I was a poor poor art student when I decided to start a blog documenting the process of my paintings, photography, drawings and journaling. Now a recent art grad, not much has changed other than the label and maybe a change of scenery.

December 16, 2009

one last time.

kiera, life model, 2009, charcoal on paper 30"x48"

these past few weeks we have been studying the figure from life in LD. we were asked to draw an actual environment rather than just the model itself. we were asked to create a front, middle an back or a mes en scene that my film teacher once said. our class was also assigned to erase at every beginning of the period, and start with fresh eyes.

this whole semester, has been a struggle. i didn't take drawing to be such an ancient art form, however i sure lost touch with it in such a short amount of time. so i struggle, trying to decide between value or line, trying to understand planes and trying to get in the zone and connect with an act i once loved.

it wasn't until about the second time we started drawing on this huge piece of paper that i finally felt confident when drawing. i'm not sure what it was. i wouldn't say i liked drawing on the big piece of paper at first because there was so much to draw and so much noise that it was hard to focus. however, the second sitting was different. it was like i took off from there. i could see planes, i saw form and i drew confident lines. when i erased, i didn't trace over what i had drawn but tried to view what was really infront of me and put that down on paper. The erased lines I felt only enhanced the drawing, it gave it a sense of depth, of movement, without any darkening or lightning of charcoal.

i remember when i drew a still life with the same guidelines in drawing I of my freshman year (4 very long/short years ago) and i remember not understanding why would our teacher make us erase something we just worked so hard on? now, that i am a senior i know why. its because everytime you approach a piece of art, you aren't the same person. something has happened and changed that has made you look at what you're seeing different. erasing it, is starting all over with a better understanding.

November 8, 2009

Flickr me

so far, we're past midterms and on to the last few grueling weeks of the semester. it's little flown past me and i haven't even been able to catch my breath it seems....until now. so that means i must blog.

we were told to put up our work on a flickr account so here it is:

Flickr: marK_maKer's Photostream

so far this semester has brought on some interesting challenges. i never realized how long it had been since i drew from life until my charcoal touched that paper. it felt foreign and i have been battling with that ever since. i feel like my line pressure is something i consider a strength of mine, how to use it to create dimension and form is another story. i believe i can capture the characteristics of the individual being drawn, but not understanding plane shifts seems to keep me from really succeeding in my pieces. I still want to look into maybe more of the muscles that are in the facial structure. I understand the skull, but the muscles may be the extra push that i need to completely understand what exactly is under that skin.

the self portrait:
my topic for the self-portrait is somewhere along the lines of my quest for identity. my whole life i have always felt that i have never been on one side, yet i have always been in the middle. half asian/half white, half organized/slob, goal oriented/disoriented. all of this into one person who seems to put her guard up and what do you have: me. i want to try to portray this through a photograph (not sure if it will be just one or a diptych). i want it to look like an actual piece of artwork though, not an art project for school. so far the one that stands out to me is tracy baran. her straight on shots, her use of natural light and edgy symbolism are what i look to capture in my self-portrait.

October 27, 2009

be here now.

I rediscovered the excerpt I previously talked about from the book, "Letters to a Young Artist."

The real life of the artist is solitary.

The central fact of artists' lives - the part that non-artists never seem to quite understand - is the loneliness of the studio. Before our runs are over we will have spent more time - thousands upon thousands of hours - alone, just staring at these things we make. This part of our experience must be factored in to every idea about artis' lives if you want to understand them. More artists stop working because of this loneliness than for any other reason.

If there is one essential survival skil that you must learn, it is how to sustain yourself and your work over the years. There is really only one way to do this, and that is by loving what you do, being fascinated by your work, and by being obsessed with making art. You will get in trouble if you need approval of others to keep your work moving forward. After all these years, the one essential element in my practice, the one thing I am sure of is what I need to be interested in and happy about what I am doing in the studio.

-Thomas Nozkowski

October 25, 2009

cold feet.

now is not the time to get cold feet, this i realize.
my senior show is in april, i have a painting critique on
tuesday, and multiple projects pulling me in every which
direction. and yet, i find myself wanting to forgo all these

i'm not a fan of beginnings, alright with middles and sad
to see things end. however, beginnings or firsts of anything
seem to be my biggest downfall, my procrastination sets in
and i find myself glued in one position and not wanting
to move.

today, after a weekend of work i found myself wanting
to stay in the comforts of my home. sometimes i really
hate applied arts, my studio space, this linoleum floor
and the fact that i don't see the sunlight for hours at end.
and yet, i know i will miss this when it's all said and done.
it's just that i have to keep reminding myself that lately.

so what is this post trying to say? what am i trying to get
at to you (my audience) here? your guess is better than mine,
i suppose i just felt like venting.

but i will say, a professor during class the other day talked
about how else can we be motivated to come in and paint?
we should be in our studios all the time and be working non-
stop to create art, because once we've received that fake diploma
on stage, chances are we won't create art again.

i won't say i will be that statistic, nor will i not be either.
i do realize that right now i've got it made, i'm in a world called
college vs. the real world. and it's just going to get tougher, it's
not like i'm teaching a class, am a mother or have major dilemmas
in my life.

so if i'm getting cold feet now to make art in all forms, then
perhaps i'm shit out of luck.

