Sunday, June 24, 2018

Move On Up

Hiya everybody!

The time has come. This site has migrated to All future content is over there now, and in a prettier package. Thanks for viewing, and I'll see ya there! ⭑

Saturday, May 5, 2018


Lady #2: Pauline Black! I'd really like to kick these out on a sort of spontaneous, weekly-ish basis. But the second in a series always turns out a bit more precious than the first for me. So the Queen of 2 Tone ended up more precise than I'd meant, but hey that's fine!

I've been thinking a ton about racial identity lately. I kind of can't stop now that I've started. All throughout my childhood I took my heritage for a granted a little. I'm pretty sure I pass for white. And the thing about being Asian is that for a looong time, I'd had it ingrained in my brain that Asians don't qualify as people of color. My family didn't push this idea on me; it's just a bigger, societal assumption that happens. So I felt pretty white. And obviously, as a white-passing biracial woman, I'm allowed to move through the world differently than other biracial people who look more strikingly ambiguous or non-white. It also means that, at different points in my life, I've seriously wondered if I'm allowed to stake any claims to my heritage. But now that racial identity has become so topical, I'm analyzing my feelings toward this constantly. And dammit, I am what say I am and my heritage is mine!

Pauline Black is so inspirational to me in so many ways. When I first discovered her as a teen, her tomboy presentation was a clincher. I was also really drawn to Patti Smith during that time, but Pauline's ever so slightly feminine and fuller-bodied tomboyism was much more achievable for me. She dressed like dudes and looked so cool and appealing doing it. There was no sort of irony in it. And there was no real, insecure counterbalancing to it either, like slathering on makeup– or I dunno, wearing a badge that said, "Oh BY THE WAY I'm a woman, okay!?" That is HUGE for a stubbornly contrary teenage girl who's going through a phase of being constantly mistaken for a boy.

But I didn't know then that she was biracial. And my adult self who does know loves her even more. She's intelligent and beautiful and totally singular. Definitely a hero.

"They asked you if you're alright. You say yes."

Saturday, April 14, 2018


I don’t draw enough women. This has been a thing for me for a long time– basically since I drifted away from my preteen Sailor Moon obsession. I’ve only realized it in recent years, and I try to keep it at the front of my mind every time I start a project. Every so often I give myself a small challenge to address the issue. And they end up being valuable exercises, but they’re almost always pretty low-stakes. They’re sketchbook pieces. So as often as I can, I’m trying to draw more ladies. But beyond just drawing them, I especially want to elevate them past exercises and onto tight, finished works.

The other thing: It’s been several months since I last completed a big, ambitious project. There have been a succession of pet portraits in the meantime. Those have been gratifying and important as well, but I’ve also missed my usual thing. And rather than dive right into another grueling month-long piece, I’m wondering about my ability to execute something really cool and semi-polished in a shorter span of time.

The other other thing: a purely colored pencil drawing, for once!

So I’ve set myself the ongoing task of doing some thoughtful, striking tributes to some of the lovely women who inspire me. Starting with: Cyndi!

When Cyndi Lauper sings she deftly maneuvers between uninhibited belting and gentle sighing. I love her vocal style a lot because it's intense and soulful and totally singular. And of course, she’s also just so appealingly flashy. Cyndi’s visual flair is something I would never attempt for myself, and it teeters on the brink of good taste. But it’s so empowering to see her do it, because her confidence means she nails it.

“Here I am. Just like I said I would be.”

Monday, January 22, 2018

Kill The Car

Ferris Bueller's Day Off is the best of John Hughes's teen films, no contest. And Cameron Frye is one of his most compelling young characters. Alan Ruck plays him flawlessly, and one of my favorite things about Alan Ruck is his lovely, cartoonishly expressive face. Ferris is my top Hughes's joint (and one of my all-times, period) because it strikes such a perfect balance between his tendencies toward the surreal, and his knack for realistically depicting young torment. There's essentially no cheese (cough, cough, BREAKFASTCLUB, cough), the slapstick is nuanced and clever (cough, cough, WEIRDSCIENCE, hack, cough), and it's just perfect. Cameron is a particularly great character because his angst is so relatable. He carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, and it has a very easy time of crushing him. His and my baggage don't come from the exact same place, thankfully (my parents are not destructively cold, repressive, or intimidating). But I definitely feel an affinity for the imperfect, fearful, angry neurotics of the world. And that feeling grows as I get older and more and more existential.

Cameron Frye is definitely on the old tribute wishlist that I've mentioned before. It feels good to be making some decent headway within it, finally. Nothing really compares to the excitement you feel when you're young and you find something new that you love. Lots of grand ideas floated through my head when I was in the throes of my Beatles infatuation, and my Clash worship, and all that. But I didn't know where to start then, and I wasn't sure I could tackle them, so I just wrote them down and carried on. Now I know I can finally do it and it feels awesome (except for the CURSED ACHES AND PAINS, BLEURGH). These bigger tributes are taking me longer than I'd like. Sometimes the ideas seemingly won't come. But as Mr. Strummer says: "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistance. Talent will not. There is nothing more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world if full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." Phew. How can we not love Joe?

Several years ago, it struck me for the first time that it was possible for me to utterly fail. It was a slow dread realization that dragged on throughout the year. It's the absolute worst thing about growing up. I could feel the wheel starting to roll on without me. I felt doomed. And then I stepped back and knew that all that was shit. After all, we're just the Pale Blue Dot. Some obstacles– like making enough money, dammit– feel impenetrable. But if we all die in the end, it's probably worthwhile to try to get over them, right? So I started thinking seriously about how to use that new point of view. In that process, I drew inspiration from things like Cameron's passionate monologue at the film's climax. And I finally understood the movie.

