Tuesday, December 26, 2006
After all the ups and downs, I picked up my brushes again. Having taken a long lapse from painting, I was anxious. As I expected, I couldn't help finding fault with my lines and colors after sitting on the chair for a short while. I even started to doubt the whole idea.
My heart is still crowded with too many trivial thoughts. It says, "Let me breathe..." I have to learn how to slow down and retrieve my long-lost calm...
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Picture taken in Venice
I planned to finish the year 2006 quietly. However, life turned out to be extremely dramatic even during the last two weeks this year. It was like a roller coaster ride, full of disappointment and hope. I also planned to remain silent in the blogsphere, but friends kept sending warm messages. I'd like to mail you a postcard from my heart.
In the past few months, I've been overwhelmed with strong feeling of helplessness at work. Firm-minded and optimistic as I am, it is unbelievable that I feel like surrendering sometimes. I sacrifice much time for painting this semester, but in the meanwhile, I am constantly encouraged in this area. I didn't win the first place for the blog contest, but my little room was chosen as one of the recommended blogs. That is more than enough for me. Well, in life, we all win some and lose some. What I win far outweighs what I lose.
I am said to have a bad year, according to the lot my parents drew in the temple. However, I am determined to go into next year with the sunshine in the postcard above. Thank you for always being there. For me, that is more than enough...
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Monday, November 27, 2006
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
Friday, November 17, 2006
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Florence is a girl from tropical Malaysia. When I first met her, it struck me as odd that a girl like her had such an European English name. She is no different from others from tropical countries. Her skinny little body was like a thin willow in the wind. The round glasses on her tiny face made her look much younger than her actual age. But when she started to talk, words of wisdom never stopped flowing out of her mouth. She came all the way from Malaysia to Taiwan at 18 and started a brand-new life far away from home by herself. No wonder she was much more mature than those peers who still lived at home.
When I was in college, I hardly got along with friends that were also from Taipei. Meanwhile, students from Southeast Asia were too foreign for me. I didn't find anyone who I could share my thoughts with. On a certain trip, I accidentally saw Florence's glow. Her comments were straightforward and wise. I found myself attracted to this unremarkable-looking girl. I was fond of her loyalty to her best friend, her tenacity to get the best out of life, and that pessimistic-but-not-sad resigned attitude. Florence was there in my most beautiful yet unstable years.
Florence played a role that I longed for all my life. When people were trapped in difficulties, she would state her objective opinions calmly and rationally, as a by-stander. In fact, she later complained to me that nobody really took her suggestions. What everyone sought for was some nice consoling words. After they were healed, they simply left her advice behind and moved on. Once she was so sick and tired of being taken so lightly and claimed that she wouldn't give suggestions anymore. I still clung to her like to a buoy on the vast sea, hoping that she would pull me up when I was down. I knew well that she was way too rational sometimes, but when I was overwhelmed with emotion, I needed to hear her voice.
After having been to Florence, I realized that the city name Florence was just right for her. She isn't like anyone from the tropical zone. Her ups and downs were perfectly hidden. She reminds me of the gentle and calm Firenze. There is no dazzling light, but she has that heart-warming magic.
At the end of autumn on the subtropical island, I am missing that girl named Florence, who lives in the tropical area…
Sunday, November 05, 2006
There have been a chain of "hasards ou coincidences" in my banal life lately. I can't but exclaim that the goddess of Fortune really smiles upon me. Last month, I happened to see this Chinese blog contest held by Chinatimes (newspaper). It occurred to me that I should fill out the form. After I sent it out, I totally left it behind. This week, I was quite surprised to receive the notice that I had been chosen as one of the candidates for the final.
The rebellious side in me kept protesting that I shouldn't write the old-fashioned kind thank-you note. However, I can't think of a more creative idea. Since I started the little room, I've been even firmer about my dream, which is to become an illustrator. And I believe the postcards I make have reached your hearts at one point or another. My ordinary life is thus full of expectations and hope. I am not a religious person, but I want to thank God, myself, and you, who keep coming back to my little room...
