The Passage of a Year

Almost exactly a year ago, I made a zine for a visual arts class. I’ve always held on to bits and pieces of stuff. They’re mostly just piles of receipts and flyers sitting in eternal purgatory somewhere in my apartment. This was the first time I ever compiled them.

2015 was a crazy period of change, but looking through my year-old images, I realize that I’m still very much influenced, driven, and characterized by the same things. Postcards that never got sent, annotated text, artist bios, being so into someone – the passage of a year revealed the authenticity contained in this little book. In 2015, I actually ended up visiting Prague, Paris, Vienna, Florence, Berlin and more. I saw the original Egon Schieles. I walked the streets of Kundera.

I should make one every February for good luck.



The Marchutz Oil Painting Haul

Since my experience in Aix was intimately tied up with what I ended up painting during my time at Marchutz, I thought I’d visually introduce you to some special people and special places of my time abroad through my paintings. Starting with…. the lovely faculty of the Marchutz School of Fine Arts:

I’ve never experienced such lavishness in terms of a teacher’s dedication to their student’s learning process. They are more than teachers; they are dear friends.

I have so many of John because he would sit the longest and read to the entire class from a book. Like To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.

We also did a few weeks of still lives. I don’t have as many because our motif was kinda limited by the natural cycle of rotting, maggots, and an unbearable smell of spoiled food in the studio. I was also unmotivated to work fast as an apple sitting on a counter isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

For the first month, we took the “vomit comet” out to the landscape near the base of Mt. St. Victoire and painted in a field of snails, grain, and Provencal farm houses. Life is beautiful when you really stop and look at all the colors and movement that make up the world.

Of course Marchutz wouldn’t be Marchutz without the best classmates and friends and buddies I could ever have asked for. Portraiture was the last leg of the curriculum and the one I enjoyed the most. I love trying to capture the personality of a person. Again with the beauty thing; painting people just makes me think how beautiful all friends are. Not everyone sat for a portrait but here’s what I have.

Those are just the paintings I thought were worthy of your attention. Drawings (which I am much much more comfortable with) will be up by a distant date in the future. I have Christmas parties to do.

I Was That Girl Who Color Coded Her Lecture Notes

I love a beautiful collection of class notes in a pristine notebook, every entry dated and numbered and following a system of underlined titles and circled “important points to remember.” Great thing about art history class is that I can have all that AND a chronological account of my progression in drawing, especially the figure for this course. I definitely ended the semester with a looser, more expressive hand stemming from a lowered dependence on contour lines and higher emphasis on drawing from “inside” the figure. Let me know if you can see what I’m talking about:

Paris, France. How do I begin to explain Paris, France?

“Paris, France is flawless.”

“I hear the Mona Lisa is insured for $750 million”

“I hear she gets a ton of Asian tourists… from Japan.”

“Her only well-known movie is Amelie.”

“One time she met me on a train – and I told her she was pretty.”

“One time she punched me in the face – it was awesome.”


It took me three months but I made it there. For the past five days, I was in Paris for my art history and oil painting classes’ joint excursion to the grand Parisian art museums, the literally dozens of world class collections housed within one city’s limits. We visited four museums and spent about eight hours a day just looking, discussing, processing these images before our eyes. However, I think we discussed about ten paintings in total. I have never sat before a painting for more than 5 minutes before, just hanging out with it, getting to know how its day went, etc. But I was definitely not the only student whose entire perception of  painting changed and expanded. Paintings can make even hardened, yuppies-to-be cry, if they open their minds to the possibility of a painting being more than bits of color on canvas.

Edward Hopper said, “If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.” Paintings have the same mysterious ability of a poem, a story, a movie to connect to the viewer on an emotional level, yet it’s an experience that is unique to the medium of paint. In a way, the connection between the artist and the viewer is even more direct than those of novels or poems because there is no middleman of something like language, words, connotations inherent in writing. It’s just you using a sense you’ve had since you were born to perceive an idea. And that’s why I think the experience of viewing a painting can be so personal. The image opens the door for you step through and understand other things – whatever human struggles that are in one’s life at that moment. I know. I sound like a hippie, free-lover spewing these abstract terms about the human condition and expression. But if you ever want to really know what I mean, come with me and I’ll take you to a museum and we’ll contemplate the world before us through the work before us.

I have to be honest, I don't personally get all the hype about the Mona Lisa. But at least it forces people to look at a painting for a while.

I have to be honest, I don’t personally get all the hype about the Mona Lisa. But at least it forces people to look at a painting for a while.

All in a Day’s Work: Water-Soluble Color Ink Pencils

This weekends marks the few last days of the still lives that have served us valiantly for the past two weeks. I have come to spend so much time with them that I no longer notice the smell of the rotten pumpkin, bananas, carrots, yams, and various other moldy fruits and veg. Drawing and painting still lives was way more comfortable than painting out in the landscape. I know what an apple is supposed to look and feel like. I  have no clue what a fluttering cypress tree 100 meters away even is. Here’s all the sketches I did today from Ink-tense pencils. They’re like color pencils that you can wash over with water and the marks turn into really vibrant ink. My camera isn’t the best at picking up the accurate colorings. Sorry everything’s so yellow tinged. In reality, they’re more red.

1. First impressions. Curly-que is a black moldy pumpkin slice. Purple cabbage does not relate to stark, light background.


2. Awkward composition of tomatoes and pumpkin. But I do like how many reds I was able to  describe.


3. Blue and yellow color contrasts are always crowd winners. Focused a bit too much on dark contours rather than developing the interior color values, though.


4. Got bored of still lives. Drew Ruhee painting on the floor instead. Much more difficult than still lives as you probably can tell… Sorry I gave you a hunchback 😦


5. White bottles give me hard times. Quite proud of my cauliflower though.


The Marchutz School of Fine Arts

Sorry I have been lagging with posts. It is currently midterm week(s). But I stumbled across this video during my many hours of working – read: procrastinating – and thought it to be the perfect little summary of what life is like here at Marchutz. I recognize the excursion sites, the studio, the professors of course, but also what they’re saying about the experience.

I love it here.