(Illustration by Carrie Cheng)
Sunny Hills High School

Opinion: My art is more than just art

My artistic experience started as early as 3 years old. I was barely able to hold No. 2 pencils, but with my chubby sausage fingers, I held onto them like a spoon and started to scribble random wavy lines on blank pieces of paper. As an older toddler in kindergarten, my art skills basically revolved around my obsession with the pack of 64 Crayola crayons, which I begged my parents for every day until they gave in.

But growing up, my obsession for colored tools turned into an obsession for creating artwork that developed through my emotions and feelings. Yes, art starts from undefined shapes and scribbles that babies laugh at when they make their first mark, but gradually with time, those meaningless depictions transform into works of art that represent reality.

As my art skills advanced, I realized that it is more than a task. I realized that art is one of my greatest passions and that the work I create almost always originates from the ongoing thoughts in my head. I realized that the art I create isn’t just some assignment for class, but a piece that I put a lot of effort and meaning into.

One piece that I recently just completed (as shown above), called “The Lost Woman,” began as a six-week composition at my studio and was finished as something more than just a class project. This piece started with an image of a homeless woman. The task was to elongate and lengthen the woman, which required accurate measuring and finding the correct proportional measurements. All those simple instructions were followed, but it was the “showing emotions through the woman” part that I was more interested in.  

If any ordinary person were to walk past this drawing, they would think that it was just an ordinary woman who was drawn. But through my thinking, I first look straight into the eyes. They are the most important part of her out of all the other features. As I was coloring them, using shades of blue, purple, green, and brown, and highlighting the glimmers of light reflecting from her eyes, I was intending to create a distinct glance of sorrow, almost as if she has lost hope. From the outside, just from looking at her lips and the way her cheekbones rises, she seems like a pretty content person. But her eyes tell something else.

I wanted her to portray how I feel sometimes. It symbolizes a feeling that not only I feel, but other people feel too. We are always hiding our actual feelings underneath, no one else knows how you are actually feeling. They think we are happy, but do we think we, ourselves, are happy? It’s a common emotional experience, we can’t express our true selves, so instead, we put on fake smiles, fake laughs, fake emotions. It’s a basic thing, I know, but we all go through it. That was my main focus during this process. I took this opportunity from my basic studio task, an elongated homeless woman, and turned it into a piece that I put a basic, but deep thought into.

From my practically lifelong experience of art, I learned that art is my meditation and stress reliever. When I’m not creating formal pieces of artwork, I am sketching. There are simple real-life sketches, hand sketches, and random nature sketches. The sketches that don’t really have any meaning. But then, there are also the sketches that come from my mind, when my emotions lead the sketching. They sprout from various things, the parents yelling, the annoying brother, the school drama. Whenever I’m feeling down, a pencil and a sketchbook are my best friend.

(Illustration by Carrie Cheng)