Nike (Winged Goddess of Victory). Shop Update

I adopted my border collie a little over a year ago when she just turned one. I deliberately waited a few days for her to reveal her name to me, and in no time she showed me that she had a set of invisible wings. It took no effort to name her after the Greek goddess, from whom the infamous shoe company got its name.

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I've been feeling pretty burnt out as of late, so when my friend from LA came up here for her regular visit to her family, I dragged her out to the coast with her camera. The weather cooperated and gave us an unusually sunny day at the coast, and we had a blast. We took turns taking pictures of Nike taking her flight, but I'm pretty sure most of the pictures in this post was taken by my friend. Thanks, Anderlee. You're such a good sport.

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I am baffled by how quickly we've arrived to October this year. Come to think of it, I think I am always surprised around this time of the year that time just seems to blaze on by. 

I will be at  Urban Craft Uprising this December, so Seattle friends, please come out and say hello. As I have been saying, there will be some changes to my online stuff. The revamping of my blog, portfolio and ecommerce site have been in the works, I hope to share that in a next month or so. It may end up getting launched in the new year, but it's hard to say for sure one way or the other at this point. It will be clear when it happens though, so stay tuned.

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The story that was shared with me when I went to pick her up was that she was found getting thrown out of the moving car, a six-month-old pup that was skin and bones. She then went through two different owners. The person who had her at the time of the adoption had been struggling with a serious heroin addiction, so needless to say, Nike had a pretty rough beginning. She definitely displayed some behavior that made me feel helpless at first, and we had our share of challenges. However, she has blossomed beautifully into a happy, fun-loving dog in the short time that we've been together. I've never had a dog that was so attentive to my every move and emotion as Nike is. She stresses out when I stress out. She's cheerful when I'm happy. She's my both physical and emotional shadow, which certainly makes me keep myself in check. 

The end of the year is always challenging for businesses like mine. I'm beginning to feel a bit daunted, but I know it's no time to lose heart and shy away. It's time to put on a fierce game face, and my pup seems to know a thing or two about that.

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Looking Forward

We are at the tail end of a very intense heat wave here in Portland, but even in the middle of the suffocating heat, one does catch a brief breeze that seems to have blown in out of nowhere. 

I had a moment as such yesterday while walking Nike. It made me stop and look up, and then I caught a flash of autumn light even though the fall is still a few weeks away, and people are still going  about doing summer activities. The sun tilts, and the light changes. It happens so gradually that I hardly take notice, but when I do become aware, like I was yesterday afternoon, I always see in my mind's eye, the back of a small girl walking in front of me. She's always by herself and doesn't expect things to be otherwise. I consult her. I don't trust anyone else but her. She doesn't say much. She just knows. I'm shocked over and over again that someone so young so confidently possesses clarity and certainty. I try to keep her in view as long as possible, but those visions are always so fleeting just as the flickering glimpses of the times to come. And I wake up to the fog again.

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Enough of the weird talk, how's your summer going? I've been checking things off my list of places to explore as I have mentioned last time. I have been going to the coast a lot. One of the places on the list was Neskowin Beach, from which these pictures are taken. 

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During one of these excursions, I've also managed to find a coastal trail that I absolutely fell in love with, and for that reason, its whereabouts will always remain a secret. It is so lesser known that we had the entire trail all to ourselves. You walk down about a mile from the parking area and then two miles out onto a vast meadow and a spectacular ocean view. Of course, this means you have to walk back two and then UP one, which ends up being a respectable workout that calls for an awesome cold brew once you're back in the civilization. By now, some of you probably have figured out which trail I'm describing, but I bet you're happy to know that I'm not disclosing the name or any other info. Yeah, it will be our little secret. Let's preserve the good things as long as we can, shall we?

So, these are ancient sitka stumps that were revealed by the extreme storms back in the late 90's. Here is a link that does an awesome job at describing the whole place – TravelOregon. My personal tip would be to check the tide schedule before going, because during the high tide, the Ghost Forest could be well under water. For the one that I used, click here

Maybe I felt as though I've noticed a premature seasonal change because I have fall and winter constantly on my mind. I can say with some level of certainty that the second half of this year will be quite busy for my studio. There also will be some structural changes that will affect the website and my social media. You as a reader will not notice much, but it is not a small undertaking behind the scenes. 

