I Am An Artist…Or Am I?

A Biopic of One Girl’s Quest to Be Accepted into the Art World…
(Disclaimer: NOT a real movie, but I’m sure you’ve figured that out already…)

Have you noticed the tagline that follows my brand, Just a Girl with Mental Problems who happen to draw.

I once watched a movie by the great elusive Banksy “Exit Through the Gift Shop” which follows an eccentric arts aficionado Thierry Guetta (sometimes going by the moniker Mr. Brainwash) who, armed with a camcorder, explores the underground street art scene and crosses paths with prominent artists, one of whom is Banksy.  When Thierry undertakes the task of making a documentary based on the footages he had captured, the end result puzzles Banksy greatly, on which he quotes, “… it was at that point that I realized that maybe Thierry wasn’t actually a film maker, and he was maybe just someone with mental problems who happened to have a camera.” In some ways I identified myself with the eccentric “Mr. Brainwash” who no doubt loves art with passion but is terribly misunderstood by even the pros.

Now I’ve never been officially diagnosed with any particular mental condition, but I do know I bear many characteristics of ADHD and autism.  And to date I’m on meds for depression. So in a sense I am mentally challenged…and I love to draw and paint.  

But does it justify the fact that I am an Artist?  I wonder about that pretty often.  (Here is An old post about what in my opinion Art is)

I have been drawing for as long as I can remember when I started holding a pencil in my hand and scribbled on paper.  I even remember how I got severely reprimanded by my mother for pouring a bowl of water over a TV and ruining it (I still haven’t figured it out why I did that.)  In school I was labeled the class artist, and I got in trouble a lot for doodling away instead of listening to the day’s lessons. It was in junior high that I actually started a formal private training in art, but I ended up driving the instructor nuts with my inability to listen and concentrate (guess I did have ADHD after all).  Then around high school I started drifting away from art and dabbled in other interests that had nothing to do with art. Middle of college was when I really took a dive and almost totally gave up on art, like I did not care for it as I did before. My mental state was in haywire as I tried to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.  It would take many more years after college before I FINALLY got a grip and started driving in the right direction again.  (For more in-depth about this story you can read this old post here)

So while in the midst of reinventing myself and setting up for a full-time lifelong journey as an artist the quote from the movie popped into my head. And I made it my life’s tagline. The more I think about it the more it suits me. Emotionally and mentally I’m as unstable as a hot pot of boiling water. While I am trying to really get my $#!@ together at the same time I relish in my unstableness and accepting it as a blessing in disguise. I’m still not considering myself a pro yet, even though I have taken that next step into introducing myself to the world on line and off line. I don’t know how long it will be before I get that official acknowledgement of being accepted into the hall of pros, only time will tell. In the meantime I will continue making art and present myself as that girl with mental problems who happens to draw…

Recommended read: Creativity and Depression from Patsy’s Creative Corner.

Hey y’all!  I’m back and I have survived the extreme summer heat.  No doubt Climate Change is real, but there are still doubters out there.  Don’t know what it will take them to believe it, perhaps a global flooding due to the massive meltdown of the Antarctic…

While I did not pursue any major creative endeavors over the summer (too hot to do anything anyway) I dabbled around in old habits, like video games and watching bunch of stupid YouTube videos, which I have to say, is far more entertaining than what the TV and movies offer these days.  I’ve also played around with some features on my smartphone, including the Facebook Camera, which had a Selfie Skins options.  Now let me tell you I was never a big fan of selfie shooting.  I didn’t find it necessary to stick my ugly face into every screen shot of a beautiful scenery or a major monument, and I’ve always quietly mocked those who proudly stick their selfie sticks out in mid air trying to catch themselves in 15 minutes of fame moment to put up on social media.  But upon finding these Selfie Skins on the FB Cam app it gave me an idea- if I ever were to take a selfie, it sure as hell won’t be normal!

Selfie As Art, as I call it.  And last month I challenged myself to posting funny selfies for thirty days straight, each with different skins, and share it on Instagram.  The results were, well, anything beyond hilarious.  There must have been at least 100 different skins, but not enough days to fit them all.  Perhaps I’ll do a sequel…;)

Here I present to you in no particular order of the 30 selfies I had done in the month of August.  Bask in the aura of insanity!



Random Thoughts : Making My Statement

If you’v ever read my artist statement (here) it probably sounds like I ripped it off of about ten different artist statement examples and randomly pasted it together.  Truth be told, it’s exactly what I did.

