jenny xia : blog

part 2.

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Did something a little different this time - I filmed myself while painting.

Watch the process/speedpainting here:

What me and Cat do at 12am

Digital art for the first time in forever

Me and my best friend/soul mate Cathleen (aloe-cat) frequently have art nights, where we do stuff like sketch, paint, sew, etc at the same time. I love her so much and we feed off our creative energy a lot! I’m currently sitting in her bedroom, and we’re having an art sleepover. I recently got a new laptop for university with some sick specs, so I also feel a rekindling of interest for digital art. I used to do a lot of digital oekakis in 8th grade (you can see some of them on my website, here) but then my crappy acer laptop just kept getting worse and worse, so it died off.

So today, we decided to do some digital art. I’m really rusty, so I just digitally painted a random doodle I had in my sketchbook as a way to ease into it.

image^Doodled the girl on the bottom right, liked it, and decided to elaborate on it a couple nights ago.

image^Slightly more comprehensive/detailed doodle. This is the one I decided to paint digitally.

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I’m using Paint tool SAI by the way. I like the way you can blend with the tools, it’s much easier and more natural feeling than Photoshop. First, I did a quick rough sketch just copying the basic shape of my sketchbook doodle. I impulsively added some blue as well. This drawing wasn’t planned at all, I just went for it, so the process is not very organized. Also, I used the ‘brush’ tool almost the entire way through.

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Darkening the sketch and adding some shadows. 

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Added a grey fill as a background on another layer because I thought it might help with determining tonal values. I don’t really know though LOL legit most of my art is just me adjusting based on what “feels right.” So in that regard, I think my art intuition is pretty okay.

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Added a yellow into the mix. Again, no thought process behind the decision, just felt like it.

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Blending some of the colours, making the shadows finer.

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Adding details to the face, still using the brush tool, and still only using black, white, blue, and yellow. I made the background purple for a bit to see if it’d look better.

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Ended up making the background black with Cat’s input. I’m currently sitting at Cat’s desk with my laptop and tablet, and she’s behind me on the bed, on her tablet. (She has a tv that she connected her laptop to, so she’s drawing from there. She’s also doing digital art right now.) Basically through this entire thing, I’d turn around and go “yooo Cat, how does this look?” and then we’d bounce ideas off each other. I love it so much ♥

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I felt like I was done with painting the girl, but that there was something missing. So she suggested I add something in a graphic style, to contrast with the painterly style of the girl. So I tested random things.

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^Ended up with this version. I’d say it was a successful first foray back into digital art! Just a quick, fun sketch.

State of affairs [part 3: a summer full of art]

After the 3 weeks spent working in the hellish bacteria breeding grounds that was my former high school*, I had a lot of stuff to do and catch up on. Actually, on the last day of work, I went straight to painting when I got home. 

*disclaimer, my high school was actually pretty fantastic in comparison to other high schools. But high school itself, regardless of which one, is just not a pleasant experience. So many apathetic people that don’t give a shit about their educations there. But I digress.

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^ I was so rusty ugh. This was ~1hr I think. Also that painting looks deceptively large, it’s actually just a bit bigger than half a sheet of A4 paper. I also didn’t have small brushes… wow I make a lot of excuses for bad art LOL. I feel like I have such a long way to go with my art skills. I definitely need a lot more practice.

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^This one was at a park near my house. 1.5 hrs? They’re all around that long haha just in time for my butt to start feeling numb from sitting in one position. I used to frequent this park a lot. There’s a playground with a water park and sets of swings to the left of where I was sitting in the picture. So nostalgic.

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 ^I did this quick plein air at a park that was a couple minutes drive from my house. There was a group of stoned teenagers chattering up the hill behind me, also enjoying the breeze/sun. It’s actually pretty easy to set up and paint without people noticing you. Stay low to the ground! hahaha.