Thanks to everyone, by the way, who stopped by at my booth and gave me business. So far, it's been a great market season. Something about things going well, keeps you even busier. You don't want to lose the momentum. 

I've been saying on my Instagram feed that something's been brewing in my studio. There will be another series of work and relevant products released before we all get swept into the rush of holiday season. So stay tuned. Keep watching and waiting. 

Seattle Show. Summer List.

I can't believe that the Seattle show (Urban Craft Uprising) was already about a month ago. It was great to see how people from another city received my work. It was also fun driving around on much busier roads than Portland. I had to laugh at how my mean L.A. driver skills kicked into full gear in no time as soon as I reached Seattle proper.

Summer now is in full swing, and I am determined this year to check off the list of places that I've been wanting to explore. One of them is Opal Creek Wilderness.

Getting there felt like a real voyage into the wild due to the two hour drive from Portland which included seven miles or so of unpaved road as we got close to the entrance area. However, we arrived at relatively full parking lot even though it was fairly early in the day. Just like many other known outdoors locations in Oregon, this place too was attracting a lot of people, many, transplants like myself. I don't like to think that the hey days of Oregon outdoors is now over, but I can't help the thought that I wish I had caught the Pacific Northwest bug a lot earlier, like when I first visited Ashland Shakespeare Festival during my college years. Good news is, Opal Creek did not disappoint. The water was pristine and the ancient forest trail was beautiful, just as I had read.

Here is a little secret about this super pup. She can't swim. We found this out last year at Punchbowl Falls when she excitedly followed a chocolate lab into the swimming hole and immediately bobbed in and out of the water in panic. I'm pretty sure it's just a matter of time that she finds the swimmer in her, but until then, I'll need to get her a doggie life jacket, which I forgot for this trip.

Oh, well. Next time, because there will be a next time very soon. I'm not a bumper sticker person, but I keep catching myself staring at the green heart Oregon sticker every time I'm at Powell Books. We shall see. It just might be the thing my Subie needs. I love Oregon.

My Pacific Northwest

Hey, I've recently been noticing that I drive around Portland without the assistance of GPS or Siri. I haven't been needing it as I have in the first year and a half or so. I even catch myself cringing sometimes at the cars with out-of-state license plates as if I am a native Portlander disgruntled at transplants, when I myself am one. I definitely have turned into a real local, but I know that there is more to discover here, especially the great outdoors of Oregon. My latest work is about that – inspiration of magical Pacific Northwest.

Stargazing

During my first few months here in Portland, I met an elite runner who ran for University of Oregon, whose dream is to live comfortably out of a van surfing up and down the coast. Him and his brother took it upon themselves to introduce me to Oregon and showed me some great surfing spots in the coast and where to find awesome waterfalls and swimming holes, and best coffee and wine in the ever-so-enchanting Columbia River Gorge. The runner eventually moved away to work towards affording that dream life, and we drifted apart. Three years into living in Portland, I look back at that innocent time and feel immensely thankful. It was a gift and pure grace to this foreigner, and I know that it would have taken me much longer to figure out what PNW has to offer, if I hadn't met him.

Unpacking the Fun
Jake had a Ladder
Disappearance of the Colossal Golden Egg

The change and growth that I have observed here so far is quite staggering. Portland literally is exploding. New buildings go up and new companies come in literally everyday. What appeared to me at first as a little big town, is now resembling a metropolis. It's still very relaxed and charming compared to spread out yet dense cities like Los Angeles, and I'm just hoping that the growth starts tapering off right about...now?

I have a show coming up this weekend in Seattle. Will report on that later. Applying to a bunch of notable shows and trying to gear up for busy summer and fall. I'm a bit worried that I have turned into a workaholic of sorts. After this weekend, I'll need to step back and reconfigure the way I run my days. Like I said, there is so much to discover in this great state. Magic in the studio doesn't happen randomly. Gotta go outside.

Have frisbee, will travel. Show Announcement

I have a friend down in Los Angeles who manages a creative account for Amgen. We met as colleagues back in 2005 at an ad agency and have become close friends over the years. I do some remote freelance work for her occasionally, but this time, she was absolutely swamped and needed me onsite. Knowing that I will be gone for at least two weeks, I decided to drive and take my dog with me. The weather the way it has been in Portland, I decided that the little pooch could use some sunshine, too.

