Blush

  Kanazawa, Ishikawa 2017

Kanazawa, Ishikawa 2017

Glad to have made the acquaintance of Kanazawaさん this trip. First impression didn't fare too well with his unusually early bed time of 8 p.m. and a lack of night life. He may be slightly old fashioned, but in his quiet and unassuming ways, he wins you over like a charm.

His unhurried demeanor tended to me like a fallen petal, even when the warm rain threatened to wash away the blush. I know I'm safe here, in this new season we call Spring. 🌸

CLOUD FOREST

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"The Earth laughs in flowers." – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hold that lovely thought and cover your ears while I rap an entire slew of bad puns in order to tickle Mother Nature pink with how hard I'm trying. My long overdue trip to Gardens by the Bay had me overwhelmed by how well-designed the Cloud Forest is, and had me swelling with pride as a Singaporean. Never mind that I had to race against the dimming evening light or having to jostle past hoards of tourists to get a good photo, the entire sensory experience was impressive by and large. Evidently playing the tourist card right in this get up with my Luna Half-Moon sling bag.  Also wearing the same wide grin whenever I'm surrounded by Nature. ☺︎

What Matters

"I began spending a lot of time reminding myself that regardless of whether this has all been luck or whether I have any talent isn’t what matters. Who cares about that? What matters is that I am happy getting up every day to paint and draw. What matters is that I make my best effort every day to be myself in my life and work. What matters is that I work really hard at my career. What matters is that I am thoughtful about the work I want to make and the people I want to work with. What matters is that once it started, making art for a living hasn’t failed me. " – Lisa Congdon

 

Read her entire post here and agree that she is simply amazing.


[A conversation with Olly some 6 weeks ago...]

Olly: "You got to learn to be an artist."

"But... isn't that self-indulgent?"

Olly: "Who cares?!"


All You Need Is

John Lennon on Love:

“You’ve got to work on it. It is a precious gift, and it’s a plant, and you’ve got to look after it and water it and you can't just sit on your backside and think, oh well, we're in love so that's alright. But that's the secret. It's all true folks. All you need is love."

Just wanted to share this illustrated interview of John Lennon & Yoko which I felt was really well done. The illustration style seemed to have captured the slightly awkward, subdued tones of this interview. You can easily pick up the chemistry between John Lennon & Yoko Ono, it's like they share the same mind it's so amazing. ☺

This video really got me thinking about love and the idea of sharing it with someone else. There have been so many instances where my views about love had been challenged. What I think/ thought was love proved to be otherwise. Somedays, I feel like I know nothing about it and I might have given up altogether trying to define it. Only for the reason that, in love there is no because – if you find yourself having to justify love, it is probably lacking.

"If you love somebody, you can’t be with them enough — there’s no such thing. You don't want to be apart." – John Lennon & Yoko Ono

I still am a believer of love, happiness and forevers. ☺ 

Cosmos

I'm smiling as I am writing this and I can't find a reason to stop smiling. Two weeks ago I received an order request on my Etsy for Breakfast with Carol Ann Duffy tea towel to be dispatched immediately. It was my first order coming from the UK. I was thrilled, but at the same time, curious as to this urgent request for a tea towel. I wondered if the poem holds the same amount of sentimentality to my customer as it has to me. I packed the parcel and sent it out the next morning with a handwritten note, in which I took some time to share my story behind this artwork and how special this poem is to me.

Three days ago I recieved a message in my inbox and found another reason that would make me smile whenever I read this poem

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My heart was suddenly a bundle of sleepy British shorthair kittens. Everything felt so warm and fuzzy. It meant a great deal to receive this message;  to know that there are people who can relate to my works and have a part of their stories to share. This kind gesture from Ian and his wife is possibly the second best thing that happened apart from getting to hand the tea towel to the amazing Carol Ann Duffy in person (click for picture!!!!). 

It is an affirmation to the conviction I hold in what I do, to learn that this is not happenstance but a result of what I have strived for. ☺  I am really looking forward to having time to work on new stuff for Wood&Lead. It has been a little tough finding time but I have to keep going! I will. ☺

 

Oh Maira

I love staying home on a Friday Night knowing that people are out there living it up and painting the town red (and later with their dinner) because this just means that I have a lot more Alone time to myself that I do not need to share with other people who are Alone.

For me, there is a strange charm about Friday nights; the slow unwrapping of the weekend, like a precious flower, or an onion. Perhaps it is the faint static that hangs in the stillness of the air, with time unhurried. Or, the languid drawl of the night as it announces the end of a long week. You suddenly find yourself with all the time in the world to lose yourself to daydreaming, and to catch up on internet's awesomeness. What a luxury. The only thing that is really missing right now is a huge tub of ice cream. Who cares about the culminated bad calories that you have already indulged in to get past the week.

