Taking a Vacation in My Mind 🏞
Immediately after finishing my book chat for Tash Hearts Tolstoy, I was hit by the arbitrary and unwanted feeling of…
Not Wanting to Do Anything.
Quite inconvenient when you most definitely still have stuff to do.
And because even reading didn’t seem to put me into a more productive mood, I had to sadly back away from my to-do list, and sadly — very sadly, mind you — decide that I would do homework tomorrow instead of today.
Sob sob. Sob sob sob.
With my own permission to do anything I want for the rest of February 25th, Saturday, I found myself in my room, seated at my desk, with a clean sheet of mixed media paper out in front of me. I felt compelled to reach for watercolors, and, with my uninspired brain, decided that drawing something was better than nothing.
Pastel purple was already dried up on my palette, so I put water on the paint and then dabbed a little on the paper. I added some water, then some more pastel purple blobs, then a dab of pastel mint green and dark purple… then leaves. Very flat and typical green leaves.
I proceeded to draw a dark green circle in the middle of the paper (what was I doing?) and added an orange… um, petal? Leaf? Thing??? on top and next to the circle.
After more nonsensical dabs of color, I finally drew something that looked semi-nice — a flower.
Then it hit me — eyes. Watercolor eyes. I hadn’t drawn anything recently that I could remember where I didn’t use pencils or Prisma Color-Erase colored pencils to sketch out the picture before I added color to it, and I think that’s partly because I’m nervous I won’t know where to start with just a blank piece of paper. There’s something really daunting about adding permanent color to a sheet of paper with no idea of what the end result might look like.
But then again, isn’t that art? Start a project, and then end up with a story or picture or drawing that was better than anything you could have planned or put together in your mind?
After drawing a periwinkle eye with no reference photos or previous sketching whatsoever, I was completely in the art zone. I couldn’t possibly do anything other than watercoloring. I tried out free-drawing lips, then a nose, and then took out another piece of paper and decided to just go for it.
And with the drawing I ended up having, I need to do more on-the-spot art, rather than planning out what I’m going to draw before I actually start adding color, because the piece turned out AMAZING!!!
Pretty nice, right? And there was no planning or sketching! The quote wasn’t even going to be in there, and neither were the flowers… but they ended up being part of the picture anyways. Maybe because they were meant to be there.
The only thing I knew I wanted to focus on when I first started using watercolors for this piece were the eyes. For a couple months now, I have been trying to diversify my drawings. I was so surprised when my mom pointed out that all the people I drew looked Caucasian — and I realized that most of the reference photos I found and used on Pinterest were of Caucasian models, eyes, faces, etc. As someone who is half-Cantonese, I decided that I needed to use more diverse reference photos for my drawings, and also practice drawing an Asian face.
My favorite facial feature to draw are the eyes, but I also find them the hardest — I’ve found that the crease of an eye can make a face look more Caucasian (a deeper and thicker crease that isn’t attached to the corner of the eye) or Asian (less of a crease/a attached to the corner of the eye). For this drawing, I decided to draw a more typically-Asian eye shape by minimizing the crease, but also add a touch of uniqueness by coloring the eyes sky-blue. I tinted the edge of the iris cobalt to make the eyes pop out more and look less flat.
For my previous drawings, I often made the cupid’s bow really pronounced, but for this drawing, I made the lip shape more smooth. My favorite feature of watercolors has to be the fact that you simply cannot make a mistake. Your colors don’t need to stay within the lines — in fact, I actually purposely make the colors seep out of the lines because I think it looks so much more free and appealing that way, like I did for the lips. The way the pigment ends up concentrating on the sides of the patch where the water was placed looks so good. I can’t explain it. I just love that feature of watercolors.
I ended up deciding to draw bangs long, straight black hair for the face, along with matching eyebrows. The common trend in a lot of Asian countries now is to have really straight eyebrows —
Ahem. Wait. I just read an article that said the straight-eyebrow trend was discarded in 2016 in Korea???
Well… I still decided to use that eyebrow-type for my drawing, and it turned out to look quite nice, so… 🙂
I had the cool idea to extend the eyeliner on the upper lashes down next to the nose, which I completely regretted after doing because GAAAAAAAAH.
But once again — you can’t go wrong with watercolors. So I aimlessly began drawing pink flowers everywhere, and thought, huh. The brown of the eyeliner could be extended into branches, and the pink flowers sorta resemble sakura blossoms, SO IT COULD BE LIKE SOMETHING LIKE…
Like the girl is trying to figure out the why of things. The branches next to her face are upside down, so they appear to be more like roots than branches. The slight extension of branches and flowers from the girl’s eyes hints at her curiosity of what lies beneath the surface — or, rather, the ground, since roots usually aren’t seen and burrow deep within the soil, making them harder to see than branches, which are often in clear sight. Combined with the modified quote from Kathryn Ormsbee’s lovely contemporary novel, Tash Hearts Tolstoy —
I think our end will come on a normal day when we all stop trying to figure out the why of anyone around us.
— the entire drawing is trying to tell the story of a girl who is beginning to understand the roots of people — the why’s of everyone around her. She hasn’t succeeded in truly understanding others yet, but at least she’s trying and not giving up.
That, everyone, is the meaning of this drawing. A drawing that came out of nowhere, complete with a quote from one of the most beautiful contemporary books.
Sometimes deciding to do nothing productive in a day can be one of the best choices you make. When an artist has nothing weighing her down — no tasks, chores, responsibilities — she can finally let her mind take her wherever it wants to.
In my opinion, traveling through your mind is the best vacation spot you can ever go to.