The work was demanding, and I had to put in long hours each day. I sent her off to doggie daycare. However, whenever I found opportunity, I took her to parks and hiking trails. I had long forgotten about the Santa Ana winds and the bluster and the dry heat that the winds bring all across the southland. So whenever we were out there on trails, I had to keep my wits about me for rattlesnakes and even possibly for a mountain lion on early mornings. Yes, they are out there in LA and known to come daringly deep into neighborhoods. It's no joke, especially now that the tagged Santa Monica mountain lion reportedly has a new cub. 

The drive down to California, the work and the drive back, all have been quite much. It took a while for me to feel like I'm back in the swing of things after returning, but oh man, what a companion I have found in my border collie. She proved to be an excellent travel companion. As long as I gave her enough breaks along the way (and decent frisbee sessions), she was a happy camper. Thank goodness for the rest areas and their park-like settings along the Interstate-5 freeway, I really experienced the benefits of tax payers money at work. Now if they could do something about jacked-up road conditions that the long standing drought has left...

Meeting her long lost cousin :-)

Showing her downtown LA

This is where they filmed LA LA Land, mama!

Do you see the Hollywood sign?

A day at the office

Useless co-pilot, but I lover her so much.

Just briefly, on the work side, I have a new solo show opening coming up on June 1st, Thursday in the Pearl District. I'll post more on that pretty soon. Hope everyone's doing well. It's impossible to believe the first half of the year is  a l m o s t  over! Talk soon!

Reevaluating and Refocusing

I finally made it up to Portland Japanese Garden last Sunday for the first time since I moved up here. Coincidentally, it was the garden's reopening after closing for $33 million expansion. I was hoping to see spectacular blossoms, but our record-setting long winter was still hanging on up at Washington Park, and its effect on the flowering season was visibly obvious except for a few notable spots. It was overcast with clouds for the most part, but whenever the sun was out, there was no denying in that spring is here. Or at least not too far off. 

It took longer than I wanted to update my website. There were some issues with Facebook, which would be too long and boring to get into here. The problem still isn't resolved as FB is too big to pay individual attention to its members. It definitely got me rattled for little while, but I decided that it was  good that the complication happened and I will not have an existential crisis over it. The truth is, I seldom promote my business on FB, and still feel somewhat ambivalent about Instagram as a marketing tool even though I actively post there. It's more for sharing with friends and few loyal fans about my work and life, and even if I don't amass a large following, I'm okay with that.

Yes, I understand the importance and benefits of social media, especially for a business like mine. But I really don't want to feel too dependent on them. I want things to happen more organically for my business rather than me having to chase things that they say that I should be chasing (i.e., social media following, etc), whoever "they" are. The way these things take priority just feels backwards sometimes, and this FB woe brought that underlying annoyance to light. Like I said, I'm happy that it happened, because it forced me to address other aspects of my business more thoughtfully as well.

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to work closely with these two Dutch brothers who were master designers who handled major branding projects for many nationally known supermarket products. Even though I was green and equally stupid, I knew that it was a real privilege to be working closely with them. I often felt like they shouldn't be paying me and I should be paying them for the exquisite lessons that I can't get anywhere, not even from art schools. I literally popped out of bed every morning looking forward to going to work, and weekends always felt too long and boring, unless I was in the shop working with them on a pressing deadline. It was the most fulfilling two years of my life as a graphic designer.

So, one would think that if you worked under a brand-design master for that long, you'd be really good at branding your own business too, right? Well... I'm not so sure. The Facebook issue wasn't the only reason why the website update took so long. I'm now at a point where I can no longer let my business meander in ambiguity – it needs clear branding, but it's been really difficult to hone in on it. 

I guess the main question that I've been grappling with is, am I an arts business or a crafts business? I'm kind of both, right? If so, am I being unrealistic in thinking that I can handle both – when I'm already spread thin being all things to all aspects of my work?  I'm not a purist who thinks that commercial success as an artist means you are selling out. However, my work is more fine-arty than crafty when the "crafty" products seem to have more commercial appeal, and what do I do about that? I've got my hands in on more than one medium and discipline, one distracts me from the other and vice versa. I spent many hours these few weeks researching, trying to get a grasp on how to angle my business in general and my work in specific in this highly saturated artisan world. And then there is this on-going debate about my business name. Do I always want to associate my name with my brand? I'm no Martha Stewart nor do I want to be, but as an artist, doesn't it make sense that you put your name to your own handy work? But what about my jewelry? So I went on and on in circles.