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Lately, the changes in my daily life have been so swift that my mind can hardly catch up with it. I drew at a snail pace, recording how I had felt several weeks ago. However, my attention was drawn away somewhere along the way.
In autumn, the golden leaves of sunshine falls everywhere on the small island, accompanied by cooling breezes. On one short road trip, I witnessed the beauty of this season through the car window and that reminded me of our road trip last summer. We set out in the sunset and drove around half of the island. We were greeted by the sun and the rain. We passed by the mountains and the sea. The fragments of these memories came back to me, like the rain of golden sunshine that fell on my face through the car window on a journey after more than a year. I felt the warmth from the past with my eyes closed. At that moment, I realized that I could finally look back with calm.
When I was halfway through with the picture, I could no longer focus on it. Fortunately, the movie I saw and the poem I read this week pulled me back. The solo road trip at the end of Elizabethtown and Elizabeth Bishop's Question of Travel kept hinting to me that I should concentrate and finish the image.
For the past ten days during which you heard nothing from me, let's say, I took a road trip to me and, I am fine...
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
It's time to say goodbye again. He parks the car at the coach bus station next to Ching-hua University. At ink-dark night, both of you get off quietly. You walk to his side. Though you know well he's too shy to give you a goodbye hug, you still wish for it secretly. As you expect, you talk or gaze at each other. Neither of you hold out your hand, even though the feeling is so overwhelming. You say goodbye. His eyes follow you when you get into the driver's seat. You can still see his loving smile after you drive away.
You say, fortunately, you won't have to drive home alone in another three months. The big and fat moon in the sky wishes you good luck.
Even at ink-dark nights, the traces of unsaid tenderness are more than tangible. And his tenderness so moves me, when I don't think I believe in love anymore...
Sometimes I feel like sharing with you the anedotes behind my pictures. I have a lot to say regarding this comic strip. I was there to witness the story. In the beginning I planned three characters, me included, but then it occurred to me that my part was unnecessary. After all, I was already the narrator. Even though the characters and car are not well-drawn, I'd like to thank my extremely patient family for going down to the parking lot with me, following my instructions in posing. If you are the car owners whose cars were photographed by me on October, 8, don't take it too seriously. I am not paparazzi. I am just a very hard-working illustrator-to-be:-).
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Blackie is our school dog. It leads a super leisurely life surrounded by beautiful young girls and innocent little squirrels. One morning in early autumn, Blackie's world goes upside down. The big sisters no longer wear yellow shirts and black skirts. Everyone's uniforms have changed colors and patterns. There are even some tanned workers strolling around on the campus.
Blackie stands at a loss on the wide path. It wonders if this is a dream or reality.
For my babes that are trying hard to get used to their new life...
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Unbearable light of life
Early September. The sunshine was incredibly dazzling. That afternoon when I was about to leave the office, I received a call from a mother. She spoke in an extremely sad weeping tone. Her husband passed away suddenly in Mainland China and she hoped I could find her daughter in class XXX right away. All I had to do was tell her to go home immediately without revealing to her the reason. Wit the heavy task, I set out.
I ran to the building for her class and asked if she was around. Her classmate found her for me. She looked like a free little bird, innocent as ever. She was completely at a loss about her mom's request. However, we went take leave of absence together. On our way, the sun light almost blinded me, especially when I thought of the darkness that was going to devour her...
Note: Since I found this French girl's blog, I have started to dream of French comics again. I've come to have a general idea of how to draw comics. It's like making movies. Every scene is a subject worthy of being studied. This is my first comic strip. I'd like to draw comics on a larger scale in the future. Please give me some time for that...
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Missing another city in Taipei
As I grow older, for me, Taipei is not Taipei 101 or National Palace Museum. They represent Taipei in tourists' eye. Lately, I have been attracted by really unremarkable stores and scenes. Not that I try to be different from other people. I just want to discover new things about this city and observe others' daily lives.
