For me, one of the hardest parts of creating a new painting is coming up with a subject for my composition. I call it: artist's block (like writer's block but not). So, to help you come up with some meaningful things to draw or create, here's a list of 16 things that I look to for inspiration!
1. Your Dreams
First off, I know that it's sometimes impossible to recall your dreams, but with some practice and dream journaling, you'll be able to remember most of your dreams! My dreams are parts of my subconscious that I can't access during the day. It;s where I create worlds of rolling green hills with thumbs walking around a city made of steel. Yes, thumbs. It's also where I dream of castles, or scuba diving and what the deepest parts of the ocean look like to me. That's the great thing about dreams. Everything in there is unique to you, and no one else. Maybe you feel an artist's block during the day, but when you let your mind drift off in your sleep you'll be able to think as creatively and freely as you choose. Or not choose, unless you try lucid dreaming which sounds kind of scary to me, but here's a good article explaining it if you ever want to try it out! The Benefits and Risks of Lucid Dreaming.
2. Thoughts you have in the shower.
Ok, hear me out on this one. Have you ever had that one thought in the shower where you just go: I could make millions off this idea. Well, I'm not promising millions but those ideas could definitely be developed into something great. Showering actually stimulates your brain and thus you feel more creative while your in there. For example, I was taking a bath the other night and I had the weirdest thought. What would happen if you could just suck all the water out of a lake just for one second. Would you be able to see all the fish flopping at the bottom? Maybe even a giant lake monster? It would be like lifting a blanket off a pile of unknown items. Who knows, maybe I'll make that into a painting one day.
What's the weirdest shower thought you've ever had?
3. Your Heritage and Culture
If this is something you don't know much about, I'd suggest thinking about the way you were brought up. Even if you feel you were brought up like everyone else, there's a very high chance that you haven't. I used to think that there was nothing interesting about the way that I was brought up--until I took a look at the small things. My family always valued spending time together, whether it was an annual family vacation or even things like eating dinner together every night. It wasn't until a few years ago that I even realized people around me didn't do that.
So, think about it. It could be that you woke up every morning and there was a plate of eggs and toast ready fir you, or the fact that you always had to make it by yourself. Think about how that affects you the way you are now, no matter how small or big of a difference it made.
Now I'm not talking about drawing a circle on a piece of paper, framing it, and calling it modern art. I want you to take a look around you. Maybe its your bed, maybe its the interior of a car, and maybe there's some trees. No matter what, all your surroundings are made of shapes. And there's two different ways you can draw them. If you see a tree, you can draw it super realistically with its winding branches and each leaf drawn to precision. Or you can choose to look at it through shapes. What if the base was a square, and each branch was a triangle protruding from a cylinder? What if instead of touch bark you made it look like metal and manufactured shapes?
I hope that you can find some inspiration or at least get some ideas from these 4 small but important things!
As many of you probably have, I've always wanted to paint my room. Not just like a bland single color, but actually paint an image onto it. I used to always search up those tumblr photos of people with The Great Wave painted on their walls and it would drive me insane because my parents refused to let me.
Recently however, I got the opportunity to create one of the coolest murals ever at my old middle school. After reaching out to the principal and working through the technicalities, we were ready to paint a 7x9 foot brick wall. I wish I had known before I started the mural that it takes lot of physical stamina and patience. Unlike painting on canvases, the surface of walls--especially brick--are very rough and porous, leading to a lot of bleeding and small holes in the paint.
I decided that I needed some help after the first day, as it had taken me longer than expected to draft the mural onto the wall. So, I invited one of my friends to help me and she agreed. We spent over 50 hours on the mural at the end, perfecting it until we were satisfied.
Looking back on it, I wish I had maybe tried something more artistic and less "basic" to paint. Although I liked the colors, style, and overall tone, I felt it still lacked a very artistic element. It was very cut out and lacked a flow throughout the painting. Still, I'm very grateful for the opportunity as it allowed me to gain crucial experience on how to design, conduct, and finish a mural. I hope I am able to continue growing as a muralist in the future, as I feel like it adds another element to otherwise mundane settings.
