Reflection, Imitation, and Experience

Watercolor and Charcoal on 140 lb Cold-Press Arches


By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. –-Confucius

3.26.12- Reflection.

Graphite, Charcoal, Conte, Watercolor and Gouache on 80 lb Hot Press Arches 


“It has shown me that everything is illuminated in the light of the past. It is always along the side of us…on the inside, looking out.” 
??? Jonathan Safran Foer

This piece is deeply personal to me, and signals a change in my artistic direction. I’ve been thinking that lately, that empathy is a powerful thing, but it often makes it hard to tease yourself apart from the blame of others. The face you bring to the world is simply who you want others to be. The gaze, expectations, and memories you bring onto others, applies to back to you, and to all. 

My thoughts on this piece, and on things in general:


3.26.12 – The Lonely Work

Now that the fanfare has died, the transformation from the noise and chatter of technology is slowly morphing into introspection and solitude. I knew it would be a big change, but living it is something different entirely. I found that the expectations of myself, and what I perceive in others, has changed overnight- and what used to be, “Awesome, that girl can paint, even though she works at a “real” 9-5 place like Google” has become, “What? She left her job for THIS?” All of a sudden, what was great isn’t good enough.

I received an email from an insightful friend recently (let’s call her Maria Rokas, haha) who has witnessed my work firsthand for the past year or so. She is an incredibly talented writer and playwright, who often jokes that Tina Fey “has her career.” Knowing her, I believe it, and I recognize that a lot of success in a creative’s life has more to do with luck than talent. In any case, here’s what she said to me (I’m paraphrasing a bit)… and it stuck:

“This is lonely work… you need to sit still and overcome the blackness of loneliness and uncertainty.”

Although I’ve always known this, and have been fearful of it…no one has ever said that to me. I’ve also always known that I am a deeply social person, with tons of incredible friends and I feel immense gratitude for it, but some things you can only do for yourself. Scary things like being honest with yourself, admitting that 1. yes, its OK to think you’re talented, 2. things come easily to you, and 3. its time to tune out the noise and listen to your own, critical self.

It’s been easy to avoid myself. I’ve been my own worst critic, and I’m also critical of others who dwell on their own emotions with no regard to others. Maybe it’s the Buddhist upbringing, my grandma has always instilled a virtue in others while discouraging the self “Ego.” But what is an artist but an EGO? I mean this not in a superficial, “Oh, Artists are selfish, emotional loonies” but an objective truth that Artists perhaps spend the most time reflecting upon themselves and expressing their own voice to the world around them.  Unless you’re just an artist who is happy with painting pretty still life fruits and flowers. Even then, you’re imposing your own subjective view onto your work. But, I digress.

Today, I posted another painting on Facebook. Check it out here: I do this consistently, maybe due to a misguided, narcissist notion that people care what I’m doing, but mainly because I want to understand what people like, and I want to overcome my fear of showing my work to others. It’s an interesting thing- wanting approval from others, and an affirmation of talent. Sometimes it’s like a crutch, when I’m feeling especially vulnerable and dubious of my own talent, and other times- I feel like it’s my way of getting my work out to the world instead of letting the progress I’m making get buried under my futon mattress of obscurity. 🙂

Today, however, I hesitated for a long time before posting this painting on Facebook. I felt like this one was important. I had so much to say about this piece, so much to convey, and I wanted to share it- but was afraid of being seen as a 30-year old, Emo, teenage angsty, wannabe artist who posts flighty, self-proclaiming profoundness. (see the self criticism? Toxic!) It’s easy to roll your eyes and be critical, but have you ever tried to convey your own emotions? It’s not easy. Actually, it’s really fucking hard. And maybe Facebook isn’t the best venue for it. In any case, it’s my message of choice at the moment, so deal with it.

Anyway, I’m both ashamed and proud of the work I’m doing, and I promise I have a long way to go. I’m nowhere NEAR where I want to be as an artist. But, I feel like I’ve proven to myself and people around me that I do, in fact, have talent. But that’s like congratulating yourself for being tall, and having eyes on your head. What I do with it, and if I have lasting power is what time will tell. Stay tuned for that.

3.17.12 – Anguish and Victory

Charcoal, Conte, Bronze Powder on Russian Sauce


Not sure if this one’s done yet, but thought I’d post it anyway. Developing a sketch for an idea I have for a “Rise Against” poster. To be continued after I have a beer or two. 

Suddenly, Technology is Paying Attention to Art.

Art = The Future of Technology?

Maybe I’ve been more attune to it these days, but recently, there has been a lot more talk about the similarities between Artists and Hackers, and how Creativity will be the only thing of value in the future. I wholeheartedly agree, but I still wish people would stand in line for hours to pay $300 for a newest Painting 3.0.

Om Malik, a highly regarded tech writer and blogger quotes John Maeda, who believes that given the accessibility of factual information in the future, “Creativity will be the new currency of work, the world over.”


Paul Graham, Co-Founder of the VC incubator YCombinator, wrote back in 2003 in that Hackers and Painters have more in common that you’d think. Namely, a desire to solve problems using the tools of their trade and create elegant solutions.

Eh, I’ll believe it when I see Silicon Valley VC firms commission paintings. Just Sayin’.

Comparing the Top MFA Programs: Yale School of Art

Yale School of Art (

Yale School of Art is arguably the most elite of art schools, and one that would make any gallery drop what they’re doing and check out your porfolio. According to a 2003 survey “of deans and department chairs, one per school, at 213 master of fine arts programs” conducted by U.S. News & World Report, the School shares a number one ranking with the Rhode Island School of Design and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for Masters of Fine Arts programs. Notable alumni (at least, the ones that I know) are household name artists such as Matthew Barney, Eva Hesse, Chuck Close, Richard Serra, etc. Apparently, only 21 applicants a year are admitted to the painting program.

Here’s what you would need to apply to the art school:

Portfolio Requirements (


Portfolios are submitted online as part of the online application. The portfolio submission interface will allow you to label each image with a title, a date of completion, the materials used, and a brief description of the work. Digital files must adhere strictly to the specifications outlined below.

Portfolio Contents

Upload a total of sixteen (16) still images and/or moving image files. Only work completed within the last three years should be included, and at least half (8) should be work made in the last twelve months. In the review process, the admissions committee is concerned with scale and the tactility of the work. For this reason, paintings and drawings must be photographed showing the surrounding wall or background. Paintings and drawings must not be digitally masked in black to the edges of the work. Three-dimensional works should also show the surrounding space and context. Do not include detail photos of work in your portfolio unless you consider them absolutely necessary. Under no circumstance should more than two detail shots be included. If you are presenting both still and moving images, please present them in two groups with all still images followed by all moving images. Within these groups, all still and/ or moving image files should be in chronological order starting with the oldest and ending with the most recent work.

File format for still images

To conform to our viewing format, each still image file may be no larger than 16 MB. Do not format images in any presentation program (e.g., PowerPoint, Keynote), or include composite images (more than one work per file). Still image files may be sent in jpeg, png, bmp, or tiff format.

File format for videos and moving images

Videos will be accepted in QuickTime, AVI, FLV, MP4, or WMV format. Video files should be no longer than one minute in length, and the size of your video uploads is limited to 250 MB. Please note that videos are considered as part of your selection of sixteen files, not as additional material. Do not include titles or credits within the video files. If you are primarily a video artist and wish to submit a longer video, you may post it on your own website and provide that website link at the bottom of the portfolio page.

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3.15.12 – Quick Sketch of an Idea on Yupo

Watercolor on Yupo Paper