As always, I am here for a reason. Besides to mask my existentialism issues by romanticising Friday nights alone, I really want to share this video which features Maira Kalman, an established illustrator/author. I've always been in love with her works and I admit that I love her more after learning that she loves books more than I do. In this video, she explores her identity in art, and how she uses her drawings to tell stories that belong to people/strangers, which, in turn helps her to find a relationship with the world. The video is uplifting and absolutely relatable. I think what is empowering about her message is that she is telling us to look at the things that form a huge part of our lives and being creative enough to make them part of our identities. This will then help us understand our sense of purpose in this world. She is a classic example of an amazing human being.

 

"How do you know who you are? There are many parts to who you are, so there isn’t one static place. And then, the other part of that is that things keep changing." – Maria Kalman

It is funny, because I have been thinking a lot about my art lately and this video appeared in a timely fashion. While storytelling has always been the main focus behind my artworks, there seems to be a lack of a deeper connection between what I do and what it is originally intended for. I haven't been able to figure this out for a long while but now that I do, I am thankful that the pieces to this puzzle are slowly finding their way to me and this really excites me to take on an entirely new approach to my works. There is still so so so much more that I need to learn which is so daunting yet exciting at the same time.

Another gem on the internet, Pizza Feminism – feminism served fresh and toasty. It really fills you up after a week worth of listening to mind-numbing sexist jokes/comments that are being slipped into daily conversations. 

Sooo we are into March and that scares me a little. For now, I'll leave springing into action for tomorrow while I watch a movie and wait for flu medication to kick in. Happy Weekend everyone. ☺

Gnome Day

Every year, Gnome Day falls on a particular day in November. This special occasion sometimes extends to the other days of the year depending on the auroral activities in the sky. Or at every sighting of an ice cream cart.

Last year, we celebrated it in a form of a cosy garden party held at Da Paolo Rochester Park with some of my closest girlfriends. The set up for lunch was really simple, and I'm glad it turned out just the way I wanted. ☺

Of course, it was not without the help of my amazing friends. [Y and Evie, who painstakingly travelled around town the day before to look for the plant which I have specially requested for. Jo, who made sure I got the cake that I wanted and spending her Friday night in making the fresh plant wreath rim decor for the cake together. Lynette and Yaya's attempt to save my tablecloth crisis. And Khay for squeezing in time in between functions just to be there.] We had a lot of fun setting up the table together, and I'm glad I did it with my best friends. Sometimes it is really hard to imagine how much my friends love me from the things they do for me. Time to use it to my best advantage.

I'm just kidding, I love you guys too much!

 Y bought me a pretty bouquet for the table ♡

Y bought me a pretty bouquet for the table ♡

 Hand-lettered placards that I made for the guests

Hand-lettered placards that I made for the guests

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Food was pretty decent, something to be expected from the Da Paolo chain. The service, however, was way beyond terrible on that day for a place that caters to hospitality events. We didn't take too many pictures of the food as everyone was pretty famished – the half-eaten green pea soup as evidence. 

The pictures in this post were taken mostly by P (thank you!!) and a few from my own camera. ☺

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MY CAKE !!!!! Red Velvet from my friend's bakery Cake Spade (please try their cupcakes too) I love how simple and organic it is, and the cream layer was nicely done.

[Behind the scene] This is what goes on during our gatherings most of the time, I'm most guilty of it hehe – 

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 Awkward turtle

Awkward turtle

 A few more short of full attendance - Lynette, Yahui, Jo, Pandora, Khay, me & Yuxuan.

A few more short of full attendance - Lynette, Yahui, Jo, Pandora, Khay, me & Yuxuan.

 Spot the awkward pinky

Spot the awkward pinky

What turned out to be a really short lunch was made extra special by having my close friends all together. The ones whom I have grown up with since we were crazy girls in blue pinafores gallivanting around town, drinking too much bubble tea and trying to squeeze into neoprint machines. Some of whom I have survived multiple school assignment deadlines with. As well as the ones I've bonded over coffee/sushi sessions and while sitting in bookstores folding paper and typing on typewriters. Even though not everyone could make it to lunch, please know that all of you are special to me and thank you for being my extra sparkly beacons of light (you know who you are!). Regardless of the duration of our friendship, each and everyone of you mean soooo much to me. I had a really great birthday week with all my favorite people, brunch, coffee,  thoughtful gifts, miffy balloon, cupcakes, and a whole lot of sweetness. ☺

The G M P

It's 10 a.m. I'm up and writing.

