Lately I have been feeling the desire to paint on a larger canvas. Maybe it is the now seemingly endless almost-chore of painting the postcard-sized art pieces for the 100-day project that makes me want more space. Maybe it's having always thought of what will ship easier or store easier, thus I have kept my thinking to making small things. I have been tinkering and experimenting with blank note cards, gift cards, affordable art prints, stickers, and other portable tokens. I have a tiny studio as well so it only naturally flows that I keep my project small and manageable. So maybe I have had enough of having to work small, at least for the moment maybe I should stretch myself out more.
My 100-day project has been an invaluable learning process. It has given me the seedlings for larger works that I want to explore. Below are the pieces that feel like they have more to show and to be if given enough room. Like seedlings they need to be replanted and given space and sunshine and time.
Ink, particularly sumi ink, has become a staple in recent works. Partly inspired by Yuko Shimizu's inky drawings, and also by my hungering for things and people Japanese, and also because sumi ink smells of petrichor. I like the solid blackness of it, how it unapologetically strikes across anything and renders impenetrable shadows on once blank space.
The red sun rose and has begun to lead me through a trail. Its twin, the blue moon has made an appearance as well but had given way first to fire. So the Impossible Garden has grown into more landscapes, boundaries pushed, the Wildforest pulling closer. I discovered the path to a sea, as well as a path to a desert.
But the sun would not fit forever in postcards. So I started unwrapping the 20 x 30 inch watercolour boards, and the A3 sheets, and whatever paper size in between that is available. The sun needs space to shine, and I need to walk longer, deeper paths.
This red sun series is teaching me something about space and emptiness and fullness. Also about silence and heat and burning and light. The lessons are long and difficult, and they tug at inconvenient soul-strings. But I must keep following the trail. I heard it said in a dream that somewhere up ahead, I will begin to meet more than flowers and insects and small animals...
Yesterday was serendipitous. After countless experiments I was finally able to print blank message art cards on my own, on good paper, instead of just relying on a separate supplier in another country. I cannot do bulk printing (yet), but I can start churning out pieces.
And here are what make these cards just a little bit more special: after printing, I layer on the printed art additional colours in ink by hand. Often metallic colours to make certain elements really pop out. Thus even with the same prints, the added hand-drawn layers will vary, and therefore no two cards will be exactly the same.
You know how handmade this first batch is? Aside from having made the original painting, scanning the original, cleaning up the scan, and laying it out on a printing template, I also feed the paper one piece at a time to the printer so the printer won't snag on the thicker-than-usual sheets. I hand-fold each card. I cut each card to size using a paper-cutter -- please do not expect machine exactness as I adjust the trimming depending on how the design lays out on the card. Let's just say the cards are within the 4 x 6 inch range, give or take a few centimeters. I used my current stock of envelopes so they will vary in colour per card. I think I want to have different coloured envelopes that will complement the card design, so that again no card will be exactly the same.
Check them out at my Etsy shop!
I have been postponing my Artist Date for months for various reasons: time, money, location, energy, theme. Most of the time it's money, because there's nowhere safe and nice enough to go to within the city that is free. I will always have to have some coffee money, at least for a large cup or a cup and a snack so I can justify hanging out for at least three hours. While at the cafe I would write, or draw, or paint, or just ponder on Things. Usually that is when fresh ideas drop by, when thought trails open up previously thorny and tangled paths. Possibilities lose their disguises, and what-if questions become bold enough to take on words.
