Everyone says kids grow up too fast and we as parents need to treasure every moment with them. While I agree with this wholeheartedly, there is another stage of my married life that went by much faster, and that is my wife’s pregnancy. A full-term pregnancy is nine months and in that short time there were some incredible changes in my life, from my wife’s physical appearance to our mental and emotional shift as we became parents. These memories, while not all pleasant, are something I want to capture and celebrate.Read More
About a week ago my 6-year-old came to us saying, “When are we going to take a trip again?” His question hit the jackpot because I had already planned a little weekend getaway about a month ago without telling them. Needless to say they were pleasantly surprised when we told them that we were going on a little vacation after school Friday. I booked a night at a resort in Cle Elum, WA. It is a beautiful resort that sits on top of the hill looking over the Cle Elum River.Read More
Last Saturday I did this small chipmunk painting live on YouTube. I had some wonderful time to connect with my viewers and friends. I referenced a photo I had taken last week when I met my wife and my 2-year-old for lunch. As I walked out the door of the office I saw my wife’s face filled with excitement and my son’s eyes sparkling. They had spotted this cute little chipmunk right next to them. I approached it very slowly to take a better look at it. I don’t know if this little guy is brave or clueless, but he didn’t run away when I was about 2 feet from him. I managed to take a few photos with my phone before it finally noticed my presence. I remember my 2-year-old continue looking for it long after it was gone.
The artist in me gave me the urge to paint this little chipmunk. Animals and wildlife are not my usual painting subjects, but I decided to paint this for my wife and kid. While this little painting was mostly for fun it has become a quite meaningful connection with my 2-year-old. Like the Megaman painting I did for my 2 older boys, this little painting made my 2-year-old excited. When he saw this painting, the same sparkle reappeared in his eyes like the day he saw the chipmunk outside of my office. While my kids like seeing daddy’s landscape paintings and the portraits of their mom, they are much more excited when seeing me paint their beloved characters or animals. As a father, I have to take a little bit of pride in knowing what makes my kids excited. I know that each of these little paintings strengthens their confidence in dad’s love for them.
My 2-year-old will probably forget that brief encounter with the little chipmunk. But this painting will serve as a doorway back to that little precious memory. We will be able to bring up that little story year after year. Often, being able to recall these little stories with someone else shows how deep your connection with that person is. My dear wife often asks me to retell the story of our first encounter, the moment that I fell in love with her, or the evening that she fell asleep on my shoulder while we were both standing outside of her home (another story for another time). Every time I retell those stories, our connection deepens and our love rekindles. My paintings allow me to retell a story visually, and I love being an artist whenever I get to do that for my family or someone else.
Eli, my 5-year-old, turned 6 a few days ago. He is the middle child and probably the most independent of my three children. He is able to play with himself alone for hours without asking for attention or complaining about being bored. My wife is always afraid of him getting “middle child syndrome;” because he is always self sufficient while the other two demand a lot more attention, we naturally let him be most of the time. Still, I know I love him the same and he is just as special as his brothers.Read More
The beautiful Pacific Northwest has been covered with smoke from the wildfire lately. It isn’t the first time that we have had wildfires here, but this is the worst year yet. It is so sad; Washington was once proud of its crisp fresh air, and this week the air pollution is equivalent to smoking nine cigarettes. As I’m writing this the smoke is finally clearing up a bit due to the rain. I am grateful for the change of weather, but as the years go by our world changes. A few months ago my friend Dawn, who lives in New Mexico, told me one of the beloved parks that has been there for a long time was almost completely burned due to wildfire. Around that same time I got a commission work to paint Santorini, Greece. While I was researching image I found news about the fire in Greece. All of a sudden I realized even the environment around us can change overnight.Read More
As I'm writing this, I am waiting for the airplane from Taiwan to land. In a few hours, I will be seeing my lovely wife and kids. I am not going to lie, I enjoyed my time alone here. I got much done and I spent some time with myself learning and reflecting on my life as an artist. However, I miss my family a lot and I am more than ready for them to come back! That said, I do want to share with you some of the things I accomplished during this month:
Physically: In one of my YouTube videos I stated that I am going to start exercising and working out to be in better shape and health. Since I had a lot of free time alone I thought it would be a great time for me to take up my workout and diet routine again. It's nothing intensive and I didn't sign up for any training program. It's just a simple workout session every other day, eating a very light dinner, and staying away from unhealthy food. (I still treat myself to an ice cream or two... After all, it is summertime.) While I am not going to show you before and after photos and I don't really measure my weight or calculate my body fat, I can see that I am in better shape when I look in the mirror. The result is that I feel so much more confident and positive.
Emotionally: Supporting a family with three little boys while growing a business is difficult for me. The constant juggling is taking a toll on my emotional stability and health. I haven't done anything really damaging, but I know I have bottled up a lot of stress. It made me impatient with my children and pulled me out of the enjoyment of being a father. While intellectually I know I should treasure every moment I am with them, my emotional state is not strong enough to sustain that positive mindset. This month of being alone focusing on what I wanted to do coupled with talking to my kids through video chat and messages helped me to see my relationship with them from a different perspective. It's kind of like stepping back while you are painting; it forces you to see the whole picture rather than focusing on the detail you are working on. While I know I will be facing the same challenges and frustration again in the future, I was able to reset and refresh myself emotionally.
Spiritually: This is the part that makes me scratch my head a bit. I do go to church every Sunday and keep my faith. However, I think the part that I worked on during the past month is my artistic spirit. I started by going back to my core reason for being an artist — the reason that I shared in my first weekly blend. From that point onward every painting I have done for myself or others aligns with my core values as an artist. This doesn't mean that I have a big profound message behind every single painting I do, but it does mean that every painting will be deeply meaningful to someone, whether it's myself, my family, my friend, or my client. When I know I have made that special connection with someone through a painting my artistic spirit comes alive. About two months ago I was wondering if I should start to paint a series that might do better commercially. After seeking my personal "why" I quickly scratched the idea. If my art doesn't make an emotional connection or remind you of something you hold dear there is no point in what I do.