Are you still here? Hope you didn't get lost in my ramblings.

Well, all this to say I don't really have a concrete answer yet, but I do feel that I am headed in the right direction. I hope some of the updates to this site reflects that. 

You know... In the middle of all the deliberation, there were little moments of clarity – that in most any conflict, the answer always seems to be within. If I were to be honest with myself and really listen, I think know what to do. I need to go back to the basics. Go back to my sketchbook. Start doodling again. No agenda for a line of product or anything like that. Just be immersed in it and see what shows up... Yeah, that sounds really good.

 

 

A Sale for Valentines Day. A New Show in the Works. Missing LA.

And here we go again. The first month of the year flew by, and Valentines Day is right around the corner. Despite the recent distractions from our nation's capitol, I managed to stay somewhat productive. 

A 15% discount code for my jewelry shop is HEART17. 

I've been exploring with brass as of late. The Heart and Arrow Necklace featured here along with other brass items that I've come up with, will become available on my etsy shop today.

I have another art opening coming up in mid February. It will show some of local landmarks. Jewelry making is fun, but it requires a lot of patience on my part. Delving back into painting will be a much needed relief for me after these weeks of intense focus. Metals vs. color pigments – two very different elements to work with. I will post more on the show as we get close to it. 

I realized that it's been over a year since I've been back in Los Angeles. I miss it. It hit me when the photos of Women's March in L.A. started flooding in my feed. I felt like I got left out on something important. It made me spend some time pondering about how a city becomes a part of your being, especially when you see it going from obscurity to notoriety over the course of your own lifetime, as did Downtown and Koreatown.

I'm due for a visit, I suppose.

Strange Days

Do you ever have those days when your mind and heart are overloaded with thoughts and emotions, but you can't seem to articulate them, because the talk seems pointless, and everyone else in the world seems to be talking loudly and nonstop anyway?

Yes, me too, especially today. So I doodled.

God help us all.

Christmas. A Detour. A Company of Witnesses.

Christmas morning, we got up and hit the road south on I-5 with the intention of hiking Jawbone Trail but ended up cutting the trip way short at Willamette Mission State Park just north of Salem. The idea of driving for over two hours for a short six mile walk didn't seem all that enticing once we got started. Plus, I just wrapped the season for the year at Portland Saturday Market, which is always physically taxing at the end, dealing with the holiday rush. Needless to say, the mojo for Jawbone fizzled out pretty quickly. It ended up being a good detour though. Don't you love it when the plan b works out just as well, if not better? It being the Christmas Day where most normal people sleep in and have a lazy morning of gift opening and celebration, we had the acres and acres of the watershed park all to ourselves. At the end of what turned out to be an extremely trying year, it was just the thing I needed — s p a c e.

There were many magnificent and gnarly old growths spread about, providing perfect refuge for the birds that I've never seen before getting chased by my playful young border collie. Looking up at these statuesque limbs, I recalled to mind many Korean poems that personify old trees as wise sages or silent witnesses of sorts — the verses that I didn't even know that I still remembered.

Why has this year been so rough for me? How has it been for you? There were many highlights for sure, and it would be very ungrateful of me to characterize the entire year as bad. It wasn't all bad but it was undoubtedly challenging. A lot and often. It's the business of making art. Or it's the business, period. A friend who has a thriving business, though in a different field, shared with me recently, that it took about three years before he started experiencing real growth. This year being the second year since I got thrown into a situation where I had no choice but to make things happen all on my own, if I am even remotely like him — for whom I have nothing but utmost and almost biased respect — I only have one more year left in the furnace before I come forth as the owner of a flourishing business at the end of the tunnel. Right?

Yeah, I'd sign the dotted line for that deal. 

I've learned a lot this year — about myself and about being a creative entrepreneur. I paid a steep price for all the real, heart-breaking lessons. As a result, I have never been more clear as I am now. So once again, I will take these invisible gains as a profit and press forward. I'm aiming to write a very different post at the end of next year.

There always seems to be a point on any long walk in nature, where you lose your sense of time and space, and feel very keenly in the moment. Just you and the present. I think it was there that I might have said audibly, "You just wait and see. I'll show you what I'm made of." And then I was startled that there were witnesses to my rather bold proclamation, rows and rows of them, waving their Yoda arms back to me. And as if I was preaching to the choir, they echoed back in unison, a beautiful Amen.