One day I passed by a barbershop near the apartment. In the past, I would just sail by without paying extra attention. But that day I paused because there was something special about the scene. The shop features Shanghai style of beauty. Two middle-aged men sat inside, and the barber is of the same sex and age. I do not mean to boast, but I have a feeling that Mr. Ming-liang Tsai (Taiwanese director) would find it quite appealing. Young people like me visit the most fashionable salons in downtown Taipei while a barbershop like this stands for a once-sublime era whose glow has faded. It is the Taipei city of the old generation.
I wondered for days afterwards. Is the barber really from Shanghai or the city was once the symbol of highly developed urban culture? It could thus attract more customers? If so, then he should change the name to New York, Tokyo or Paris because these cities would sound more interesting to most people nowadays. Don't take my suggestion too seriously. That's purely my personal imagination. However, like many people that scatter everywhere in Taipei, they live here physically, but their hearts dwell in cities they once lived or traveled to. A foreign supermarket, an exotic restaurant can be the only link they have to their past memories. Tiny or delicate as the link can be, it might have the importance like a buoy on a vast sea.
I no longer think about the city outside Taipei. My heart is getting really small and I can only focus on where I live. At this moment, I live by the memories of Taipei inTaipei...
Monday, September 25, 2006
Kissing goodbye to the taste of summer
Autumn morning, I wake up in the cooling breeze. I drag my sleepy body out of bed, starting the routines of a working day. Having everything done hectically, I rush out trying to get to work by 7:30. I plan to arrive at school around that time. With my muscular legs and strong will, there should be no problem to get to the classroom within 5 minutes. Before I go in and meet the girls, I'll take a deep breath and look as elegant as ever. Well, that's what I have in mind.
Everything happens as I have planned. At least it is so before I get off the bus. At that moment, I see the old lady selling asparagus in front of the breakfast store again. The slight difference is that she comes alone without her husband today. Yet her hard-working and optimistic attitude never changes. I want to draw this scene. I am pulled away by reason, which can't stop repeating that I am going to be late. After I move foward for a few steps, I turn back. My willful side wins. I throw beind my damned sense of responsibility and take out my camera. I want to record the taste of summer.
When the summer is about to come, the kitchen smells of the fresh yet enchanting asparagus soup. It claims silently yet tangibly, "This is my season!" Then summer starts officially. On the dinner table we are spoiled with feasts of asparagus for the whole season. Asparagus soup, asparagus salad. Summer without asparagus is empty and unreal. There might be soaring temperature and scorching sunshine, yet the tastebuds know that something is not right. It's not the Taiwanese summer.
Summer is to end soon. I will bear in mind the taste of asparagus and wait faithfully for the coming of another summer.
This post is dedicated to Traudl, who loves asparagus and Callipygia, who is an amazing expert on food.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
This year autumn arrived much earlier than usual. Way before Mid-autumn Festival, the air already smells of the fall season. There is drizzling rain from time to time. From a certain point of view, the season is rather beautiful compared with the sultry summer.
It's a pity that I so rely on the dazzling summer sunshine, like those who can't live without love. Though I complain about the impossible temperature every summer, the large amount of sweat is in proportion to my ample energy. Every summer day is a party for my mind.
My pace is supposed to be much lighter in the season without the unbearable heat, but I feel kind of heavy. My drawings are sorta lifeless. I think you know that too.
Give me some time for metamorphosis, for falling in love with autumn...
One Saturday at the end of summer, I captured an extremely adorable smile of the car mechanic at the pet dog on my way home from an art exhibit.
One Sunday evening in the early autumn, the road was terribly empty. With the slanting rain and cool wind, I made efforts to whisk away the sentimental feel of autumn on my way to the art shop. Meanwhile, the bulletin board holder in yellow impermeable was stationed at the crossroads. He was probably talking himself out of sulking over his bad luck about having to work on such a gloomy Sunday...
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
The beauty of being invisible
At the end of August, all students returned to school. Yet the construction work that had lasted for two months never ended. The whole campus was dusty, with mud dried under the scorching sunlight. A group of strangers settled in the school temporarily, changing the looks of our buildings silently. No matter how much trouble this caused the students, nobody saw them.