October 12, 2009

little green book.

lately it's been hard to be motivated, what with being not 100% well and so much to do, it's kind of a downer. i have three essays due for senior seminar and they all involve reading. what, reading? this is an art class, how is that supposed to relate to anything i do? however, it does a lot. a lot of people don't like to read/write, especially art students it seems. that's the reason why we're not business management majors in the first place, so we don't have to take tests or write papers. i agree, i'm not a big fan of paperwork. but we are assigned to read one book that i feel hits home called, Letters to a Young Artist. It's a book based off of a fictional letter written by a young starting artist with questions and concerns who sends it to well-established artists. They all write back responses, some with reassurance, some with straight facts of how it is to be an artist (basically it's not a walk in the park).

There was a letter that talked about being alone in the studio and how that one should really get used to this. While having contacts and being social is important in the artworld to make connections in the end it seems that isolation, is something to be expected in being an artist.

I agree with the statement above, immensely. I walk through the building and see design students yuckin it up and walk into the painting lab and there are probably two or three souls with their ipods in, not much for social interaction. Then there are my friends are at home on their computers doing their homework, I need to be in the studio. I need to be out of the comforts of home. It can sometimes be nice to get away and it can also mean missing out on quite a bit. Being an only child, I was used to doing a lot of things on my own and being alone growing up. I came to college this huge social network and it's allowed me to come out of my shell and to go in reverse just seems weird. This post can seem like a big whine fest, but i'm just saying how it is for a studio major, or so i've experienced. but if this is what i'm going to do i've gotta get used to it.

tonight, same scenario, not feeling well and wanting to just sleep i realized i need to put excuses aside. here's evidence to prove, that i made it to applied arts and that i am painting. and now blogging. maybe this is the dose of reality i really needed.

October 7, 2009


here's about an hour menacing (for the model) drawing of my good friend sarah. i would say i got the traits or resemblance down, although i wouldn't say there's that many defined lines in real life, they make her look old but they were more so just to act as contours...anyways i think it would look more appropriate with shading and i still need to tackle plane shifts. overall, it's not bad, but i need to be more conscience of the skull practices and the value lessons that i've learned in the past couple of weeks.

October 6, 2009

i am my mother's only one.

last week, tamara put on some music that i felt an instant connection to...the chords, the pace, the haunting echos of the singer seemed to capture the movement in my mark making. so i asked her, who is this musician? she said, bon iver.

i have talked to a few people how i am so transfixed by this artist, and heard their stories of how they too get that eerie sense of self when listening to his tracks.

i have only listened to one song for the most part over and over: flume.

i did some research on this band and i come to find out bon iver is french for good winter. it's actually one artist who did the song 'flume' and other songs on his cd 'For Emma, Forever Ago.' His name is Justin Vernon and he is a native to Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Apparently, the story goes that after a breakup with his band and girlfriend, he escaped to his father's cabin in northern wisconsin, where he spent all of his time isolated. he ended up writing and recording songs by himself with the little equipment he had. It boggled my mind, but it made me like him even more. Maybe because I understood how he felt, a lost artist. maybe because I want that too: to be able to just escape and sort out my thoughts in a remote forest surrounded by trees and cold. depressing? very much so, but i'm so envious.


October 5, 2009

i almost forgot

here are the 3 drawings i did of the skull. i know some things i can still work on after a small critique. i've tried adding value, but i can't seem to find a style between my love of mark making and my urge to blend. it's as though i've forgotten how to do this, my drawing 1,2 and lifedrawing skills are being put to the test. maybe i'm just too worried about it, or maybe i'm worried to fail, which is funny because you can erase or just use the next piece of paper and start over. the more i try, the more i will learn. but in the end, i still can't wrap my head around it (yes, all puns intended). sometimes i have those a-ha moments, i'm hoping for that soon here.

September 30, 2009

culture day.

Win Young Huie

^This one shown above here reminds me of my Grandmother's house. Maybe not as much chinese scrawls on the wall, however a definite mix of american and asian life style.

