Wash Away

Wash Away

Medium: Acrylic paint on canvas
Size: 4’x4′

This wasn’t one of my stronger pieces. I remember being a little low on inspiration. But what inspired this painting was a conversation I had with someone who decided to keep track of the good vs bad things he did in one day. He was tallying his deeds up in a notebook. I don’t remember the exact details but he recounted how by the time he go to school, he had some fifteen marks under “bad” and one tally under “good”. The “bad” included swearing, being impatient with his roommate, not saying sorry for bumping someone while running for the bus, not holding the door, etc. And the one good thing was letting an elderly lady take his seat. And that was just in the first two hours of his day. It wasn’t looking very good for him he said.

I thought this was a very good exercise to go through. We consider ourselves “good” people but I know, if I actually stop to count, the “bad” would far outweigh the good. It’s easy to do NOTHING than to do good. But it’s easier still to be selfish and do/say/think “bad”. That would be a LOT of tallies against me every day. Month. Year. Life. I could ignore it….as I think most people do…and choose to believe the idea that I’m a “good” person. But to be really honest with myself…I know it’s pretty dark inside.

So I am immensely THANKFUL for the work of Christ in that ALL the tallies of my past/present/future can be washed away. By grace, for I know I’m undeserving. Though, I’m not sure that sentiment came across very well in the painting. As can be imagined in a secular and liberal painting class, it’s hard to find other artistic people of faith to bounce ideas off of. Ah well….

Jesus paid it all
All to him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow

– Jesus Paid It All | Elvina M. Hall



It was one of those “outside the box” type projects that my brain resisted in the beginning. I like to plan. I like knowing what my end result is going to be like. I like knowing what midpoints look like. This project was to write a list of different instructions on slips of paper, put those slips into a jar, sporadically pull a slip out and then follow the instructions. As we went along, the professor would call out and we’d also have to cover up parts of our work with newsprint, which got layered more and more, until the final reveal and class critique at the end.

You just wouldn’t know what it would look like until that moment.

It was such a frustrating process for me.

Some of the instructions and layers include:

  • draw something with conte….I drew ferns (I think….green leaves anyways)
  • apply glossy varnish somewhere
  • include a self portrait
  • draw something with pastels…I drew large cupping hands
  • and then I mostly filled each layer with lots and lots of dragonfly wings

The painting was done on a 4’x4′ board and I was so happy to part with it when my god-daughter’s mom wanted to buy it. It doesn’t look too bad at the end does it?

Self Portraits

Assignment: Photocopy your face, then paint it

That’s what we had to do one year in a painting course at university. I waited as late in the day as I could before heading over to the copy center. There was one other person there…but maybe if I stayed in the far corner I won’t be seen. I prepared some glass cleaner and wiped down the copier surface. Threw in a bunch of quarters and went to town.

Self Portrait 1 This was painted to scale on a letter size board. I used oils. I love the mysterious dream like quality to the end result. It also looks like my face floated up in a pool of dark water. Which is kind of creepy now that I think about it…..
Self Portrait 2 This was enlarged and painted onto a 2’x3′ board. Started in acrylic and finished with oils. It was selected to hang in a downtown office as part of an “Emerging Artist” program and at the end of the term, the executive who had my face hanging in his office all this time bought it because he loved the peaceful look of it. He told me he and his wife are going to hang it in their bedroom. I didn’t need to know….but ok. I guess if it makes you sleep better? I personally wouldn’t want any large faces hanging in my bedroom…my face or anyone else’s. =)

It was a fun project…though, I had far more copies of my face that were hugely unflattering than I would like to admit. As an Asian, I already have fleshier and flatter features. When pressed against the glass….omg. I could see my pores. I could see hairs on my face where I didn’t think I had hair. I know. Vain.

I think I would like to try this again one day though!

Only One

Only One

Haven’t done an art post in a while….

So, this assignment started with any normal object we chose. I selected a combination lock because, well, it was already in my back pack for the times I went to the gym. We then had to produce a series of paintings inspired by the object we brought. Getting inspired by a combo lock proved to be a little harder. What would’ve been some ideas you would have?

After staring at it for a while, I thought about how you can have countless combinations of numbers, but only one set will open the lock. Which led me to wonder what in life has many combinations or ways but only one way out? This question lead me to think about my faith. The world claims there are many ways to reach a number of desired destinations: Nirvana, Heaven, Enlightenment, God. But Jesus made the hugely audacious claim that He was THE way, THE truth and THE life…and that no one goes to the Father except through Him. Well. What can one say to that? I certainly can’t say that Nirvana, Heaven, Enlightment, God, etc are all talking about the same thing. The methods by which you can get to these places as prescribed by the various teachers are also all different. So what if Jesus really IS the true way….the only way? As the popular saying goes, “Where there’s a copy, there must be a real thing.”

Turning back to the painting series…I reflected on how life is a bit of a maze…we all have a start, and entry point…and then we’re set loose in a giant maze. We’re all looking for that way out into a life that is free and purposeful…but some believe the wandering and the search is all there is to life. Certainly the journey is important, but the destination is much more important in this case! Others looking for the way out will encounter wrong turns, dead ends and forks in the roads. What is the right combination? There is a way out. One way out.

So, I painted a maze. It’s reminicent of the maze in Harry Potter isn’t it? I painted mine first though! And it was sold at the end of the semester. Woohoo!


I was wrong…THIS was one of the earliest pieces I painted. I’m not even sure what the initial project was all about, but we were to use different textures in putting it together. I remember choosing to do a piece on the piano because that is one of the ways that I express myself. Being an introvert, sometimes I just lack the words for what I want to say…so music provides an outlet.

My creativity pool was still very shallow when I first started painting, hence the obvious grand piano shape. Pianists out there will probably be able to recognize some of the pieces of music I traced out on tissue paper and layered onto the background. I had also wrapped a bunch of guitar wires around the piece in reference to the hardward inside the piano. It also echos the sometimes jarring feelings bound and held together inside before it reaches the keyboard. Feathers were added before the thick glossy varnish dried speaks to the softest touch that will still coax a melody out. And some splotches of red for the moments of passion where the heart connects with the notes pounded out.

It was one of the first paintings where someone wanted to buy the piece from me. But it being my first, I wasn’t ready to part with it. So it sits now, in some dusty corner of my parent’s house. I can’t play piano like I used to anymore….it’s all foggy and dusty and cloaked under the busyness of “grown up” life. But I’m definitely more than ready to let this piece go to whoever connects with it. =)