Today I have to take time out to self-reflect on how I’m living my life. Lately, I’m feeling exhausted as I constantly raced against the clock. There are a number of factors but the main one is that I’m not drawing strength and balance from God. Instead of slowing down to talk to Him, I’m running ahead trying to do things my way. I know that eventually, I will wear myself out; God wants to give me His blessings if only I will walk with Him. The Chinese characters (on sum) means peace of heart, mind, and soul; it is a feeling of a sense of security, safety, and confidence in my state of well-being; God wants to provide that for me. I’m glad I made this much-needed self-reflection.
Last week I watched the indie film Beasts of the Southern Wild. The heroine Hushpuppy was portrayed magnificently by five-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis. She and her father live in a place called the Bathtub where joy and poverty goes hand-in-hand on a daily basis. Her way of life becomes threatened by fire, flood, sickness, and death; as her world begins to fall apart, her imagination brings to life these boar-like creatures called aurochs. In the end, Hushpuppy and the aurochs confront one another; each are resilient and have survived many tragedies. This film may sound sad and others have compared the flooding situation with Hurricane Katrina; according to “The Story Behind ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild'”: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/07/17/the-story-behind-beasts-of-the-southern-wild/, the intent was to portray a type of southern myth where many tragedies happen to the protagonist but in the end, the heroine comes out wiser and stronger. Hushpuppy learns to be a brave beast of the southern wild.
My niece’s hair and the goldfish represent the lightness and innocence children carry. Today Abbie wanted to play Chutes & Ladder and then Candy Land so we played them together. I watched her take delight in moving her playing piece up ladders, down slides, and onto colored tiles; she’s not thinking about a million things like I am but just enjoying the moment where her auntie is sitting down on the carpet with her and simply playing a board game. Spending time with my niece reminded me of her goldfish innocence.
Lately there has been no activity on my blog because I have been spending some time making my second sketchbook from scratch; thanks to Transient Art at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whOsRIm8QxE&feature=relmfu for the tutorial. The photo on the right is my latest creation which I am proud to show to you. Comparing it to my first book on the left, it is much cleaner and shows my increased skilfulness at bookmaking.
Inside are the end pages; I have searched high and low for printed paper that catches my eye but alas, there were none that fits the paper size I needed. So I decided to create my own.
Next is the title page; I named this book “Garden” because any kind of idea can grow from it given time and nurturing.
This is my first entry.
Last week I read in the local newspaper about a non-profit organization called Dress a Girl Around the World. Volunteers meet every Wednesday to sew dresses for little girls in Africa and America. I had not heard about this group before yet their meeting place is so close to where I work. The idea of hand-making one-of-a-kind dresses for girls in need is fantastic. Imagine being a child living in poverty and receiving a new dress made by a caring stranger. These dresses represent the love that comes from unsung heroes who sew dresses for girls from around the world.
On Sunday I found a fledgling on the ground; he had already passed away. I was saddened to know that this baby finch had fallen from his nest and will never fly. I held him in my hands for a few minutes and stroked his down feathers. He had also begun growing flight feathers which had a bluish tinge to them. I waited, half-expecting that he would suddenly wake up from shock. When I was certain he would not, I found a spot close to where the nest is and buried him. The next day, a pair of mourning doves wandered around in the same place where the fledgling had died; it brought me some comfort.
The character in my sister’s novel visits Cheung Chau for the first time. This teenage Chinese American feels she is too Chinese in America but too American in her mother’s homeland. At the end of her trip, she comes to terms with herself and decides to bridge the cultural barrier with her grandmother by wearing a cheongsam. The cheongsam is a symbol of Chinese beauty; by wearing this silk gown, the teenager embraces her Asian American essence.
My sister spent six months writing a novel in which some instances took place in Hong Kong. Based on her own experience there, she had spotted wild parrots on the roof of the government house. I wanted to recapture that moment so I decided to illustrate it for her. Since we both have not been able to go back to the Pearl of the Orient (one of HK’s nickname) in ten years, recreating past experiences with words and paintings is the next best thing.
For months I have seen this tractor truck parked behind my local library and I had wanted to record it. Yesterday I finally set aside some time before work to draw it. Halfway through my drawing, I began to think, “What have I gotten myself into? There are so many parts to it.” But I stuck with it because it was a great exercise in hand-eye coordination. I began to treat each part like a piece of a puzzle as I slowed down to see. The experience became my meditation before I had to rush off to work.
My mom grew up in Cheung Chau, a small island off of Hong Kong. I found these photos of her as I work on illustrations for my sister’s novel. It is mind-boggling to see her as a little girl doing things little girls would do. Life moves so fast that in a blink of an eye a child becomes an adult. The ironic thing is children wish they were adults and adults wish they were children again. When I look at these pictures of my mom, I am reminded that life is short that I will try to treasure each moment and enjoy them as they come.