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^ Also painted at a park even farther away, maybe a 30min bus ride. Let me tell you, busing with oil painting stuff is the biggest struggle. So heavy, and 2 hands is frequently not enough to hold everything properly. Guess who’s still regretting not getting their g1 earlier (and therefore being able to get their g2 earlier as well) This was a really lively park, the city planners/civil engineers did a great job. It seemed like everyone in the neighbourhood came by the chat and play with their kids after dinner. So many people, from babies to old people, and everything in between. I was too freaked out to attempt adding people… I’m fine with sketching them on paper, but oil paint gets muddy really quickly and I was afraid of messing up. I’m usually really good about just going for things artistically, so I’ll try to add them in next time! These are all oil paintings by the way!

I’d do plein air oil paintings at actual scenic spots, but they’re too hard for me to get to by bus :( I’d need a ride to and from, and a helping hand to carry stuff. It’s much easier to tote around a sketchbook, pens, and some watercolours:

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^I went to High Park and had a picnic with friends. We chose kind of a strange spot to set up and eat, tucked into the forest by a trail. 

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We saw a pair of swans as we walked along the trails as well!

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^Also went to Centre Island and basically walked around the entire thing. This was at the Ward’s Island ferry dock. We actually ended up walking all the way back to the Centre Island dock, and had to wait with 5000 families to board the ferry and leave. 

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We also also went to the Distillery District. By the way, these are wildly out of chronological order LOL they’re more sorted by type if anything.

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Also went to the Distillery District with Alyssa a week later at the ungodly hour of 8am. (getting there took 1 and a half hours..) Went to Balzac’s coffee shop to draw first, since it had rained and there weren’t any dry surfaces to sit on and draw outside.

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After we left the coffee shop, we drew some of the buildings. Typical architecture students LOL. Most surfaces were still wet though, so we just stood and sketched. You can see part of Alyssa at the bottom left of the picture.

I really like going places to mutually sketch with people. It’s nice to have that camaraderie, and it’s also really interesting to see how other people differ in their art styles and techniques. I had a bunch of exclusively art days with people, but I feel like what I’m writing is becoming shorter and shorter, so I’ll save those for the next post.

Anonymous said: Your artworks look amazing. You must have spent a long time on them and you get really good grades. how do you maintain between art and academics?

Hi! Thanks so much, I’m glad you like my art! About the balance between art and academics… I think there are still quite a few hours in the day even after coming home from school. It may not seem like it, but there’s always a bit of time that can be spent squeezing in some sketches between doing homework and assignments. Truthfully, my paintings comparatively don’t take that much time to complete. My painting style is quite frantic, and each large “finished” oil painting on my website probably took around 8-15 hours to complete. So I could either spread out painting for 2 hours at a time over a couple days, or paint in large chunks of 4-6 hours (like on a weekend, or after school if there’s not much homework.) I’d also be lying if I said I spent a lot of time on homework every day. I think it’s essential to pay attention while in class, that’s really what allowed me to get high marks. But it may not work for everyone, I think my ideal would be to go home, get all homework done, and then paint/draw afterwards. I hope this helps, sorry for the late reply. I didn’t see the ask inbox notification until now!

State of affairs [part 2: mural painting job]

Moving on from the last post to what I’ve been doing this summer:

My calculus exam was on the first day of exams, so my summer basically started a week early! Sounds great, but I had this mural painting job at my school for the first 3 weeks of summer. We got paid $10/hr (which is less than minimum wage!!) but we also didn’t get taxed so it supposedly evens out. We worked from 9am-3pm with an unpaid hour long lunch break. I was probably really annoying about the job to my coworkers LOL I was literally complaining the entire way through. Shoutout to connorfischer for putting me in my place when I was being too much of a little shit. (check out his art blog!)

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^Savanna, me, Connor, and Firas. Connor and co. always take prayer pose photos and it spread LOL

Our main task was to paint the girls and boys washrooms upstairs in the art hall. We also had other stuff but I’ll get to that in a bit. There apparently was a plan/proposal for what we were supposed to paint, and I also apparently looked over it at some point? It was made by Connor, but I have little to no recollection of it haha. So when we actually got to painting, we kinda just did whatever. Within reasonable limits of course… There were so many tempting things that we could have done but then we restrained ourselves. 