Yesterday I had planned an Artist Date that was supposed to happen after lunch with my sister. But something went awry when I made the mistake of taking on an unscheduled client call that took longer than promised, and so I ended up being very late on the lunch date and everything else took on a rather tainted note --- the traffic was horrible, it was the one day that my sister could not extend her lunch hour, I forgot to bring an umbrella and the sky was greying, I had to get off the cab a block away and walk to the cafe because the traffic was so bad. I felt rushed and stressed and flustered. I did not get to enjoy a full introduction and conversation with the lovely Korean lady who owned the cafe. After the hurried late lunch I walked my sister back to her office then went to another cafe for a couple of hours of Artist Dating. I managed to regain some level of calm and I was able to write but the bad start was a stain. The subject of the client call was also hanging over my head, an ominous cloud of a possible dayjob project. I should be grateful with relief because it means a possible paycheck. But I could only feel the usual psychosomatic effects : a hint of nausea, a layer of feverish chills, an unexplainable fit of coughing, an upset suddenly acidic stomach. I cut the Artist Date short half an hour earlier than planned and went home -- and found out all the roads within the area had been closed for an earthquake drill, and I had to walk a couple of blocks to meet up with the car service that took me home.
So today I thought I'll try it again. But I woke up really late as I had a bout of insomnia last night. Then I got caught up with my sister's needing some advice on a situation and my brain had to do full-mode processing even before I was able to go downstairs for a cup of coffee. I ended up going from bed to lunch and was meaning to have coffee after but I felt wearied all over and off-sync and before I knew it I was deeply asleep.
I woke up at half past three in the afternoon. I made myself take a bath and dress up and prepare to step out or I know I'll regret it. I went to the mall (an upscale one to avoid the majority of the payday crowds). I bought three large-ish canvases for projects I plan to start this weekend. Then I went to replenish skin care supplies --- which earned me a ticket entry to a raffle for a trip to Korea (the shop is Korean). Winners will be announced in October. My passport is expired but now I am motivated to renew it (it's a bit of a hassle to do and there are fees so I've been putting it off -- also I don't really have the funds to be going anywhere anytime soon. But now, who knows?)
As if on cue, outside the skin care shop I heard the live music of a Korean saxophone quartet and had the good fortune to watch and listen to a free concert. I didn't get to take a photo or video as I was more focused on enjoying the moment. But I looked them up and here they are:
The music and the live-ness of the performance swept away all that was tired, sad, hopeless, jaded in my spirit. Of course the fact that it was a Korean group was a significant variable. I stood among the audience, my heavy pile of large canvases balanced against my leg, and let myself be more than where I was, loving the artistry of it all. I reached out soul-threads to weave patterns with the music, making contact with those four distant human beings from a distant dream country in the only way I can.
On the other side of the mall I went to have coffee and I was greeted by a multitude of red lanterns, this time providing a setting for a group playing traditional Japanese instruments, two of which I think are shamisen. Yet another of my dream countries, and with music again as a message of sorts. I sat on the outer edge of the cafe so I could still hear the strains of the music, and my heart was further gladdened.
For my dear patrons who sent me coffees via Ko-fi.com, thank you so much -- here I actually got a coffee! And I haven't done so for quite a long time. Drained the cup to the last sip.
It has been a while since I have gone out without much internal alarm and anxiety. Today I went out with a good semblance of peace and somehow a strange sense of relief coming from something I have not yet put a finger to. In any case, being outside of my cramped tiny studio allowed me to expand my senses and my thoughts. It helped that I had a bit of money to spare, that I could buy the canvases, that I could afford to buy myself a coffee and a sandwich. I felt yesterday went awry so I would go out again today and receive the gifts of the ticket and the shamisen and the quartet. If everything had gone perfectly yesterday I would not have gone out today at all.
And now it is half past ten, but since I've slept a lot during the day I think I'll get started on one of the large canvases, a 24" x 24". I already have a title for it, and it's a piece meant as a tribute of sorts to an old self -- the mad brave leaper who should have been born farther up in the northeast.
I end this post with The Arrival of The Queen of Sheba.
My original plan was to post the original paintings in my Etsy shop AFTER completing all 100 pieces.
But I want to revive the shop now and I do not see any significant difference or advantage in delaying putting the pieces up for purchase. Well, I just won't be able to take a "group photo" of all the pieces. But I'd rather send my artworks to their new homes and have them do their magic sooner than let them languish for two more months in the obscurity of my tiny studio.
So, bookmark this link to my shop and watch out as pieces show up.