At noontime, when the bell for the break time rang, the chattering young girls were rushed into the classrooms for a nap. Outside, he had a vast space all to himself. He was invisible, but the satisfaction of deep and sound sleep was written on his tanned face.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Saturday, September 09, 2006
The night before my birthday, Grandma Moon said to me that as long as I am good, she will give me tons of surprises.
She did keep her words. Friends took me to the best steak house and gave me really warm hugs.
Old and new girls celebrated my birthday with passion and BIG cakes.
Even the waiter sang the birthday song for me.
Not to mention tons of gifts and cards. While I believed that was all, Grandma Moon said, "There is one more surprise. The big one!"
I have no idea why I am so lucky. I can only say with all the sincerity, "Thank you very much!"
Friday, September 08, 2006
Today is my 30th birthday. I painted a picture for myself and also for those who love me and support me.
The lesson of 30: Happiness is not somewhere faraway. It's everywhere in daily life, ordinary yet glamorous.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
The encounter between 30 and 15
1945 Bookstore was my window on the world when Iwas a teenager. School was over at 4 pm and before the six-pm cram school class, I had some time to kill. I would stroll leisurely across the presidential hall, anticipating the arrival of new books from abroad. As a matter of fact, that was my spiritual pillar in the stressful high school life. I loved to hang around in the bookstore, smell books, touch the fine stationery or try new pens. Insignificant as they seemed, they were very important rituals that helped me relax. Once done, I would go on my way to endless learning with my head high, fatigue well-hidden.
Then I went to college. I decided not to return to the crowded Taipei Train Station Area anymore. I was sick and tired of the inhumane educational style of cram schools. I forgot all about 1945 on purpose.
I passed by the bookstore once in a while, but I was never in the mood to go in and relive the past moments. Besides, more and more new bookstores like Eslite or Page1 were established. I simply didn't remember how happy I was reading in 1945 even though there was neither coffee aroma nor fashionable decor.
This summer I had a big chance to return to the publishing house of 1945. While waiting for Huei, I could finally slow down my pace and take a closer look at my old friend. Though I was there again and again, I never noticed that 1945 Bookstore was long gone. It was replaced by a gigantic pharmacy which seemed to have been burned. At 10:30 am, the door to the pharmacy was still closed. It felt quite lonely. The second and third floors where the previous bookstore lay, now belong to the City chain Steak House. Across from 1945, another old bookstore was replaced by restaurants and convenience stores. On the other side, the tall Starbuck coffeehouse stands there as a dominant symbol of chic urban culture. To me, these scenes are very foreign and distant.
After I said goodbye to Huei, I stayed for a few seconds at the crossroads. I saw my 15-year-old counterpart in the distance. I couldn't miss her unique style of strutting forth. Further, in the now-gone bookstore, I saw her standing somewhere reading books she'd desired to purchase. I greeted her and said to her: "You've always dreamed of the big world outside this island. But I am back because my dream has to be realized where I left." I walked away with my head lowering. I can't but be down-to-earth, but she was aware of my existence. We gave each other the most sincere wishes and we went on with our journeys.
The encounter between 30 and 15 was kind of sentimental, but it was full of brand-new hopes too.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
The secret of the back balcony
The summer rain lasted for a whole night. I didn't sleep very sound. In my dream I could hear raindrops patter on the window panes. When I woke up at five in the morning, it had stopped raining. Yet the air was full of that familiar sultry smell.
An interesting image flitted in front of my mind's eye. I took up my camera and went to the back balcony. Through the lens I saw lines of clothes. They revealed the traces of my new-born nephew. His mini clothes, mini socks and large towels were hung everywhere. In the picture I was going to take, the dark brown facade of the apartment filled most of the space. I could see only a very limited part of the greyish blue sky after the rain. This picture was ordinary, even ugly.
Then I thought of an image I kept encountering when I traveled in Italy two months ago. People hang their clothing outside the apartments whose lovely facade colors become gorgeous backgrounds for the flying clothes. No matter how the color combinations are, every scene is a fabulous postcard that amazes people. If I had been there when I was younger, I would have said, "How lucky I'd be if I could live in such a colorful place!" Now, I am still touched, but in the meanwhile I miss my hometown whose palette is never more than the three colors of black, brown and gray.