Connor came up with the idea for the boys washroom, which was simply “Angler fishes”. So we painted a bunch of sick looking anger fish in the boys washroom.

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^My angler fish. The quality is reflective of my paycheque.

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^Connor’s angler fish. 

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^ Firas’s angler fish. As you can see, we also painted the walls black… with acrylic paint. You can imagine how tedious this was.

If I had one word to describe the first 3 weeks of summer, I’d say it was tedious. Just writing about this job and reliving it is making me tired and vaguely irritated, so I’m gonna make this part as short as possible.

For the girls washroom, I kind of came up with the idea. I was like “hmmmm let’s do pretty colours on the wall” (obviously) and I think Connor suggested that we add black line drawings on top. So I mixed the colours for the walls with acrylic paint. The entire washroom painting experience could have been made much easier had we used wall paint, but there were only cans of varying shades of blue, and we had a supply closet full of acrylic. Imagine mixing enough acrylic for an entire wall using little tubs of paint… ugh.

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While I mixed, the other three painted the walls. By the way, there was basically no ventilation in the washrooms and everything smelled hellish after the first hour. I didn’t know acrylic paint could smell so pungent… it definitely does not smell that bad while using it to paint on canvas. Maybe there was a reaction with the paint already on the walls, since we didn’t bother priming them. Regardless, the washrooms smelled disgusting the entire time, and were really hot (the fan seen in the picture was little respite.) The school pretty much gives no shits about regulations, safety and otherwise. There are so many things wrong with how the school is running but since no one cares enough to report them, they’ll just continue to run merrily. Looking at you, MT program and art program. Actually, looking at you, entire high school.

After that, I did the black line drawings on the walls. As previously mentioned, we didn’t have a real plan. So I decided that a subtly nightmare themed girls washroom would be great.

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This was the first wall done, I put creepy crawlies on it. 

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This was just… a creepy stare.  You can see all the little tubs of acrylic piled up.

imageA clown. I hope people enjoy using these washrooms. By the way, I know I said “pretty colours”, but mixing nice colours took so much effort so we ended up using them straight from the tub. So much for that.

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Airplane wing. Also easter egg, spot my logo LOL. This one is less creepy but I just felt like drawing an airplane wing. So I did.

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Hands on either side of the clown.

imageAlso added the four of us as ghost-angel-artists, just because. I think it looks like it could be the cover of some weird rock album because the paintbrushes kinda resemble microphones.

Our other tasks included painting a strip of lockers in the basement, painting a display case, and painting a bench. The lockers in the basement are so ugly I don’t even want to be associated with them. If you currently attend the school though, see if you can spot which section of clouds were the ones I painted LOL.

The rest of my summer so far has been very productive though! That’ll be for the next post.

State of affairs [part 1] (the recap episode for a show with missing episodes)

So predictably enough, a long time has passed since my last (proper) post. A lot of things have happened since May. There was prom, I passed calculus, I graduated (ish), got accepted to my dream school, participated in a group art show — it’s futile to try and list all the events that I deem noteworthy, so here’s a recap based off of pictures I took on my cellphone.

I guess I’ll start with prom. It was exactly what I thought it was going to be haha. It’s basically a semiformal without the ‘semi’, meaning, a typical high school banquet except with ridiculously expensive dresses and suits. I forget if I mentioned before, but the dress I bought was from China and it probably amounted to $15 CAD after having it tailored. (I’m not about to spend hundreds of dollars on prom LOL. I mean if it’s important to people they can definitely buy expensive dresses, it’s just not much of an issue to me) 

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Me and Cathleen in the limo. I think I went overboard on the eyebrows but whatever LOL mistakes are for learning from.

imageCathleen, Erica, and me. With the cute phone charm Cat gave me as part of my birthday gift ♥

imageThree blue girls! The heights remind me of olympic podiums, silver-gold-bronze.