Shoot... No taking my words back now.

2017 Calendar – Art and Typography

Before I forget, here is the discount code for 20% off for my readers • CALENDAR20

Go here to purchase or click on SHOP PRINTS from the above tabs.

2017 calendar comes unbound, designed to pin to a bulletin board at home or office. It is printed on archival paper with archival ink. I've seen some creative displays of calendars and art on pinterest, if you need inspiration.

This is a combination of my art and typography for each month of the year — a calendar representing the original painting portfolio that I have built since moving to Portland, Oregon. It was a fun and reflective process to weave them all together.

How about this biting cold weather, though? Another chilly winter storm looming in the forecast. Please stay safe and warm when you're out and about holiday shopping!

Reflecting...

"This December 22nd will mark my second year in Portland."

It was a random thought that came into my head as I looked around the gallery full of people when my exhibit opened last week. I recognized every single face, and all but one of them were acquaintances and relationships made here in Portland.

I moved up not knowing a soul even to have a cup of coffee with (except for a friend's friend that I was supposed to reach out to – who eventually became a really good friend) but there I was standing in the middle of an art show – my art show – with friends that I didn't know existed when I filled up my apartment into my Volvo and drove up from Los Angeles. And now I even had a dog waiting for me at home.

I was grateful.

The residency at Portland Children's Museum was one of those serendipitous events. I was at a creative meeting a year and a half ago, waiting in line to get in when I met the residency manager. We chatted about Portland donuts (they served coffee and donuts that morning) and what we each do for living. This was at a time when I started noticing that most of my customers are parents of young children. Sometimes little kids would walk into my booth and demand that their parents buy them my art. Upon hearing about the program, I thought it might be worth my while to investigate this little phenomena that I have with kids and see where it leads me. When the next application season opened, I applied.

I've documented my experience extensively on Instagram and on previous post, so no need to bore you with redundancy. Even as I reflect on it right now, it's hard to put into words what all the challenges and beauty of working with kids meant to me. I was so immersed in it that when one of the museum staff asked what I'll be doing next after the residency, I was stunned by the question.

I don't know what the residency has revealed for me. At least not just yet. A lot of you – friends, patrons and fans – suggested children's book. Maybe. I don't know. I feel a bit of a panic that I don't know. I used to consider myself as a big-picture person. I don't know about that anymore. It's the holidays. Given that I have a booth and an online shop to run, I'm still in the trenches and I don't have the luxury of time until all the holiday hoopla is over.

I can say this though. It stretched me. It made me go deeper and further on this path as an artist. My dad's passing almost four years ago had a catapulting effect, especially on me. I was the least emotional one at the time, but the fact that a few years later I found myself in another state showcasing my art at an established museum, as opposed to sitting in front of a computer like I used to, designing Blu-ray packages for classic tales that are now canned and disney-fied, shows the extent of what his death did to me. For better or for worse.

I think I've always been broken because of his broken dreams. Perhaps living as truthfully to the core of my being as possible will mend the things that I never thought was repairable – however difficult the process may be. And it has been everything but easy.

Therefore, I'm all the more grateful for the encouragements that I received at the opening night. I was beyond excited to see you. I hope everyone has beautiful and warm holidays. With the weather the way it's been, we may even have a white Christmas in Portland this year.

Drinking the Special Green Stew

Hello, hello! It's been two solid months since I last posted an update that I will be working at Portland Children's Museum as the artist in residence. It's a three month tenure, and I can't believe it's now down to my last month. What a ride it has been!

I knew going in that working with kids will be the biggest challenge of the program for me, and I was right. It also has been the best part for the sheer reason that it has been a challenge.

I think children make the most sublime abstract artists. And while their work may appear abstract to adults like me, to them, there is nothing abstract about it. It is what they believe it is. It is a red, mermaid-eating dinosaur even though to the adults, it may appear to be a clumsily painted red blob. The green streak across an array of bright orange lines is a deep, dark cave in a beautiful forest, where the dragons live and a tiny princess communicates with the outside world on a walkie-talkie to help her mom buy a used car at Carmax. They paint the world that is so singularly their own, you as an adult can't decipher what you see. To enter their universe, you must drink the "special green stew" and walk through "five tiny concrete doors with special locks" as one boy kindly revealed.