It’s actually very hard to explain what kind of art I do, and why I make the kind of art that I do.  And I’m sure I’m not alone.

I’ve haunted the shelves of bookstores and drove the Google search to kingdom come trying to learn the rules of writing artist statements professionally.  I can’t count how many drafts I’ve written, the one on my blog site was probably the sixth edition.  And still it isn’t good.  Even I read it and it sounds so lame.

First of all I don’t know how to describe my art.  I thought I did when I started out.  Of course I was very inclined to pop art and myriads of expressionism and I thought that’s where I was headed.  Then time passes and I began questioning where does my art really fit in.  But in the end I am relieved to learn there are plenty of artists out there whose art don’t really fit in the conventional genres either.  Which makes it whole lot easier to describe my work.

I’ll keep you updated on when I’ll have a new, better statement.  In the meantime please bear with the current one, even though it is so bad (I know, I cringe at it when I read it too.)  Have good weekend everyone.

It’s official: I’ve caught the Twitter Bug!

From now on it’s where I’ll be recording my daily random rants that pop in my head.  It’ll also be where I’ll take quick note of new ideas that flash before my sight and before it fades away from my short-term memory bank.  At least its more convenient and faster than trying to log onto my laptop, because I’m not on it so much.

So if you want to be part of the madness that is my brain follow me at @taalisalee.

And say hello to my new cartoon ego below.  More about her soon:


Random Thoughts : Jack of All Trades, Master of None

In the years since I left college I’ve built up quite a resume for myself of all sorts of skills and crafts.  It initially started as a decision to acquire another trade to supplement my degree in art, in order to increase my chances of getting a good job in the ver competitive field of art.  However the economy has been in the pits since 2008 with thousands of people getting laid off from their jobs and still counting, the unemployment rate is constantly teetering left and right, and the incoming college grads are having lots of trouble getting even a part-time jobs.  It’s been ten years since I left college, and I’m still sitting in my PJs binging on the latest movies and TV shows on Netflix.  Yeah I don’t remember the last time I’ve held a serious job.  Hooray for me.

Nowadays I’ve learned to accept my position and try to see things in more positive light, rather than whining and bitching about how I ever got myself in this rut and why I’m left with the scraps, constantly comparing myself to my siblings who have had lot more successes in life than I.  I have continually kept myself busy polishing up on my skills and abilities, and learning new ones.  Who knows one of these days one of the skill-sets will actually come to good use.

I’ve time to sit down and make a list of all my accomplishments.  And boy did the list get unbelievably long:

(Disclaimer: I won’t pretend I’ve mastered all of the listed skills, but have some intermediate understanding of majority of the stuff.  Hence the title of this post)

Drawing (pencil, pen, charcoal,pastel)

Painting(oil, acrylic, watercolor)

Mixed Media(collage, montage)

Printmaking(relief/block, monoprint)

Computer Graphics(Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Dreamweaver, Video)

Animation(storyboarding, frame-by-frame)

Theater Arts(set design, set building, prop making, costume design)

Sewing(alteration, reform, pattern)

Jewelrymaking(wirework, beadweaving, decorative knots, macrame)

Sculpture/Modeling(polymer clay)



Comic Book

Writing(Poetry, Short Story, Prose, Blogging)

Well that’s about all I can think of for now.  I’ll keep you updated.  😉


Random Thoughts : To School or Not to School, That is the Question:..

There are artists that were educated at some of the most prestigious art school in the world, of which it fills me green with envy. And then there are artists that are self-taught- basically they learned to draw and paint by copying from other artists or from do-it-yourself art books, or simply just following their own gut instincts. Now I come to believe there is no right or wrong way to become an artist. And there are perks and quirks to both methods described above. Let me tell you what I know.

If you were to go to a school to get educated in the field of arts, you would be presented with ample classes and courses to fill your curiosity and home your skills. And they would of course be taught by professors who are artists themselves. And to build a relationship with these pros as well as your fellow classmates allows you opportunities in and after school to make formidable connections, build your resume and portfolio and get your right foot in the doorway to the most coveted places in the galleries or museums or even corporate patronage. On the other hand, to be a Luddite and skipping the social scene of the classroom and setting out on your own could turn out to be a long, lonely, and difficult road, and you wouldn’t be enticed into studying stuff they teach in school (and you’d only take those courses because if you don’t you can’t graduate. That’s motivation enough). And as self taught artist you are limited by what you have; finding a decent space to work can be tough especially if you don’t have money. You’d have resort to working from your dads garage that’s already full of household junk, or at a small table in the corner of a noisy Starbucks, or, like sometimes I do, under the bridge of a dried up ravine where it reeks of mold and trash and human feces. Yep, my kind of place to work: after all art along is a dirty business. If you we to school there would be plenty of workspaces with all the equipments and resources provided, along with words of encouragement and advices from teachers and peers. You can’t really get any kind words from a squawking crane drinking off the puddle of water in the ravine.

