jenny xia : blog

part 2.

There are so many incredibly beautiful things in this world, it makes my heart swell. I want to see it all, paint it all… 

Sketches from a couple weeks ago at the jazz festival. I was sitting on some steps by a platform where people were mingling, and a couple people came and sat a little bit above me. I looked up after a bit and the man sitting above and to the right of me had his iPhone tucked under his armpit and was taking pictures of me LOL. I would be creeped out, but I was doing the same thing to the people mingling - capturing them (albeit in a less exact form.)
Lunch break sketch from a couple days ago. I started drawing clockwise from the pterodactyl and ended up cutting out a chunk of the room accidentally. It’s interesting to see how failed drawings turn out too.
More sketches from the  #disTRILLery# district. When you  draw in public, you become a sort of tourist attraction… less of a human, more of a mascot. On this particular day I started to feel a kinship with the brick buildings because people took photos unabashadly of us both. The courtesy of asking for a photo is easily forgotten when the subject appears to be “performing.”

Why aren’t you “going into art”?

I’m a high school student, currently in grade twelve. As such, I get questions about what I’ll be doing after I graduate all the time. It’s used as a conversation topic when things get dry, an introductory question when meeting new people, and it’s just something that adults are really curious about (for obvious reasons). At my school, my reputation as a painter precedes me, so when people assume that I’ll be going to art college and then find out otherwise, there’s always a fair amount of… shock?

It’s pretty weird. It makes me uncomfortable sometimes, because people will say “Why aren’t you going into art?!”, with an accusatory tone. Or they’ll say “What a shame…”, and act as if they’re disappointed in me. So after being hammered with these kinds of reactions for months, I’ve decided to blog about it, so people can read my reasoning if they really want to know.


I love art. I can’t imagine living without being able to draw, paint, play the piano, play the erhu, and so on. I have the bone deep knowledge that I will continue to do art, no matter what happens to me. I will paint, even when I’m old and wrinkly. Even if I lose my limbs, I’ll find a way. (but If I lose my hands I’ll probably lose the will to live for a while haha)

I know that I know how to paint. I know that to improve, I need to keep practicing and observing the world around me. It doesn’t make sense for me to go to university or college for art, because I know these things, I know how to apply them, and I know I will apply them. 

The reason I paint is not to please anyone but myself… It’s a release to me. I don’t care if I sell my work and I’m completely content to have my paintings live in my basement. If I go to art college, I’ll basically be paying other people to tell me what they want my art to be. If I have to rely on art as my income, at some point or another I will probably have to compromise my artistic integrity in order to eat and to live.

Considering that I also love science and other subjects, it literally makes no sense for me to pursue art as a career. If I never discovered painting and other art forms, I would have gone into sciences and have been completely content with it. People always say to follow a path that will allow to you enjoy your job, and honestly if I went into art I may actually end up resenting it. Going to an art high school has been proof enough for me… The waves of opinions and the presence of the “art world” is so superfluous. I don’t care if there are people that think my art needs more deep meaning, or less, or that it needs to be something this that this that just not-what-I’m-doing, because that’s not the reason I paint.

I have so many things that I like to do and am interested in. Art is an interest that I can definitely do outside of school or on my own time. I won’t be able to ‘do physics’ as a hobby. There are things I can learn on my own but my understanding would be so much less comprehensive than if I go to university for it. I want to learn and grow as much as I can before I die.

So yeah. That’s why I’m not “going into art.”

A bit from Hanabi. When I get fixated on a certain piece I basically have to beat it to death, play it, transpose it, etc, until I finally get sick of it. I’m still going strong with this one though.

A couple of today’s sketchbook pages. I average 6-10 pages a day (except for dry spells)

On turning 18

When birthdays approach I always feel a weird sort of pressure… as if I’m anticipating something major will happen, or simply nothing at all. I think this feeling is borne of the idea that gets hammered into our minds by tv shows and movies, that a birthday is some monumental event that requires pomp and circumstance, gifts, cake, dinner, something! that will seperate it from all the other days in the year in which you age and otherwise continue living.

I’ve always dreaded when people ask “so what did you get for your birthday?”, etc., without really thinking about why. Maybe I’m afraid of being too selfish, or that if I don’t get something as great as what other people get, it’ll show people that I’m not loved as much as they are. So stupid, I know. The past couple birthdays I’ve had, I became really withdrawn and irritated. When my parents asked me what I wanted, I would defiantly say “nothing!” and retreat into my room. If I think about it, I was probably trying to make myself some poor martyr so I would be able to tell people I didn’t get anything for my birthday and defy their expectations when they asked. My therapist would probably say it’s because I don’t think I deserve gifts so I become anxious and closed off when the topic is brought up.

This year, I’ve been much better about it… I got a zhonghu earlier this month, which I love. So I haven’t felt the same anxiety around my birthday and gifts that I’ve felt for the past couple of years. I think the major difference between this year and the last has been me going to see a therapist. I have a pretty bad complex around money, deserving things, and self worth, that we’ve been working through. Obviously I still have issues with it, but I feel like I’m getting better and actually addressing it instead of ignoring it.

But back to turning 18…

It’s funny how as a kid, thinking about things like going to high-school, becoming an adult, etc. seem like such huge events that will suddenly change everything. In reality, every experience you have slowly builds you up and by the time you’re about to enter high-school, you are no longer the scared kid you were in grade 2 and you’re ready. There’s no real difference in how I feel today in comparison to yesterday, because growing up has been a gradual thing. But looking back I can really see the things I have learned and how I’ve grown. I know now that trust is a delicate thing, and to be careful with it. I know that only you really know what is best for yourself, and to be aware of the motivations of others. I know that though there are a lot of things that can potentially hurt me in life, I must try for what I want or else I’ll never really be living.

Obviously there’s still much I need to learn, and things I need to work through, but:

18 years of life have taught me to try and love myself unapologetically, after spending much of those years hating myself and everything I do.

To adulthood, and to being there for yourself.