I came across this artist while researching for events near by. Wing Young Huie was born in China and now resides in Minneapolis, with his own photography salon. Wing Young Huie has a remarkable eye for capturing the essence of a person's surroundings as well as their very own well-being. The fact that he photographs images of multi-cultural and minorities in the U.S. is something that fascinates me as well. It is as though he is trying to talk about the stereotypes/cliches of what some may think minorities (Asians especially) are like in America. His images are direct, thought provoking and what I am looking to say in my paintings. See more of his series here: Wing Young Huie

Beverly McIver

As I was washing my brushes I was looking at the wall at art magazine clippings, which I'm guessing are there similar to seeing the advertisements in a bathroom stall. My eyes came across the artist Beverly McIver and an image of a african american woman with a mask on her face. I suddenly had a flashback, and this was an artist that I recall visiting Stout. I can't remember if she had artwork in the Furlong, however I did attend her presentation. I recall McIver because of a) her marks on her paintings are AMAZING as well as the use of arbitrary colors and b) she talked about how she taught and at the end of the year gave a painting away to one student. Seeing her image again reminded me the use of colors that aren't apparent to the naked eye, rather you have to squint to see them. It also pushed me to further investigate my own Vietnamese roots, because I think there's a story there. You can check out her website at: http://beverlyjmciver.com (however it wasn't working for me, you can find different websites about her through google).

September 24, 2009

good egg.

product photography this week consisted of taking pictures of eggs (a white one and a black painted one) on black and white backdrops. the only light source i used was my desk lamp and a few materials like wax paper, tin foil, a mirror, to reflect the light source. it was actually a really good project for me to look at light and also the plane shifts. it feels good to dip back into photography again.

September 22, 2009


this semester i've decided to cram in 3 studios: life drawing, painting and product photography. all two-dimensional surfaces, however they involve completely different procedures, methods and ideas of thought. and while i'm a little on the stressed side and my brain is kind of fried on all of these subjects, i am trying to take inspiration from one course and implement that into my other courses.

let me whip up a little example for you:

today in product photography we talked about lighting and how to capture a moving object. the teacher brought up an artist by the name of Howard Schatz. in photography, it's all about capturing a moment that will soon cease to exist, and howard schatz succeeds with this concept. we looked at his images and he primarily focuses on the figure, usually in water or making sort of action. i was immediately drawn to his prints mainly because he does these outrageous angles and played up characters of the figure. this made me think of life drawing and plane shifts. i noticed the muscles that were being formed and the lines being extended. the images also made me think about composition, color and space, something i try and tackle every time i begin a painting.

i really enjoy how these courses are overlapping with each other. i feel like i am have more inspiration than every before and new insights into the art world. probably the only downside would be that it leaves me with more questions than answers, something i always seem to fall into.
right now my big question is: why try and draw/paint something when you can just take a photograph? can a diverse message be conveyed between the same image, but different mediums?

September 19, 2009

did you know

my ongoing fascination with people still continues on.
i always find it interesting that you never know someone
truly until they actually tell you their story. you can make
all the stereotypical judgements and assumptions you want,
but someone's words make everything concrete.

the other day during class i had an opportunity to learn of what
some people wanted to do after school. and i found it eye opening
that i had a lot in common with individuals.
some thought about teaching or some didn't want to at all.
most wanted to travel, or just figure out why they are
who they are. i got the feeling each one of us wants make a difference,
and i always thought i was the only one. i saw that maybe they too are struggling
with what lies ahead, and wondering what place there will be for them
out in real world.

while i want to be a unique individual,
it's comforting to know i'm not the only one puzzled when someone asks
"so what do you want to do after school?" we're supposed to know the answers now
but maybe that just takes all the fun out of it.
perhaps there is hope for us.

reflection deux

current inspiration:

this summer i went to visit a good friend of mine in door county, wisconsin. it was a remarkable trip and i was very surprised how many fine artists had migrated up to the peninsula. you had the artists who were obviously there to paint the typical lakescapes and take pictures of apple trees and fences and cater to the tourists. however, there was a gallery we visited in the town of sister bay called the fine line gallery. here they had sculpture, art metals, and painting. they possessed nothing that i could purchase whatsoever, nevertheless i was very impressed that they had such a collection in such a wide open two story space. in the back of the gallery however, there was one room with a series of paintings. the room was dedicated to artist pamela murphy, someone i had never heard before. however, i only wish i could've experienced her paintings sooner.

visit her website for more images/bio: http://www.pamelamurphystudio.com/

while i feel that these pictures don't do justice and that experiencing them in person was in far, much better; she still left a lasting impression. enough so that i researched her on my own time (this speaks volumes people). her images are taken from pictures of individuals she finds and are placed on a textured surface. they are supposed to represent nothing in particular, but perhaps the viewer can take something from their own memories and translate the paintings into their own. her images are isolated, vintage, haunting, and hopeful. they cast a sense of nostalgia and try to speak of the past.

i want people to connect with my artwork just like pamela has done here for me. i want all of it to say more than i could imagine.