On the contrary, going to school, especially if it’s a world-class history infused institution like England’s Royal Academy of the Arts or America’s majestic Harvard University, it take lots of money. Lots and lots of money. And those private art schools can cost you what it costs to buy a single-family house these days. You’d have to be born a Trump brood or win the ridiculous Powerball jackpot to afford a comfortable education in art making. I went to a public state u here in California, where the cost is considerably cheaper but their art program nevertheless decent. Luckily for selfies money is not a problem and they are worry free to explore, experiment, screw up, and create masterpieces. Another problem with school is you might end up with a really douchey professor who insist you follow his doctrines and make you get down on your knees and cry and feel utterly worthless. I remember a professor in the life painting class that scrutinize every nook and cranny of wrongs I was making on painting the right flesh tone and the perfect light and shadow palettes. And let’s not forget when you are in school before you can get into the fun part of painting and drawing you have to first learn the basics-color wheel, values, forms, lines, blah blah blah- something you probably already learned in hot grade school art sessions. Bottom line: boooring.

None of that matters for selfies, they get to dive in and have fun.

Of course I’m not discrediting a proper art education, it is important to know those boring stuff. But to get absorbed into the rules and academics becomes a stumbling block. I recall spending days and hours working with blood sweat and tears on a single painting trying to get the forms, values, and colors right as I learned it. After years of struggle with that I got tired of moving nowhere with the current situation and I said “**** this!” And I threw aside all the textbooks and started drawing purely from my gut. And boy I never felt so liberated.

Making art is about being yourself. It doesn’t matter what others say about it, what you draw or paint comes from your own heart. And that’s what make art so special.
So to school or not to school…its up to you.

Random Thoughts : Just Do It!


-Carter to Lee in Rush Hour

As I immerse myself into a gooey icky mess of paints and sprays ( and a sweet burning scents of weed that some kids are blowing nearby ) I take a moment to step back and observe the work of my hands.  And it hits me:  I don’t know what the hell in doing.

Before I felt like I had it all figured out; I had clear images of what I wanted to create and the story behind it that I want to convey with brushes and paints.  But when it came down to actually making it a reality, conflicts settle in.  Things aren’t coming out quite as I imagined it, and instead I find this board filled with wild scribbles and splatters and rough strokes and I’m trying to find where to make the next mark.  And I’m having flood of doubts in my brain; am I doing the right thing?  Am I getting the message clear?  Do I even know what I’m doing??

Similarly I’m walking around a gallery and observing the works of other artists.  And there are about half of the works on the wall I got no clue what it’s supposed to say.  And I ask myself how the hello do you call this piece of junk a masterpiece of art?  How did it ever get the attention it doesn’t deserve?  

I am an artist, or am I?  I struggle with this question constantly as I’m staring down at the random mess of artwork I’ve created or at other peoples art and cannot understand it.  If I don’t understand my own art, much less other artists’ work, how can I truly be an artist?

But then I remember the day when I made the undying pledge to make life with the gift that God has given me.  And I hear that famous Nike slogan: Just Do It!

Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual.  Nor does it run with the program the way you plan it.  Or yet, there is no RIGHT or WRONG answers to everything. There’s no point in wasting precious time trying to figure out everything.  You just have to leave it to the Big Guy Above, trust your gut, sit down, and draw.  

Just Do It.  And eventually everything will fall into place

Random Thoughts: Art and God


Here is an inspiring article one should read about how we can use our gift of creating to serve our one and only God, himself the Great Creator.

It was a fortunate luck that I ran across this article, as I myself was contemplating how I could use this gift of art to serve.  To think I had at one point tried to abandon this gift to pursue other interests in my early years.  Looking back I realized how many times God had to push me back on this track that I now stand, and I am thankful for it, otherwise my life would have been a fantastic mess.  I probably have talked about this in my previous Random Thoughts, if you haven’t read them already you can easily find it in the Categories section from the drop-down menu in the right column of this blog.   Maybe I’ll tell the story in greater detail some other time.

Have a great weekend.  God Bless you, and the people of Paris (yes they’ve been through rough day).