"No, forget it. Forget it. I gotta take a stand. I’m bullshit. I put up with everything. My old man pushes me around, I never say anything! Well he’s not the problem, I’m the problem. I gotta take a stand. I gotta take a stand against him. I am not gonna sit on my ass as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of MY life; I’m gonna take a stand. I’m gonna defend it. Right or wrong, I’m gonna defend it."

I still spend a lot of time ruminating apprehensively on my future. I still sometimes fear that I am doomed, that there's no more time, etc. But, I do my best to always put my foot down when I close those thoughts. Because ultimately, despite how insistently outside forces might hold me down, I am in charge.

Friday, December 1, 2017

You're My Gee-Tar Hero!

Previously I said that I've been struggling to draw from the head. My more fully-rendered, referenced pieces have been getting better. But my off the cuff drawings just kept getting more and more stale. For a while I just admitted defeat and figured it would come back to me sometime. But, duh, that's stupid. So I concocted an exercise to conquer the issue. And I feel pretty good about it. Honestly, I didn't think these drawings would turn out, as a unit. I was concerned that I wouldn't be consistent stylistically from start to finish. But for the most part, I accomplished what I'd set out to do: I created original work with some substance. The fulcrum here really was doing a series, and I am definitely going to continue in this fashion moving forward. Obviously, it's hard to get better if you only do one drawing a month. Drawing something with intention for seven days in a row, with accomplishments behind you and a new challenge looming in front of you really makes a difference. (EVEN IF you take a tiny little break in the middle...)

I've really been wanting to do some original work that isn't quite so niche as the rest of what I've been doing. Stuff with more of a universal appeal that someone who isn't familiar with a specific band or show could get and appreciate. And, I mean, these are still pretty niche, but I think I'm getting there. So I definitely intend to do more of these folks and more where this concept is concerned. And I'd really, really like to revisit some of these individuals specifically and give them the fully-rendered treatment.

Anyway. Here I am, an old woman, and I still don't really know how to play guitar. But I have so much respect and admiration for those who do. So here they are; a bunch of players and their axes:

Inspired by Paul Weller and Ian Page. This first drawing turned out mostly Paul. 
When I revisit him, I'm gonna get him a bit more balanced.

Inspired by Viv Albertine and Pauline Murray. This is actually my second attempt at this gal. Her 
original depiction just wasn't right, and her original pose may be the clumsiest pose I've ever drawn.

Inspired by Bill Nelson and Neil Finn. A bit more Bill than Neil. Another one to balance out down the road.

Inspired by Pauline Black and Rhoda Dakar. Things started to feel cohesive at this point.

Inspired by– duh– Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen. I tried not to 
make him super obvious, but I'm pretty sure I failed there, haha.

Inspired by Clare Grogan and Annabella Lwin. This lady came together 
surprisingly easily. So of course the next one would kick my ass.

Inspired by bass virtuosos Mick Karn and Nick Beggs. Scrapped this boy three (?!) 
times before I finally got him right. Kept wanting to make him purely Mick but 
not too much, and it didn't work. Sacrificed some sleep for this browless wonder!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

On Made-Up People

If I can help it, I try to do something creative every day on top of doing my daily drawings. On Sunday night, I admitted defeat and intended to just sit around, eat, watch a movie, and recuperate. I settled on Big Eyes. In addition to exclaiming, "You asshole!" and, "You bastard!" every five minutes, I felt really compelled to draw. Who watches a movie about art and doesn't draw? I'm not a huge fan of Margaret Keane's style, but I really admire her for her prolific output. So I felt I had to draw something.

It started me thinking about how I used to draw. I used to just go. I had so much inspiration cataloged when I left art school, so for a while there it just poured out. But a few years ago, a stranger looked at my work and asked, "What is your obsession with this guy?" And I realized I'd settled into drawing, essentially, the same thing over and over again. After that, I was pretty lost. And I'm still recovering. As discouraged as I felt, it was extremely important for me to have that crisis. It means that I'm always pushing myself to do way better. When I do my big pieces, I collect a lot of reference. I try to never draw too much from any one piece of reference, and I do my absolute best to make something completely new. My purely from-the-head drawings are a lot fewer and far between than they used to be. So I'm trying to get back into them. And I think the key is to still use reference, but in a very loose way. Even if my reference is just an image I stored in my head, or an interest. If there's no inspiration behind what you create, boy does it show.

After scrawling these ladies, I decided to start doing some occasional weekly challenges and series to build my from-the-head muscle back up. I'm currently in the midst of the first of these projects and focusing on some plucky individuals. More to come.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

INKTOBER 2017: 31 Subjects, Day 31: Even More People of Color

"And if the elevator tries to bring you down, go crazy– punch a higher floor!"

WHELP, that's a wrap. Inktober was about as tricky as I thought it would be. I think moving forward, I'll approach any drawing challenges with a touch more organization. This time I wanted to do new things, so I utilized different papers and different tools on top of the main goal of tackling different subjects. It was kind of a free-for-all. I like the idea of using a dedicated sketchbook or ground for individual future challenges, and perhaps focusing on a specific technique for each one as well so that I can really practice and improve.

Personal projects are so important. It's easy for me to tell myself to draw x amount every week/month and then turn around and NOT do that for an assortment of reasons. So the true value of art challenges is that they keep me creating on a regular basis, where Alternate Universe Amanda is sitting around with a month-long blank page agonizing over not being good enough or having no ideas. Perhaps now that I have the momentum, I can always have a challenge going, even if it's only a weekly or monthly thing.