法國插畫家朱亞(Andre Juillard)心儀美國畫家哈波(Edward Hopper)的作品，前者說，後者的畫給人們的重要啟示是，即使看來最為平凡無奇的景觀，必有其神秘與詩意的一面，我在兩者的作品中體驗到平凡的美好動人之處。因為他們，我也開始追逐不起眼的畫面，於是逐漸愛上生活在台北城市。
The French illustrator Andre Juillard is a fan of the American painter Edward Hopper. The former said that Hopper gave him a very important lesson. In every unremarkable scene, there must be something mysterious and poetic about it. I experienced the beauty of being ordinary in the works of both artists. Because of them, I started to capture images considered common. Because of that, I gradually fell in love with living in Taipei City.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
I had had an inveterate phobia for hairy animals since my birth. For all my life, I had never tried to approach animals like cats and dogs. As a matter of fact, I shied away from them as far as I could. It hardly occurred to me that they can be really interesting major figures for my illustration. This summer, I guess it's art that opened my mind. Somehow a strong desire to draw cats and dogs took hold. Lately as I walk on the roads, my eyes and mind have been extremely sharp. The moment I see an interesting image full of possibilities, I will rush forward and take photos like a paparazzi journalist. I think many cats in Taipei have heard my notoriety. The following pictures are my-not-too-realistic record of cats' lives.
Lives of various cats in Taipei city
According to my observation, lives of different cats can be as different as heaven and hell. The cat of the cafe's owner is lazy in a very elegant manner. When it lies on the red carpet outside the cafe for a nap, the image is so Parisian. Besides, the cat is totally at ease in front of the camera. It seems born to be a super star. The owner must have spent tons of money and of course, love, on it.
One afternoon near our place, I spotted a very special cat with a ling of hair along its abdomen. I first wondered if I should do anything, but it took me less than 30 seconds to take out my camera. However, my abrupt change of attitude REALLY scared the little darling. It ran away immediately. Seeing no place to go, it hid under the car wheel. To coax it into coming out, this was the first time in my life that I tried to sweet-talk to an animal. It was to no avail and we were frozen with fear and helplessness for a while. I bet this car must have been hurt sometime in its life...
While I was waiting for the bus yesterday, the sultry heat outside was so intimidating that I preferred to take shelter in the corridor in front of the shops. The cat in the car factory dozed away happily. It was not bothered by the noise around. This seemed to be another lucky cat. Not as graceful as the cafe cat, it must have grown up with a lot of love as well.
Perhaps cat moms have to go to temples and pray to gods for giving their babies better human families...
Monday, August 28, 2006
Get-well wish sent to Los Angeles
The hard-working girl fell sick. Her parents were utterly worried. Yet one night in the hospital, they saw her face bloom into a beautiful smile in her sleep. They guessed, "Oh, she must be dreaming of her dear violin."
As a matter of fact, she didn't think of anything. She smiled because she felt lucky to have such loving parents.
Thanks to the smile in her dream...
Friday, August 25, 2006
Youth stolen from God
On the scorching hot summer afternoon, we risked getting a super tan roaming in Yon-kang Street after lunch in the famous beef noodle restaurant. We were looking for the gallery for Ms. Yao's exhibition. At the end of the famous yet short Yon-kang street lies a small square. The leafy plants in front of the mini-gallery welcomed our visit. We were quite delighted to have found the place like a breeze. Right when I held out my hand and grasped the doorknob, I realized that it was closed. We two were kind of disappointed, but it didn't stop us from guessing where the gallery owner had gone.
Knowing we wouldn't come back again, we leaned on the French windows and squinted our eyes to get a better view of the paintings inside. To be honest, I had never been so attentive in any exhibition. "Which painting would you buy if you had the budget?" We started a very serious discussion about the works and moved around to see every painting more clearly. Our loud talk and weird behavior must have aroused the curiosity of passers-by.
In the summer of August, in the summer before my 30th birthday, I take time with my life, as if I had endless youth. Friends of my age are busy raising kids. But in the choice I made, God decided to give me extended youth to make up for my solitude. And that is why I am as free as the wind...