Random Thoughts: I Don’t Wanna Paint today…


I feel my head is not in its place today…

Many times I have heard that to be a successful artist one must be locked away in his/her studio and make art nonstop.  At times it sounds pretty laborious, and it is.  I admit I only work few hours on Fridays on my art making and majority of other times committed to house chores and caring for my sick mother, and I cherish those few hours I get to myself for the week.  But sometimes my brain just freezes midway through the paint or even yet, just as soon as I set my eyes down on the blank drawing board and I find myself dozing into the dreamland.  I often scold myself for wasting the precious time and energy and wonder if I really do have what it takes to be a professional artist(I haven’t worked a decent job in years since ’10 and pretty much given up any prospects of me ever holding a real job).

But recently I read an article on the art magazine JUXTAPOZ titled “The Art of Not Making Art” and it states that it’s OK to not be making art 24/7 when one does not have the energy to do so, and sometimes a little R&R spent any way you wish is actually good for your body mind and soul.  I find that quite assuring.

Yes, there were times on Fridays that I just don’t feel like lifting a pencil or getting down and dirty with the paint, and lately it’s just been too hot that I don’t want to move.  I loathe hot weather, especially if it makes you sticky.  Yuck.  

So what do I do?  How do I relieve myself of the stress piled up during the week and give my mind and body a reboot of fresh energy and rekindle my creative furnace?  Oh, Let me count the ways…

1. Surf the web on my IPod Touch or laptop if I choose to bring it with me, hanging out at wifi-friendly places like McDonalds or Kinkos and enjoy the crisp air conditioned room especially on hot days

2.  Drive down the road aimlessly until I see something cool and worth stopping and checking out for.

3.  Think of some cool spot I’ve never been and be willing to fight through the traffic for it( as you can see from my Field Trip Day posts).

4.  Go to a museum and browse the latest exhibition in town.  I usually go to Bowers in Santa Ana since it’s closer to home.  They often have pretty neat stuff. 

5.  Rack up points or blow away zombie heads at either D&B or Round One Bowling in Lakewood.  This I’ve been doing a whole lot of, and I’ve accumulated over 35,000 points from both places.  What I’ll do with them I’ll let you know later.

6.  Window shop around nearby malls such as Cerritos or Lakewood or Buena Park.  At times I’m almost tempted to go play dress up at Windsor Fashions or Nordstrom and the like.  Afterwards I’d grab either a Wetzel Dog or pizza at the food court.  

7.  Once or twice I’ve gone to a beach and walked around barefoot on the hot sands and occasionally dip them in the salty waters.  That was pretty relaxing.  

8.  Sit down and just doodle mindlessly on my notebook, either notes or thumbnails or cartoony figures.

9.  I used to Netflix away watching all these movies and Tv shows (even some “really really bad” ones) but I’ve since cancelled the subscription as I was trying to cut down on my budget

10.  Dabble in non-art related hobbies like picking weeds in the backyard or, the latest venture I’ve picked up, making some blings with beads and knots.

That about sums it up.  And I will say, they do lead to unexpected discoveries and field my motivation to keep making art.  And I’m also learning something new about myself every day, some good, some not so much.  

Not making art is indeed an art…

This really works!

Positive thinking…that’s the key

Ideas for success

Do you want more better financesold_door_texture-1013tm-56, success, health, love or happiness? There is a way to bring these into your life.  There are certain principals in the Bible that people have used for thousands of years to bring these good things. Jesus said faith is key to receiving good things.

Faith starts in the mind, so to achieve success, train your mind to activate the power you need for success in these areas. Psychologists have said for many years that your attitude, your confidence that you can achieve a goal is the most important thing towards achieving it. A famous study by a Yale professor named Rosenthal demonstrated that when teachers believed their students were top achievers, they became better students just because of the teachers faith in them. You must have faith in yourself.

Many famous athletes, inventors, businessmen, etc. talk about the power of confidence. During the…

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Random Thoughts: Artists That Inspire Me

I am inspired by many different artists.

Van Gogh for his bold graphic painting style.

Picasso for his eclectic mix and mastery of techniques and styles.

Jean Michel Basquiat for his speed, energy, brutality, and honesty in his unusual frenetic drawings.

Keith Haring for his playful cartoony shapes and forms that seem to take on life of its own, and for his love of life despite facing death at young age.

Kathe Kollwitz’s for her dark, graphic prints depicting the often overlooked commoners and championship for equality.  And her courage and resilience through the tragedies and atrocities that haunted her life and bringing them to life through her art.

And there’s more, but right now I’m in brain freeze mode.  I need a break…

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