That calls for a ribbon cutting ceremony!  

I'm not a Morning Person. When I am, I'm a G M P (yep you guessed it, Grumpy Morning Person). I believe I am lacking an enzyme in my body that allows me to be enthusiastic about life before 11 a.m.

It is a shame though, there are a lot of things I love about mornings. The soft sun rays breaking in through the windows, the dewy scent of grass and the slow undressing of day. Plus, that feeling that you have all the time in the world to check off that long to-do list of the day (woohoo!). I'm not even being sarcastic.

Mornings are usually the slowest part of a day. My brain processor speed drops by 300% and I move like a sloth reaching for banana (if they eat bananas). The first thing I do when I get out of bed is jump straight into the shower once I have managed to free myself from my blanket cocoon. Then I sit in front of the dressing table and stare into   n    o   t   h   i   n   g   n   e   s   s   for an entire 15 mins. It takes that long for me to register that my life starts after those 900 seconds. My excuse would be that I'm waiting for my hair to dry.

Of course, this is only done in the comfort of my own house, it's a different thing when I travel with friends though. I mean, I try to be as enthusiastic as I can. Or perhaps I'm just less grumpy in the mornings while on vacation mode.

I do envy people who are able to get up early everyday, it is a clear sign that they are obviously winning in life. You have no idea how many times my toothbrush literally flew out of my hand while I was brushing my teeth. Besides scrubbing my teeth I have to scrub my toothbrush (with someone else's hehehe just kidding) and then I have no energy or time for breakfast.

The only reason why I am here is because I couldn't sleep the entire night despite staying out till 4 a.m.. What an irony to fail at the one thing I do best. I have a sensitive/wonky body clock which doesn't quite like it when I try to live in an alternate time zone and it punishes me with sleeplessness. In an attempt to reset it, I am planning to stay up the entire day. And if it doesn't work, I might just have to move overseas... you know just felt the need to inform you guys of this future possibility..

By the time I finish writing this post it would be 11 am. I would then be able to start my day proper and get some design work done while pretending that I have had 8 hours of sleep! I've been really busy working on artworks for my zine projects, which I am really excited to share more about soon! I'm so glad that I had this time to write though. See, aren't mornings just amazing?

To end off this post, if you see me before 10 a.m., a flat white would be great (a glazed donut would be a bonus) and I apologize in advance for my resting bitch face

I was really curious to whether sloths eat bananas so I did a search. Apparently it seems like it all boils down preferences - sloth eats banana vs. no bananas. Oh btw, Good Morning! ☺

 

Waiting

"There are two types of waiting. There’s the the waiting you do for something you know is coming, sooner or later—like waiting for the 6:28 train, or the school bus, or a party where a certain handsome boy might be. And then there’s the waiting for something you don’t know is coming. You don’t even know what it is exactly, but you’re hoping for it. You’re imagining it and living your life for it. That’s the kind of waiting that makes a fist in your heart." – Unknown

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. We are always waiting for the next big move, preparing to take our widest leap and very much often we end up being disappointed when life doesn't present us with what we are waiting for. It becomes frustrating when life is all about trying. We always forget that great moments are packaged in the small ones that are often cast in an oversight. Some people wait their entire lives in pursuit of huge milestones that they think would change their lives without knowing that it is in overcoming small everyday battles that deserves to be celebrated. 

Ambitions and goals are great things, but they can also be the very barriers to achieving  greater things that are beyond what you can ever dream of. We are often blindsided by our ideal future that we miss seeing the opportunities nested in the present and making them work for our future. We also miss the shot at happiness. The freedom to dream is an entitlement,  and only with an extra sprinkle of imagination we can build a life that is worth waking up for everyday where we are living and not just waiting.

 

 

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I love this picture taken at Takamatsu port while I was waiting for my ferry to Megijima Island (which I didn't have a slightest idea about). I love the crisp air, the light breeze that accompanies the symphony of waves that welcomed arriving passengers. Waiting can be beautiful if you let it be.

Work-in-Progress

One of the paintings I worked on last weekend - the lines far too raw and the brushstrokes too careless for my liking. Unpolished, and awkward as it is, it makes quite an accurate depiction of myself. I am a Work-in-Progress.

It is not the best, but it is how I want to present myself to others, as I am. I spend a lot of my time reading, it makes the second best form of escapism to traveling. In words there are worlds we find that do not exist, our universe gets a little bigger and more interesting when you explore it in reading. Our lives are made up of stories – the ones that do not belong to us, some discovered, some made up and those you live to tell. 