I've seen over and over again in the past two months, the parents cheering whenever a child drew something recognizable – even if it's a simple smiley face – celebrating any little moment that suggests a connection between the children's world and theirs. I've been standing in the middle of the two worlds letting my grown-up painter mind be dismantled by the tiny young artists, whose minds are palpably a part of the great unknown that we all once were a part of. It's been the wildest roller-coaster ride. It's been exhilarating and draining all at the same time, every time. That's what happens when you drink that special green stew.

I only have a handful of open workshop days left, if you haven't made it out to the museum with your kids yet. After that, I will be left alone to construct gallery installation utilizing the children's contribution.

I met up with my program director to go over my plans last Tuesday. We are excited. It will be my first official gallery exhibit since I set out to retract my career path as an artist. It will also be my first installation art. You will see my interpretation of the children's world that I've been a part of these past months. I hope to channel their magic and humor. I hope to unlock those concrete doors for you, so you don't have to drink the green stew.

Oregon Coast. Portland Children's Museum.

September is upon us. Can you believe it? Me, my friend and my dog packed up and filed into my car last Monday for a short road trip down the Oregon Coast, trying to make the most of what's left of summer.

We drove through the wine country, bypassing our usual go-to Cannon Beach. From Lincoln City to Yachats to Florence, Oregon Coast proved to be beautiful and even magical. Even though it was a brief excursion, I fully enjoyed every moment of it. I love how the beaches open up to a vast field whenever the tides are low, making it perfect for Nike to run every direction she'd like until her wild drains out with the receding ocean water.

On the work end, I have been accepted into an artist residency program for Portland Children's Museum. It is an exciting opportunity which I believe will be creatively challenging and fulfilling. I am given three months – September to December – to collaborate with children for the museum's next gallery installation. I have regular on-campus open-workshop hours for any visitors, so please check PCM's website for their calendar, if you have children and would like to participate. Apart from vending along side other artists at Portland Saturday Market, I haven't had a regular workplace or colleagues in such a long time, I am both excited and somewhat intimidated about the idea. But really, it is a welcomed adjustment that I am happy to make.

It will be a little difficult one for this little canine girl, however, as she's used to having me around most of the time. It just means more exercise and longer frisbee sessions in the mornings and evenings. As we all know it, three months will fly by.

Joy, do you have a whale in your house?

Ms. Catherine is a charming lady who runs a beautiful preschool out of Lake Oswego. She comes by often at my Portland Saturday Market booth to purchase my whale prints. She keeps coming back for more because she keeps giving them away to her house guests who express fondness for them.

Her latest purchase from me was the coloring sheets. She came back a couple weeks later to tell me how her kids had a great time coloring, and that they were bewildered that she actually personally "knows" the artist who painted the whales. Well, long story short, few weeks later, I found myself in her preschool as a pseudo-guest-art-teacher making art with her beautiful little students.

One boy, we'll call him Ben, had a pressing question. "Joy, how did you draw a whale? Do you have a whale in your house? Do you have a big aquarium?" I badly wished that I did, just so I could say yes, and have a magical conversation.

Speaking of magic, Ms. Catherine has an enchanting little room in her preschool, where the kids are encouraged to paint the walls with stories that their brilliant minds imagine up. I was so fascinated by each and every covered spots on the walls, I could have spent all day in that room if I was allowed.

Only one brief hour spent with these little kids and they were giving me hugs and told me that they loved me. I love them too. It is wonderfully baffling that love is so immediate and uncomplicated with children. Was I like that too when I was little? When I got in my car and waved goodbye at them who kept repeating "bye Joy," "bye Joy" over and over again, my heart was full with love and happiness, and I couldn't wait to paint again. They inspired me.

Thank you, Ms. Catherine, for your love for the arts. You're a true advocate. Thank you, kids, for inspiring me in ways that no accomplished artist can.

and just like that, summer is here

I've been telling people that it didn't feel like I've moved to a new state at all last year due to the extremely hot and dry summer that Portland has had. This year, however, is a completely different story.

I feel it. The difference between Southern California and the Pacific Northwest. My body's been in a constant state of shock and adjustment since about last Christmas when the relentless rain and its effects poured down on it. Yes, I feel it. I feel it like a foreigner in a new country.

