- I toured an African safari and hung out with some giraffes
- Ate deliciously fresh baked bread in Paris
- Won a million bucks!
Siiiiggghhh, if only it were true! Sadly, I’ve been stationed at home, merely bitten by the travel bug, longing for the days of traveling again. As fun as that sounds, I’ve been working feverishly on many goals.
Discovering My Creative Process
I took an art class last semester that pushed my growth as an artist — I loved it! “Critique and the Creative Process,” the class was called. The class was led by Seth Eisen at Berkeley City College (along with three amazing TAs). It was certainly the most challenging class I’ve taking through the Peralta Colleges. I learned a lot about my own creative process, like:
- I need my work area to be CLEAN before I start working. I need to start with a clean slate around my canvas (only to make it all messy while creating!)
- It’s really hard for me to work with no music. Lack of music is very distracting for me, and the type of music I listen to can vary depending on my mood. Though, 80′s and 90′s hits are always a win in my books!
- Writing is a huge part of my creative process. I didn’t realize this before. I need to do “brain dumps” of all my thoughts and ideas. (When I realized this portion, I knew I had to start blogging again! My writing is so rusty!) From there, I pull together the points I find most intriguing, and then begin sketching compositions that unify the main ideas.
- Sketches of the piece are general guidelines. Leaving room for change and modifications is very helpful for me, and encourages me to go with my gut instincts while painting.
I created many new pieces that I’m very proud of! Check out my Portfolio to see if you like them, too!
Working on My Portfolio for Art School Submission
This has been something I’ve been planning for a while. Even while I was still working at Embark and taking night classes, I knew I wanted to pursue art/design/the creative field. It’s something I was very scared of doing when I was younger: afraid of rejection, scared of criticism, an overall fear of not being enough. Since 2008, I’ve been building my technique/skills and knowledge to be much more confident in my artwork.
Finding a job in the web design field was the perfect medium for me to move from a front-end programming job into something that was more focused on visual design. I picked up a tremendous amount of knowledge from the team at Waxcreative, and it helped me hone in on my design skills overall.
I recently attended National Portfolio Day and I received GREAT feedback from several schools! The admissions counselors were impressed by how professional my portfolio was presented. Phew! I spent a lot of time on making my portfolio clean and tidy, so I’m very grateful that it received very good feedback.
- I had professional pics taken of my art pieces (by Dana Davis Photography, Ringler Studios, and the fabulous Brent Tam)! Good pics of your pieces go a LONG way!
- Had the option of creating a printed portfolio. I just recently saw that Noah Bradley had his portfolio books printed through Blurb.com, so I went with them. I loved the results! (Also received much extra help from Eugenia Man who has plethora of knowledge with printing photo books as part of the fabulous photo packages she provides!)
- Received invaluable feedback from my friend Henry Kim-Han who also went through this same portfolio-building process. Immensely helpful to get input from people who have an eye for which of your pieces are stronger!
- Had all the titles, captions, chapter pages, artist statement proofread by several people.
- Plus, it helps to have one of the best partners in the world. Infinite thank you’s to Brent, who made all the meals and put up with all my messes (tangible and emotional) during my crazy days. Never got angry at me, always understood I was under pressure, and 100% supportive. <3 x 9999999^999999999
Combating a Repetitive Stress Hand Injury
I place this last on my list because I really want this to take last priority. But I can’t deny that it greatly crippled my abilities in the last three months. And I’d be a complete liar if I said these weren’t trying times.
In mid-October, I suddenly felt a sharp pain on my right hand’s middle finger joint while working at the comp. I assure you it’s not from flicking people off–I’m really slow at singling out my middle finger, I promise.The pain began to creep up towards my wrist, I started feeling the pain in my second and forth fingers. There was a weird tingling behind my elbow. And my shoulders became as stiff as rocks.
I began seeing a doctor and physical therapist. They said I had a repetitive stress injury from keyboarding/mousing. More precisely, my lower cervical and upper trapezius muscles had been overworked due to reaching too far for my keyboard and mouse, and my nerves were extra sensitive (thus the pain, tingles, numb feelings). In addition to completely revamping my work station by an ergonomist, I was on a modified work schedule. For a while, for every 30 minutes that I worked, I had to take a 30 minute break, for a maximum work day of 4 hours (which meant I only worked for 2 keyboarding hours). I was instructed to lay down during my breaks to ensure that my neck had breaks — literally taking the weight off my shoulders.
From October through December, I felt pretty incapable, insufficient, and my morale was at the lowest its been in a while. It’s not like my brain was cloudly like we often are when we’re sick. My brain was fine, I was still thinking the same, running through the many lists of things I needed to do. All the things I COULDN’T do. My brain was running 10,000 times faster than my body could keep up with. There were days where I couldn’t even use my right hand to lift a manila folder. I couldn’t eat with my right hand, couldn’t drive with it, and I couldn’t even put some papers in my backpack because my right hand couldn’t hold the bag open. I couldn’t work at work, I couldn’t cook or clean at home, I couldn’t work on my portfolio, I couldn’t work on any kind of art without my right hand. During the lowest points, I felt like I was a waste of space, and that the injury would last forever and I would never have my right hand back again. I spent many days vegetating on the floor, watching films I’d been meaning to watch, and regularly slumping at the local bar at 11AM.
I became religious about my physical therapy exercises. I began to look on the bright side of things, and I started to train my left hand to do a lot of things. (Left hand is so much better at driving now; I can do most chores with left hand; I’m still trying to figure out how to hold chopsticks with my left hand. Btw, noodle soups are extremely difficult to eat if you don’t have a dominant hand to use……) Slowly but surely, my injury was getting better, and my muscles were getting stronger. I was slowly able to work on my portfolio and art again.
I don’t think not many people really understood what was going on with my body and my emotional state at that time, but I am very grateful for those that were unquestionably supportive and for keeping my chin up. A million thank you’s. Additionally, I wouldn’t have been able to make it through without Brent, who helped me through all my whirlwind states of insecurities, whether it manifested itself as anger or intense moments of panic attacks. I love you, and thank you for letting me lean on you when I needed help the most — even though I kicked and screamed when refusing any help to preserve any sense of self worth.
Even through all this, I eventually got my portfolio done, printed, and reviewed with flying colors. Not to be self-boasting or to build my ego, I’m very proud that I was able to complete my portfolio the way I envisioned it to come out, with even better reactions than I expected. It’s a testament to really putting one’s mind to something and doing everything possible to make it happen. (Okay, maybe I wanted to boast a little. Oh well, I humbly think I deserve a little mini-ego booster after all the hurdles that overcame.)
So, now I’m writing my essays, finalizing everything for my applications before I send them in. *fingers crossed!* Wish me luck! (A thousand thank you’s to Tarrin for helping me with revising my essays and making it all spiffy and presentable! <3 you!)
Oh yeah, this new design has been a project I needed to finish before sending applications off, too. Take a peek around and enjoy! <3