September 16, 2009

play dough

no, this isn't ceramics. it's life drawing. building 3D models of the skull to give a better understanding of the form.

September 15, 2009

i don't have all the answers.

Yesterday, being my first drawing II class, was exciting and completely terrifying at the same time.

Some things I realized during the 3 hour course:
-Drawing is the foundation of art, and I have completely missed this step for the past two years
-I'm a tad stiff and need to be more fluid with my marks
-Standing up is better than sitting down
-Plane changes are something I can't really grasp and until then I won't be as successful in life drawing

For some reason I thought about the painting I did of my dad smoking (>see previous posts) and how I couldn't paint his hand holding the cigarette. It was impossible to get and I ended up abandoning the project. Now I see the reason for that was how the plane changed and maybe will try the image again in time as my drawing continues to develop.

So another goal to tack onto the list of my 'make it or break it' semester, is to learn plane changes and be conscience of the surface that I am trying to capture (front, side, back, angle, etc).

September 10, 2009

time spent.

so like i said in the previous post, i was a) broke this summer b) too cheap to buy gas c) working 40 hours a week. this left me with limited options, but luckily i am close to the twin cities and those options are better than most. too often i feel that most individuals (including myself) want to explore far away lands in search of more. however, i say why? yes, i want to be a traveler and go to europe and third world countries, but let's face it i'm a student for the time being.

so this summer i went to local areas in the cities and in the outskirts as well. some of these places i had been before and others i hadn't.

these pictures were taken in dinkytown with a good friend of mine. i tried to capture texture, color and line.

another expedition occured a few times over the summer. i really enjoyed the area by summit/grand avenue in st. paul. there are ideal shops, creative neighbors, historic buildings and grand architecture. i found a cafe as well that i went to a few times called Nina's...check er out.

a friend and i then travelled to the outskirts of minneapolis to franconia, mn. ever heard of it? yeah, me neither. but i was told there was a sculpture garden there and had to see it for myself. my appreciation for sculpture is on a tipsy scale, however this was a remote area with remarkable aesthetic pieces. i'd recommend it.

finally, i felt like i became a true city girl when i went down to lake street/hennepin avenue. it's a great place to people watch, sketch and observe. but sometimes it means being observed as well, just so you're aware of that. lake calhoun is a great place in the summer and i hope to someday live close to the area (big big hope).

during the summer sometimes i would find myself very bitter over the fact that i couldn't actually take a plane somewhere or just go on a whim. but looking back at my sketchbook and these pictures, i realize that i've got a lot to show for.

September 9, 2009


back to school time and you know what that means, blogging. i actually started a blog last year because i couldn't really explain that i was an artist without visual representation to back it up. and since i think facebook isn't the best source for these cases, i took matters in my own hands...so to those who read this for class or for pure enjoyment, i am combining my artist blog and my life drawing two blog. and now that you're all good on the dL, here's assignment 1.

i am looking forward to drawing two; which may sound cliche to say, but it's true. too often i find myself relying on photographs and other outlets instead of just sticking to my roots, the basics and witnessing what is right in front of me. drawing is what got me interested in art in the first place and i want to keep it that way.

i hope to learn more about faces and the structure. seeing as that i primarily paint the figure, how could it not be to my benefit? to know what is under the skin is probably one of the keys that i am missing since right now, i just draw what i see. however, it would be grand to have the knowledge of what is creating those divets, folds and shapes on the human face.

certain goals to work on this semester are:
-be aware of the marks that i am making
-not overdue/overwork my drawings
-make mistakes and leave them
-REALLY observe--do not draw what i think is there, but what is.

i've already uploaded a lot of my artwork in previous posts, mainly of paintings. so i will show what i did during 3 1/2 months of break. this summer was all about getting to know my surroundings since i had to work and was pretty broke. so for entertainment, i carried around this sketchbook to most of the places i went and i finished it, which is unheard of in my lifetime. it's a recollection of what i witnessed (cafe's, family, coworkers i worked with, where i went), what i hoped to see and personal insights about the past, present and future. i was quite happy with the outcome and this only gives me more motivation to keep up with documenting the process of daily occurrences in my everyday life.