Sunday, May 30, 2010

I've been sitting in the same spot in this cafe for over 2 hours now, catching up on some administrative work that I have, but above that, I'm just enjoying the weather.
The drawing above, is a scene that I drew a moment ago while looking outside of the window... with my stylus and laptop.

How strange.
I'm using my laptop as a sketchbook.

I forget sometimes to take breaks. I get so caught up in the idea of having to execute the ideas that I have lingering inside my head, that I eventually find myself sitting in a room with projects that are half born. I read somewhere that having too many ideas, working on too many projects at once is equivalent to working on none at all. I'm not sure if I believe this theory because I still feel productive sitting in a heap, and mess of supplies. The issue that I have is trying to get over the fact that not all of it has to result in generating income - at least not yet. I forget how long it takes to create a body of work that is good.
What a word.
It's just like describing something as interesting.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


On Monday from 1:00pm until about 4:00pm was my art day. I have been working so much over the past few months and so I was due for a break. After about 9 years, I finally understand how many jobs I need to take on per week, how much money I need to make per month in order to cover my overhead: quarterly tax payments, apartment, studio, operation costs, and a few other necessary monthly items. Staring at the computer day in and day out, working my mind to try to come with concepts, moving from thumbnail to rough sketch to tight sketch to final can be exhausting sometimes. That said, these are not complaints at all, only truths about my profession.
So when I finished a deadline on Monday afternoon, I thought that it would be best to finally head into the city to see some art.

Feed my eyes.
Feed my soul.
If I have nothing going in
Then I have nothing pouring out.

I have been dying to see William Kentridge's exhibit at the MOMA; fortunately I caught it on the last day. It was magical, and I believe I spent almost 2 hours inside this one exhibit, not speaking to anyone, but just in awe, absorbing everything around me, sound, image, movement. I finally had a chance to see the scenes from "The Magic Flute"; the opera that he designed was presented as a scaled down model, in one of the rooms, with audience seating in front of it. It was a convivial mix of pattern, line, light, and dark, pictures smudged and scrawled metamorphosing into one thing or another into blackness and then at one point interacting with Kentridge, himself. On display was some of his large and small drawings, monoprints, and etchings; some as-is, and others part of the pictures used to create his stop-motion animation. The last image is one of Kentridge interacting with his drawings.
Also at the MOMA was Marina Ambramović's performance, "The Artist Is Present." I wasn't sure of what to expect because I didn't do any prior research before heading to the museum, but what I saw was quite powerful. The artist sat there in her creamy white gown and just stared into the person seated across from her. She resembled a statue, stoic and gorgeous. Part of me thought about wanting to ask how I could participate, but the idea of doing so intimidated me. It's strange to look into someone's eyes , or rather have them look into mine, without softening into any type of expression, except to remain still. The idea that someone can see my soul if they stare hard enough into my eyes, feels very real at that moment. I tried it once about 2 weeks ago, and it made me very uncomfortable. Ambramović's performance lasts for the entire 3 months (the duration of the exhibition) during the hours that the museum is open.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


This is the second post for these photos (I had to erase the first one because it sort of went off tangent - so typical of me)
That said, I'm going to keep this one short and sweet (or rather savoury).
These are some buns filled with vegetables that I made a couple of nights ago, ones that I grew up eating. I called my mother on a whim and she walked me through the recipe over the phone.
This is my first attempt.
Needless to say there were definitely some issues:
1) I got bored while I was making them (it took 4 hours from start to finish)
2) They weren't as flavourful compared to the ones that my mom, aunt and grandmother made.

Back to the chopping board.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Sometimes when I'm sitting in class and listening to my Fiction Writing Professor talk about the process of writing, my mind begins to drift; not in a way that I fail to hear what he's saying, but I start to align his words alongside my craft of drawing. I have a terrible time with labels, assigning and boxing things neatly (or not -) into some kind of space and then calling it a name. You'll notice that I switch between the words, art, and craft, and illustration, and design, and drawing in many of my posts -- and when I do, I think it's because I'm starting to see them more and more each time as being extremely similar to one another in a sense that they share so many of the same traits. Although there are many people who I'm sure can clinically delineate the difference between each of these disciplines, I'm beginning not to care so much any more.

When I was 13 years old, I clearly remember saying out loud that I wanted to draw for a living. Back then, I had no clue what I was talking about because I didn't know anyone who made money from their drawings. When we moved to Canada, my father worked in a factory and my mother did data entry at her first and only job for decades. Drawing was not practical in their eyes, and as a result I could not foresee that it would take care of me.

There were moments when I thought that I would give up on drawing. In third year art college, I almost dropped out of school even before the semester began. I wanted to, I needed to move out of my parents home, and so I thought that I would stay working full time at a clothing factory in a suburb of Toronto to save up enough money for rent. Had I done so, I have no clue where I would be now, fortunately for my sake I snapped out of this delusion of mine, and with the help of my brother and sister, stayed in art college for the remaining years, and then moved out shortly after. During this time, I probably drew more feircely than ever because I guessed at that moment, that I had no other choice. In a way, I cast all of my hopes and frustrations into this particular discipline wanting so badly for it to lift me out of the place that I was in.

And so I drew.

I sometimes look at my drawings and wonder if are they good or if they are not. I understand that if the drawing has been commissioned by someone else, that there are reasons that make it successful; that in addition to the aesthetic component, that it needs to communicate an idea and have a concept, and satisfy a viewership. I know all of this, I believe it, and I teach this to my students: content is paramount. But when I distance myself from my work and really stare at it, surface and content together, the parts of it that are not so good begin to reveal themselves to me. I have always fantasized about being a great artist, like the ones whose books I keep on my shelf. They are the ones who are able to manage shape and line in such a way that make me feel that they have exclusivity to use them. The ones who employ colour with such beautiful ease, as though they were the ones who gave birth to such colours. But I know that for many of them, or at least, I tell myself, that I believe not all of this came easily for any of them. Not any of this came quickly either.

I recently opened up Charley Harper's book, the one that was put together by Todd Oldham, and it makes me feel good because the pictures in it reminded me - it reminds me of why I draw. The photos of Harper's work span his entire lifetime, showing images of drawing as the content. The way in which he relates colour to one another is magical and the restraint that he holds in his brush when rendering the details of the figures and objects convinces me that there is a reason and place for every mark that he puts down. And even though he is one of these artists who I have come to revere, I am learning to appreciate the work that he has done as just that, work that he has done. I try to remind myself now of the importance of the act of drawing, drawing for drawing sake, not drawing for money sake, nor for the sake of fame, or for the sake of trying to be like someone else. These things grow less important to me.

And so I draw.

I draw because I enjoy simply moving the paint around on the page, and stylus on the tablet. I enjoy mixing colours and arranging them next to each other to create patterns. I enjoy making marks on the pages and allowing them to twist and turn into something figurative or abstract. I draw because I have things that I want to say that I might not be able to express through words, through actions. I draw because when I do, the world around me falls away. 

*This post was inspired by Joan Didion's essay, "Why I Write."