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I am learning to love my works a little more by sharing them with others and getting feedback. It is an unnerving thing to put yourself out there, it feels uncomfortable and narcissistic to a certain extend. I was never quite for the idea of having a 'blog' because most people set it up with a common intention in mind. I do it not because I think that I am amazing at what I am doing, but because every piece of work is a deliberate attempt  to make something original, sharing them motivates me to make something better in my next try. It is also an exercise for me in learning to relinquish control because I am really my own worse critic. 

For me, the documentation of these works encompass the effort in crafting my personal creative endeavor and writing my own story. I hope that I can one day look back and see how much closer I am to where I want to be. I am not hopeful that what I am doing would open any doors, but I just know that doing what you love is equally important and it might make the world a better place. You would then, have a story to tell and naturally find your place in the universe. After all, like how Muriel Rukeyser has put it  "The universe is not made of atoms; it’s made of tiny stories." ☺

七倒八上

This was really me a few days ago when I shuffled around the house in this manner beyond frustration and self-defeat, occasionally wiping away fierce tears with my paint-stained hands. Ok, I exaggerated.

The reason behind my anguish lies mainly in my impatience. I've been experimenting with a new painting medium and it frustrated me to no end because I just couldn't work comfortably with it and I ended up ruining two simple paintings that took me a few hours to do. I panicked and got frustrated, because I've wasted so much time and I felt that it was crucial for me to learn a new medium. All the old insecurities slowly resurfaced and I found myself wading in self deprecation. Painting suddenly became as tough as trying to touch my toes.

I allowed myself to sulk, but only for awhile (like 10 days, just kidding). Sulking is important, it is a critical part of the process to feel better about things. Just like how crying is, but the former is more eco-friendly as it doesn't kill trees so I'd go with that. I also made a drawing out of it –

 

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But I didn't immediately feel better, not until the following night when my japanese teacher asked me to draw a neko (cat) during a class pop quiz. I thought I had heard wrongly but was secretly happy as it was my favouritest thing to do! How did she know, aren't the Japanese amazing?! While I was drawing on the board infront of the class, it was heartening to know that what I enjoy doing can bring joy to others as well. It wasn't the best looking neko on the planet but that mere 30 secs gave me a fresh perspective and a sense of purpose [or perhaps I am just disgustingly optimistic].

People used to tell me that if it's something that you really love, you would do whatever you can to get it. Because of the way that I was, I never saw failing in the part of doing. It didn't make sense to me how you're doing anything right through making mistakes. But that's where you learn, the beauty of distress. While there is a lot of pressure and self-struggle in face of repeated failures since it often takes 10x the effort to get pass yourself, through it you do gain resilience and patience.

I figured that since I've been consistently failing at the attempts of what I enjoy doing, there's no harm taking another plunge because I have nothing to lose. Like the Chinese saying (of Japanese origin) that goes, "七倒八上“ / 七転び八起き (nana-koro-bi-yao-ki) which translate to 'fall down seven times, get up eight' . Everything will work out eventually, just keep going. ☺ 

Magic

There are some people who emanates a certain sense of warmth that touches the tenderness of your heart, the kind from whom you'd always have something special to take away with you after every meeting. ☺

When we stepped out of the elevator and peered down the corridor, an apartment immediately stood out. With a row of gardening tools hanging neatly by the wall, tending by the little nursery at the entrance of the house, you could tell that these people must care a lot for the world from the way they cared for their little green friends.

We let the chiming of the doorbell announce our arrival as we waited eagerly to be invited into this special space. 

 

  Karen & Pao's dreamy apartment

Karen & Pao's dreamy apartment

  Details

Details

  Kitchen invasion

Kitchen invasion

 Sarah at work

Sarah at work

  Py, the treehugger

Py, the treehugger

The door opened and we were greeted by Karen's beautiful smile, one that seemed to give the apartment an extra glow, and then Pao who shyly walked out from their studio. The last time I saw them was on their wedding day, and they still look as perfect together.

Soon enough, the air buzzed with excitement from three girls swooning over every detail of the house, disrupting its tranquillity. I thought I saw the rows of trees lining the hills across the road waver a little. But it was just impossible to stop ourselves when everything is just so perfect, as the humble owners looked on in amusement. After we were done helping out with Sarah's little project, we gathered around the dining table to catch up on each others' lives and talked about our dreams. It was very much like finding a spot in the middle of the forest,  just talking and munching on grapes while sitting on toadstools. The afternoon was splendid and magical.

