also writes about embracing the bad days as well as the good. Although I know I still have a long way to go, I feel as though I have come a long way already. I've begun to discern what is important in the long run and to not agonize over the rest (But like I said, I've still got a long way to go). Metaphorically, my cloudy days are becoming sunnier. It's funny thinking about it actually because I often prefer real cloudy days to sunny ones. For me, the clouds relax my tension and put my heart at rest. Great weather to sit next to a window, reading!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Enjoying Autumn

On the eve before Thanksgiving, I've been reflecting on how much I enjoyed all the simple pleasures of this beautiful season. All the color, chrysanthemums, and cool, cloudy weather...

I do believe there is a photographer in all of us— I do love good photos!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Yes, reach! I've decided that a partial reason why I haven't posted in a while (other than the usual shortage of time) is that I feel limited in my blog material. As I browse and admire the blogs of other artists, I realize that much of their appeal comes from the fact that what they write about is not limited. It pertains not only to the artistic sense, but also to the spiritual sense, the emotional sense. What they write is relatable.
So, I have come to the conclusion that I am not going to limit myself in terms of writing. I will write about my problems, my personal changes, my life goals, what inspires me, what influences me... What makes me me.
I think I'll give the credit for this sudden change to a recently discovered blog of mine. It's by a publishing artist by the name of Monica Sabolla Gruppo and this is her blog. I will say that she is a wonderful woman. She focus on the beauty that is all around us and she not only notices it-- she writes about it!
In general, I have felt limited. With college and new, glorious opportunities posed on the horizon, I feel like a cloud that is pinned to a certain spot in the sky, as if to say "You shall move from this state of mind." And with a mindset that has been dying to expand its horizons and try new and different things, this limitation feels simply debilitating! So, my blog shall be my mind's new (if only temporary) horizon. No limitations here!
So my parting words with you tonight are:  Open your wings! Fly! Expand! Leap! Let's get to it!

Doors are meant to be opened

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Painting Concepts

I got the idea of scribbling thumbnails for concepts of paintings from Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, another watercolor artist I mentioned earlier today. Much of my process of starting a painting has come from looking at her blog. Generally it goes like this: An idea or sudden inspiration strikes and you immediately try to scribble out a thumbnail in order to catch the gist of the painting in terms of composition. Then you begin to flesh out more detailed sketches of elements of the thumbnail, such as the focus or other figures. With today's wonderful technology, you can then scan it all into photoshop and play around with the placement of the different elements. Once happy with the result, you can print it out onto paper and then transfer it to the painting surface.
This system has worked well for me so far... at least to the thumbnail point. I'll admit I haven't had any time with school to consider working on any full-blown paintings, but if God can grant me a little peace and patience, I know it will happen eventually! However, I do have time to put down quick ideas and compositions throughout the day in random notebooks and in an itty bitty sketchpad that I have recently purchased. Here are a couple of examples:

What's funny is that I didn't even think of Narnia and the lamppost in the woods until after I had gotten the idea out!

The idea came to me when I was in need of a bit of comfort- the title "Solace" kept rolling around in my head. Sitting amid the starfish and shells as waves surge and fall around you and storm clouds billow in the distance... It's a calming thought.


So much for keeping myself accountable, but I suppose late is better than never. Here are some scans of little practices and studies that I did a while ago, around Christmas, when I had a little extra time for myself.

Some experiments with mountains.

These are some trials with petals and shadows- I got the idea from a watercolor tutorial book by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, who is an incredible artist, so please visit her site!

Stained glass, also from Stephanie...

These are my own little tree illustrations, trying out different techniques of wet-into-wet and wet-on-dry.

Credit goes to Stephanie for this one-- it was a little piece meant to practice using masking fluid-- but I'm still in love with the idea!
This is my second-full size piece (not quite finished yet, still need to wrap up details on her hair and the birds)-- also from Stephanie's tutorial book! Can you tell how enraptured I am by her depictions in watercolor? It's meant to show the enchantress Morgan LeFey. I can say I've truly enjoyed the journey, because you can learn something from each step in the painting, including the mistakes that aren't exactly planned. 

I'll say that's enough for now, but I'm planning on uploading some more of the in-progress shots that I took while painting so maybe some of us can find some insight on this fascinating process!