An Artist’s Life: Enjoy the Ride, Wherever It Takes You…

In life there is never a single straight path.

Some of us might wish life did not have to be so complicated like a box of puzzles or a road with several splitting lanes. But again, if everything was drawn out in a single straight line you just follow, what would you actually accomplish? And are some things worth the effort to accomplish?

In my last post I did a bit of griping about not being able to follow through with my plans, though later I did manage to find a silver lining to the bust. Like the car studio I had planned back in early 2019. Albeit a bit cramped I managed to adapt and make the most of the limited space there was. After all ‘small living’ was becoming a trend when people were looking to downsize or start small during this unstable economic times. Looking back however I recalled how I always had to pack up and haul the equipment in and out of the car which took a lot of my precious time (I could not possibly leave all the stuff in the car or risk getting broken into and losing them). And while I had started this venture during winter, in the summer it gets amazingly hot inside the car and it would have been bad for me (I hate hot weather) and for my computer and other flammable supplies. So in the end it was probably for the better that I didn’t follow through with that car studio. On a more brighter note I got a bigger, better studio right in my room of the house!(More on that later)

I also recall the time I almost gave up my pursuit of art entirely and instead sought thrill and adventure by joining the army (Details here), and when I tried to pursue graduate study in theater arts which almost guaranteed a secure future if I put all my heart and soul into it (and I did, really, when I was prepping for it, and was ready). Find out why that never happened.

But there is no use in mulling over what could have been, especially when it has long passed. If only there was a RESET button like there is on the Playstation or the XBox-that will never happen though. Best thing to do is to look ahead and keep moving forward, and don’t look back. And keep an open, positive mindset; that will lower your stress level down pretty significantly. To quote the classic Nissan commercial tagline: Life is a Journey, Enjoy the Ride.

Especially with this deadly Coronavirus running amok and making people sick keeping a positive attitude is a must in order to preserve what little sanity you might have of being cooped up indoors. And all the more reason why I’m glad the car studio project fell flat and I am typing this from the comfort of my room.

Have great weekend, and stay safe everyone!

An Artist’s Life: Preparing for the Unexpected

Sometimes Life Will Throw Lemons in Your Way, Even a Lemon Tree…

There was an old say that goes, Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail.

But it’s a Fact. Life does not care about your stupid plans. If it did I would not even need to rant about this…

No matter how well plan ahead, how you carefully map your routes, how much you study and anticipate, there will always be that one bad fruit that will pass your eyes and you will not notice until take a big bite and the rotting taste gets down your throat and ruins your appetite.

In other words, your plans are not bulletproof.

Beginning of 2019 I came up with an idea to create a web series on my YouTube channel about setting up my art studio in the back of my Toyota RAV4 and documenting what goes on there. I had bought the necessary gadgets and carefully mapped out a schedule of the days I would film, then planned out at least several episodes to be released during summer (I’ve recorded all this down on a planner, something I was never used to doing my whole life). I even arranged to promote it on my social media channels and practiced speaking up which I had not been doing for so long my voice sounds like a sick witch. It was in part a way to overcome that ‘stage fright’ I used to have; I always hated going up in front of a big crowd and talking out loud. I was actually going to put myself on camera and let the world see my ‘pretty face’ for the first time in like never. After all, being an artist is no longer about shutting yourself inside and studio and paint all day, you have to put yourself out there letting the public know of your presence.

Barely two months in, however, I had to shut down the studio.

My mom contracted pneumonia and sepsis and was rushed to the hospital. Thankfully she was saved, then spent a month in rehab center as the illness ravaged much of her already weak body (she had undergone several chemos years before for lymphoma). It was another few months before she eventually regained enough strength. During that time I was by her side caring for her needs with help of course from other family members, but even as everything settled back down I felt too pooped to resume the project, and just abandoned it altogether.

I recently watched PARASITE, the Korean movie everyone had been raving about and is the first movie from that country to every win Oscars, and there was one scene where the father was talking to his son and this answer hit me:

You know what kind of plan never fails? No plan. No plan at all. You know why? Because life cannot be planned. Look around you. Did you think these people made a plan to sleep in the sports hall with you? But here we are now, sleeping together on the floor. So, there’s no need for a plan. You can’t go wrong with no plans. We don’t need to make a plan for anything. It doesn’t matter what will happen next. Even if the country gets destroyed or sold out, nobody cares. Got it?

Ki-taek(Song Kang-Ho) to his son Ki-woo(Choi Woo-shik), PARASITE, 2019

Looking back at my old planner, and how I had carefully written down my schedules and steps, ultimately not having gone through with it, that line from the movie said it all. Life is a road filled with many lanes and potholes, with occasional roadblocks and detours that will appear unexpectedly. You can never be fully prepared for anything, no matter how much time and money you spend preparing for it. And you know what, sometimes that can be a good thing, which of course depends on how you handle it. (I will save this part for another episode)

I’m not saying don’t bother with making plans. It does give you ground on which you can start working on whatever projects you have in mind. Just don’t get too married to it, and leave plenty of space for those unexpected drops of lemon that will fall on your path. Because that is Life.

Until Next Time…

An Artist’s Life: So Much to Do, So Little Time…

Is having more than one skillset a good thing or bad?

You can do anything, but not everything.

David Allen, Lifehacker

When I started my art practice in 2013, I wanted to try it all: painting, mixed media, collage, printmaking, modern, abstract, realism, you name it. I was not satisfied with sticking to just one medium or style. I guess it was my way to trying to find out what I was good at and where I can focus. Funny thing was, I liked all of them; I was unable to choose or settle down. I can blame my unchecked ADD for that. From then on I dabbled at every art and craft that piqued my interest spending dough after dough getting all the necessary supplies and how-to books to learn how to use them. At one point I began calling myself the Jack-Of-All-Trades-Master-Of-None Artist. Here is a list of all the crafts I have accumulated to date.

At the time it seemed like a good idea to know more than one technique or skill as an artist. And I had a blast at it. But later I learned the quirks of having too many things to do at once.

For one, there is no Time. I wake up, wash up, eat, run errands, take a rest, work on my stuff, and in a blink of an eye the day’s already over. Some days I just feel like a sloth and veg out on the sofa for half the day. I had crammed in my little cranium of all the things I want to complete-new bodies of work, an artbook, video series, an Etsy shop, etc. But Time just goes by so fast. And I go to bed every night feeling dejected because I didn’t accomplish what I had set out to do. Though the very next morning I open my eyes I’d be refreshed with renewed hope of getting things done, only to repeat the same thing. It’s almost like the movie Edge of Tomorrow where each day is set on continuous loop of the same old routine: get up, suit up, go into battle, get killed, back to start. Keep that up and it eventually becomes draining, physically and mentally.

For this reason, at the beginning of 2019 I made it a goal to set schedules for my activities. I had decided to make at least three days a week a “studio day” or “me day” so I would have several hours of uninterrupted time for myself to do the things I want to do. Then I set up certain days/weeks/months for certain project and so forth. Instead of trying to cram several different projects to complete in one day I would spread it out designating what days or weeks I would specifically work on that particular project. I even got myself a daily planner to write it all down, something I was never good at. In doing so I felt like I was more disciplined and organized, a load of rocks lifted off my shoulders and I was more relaxed. I couldn’t believe it took me this long to realize the benefits of planning and keeping schedules; always working out of chaos might sound thrilling but eventually it catches up to you physically and mentally.

But alas I forgot the one other thing to consider when making plans. Which is to always expect the unexpected. But that’s another story…

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.