  Py and Karen having a grape time

Py and Karen having a grape time

When it was time for us to leave, we said our goodbyes reluctantly and conveniently made plans to invite ourselves back again (heeehee). Took a glance towards the door and was surprised to see that Pao has neatly arranged our shoes in a way that was most convenient for us to wear them. If my soles have eyes, they would be flooded with tears, it was such a terribly sweet gesture.

• 

A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.

– Yoko Ono 

• 

The perks about being a creative person is the limitless imagination we have in creating our own worlds, just like how Karen and Pao built their special treehouse in this urban jungle. Seeing this couple makes my heart gasp and sigh (and die) in a good way. Great things always happen when the stars align. ☺ Perhaps the magic in living is quite simple, treat everyone with genuine respect and humility, and the world will give you back in ten folds. If you are searching for magic, look no more, you create the magic. ☺

 

  Only apt to wear these kitty stockings to the Treehouse (a gift from my bestfriend Jobyna) 

Only apt to wear these kitty stockings to the Treehouse (a gift from my bestfriend Jobyna) 

Acts of Disappearance

 

When days get too heavy, I sometimes imagine that it'd be a nice feeling to simply vanish. How liberating, to be relinquished from the problems that weigh you down.

It happened one day, when I called out to my grandma who suffers from dementia. She neither responds to my voice nor give the slightest impression that she heard me. At that moment, I felt like I was invisible – I've disappeared.

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My grandma – a shrewd woman with a character as strong as the steel wok that she used to handle everyday to prepare her grandchildren's favorite dishes. The woman who ran the household while my grandfather gladly takes the back seat, all 7 of us grandchildren grew up under her care. I remember how much of a struggle it was trying to win over her affections while growing up. I was always seen as too mischievous and a bad influence to my younger cousins. And it used to bother me a lot when I was a child; when you have made your grandma the Queen in your own little constructed world, you kind of grow up feeling you are less special. Even though we live together, I could never be close to her.

My grandma's favourite drinks are coffee and fizzy cola, she also especially loves spicy food. I wondered if it was the amount of chilli laden food that she has consumed that gave her her fiery temper. Over the years, as illnesses gnawed through her hard shell and through the string of bitter memories from the past that she refuses to let go, the fire within her gradually simmered. She slowly grew frail and child-like as if she lost her cause to fight. The grandma whom I have grown up to know has disappeared. Perhaps a blessing in disguise, she became a happier person and life is much simpler.

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Two Sundays ago, I woke up with a very bad dream. I dreamt that my grandma was drowning and I had to resuscitate her. I made a pact to myself not to tell anyone as it was something that I do not wish to remember. While at work, I received a call from my brother asking me to return home immediately. When I headed straight for the A&E, I prayed for God to fight the battles that my grandma cannot. I later found out that my grandma had fits and my cousin had to perform CPR with the paramedic's instructions over the phone.

She is home safe now after spending a few nights in the hospital.

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At that instance when I realized that I have disappeared from my grandma's memory, I only felt heaviness in my heart and at a loss. To be completely forgotten by someone whom you love is indescribable and somewhat confounding. I desperately wanted to be remembered, but we can never win back time that is lost. Looking back, maybe I was away too much; working, traveling and having fun, I did little to protect the scratch of memory in her head from fading away.

Some people think that memories last forever. Unless one experiences the sense of loss that I felt, they don't. Disappearing is real, dementia is real. Memories don't last, but it is the value that you give to the shared memories that do. She may not remember who I am anymore, but I am going to make extra effort everyday – to remind her that she is still the Queen of my world.

Here's a photo of us together, our birthdays are one day apart. ☺

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In the absence of the Sun & the Moon

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Higher and higher we went, like a viking sailing through the clouds, we climbed these mountains of pine in the absence of the sun and the moon. I looked through the telescope hoping to get a view of what is ahead of the fog, only to find a swirling abyss of uncertainty. Where do I go – Without the sun or the moon, it is so hard to find the way. What do I do – when the wind carries the echoes of wisdom so loud, that it starts howling in your ears. Honestly, I don't know.

And I quite like it this way. The uncertainty that I used to fear pushes me forward, fueled by hunger for a greater purpose. Forget the telescope. I looked instead at what is around me, the quietness and majesty of the pine trees beneath. For every single time I stand tall for my own beliefs, even when others have given up on me, I slowly build a forest.

The clouds were light and fluffy when I stuck my hands outside of the cable car window. I am gliding in the air, as little cloudlings gathered and twirled playfully around my fingers. 

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Sun Moon Lake is quite possibly my favorite place in Taiwan.