Disclaimer: These are just my opinions, I strongly respect those who produce modern and contemporary art.
Last week, I got the chance to visit the Whitney Museum in the City of New York. It is absolutely beautiful. The minimalistic and bright architecture is gorgeous, especially because it's located right next to the Hudson River. I had high hopes walking into the museum, ready to see all the fine art.
That's the key. I was expecting fine art, but greeted with contemporary art. Before we go any further, I'd like to distinguish between fine art and contemporary art.
Fine art is a very broad term that I like to use to summarize art from as old as Greek and Roman times to the end of the Impressionistic era. Then emerged art forms like Cubism and Dadaism, and ultimately what we call "modern art". In this, values of abstraction and symbolism are used frequently.
For example, the above piece is in a museum, being highly worshipped by all viewers. And while I understand the awe of its size and "hidden meaning" I personally think its confusing, brash, and shows a lack of skill. (Again, this is just my personal opinion, I also have nothing against the afore mentioned artist or the piece itself--it serves solely as an example.) If anyone can splash paint across a canvas and have it hung up in a museum, what even is art anymore? It used to be for religious depictions in the 1300s-1700s, and for beautiful moments that could not be captured expect by artists. Art was for everyone, for viewers and audiences to feel emotion and understand what the artist is trying to say. One of the major arguments for contemporary art is that it is up to the viewer to determine what the piece means to them. I feel that this defeats the purpose of art made by the artist. Art is made by the artist through his or her eyes to show the world through their perspective. When that perspective is not introduced and instead minimized in importance using the argument that it is for others to see and interpret, what exactly is the artist there to do?
That's of course, just my own perspective. What are your thoughts on modern and contemporary art?
If you're an artist, you've definitely been asked: "How long did that take you!?" I always urge to tell them that it only took me a few days or hours. It's always at this point that I face a dilemma. If I tell them that it took me a short amount of time, I expect them to be amazed, but instead they might just think that I didn't put in a lot of effort. On the other hand, if I say that it took me a long time, then they'll think I'm not a skilled artist.
In art nowadays, speed and precision triumphs over the artistic integrity of a piece.
So, when at our painting intensive course we were expected to create a finished painting in about 6 hours, I had some issues grasping that. In the end, I wasn't satisfied with any of the pieces that I created. When we had our art show at the end of the course, spectators came in and praised all of our work, amazed at how we were able to create them in such short amounts of time. The walls were lined with our artworks, and it looked pretty sick. However, each individual piece if examined closely was sloppy and rushed.
Overall, I walked away from Columbia with 5 "finished" artworks, but had we spent 3 weeks perfecting one or two of them, I would've been more satisfied. However it wouldn't have been the same for my parents. Even when I brought home 5 artworks, they were disappointed, expecting more than I had. At the same time, they weren't satisfied with the quality of the pieces that I did create.
So as an artist, it's up to you to compromise. Do you want to conform and create dozens of pieces that appeal to all but yourself, or do you want to create art for yourself, for that artist inside of you?
For those of you who have ever been to New York City, you know there are a few things that you absolutely have to do.
1. Go to Central Park
2. Climb (or stand in an elevator) to the top of the Empire State Building
3. Walk around Soho, Times Square, and Chelsea
4. Visit the Met!
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has so much more than just paintings and sculptures. In each artwork, there is history, a story, and a walk through time. Of course, more literally they also have Egyptian exhibits, musical instruments, and a hall of armor. If you're like me, you aren't the biggest fan of walking around in a quiet, cold building where if you step backwards, you knock over a million dollar statue. However, I found myself entranced at the Met. Maybe it was simply the largeness and grandness that it exuded, or the thousands of exhibits that overwhelmed me. Either way, I felt that unlike other museums, the Met was almost like a mini world in itself.