My patrons will first have to take their own pick for their free token reward before I start posting on Etsy. If you become a patron in the Sprout, Leaf, or Flower tier you also get to pick a piece once the first month pledge clears. Find out about becoming a patron here.
If you'd simply like to cheer me on to completing all 100, consider sending me a coffee or two to help keep me going. ^_^ I shall be eternally grateful.
I am in an awkward phase of becoming and creating at the same time. There was a trail that was a rabbit hole and I am not Alice but the Queen of Hearts yet I am the one running late for tea and the cards refuse to say my fortune.
There was a trail that was made of bread crumbs and I followed the crows who gobbled them up instead, who led me to a house made of stitched-up noodles and inside was an empty begging bowl. I took the bowl.
There was a trail that led to an ocean at the end of a lane. And the ocean flowed into the country that grew boys out of flowers. But my feet are fins and my voice not worth a trade, so I watch from a distance while I drowned in my own despair.
A person is a country. Though not even its owner has fully mapped itself out. Many shadowed forests and too deep seas remain off limits. Boundaries are oftentimes arbitrary depending on a thousand variables like the weather, for instance, or whether the angle of sun rendered a face too beautiful for mere words.
How does one fall in love with a person? How does one seduce a country of multitude moods and tempers and wants? How does one break through the borders of a heart without a declaration of war?
How come it feels like I am the one that has been occupied? When did that cavalry of wooden winged horses come?
These original paintings, each 5 x 7 inches, will be gifted to the first LEAF Tier Patron who will sign up and pledge on my Patreon.
Visit the page for more information on becoming a patron, and if you have questions please send me a message here or through the Patreon page.
However this offer only stands until midnight of July 8, Saturday. If there is no new Leaf Patron then I will post the pieces on my Etsy shop for purchase.
I have decided to do this because I need to revive my Etsy shop, and a lot of good pieces are currently "on-hold" for the possibility of new patrons. Thing is, at the moment, I may have a better chance of selling the art for a one-time income than gaining patrons for a committed support. Maybe if more of my art gets around out there then the patrons will come.
So until I can spare more pieces to be on indefinite standby for new patrons, I'm putting most of my good pieces up for purchase by anyone via Etsy. Meanwhile, I'll think up other special rewards and rethink the tiers on my Patreon. I also have to start putting together the next set of Art Bundles that my current patrons are due to receive in August.
On Other Matters:
While continuously moving and progressing, I find everything to be slow and I know this is natural and I should not get too anxious. I have been working hard and should not be hard on myself.
I'm finally going to be able to pick up a much-delayed dayjob paycheck by tomorrow and that will buy me at least three months. In those three months I must work with the art to gather enough funds for the three months after that. (Hence I should seriously start drafting my commission rules and open shop for commissions. It has been a significant income-earner for me but I need to fix the rules so I don't have to take on projects that I won't be able to give heart to.)
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Let me know below. Also pass this post on to anyone you think has Leaf Patron Potential. I'll be most grateful. Here's a hug. >-^_^-<
I started this on the first of June and it will end around the second week of September. On a daily basis it eats up at least an hour, and more if I need to catch up. It took me some deliberation before I decided to do it, because it will be a responsibility. But I need to put in the same discipline and commitment to my art the same way I did to my dayjob, otherwise, the dayjob will always win and the art will always be a sideshow.
I've done x-day challenges before but I never quite managed to complete them. I realised it was because I never thought about how exactly they could help me as an artist other than getting the temporary high of watching the "likes" multiply. I had to understand the why and how so that every time I sit down to make the piece it is clear what I am building towards. In the end, since I want to become a full-time artist, I have to think strategy. What can a 100-day project help me with? I have limited time and resources. I cannot be whimsical all the time.
The Merits of a 100-Day Project
Updates to this 100-day project are posted regularly on my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook Page.
Special captions on history, musings, and odd rambles about the pieces are available to patrons in my Patreon page. (Patrons gain access to all exclusive posts for as low as $2 a month.)
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