Being a Korean-American immigrant, I should be well used to those feelings by now, but I don't think one could ever get used to the feelings of displacement. You know what to expect. You're in less shock about them, therefore. But you never get used to them. At least not me.

I've been revisiting my favorite trails in Forest Park with Nike. When I lived up there for a few short months, I had made it my daily routine to run and investigate the trails and the way they link up on this 5,000-acre hill — a fun ritual that came to a halt when I got into a car accident. Even now, driving up there gets me a bit anxious, but I fight it and show up anyway. The reward is so wonderful, it's hard to explain.

I was just up there yesterday with Nike, and noticed that the wet winter has allowed the bushes and weeds to grow in, making the trails much narrower than what I was used to last year. Then I had to pause and marvel at the fact that I've been in Portland long enough now to have places to compare from last year to this. And I was reminded of how my child's mind used to keep a mental almanac of different places in Los Angeles ever since our family moved there from Seoul. The jacaranda tree in the corner of our block is cut down. The empty car lot where I used to roller skate is now a mall. Union Bank building is now a high-rise loft. Wiltern Theatre reopened and now there is a subway station from across where I used to catch a bus to my middle school. Our apartment, along with that gigantic oak tree, has shrunk into what looks like a doll house. Or maybe I've become a giant over the years. How did that happen? My almanac doesn't show that record.

Ever since I've moved to Portland, each day has been a race, a wrestle, a monumental effort to grab the elusive time by the horn and make it count. Whether it counted or not, in the grand scheme of things, I don't know. The fact that we're already in the month of July, and I still seem to be in the thick of a great contention should serve as good indication for me.

These days, I'm thankful for all the marathons I ran in the past. I know that there is a finish line. Whether I get to cross it or not is up to me and what I do right now. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. I didn't know at the time that those races themselves were a training for something else in the future. The future that I'm living now.

 

 

 

Procession, a New Painting

This is my latest painting. I stretched a 40x30 canvas and primed it using a palette knife with the intention of continuing "A Crow and the Star" series. Once I set it up on my easel and stood in front of it to get it going, I literally saw a rhinoceros behind all the wonderful textures the palette knife has created.

joycha_rhino

I actually had painted a rhino last year as a part of "Unlikely Heroes" series, but painted over it with something else because I wasn't happy with the end result. That one was a full body portrait with three humming birds carrying it, in keeping with the series. Something about it was off. I felt like I wasn't doing this magnificent animal the justice, especially considering the grave endangered state that they are in. So it was a bizarre but exciting moment when the big rhino head emerged out of the blue onto the blank canvas that was intended for a crow. I know it sounds "woo woo," but I felt like it was waiting for a right time to "show" me how it should be painted – zoom into the head, the horn, that's where the message is. I gladly took the detour from my current series and proud of how this has turned out.

Even though I'm quite certain that I will wake up tomorrow morning and start putting more finishing touches to it, I decided to post this today anyway. It's been a while that I've posted or painted a larger piece, but more importantly, I really love this one. I hope you do too.

Coloring Sheets Available on Etsy

I get a lot of requests at the market for coloring version of my work by the parents whose kids are visibly fascinated by my paintings. My work tend to appeal to children, parents of young ones and spiritually inclined adults. It has happened often enough, I decided it's time to answer to that demand.

All three paintings of "Unlikely Heroes" series are now available as a downloadable Coloring Sheets set on my etsy shop. I'll see how this goes both online and also at the Saturday Market before moving forward with converting more paintings. Enjoy! Hope you have fun!

New Graphic Design Section on My Website

It took a while to update my website with my graphic design portfolio. I always had a separate design url, but finally decided to merge it with joychastudio.com.

Graphic design has been my occupation, identity even, for many years since college. It was a practical way of putting my art degree to work after graduation — a safe fall-back option, as opposed to...what. As opposed to doing something daring like becoming a painter – a story teller.

After having been on this path of doing what resonates with my "real self" these recent years, I've come to accept the fact that design actually IS a valid part of who I am. There is no reason to separate that aspect of my life even as I am growing in my new so-called real pursuits. Designing, in essence is problem solving, which also is a very important component in story telling. As long as I'm in the business of telling stories, "problem solving" will always be a part of my daily task. I hope I'm making sense. Sorry if I lost you on this.