I had a pretty good time overall? This kind of thing just isn’t what I enjoy though. I’m definitely introverted in the way I prefer alone time and silence. Not to say that I can’t or don’t like to socialize, being around a lot of people just makes me very tired. I would enjoy reading a book or painting a hell of a lot more than a party (..usually heh.) I left the afterparty with Cat pretty early on (like 2am ish), we got bubble tea and then she slept over at my place.  So prom passed without much incident.

For the last semester of high school, I only had 2 art classes and calculus, having taken the brunt of my harder courses in gr11 and in first semester. I started losing motivation really quickly… The stuff we did in art was so easy and my calculus teacher might just as well have been a brick wall for the amount of help he gave us. I had lots of fun spares getting ice cream with friends, or just lounging in the library though! It’s kinda funny how the culmination of all my hard work from the beginning of high school was just me loafting around in my last semester LOL. I used to be very academically motivated — and by that, I mean marks wise. I used to think that the most important thing was to get marks above 90. Getting a flat 90 would be a crushing disappointment because wtf there’s still another 10% until 100. Of course, marks are still important because they’re a big part of whether or not you get into your post-secondary program of choice. But the significance of the number isn’t tied to my intelligence or self-worth anymore. What you actually learn is the most important part, the percentage grade someone gets can vary wildly. I guess I would still say I’m very academically motivated, I’ve just moved past the perceived burden of the number mark. (I still love learning. Will never stop.)

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I have a picture of my friend and his foot propped onto the library table we were studying for calculus on but I decided it was too disturbing to put up. The above photo was from the drive to the library from school. It was near the end of June, raining hard. Definitely pathetic prophecy, since we were going to attempt studying for calc that day. Basically my calc mark was such that I only needed above 40% on the exam to keep my acceptance (ooh gotta write about that too), so obviously my motivation to study was close to nothing. I knew from past experience that I could wing a math exam and still get at least 70%. I still kinda tried to study… needless to say, everything worked out in the end and I’m going to my university and program of choice haha.

Speaking of university and program of choice, I will be attending UWloo for architecture in September! So exciting. I’ve wanted to go there since my ‘quarter life crisis/meltdown’ in grade 10 LOL. But that’s a story to tell in person. Or not in such a broad manner anyways. I had my house mates and living accommodations figured out really early.

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^A picture of my home for the next school year. I really appreciate independence and people that can be self-sufficient, so I’m looking forward to living away from home and figuring out how to survive. Me and my housemates pretty much did all the home hunting ourselves - we found listings, contacted landlords, and set up meetings without parental assistance (/interference). We did however need rides to sign our leases and money to pay for rent LOL (thank you Mom ♥) I have much to say about the prospect of uni, so I’ll tackle that in another post.

If you’re wondering why I said I’m graduating (ish), it’s because my school’s actual graduation ceremony or commencement is in October. I have no idea why, I really don’t want to have to skip class to travel all the way back to Toronto to see people I honestly don’t need to see again. I have to go for various art related things, but man this is like prom 2.0 in the way that my attendance is purely based on pretenses and not actual desire. When we entered the school in grade 9, they recorded us answering some questions. I forgot what they were exactly, but they plan on playing those videos at our commencement and I’m already cringing from the thought. Oh misguided, 9th grade self. Oh 12th grade/1st year uni self that I’ll also probably view as misguided in 4 years.

In fact, I’m 100% sure I will cringe reading these blogs posts in the future. Maybe even tomorrow morning, if I’m self-absorbed enough to reread it then. But that’s okay, it’s nicer having something to cringe at than nothing at all.

I think that’s most of the important stuff that happened since my last post to the start of summer. I’ve been very productive with my time this summer, so I’ll write about that next time!

Made a tumblr for actual tumblr usage

The “reblog” blog: reblog.jennyxia.com