For instance, my favorite part of the museum was the Egyptian Pool and Temples area. It's where the Met's iconic wall of windows is, and every time I walk into that room, it's so serene and transportive. The vast black obsidian pool of tranquil water paired with the silence and surreality of the bright room creates a contrast that makes you feel like you've walked into a parallel reality. It also makes this room the perfect spot for pictures and a nice break from walking through the other galleries.
As for the art, I don't think I'll ever be able to see all of the works in one visit. There are over 2 million works in the Met's permanent collection, of course they aren't all on display. But even the thousands that are are so captivating. My favorite way to navigate through the galleries is by time period. I visit the oldest most traditional exhibits first, then I move my way through up till the works of Picasso and van Gogh. This way, it's possible to see the evolution of art and compare the techniques used by each artist throughout time.
So, if you ever visit the Met, make sure to check out some of the places I mentioned, and let me know how your visit goes!
Until next time,
xoxo Carina Sun
I wake up and it's 8 in the morning. This is the earliest I've been up since summer started and it's really hitting me hard. At the same time though, I'm more excited then ever.
It felt like that first drop on a rollercoaster when you're nervous but excited for it at the same time.
It's now 8:30 and my class starts in half an hour. Oops. I start getting ready for the day and literally sprint to the dining hall at 8:50 hoping to at least get a nice cup of coffee. With my coffee in hand, my bag strap flouncing down my arm as I raced to class, I'd say I looked like a pretty convincing college student already.
At 8:58, I made my way to the classroom, breathless but energized. Everyone else in the class stared at me from their seats but I wasn't the last one, as one girl whose name I would never learn barged in at 9:00 exactly. As soon as our teacher finished role call, it was time to prep our canvases.
(Side note: I actually loved how we got to work immediately every day because it was so productive and the time pressure felt more realistic.)
Even though I've studied art for over 7 years, I have never once prepared a canvas before. And after prepping 6 canvases, I'm not sure if I ever will again. For those of you who have never prepped a canvas, here's the basic steps:
That was pretty much the entire class, and by the end of it I was covered in gesso from head to toe. I had made a few friends during that, and we had made plans to visit Times square later that day. On my walk back to my dorm to freshen up, I realized that worrying about things like I had on the first day was just an unnecesary burden that I was putting on myself. It was mostly social anxiety, but because everyone was in the same situation I was in, I felt a little bit better.
Later that night, I took the New York subway for the third time in my life and it was a pretty life-changing experience. Luckily one of my friends was used to navigating subways, and we arrived back at campus without a hitch. Except that we got on the wrong subway 2 times and had to walk back about 20 minutes before curfew. But that's a story for another time.
Overall, I was exhausted but also very hopeful that the next few weeks would be a lot better already.
Day 2 coming up soon! xoxo
Author: Carina Sun
Earlier this summer, I attended a summer program for high schoolers at Columbia University in NYC. Going into it, I was admittedly terrified. The prospect of spending three weeks in a new city by myself was incomprehensible. Not to mention the winding New York subway system seemed almost impossible to navigate in just three weeks.
However, I quickly realized this would turn out to be the best three weeks of my life. Let me break it down...
Each student who applies for the program is required to choose a course they are interested in. The options range from creative writing to topics as advanced as neuroscience. I chose the painting course, described as a class where I would learn how to build a portfolio, paint with new mediums, and visit different art galleries within Manhattan. We ended up doing all of that, which was actually surprising, as we finished 5 art pieces within 15 days and visited over 5 museums and galleries. The teachers there are all very supportive, especially with answering questions about admissions and college majors. It's a great opportunity to ask professionals questions about college that others might not be able to answer.
Another really rewarding aspect of this program was the independence that it nurtured. By pushing over 700 students into a new city with new people, you're literally forced to adapt to your new surroundings. I entered with a lot of social anxiety and broader anxiety about the city, but I was soon relieved by the overwhelming support from all the other students and Resident Advisors there.
I'll be posting day by day recaps of my time there and what I've learned about independence, art, and New York street food.