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Ever since I got myself an iPad Pro for my birthday last month (yes, I bought my own birthday gift 😛), I’ve been drawing with an Apple Pencil in Procreate. I am fascinated by how technology is empowering artists like me to create digital art that imitates physical mediums anytime and anywhere. I was able to create very authentic-looking charcoal drawings with it, but I am not going to replace watercolor painting on physical paper with a digital tablet. After a few drawings and a commission for my friend, I decided to extend this offer to you. It is an incredible privilege to turn my birthday gift into a powerful tool that allows me to serve others.Read More
Earlier this week one of my friends on Instagram was doing a poll for fun. Her question was “Which super power would you rather have: Invisibility, or the ability to fly?” I chose the ability to fly. Unsurprisingly, flying is far more popular than invisibility. The thought of being able to fly makes us feel free and excited, while invisibility sounds practically dangerous and insignificant. While I intuitively chose flying, I didn’t think about the reason for my choice. I didn’t choose flying because I wanted to feel free or powerful. In fact, if you replace flying with any other ability–super strength, super speed, walking through walls, you name it–I would probably choose that. That is because I just want to avoid being invisible. You see, I was invisible for a very long period of time when I was younger.Read More
Vacation has become an essential part of our lives. People used to relate the word “vacation” with something luxurious and extravagant. However, the term has been redefined in today’s lifestyle. Vacation is not about spending money to travel overseas, staying at a fancy hotel, and dining in an expensive restaurant. It is about unplugging yourself from the daily routine and hustle, creating memories with your loved ones, and experiencing what our beautiful world has to offer. If you can afford to go to some of the popular vacation destinations in foreign countries, that’s wonderful. But a vacation doesn’t have to be expensive. There might be a place where you can get away with just a few hours of driving. I went to Victoria, BC a few weeks back for two days and it was a wonderful experience. I came back emotionally recharged and refreshed. That two-day trip gave me great memories and experiences.Read More
Portrait has always been my favorite subject. That’s even before I went to art school. I love drawing comics when I was in high school. The thing I enjoy the most about drawing comic book is designing characters. In some way, designing and drawing characters allow me to become someone I am not. Perhaps someone who has more courage, wisdom, charisma, strength, and etc... I created stories around the characters I designed. What’s their origin story? What makes them who they are? And what journey are they going to go on? I often draw myself into those thoughts during the class. I am much more interested in the stories I created than Shakespeare’s. After I got in to art college, the class I am most looking forward to is head drawing and head painting. Those classes empowered me to be able to paint and draw the people around me. I shifted from fantasy to reality. However, that didn't make the artistic experience any less exciting. Instead of creating my story, painting real-life people made me more observant and sensitive to others’ life and story. I came to realize that my artistic skill is now capable to serve a lot more people.
The best way to celebrate an individual for me is to paint a portrait of him/her. Whether it is celebrating their beauty, their achievement, their love, or my personal relationship with them, I believe portrait is perhaps the most intimate painting subject. I painted my wife since the year I met her as a friend. After a decade and a half I still paint her every now and then to express my love and celebrate our intimacy. I painted my grandma this year as a Mother’s Day gift for my mother. The portrait brought tears to her and her siblings. It triggered this deep emotion they have towards my grandma. When my mom visited us a few weeks ago, she told me her siblings want to make sure I hand her the painting and the prints for them. This is perhaps one of the best Mother’s Day gift I have given her. Commission portrait is also a very popular service that I provide. In the process of talking with the clients, I get to listen to some amazing stories of the person they want me to paint. That made me feel like I was painting someone I know personally. And come to think of it, it is amazing and almost magical. The technology today allow us to take digital photos all the time. People have hundreds if not thousands of photos of their loved ones. However, one single painting/drawing always seems to rise above all! Such personal connection with others is so unique and powerful for me as an artist.
So please tell me, if you want a portrait done for you, who will that be? Your spouse? Your children? Your parents? A special friend? A celebrity? Or perhaps yourself? Let me know! I’m really interested to hear from you!
When my wife and I just started to date back in the early 2000's. Being an insecure/immature boy, I wanted to be with her all the time. That sounds very sweet and intimate until she's suffocated and asking for some personal space. I didn't understand why. I thought if you love someone, you would want to spend time with him/her all the time. Needless to say, we got into some argument. It is funny when I look back to those moments. It's ok, you can laugh at me, I know I was acting very childish. However, Betty told me something I still remember today. She said to me "you need to give me some space and time to miss you!".Read More
It’s summer time, and that means the school is out. Another school year has went by for my kids. This year has been a challenging year for them. We have moved to a new place. While it wasn’t a long distance move, we had to change the school district. Therefore, they needed to switch school. I remember my 9 year old was upset and struggling because he wasn’t use to the new school, new teacher, and new friends. I remember he was having problem with this one specific kid who end up being his good friend. I am proud of my kids’ growth in the midst of change and were able to adapt and perform well in the new environment. Of course, it won’t be possible if it wasn’t for my wife’s care and support throughout the school years. Keeping the kids well fed and helped with their homework after school. However, besides their mother, each of my kid has another important person in this school year who guided and took care of them during the day - their teachers.Read More
Lately, I have been really digging deep into my self about why I become an artist. Before, I've been brushing it off with a generic answer - "Because I like to paint". While there is nothing wrong with this answer, I know it is deeper than that. The more I thought about it, the more I know it's not just about me.Read More