Well, the point is... there now is a graphic design section on my website! Check it out, especially if you have only known me as Joy who paints animals in unlikely situations. Happy Monday!

Studio Report

I'm sure some of you noticed from my Instagram, I recently adopted a one year old border collie.

When my Siberian husky Tasha was about 10 years old, I had an opportunity to take care of a brown border collie for a couple of weeks. I fell in love with her and with the breed, I knew then that if I ever got another dog, it was going to be a border collie.

It took me nearly four years since Tasha's passing to finally feel ready for a new pup. That's more than sufficient time to form a vision of how this dog is going to be — a lop-eared, long-haired, green-eyed, eight-week old, brown border collie puppy from a good breeder.

The problem was no real "good" breeder was willing to let an apartment dweller take one of their puppies home. It didn't matter whether that apartment dweller was a consistent runner, who loves the outdoors and even had goat and sheep farms researched out for herding sessions. Yes, there is such a thing. While it was frustrating, I also appreciated their point of view. Border collies need to run, herd, work, get their minds stimulated instead of getting cooped up in a small apartment all day, waiting for their owners to come home from work, granted that it clearly wasn't going to be the case with me. It's not that much different from my stance that a Siberian husky should always be in a pack with other huskies mushing for a meaningful task in a subzero environment — an unwavering opinion after having had a husky in my care for 17 years in sunny Southern California.

When I reluctantly turned to local shelters, I quickly learned that it was even more difficult to make things happen via that route. For one thing, puppies are wildly popular, and border collies, even if they were mixed breed adults, were getting snatched up well before their pictures hit the "Available Dogs" section of the website. I know this, because my persistence impressed one of the staff members at the shelter, she actually allowed me to see a number of herding breeds that got turned in before they had become officially available online.

After over four months of searching, I nonchalantly answered an ad from a pet adoption site with no expectation that it was going to work out. The ad was posted by the actual owner of the dog. No pictures. She was in northern Washington. I only called out of routine, but she called back right away, and few minutes later I was in my car headed up to meet this dog.

Border collies are the most intelligent of all known breeds. So my thoughts as I drove north were what if she doesn't respond well to this stranger? what if she's sad that her family is giving her up? what if she resists coming with me? But when I entered their place with her owner who just pulled up the driveway from work, she ran right up to me first with her tail wagging and let me cup her head in my hands with her eyes intensely set on me. I knew instantly that she was mine — this upright-eared, short-haired, brown-eyed, one-year-old, black border collie.

We got home extremely late that night. The next morning, we got up early and went for a run as if we have been doing this together for years.

A little update on the work side of things. Portland Saturday Market is picking up and getting busier than ever. You can also find my booth at First Thursday Art Walk in the Pearl. Between the outdoor markets and online shops, couple shows that are in the works (more on that later) and all the behind the scenes details to tend to, I haven't been able to paint, like, at all since my last one, "A Rescue." With the tax season behind me, and the final touches to the booth decor that seems to be in perpetual transition, I should be able to delve into painting in the next week or two...and quite frankly, I'm just dying to be able to do that. Believe it or not, having a canine companion actually has been very helpful. It's energizing to keep a pet — to have that daily routine of "doing things together" in place.

Lately, when busyness of the business becomes overwhelming (which is often), I keep thinking back to what James, my friend from UCLA days used to say to me. He was a pre-med, and me, an art major. Whenever the weight of mid-terms and finals crushed down on us, he used to sarcastically ask, "How nice is it, Joy, to just doodle all day and walk away with an 'A'?"

James is a good man, but boy, it never was, and still isn't that simple.

If only I could just doodle all day.

A Crow and the Star Series

Here is the second painting in the series, "A Crow and the Star." I titled this one "A Rescue."

Crows have become an obsession of mine ever since I moved to Portland and saw "murders" of them perching on towering bare winter oaks along the Willamette River front.

I once saw a documentary report of an in-depth study of crows and learned that they are surprisingly intelligent, curious and therefore, great problem solvers. In Korean culture, the crows are looked down upon as bad karma – which I think is unmerited and unfortunate – so, I've never really paid attention to them until recently.

The series will explore the curious nature of crows and my conjured-up relationship between a troublemaker/trickster bird and her star that was somehow taken from her, that she now has to rescue and reclaim. So far I'm having fun. There's more in the works.