Just completed this group project, which proved to be really fun. Also, managed to finish my first larger-than-life figure drawing.
I feel so disconnected from the contemporary art scene now. I've no idea who are the movers and shakers, if Damien Hirst is still the richest living artist alive etc. There's a couple of paintings by Wilhelm Hammershoi I'd like to share in an upcoming post.
Just an update on what I've been doing in this crazy period (3 more weeks to the end of the semester!) I took time off to attend the Fashion Jury show, which showcases student work for final selection to be in the actual show. Design mentors included Anthropologie and Armani Exchange, also this label I'd never heard of called Patagonia. It's not a fashion label in the conventional sense as it focuses on organic outdoor apparel, but it's expanding its offerings to include more stylish options. It's particularly known for its eco-friendly slant, which is definitely the direction I think fashion should take. It was fascinating to see how the students recycled outdoor garments and gear into wearable clothes.
On Friday I went apartment-hunting in the Downtown area. Two of the apartments were particularly impressive. One of them was right next to the Museum of Contemporary Art (the door literally opens onto the museum courtyard!), and close to a music school and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. I heard that they have free concerts outdoors in the summer. The other apartment was in this medieval palace style and had its own small private park for residents, complete with park benches and barbecue grills! It was a little too much for me. The one we settled on is pretty cute with bright lights and cheery colours.
Honestly, sometimes I question what I'm doing and if I'm fit for such a competitive industry (this happened after I nearly fell asleep at the table for the upteenth time doing homework). It's not the work itself but the pressure to perform that daunts me. Moreover, I'm paying a heck load of my parents' money for it, with no guarantee of a job in future and little respect from some people. Incredible as it sounds, I actually miss studying things like literature in depth. I'm trying to pinpoint what exactly it is about fashion design that I like. Not the social aspect of the industry, for sure. I think admire the artistry of fashion designers and I'm intrigued by the transformative power of clothes. I've also been talking to my church friend about reconciling our Christian faith with fashion. Have I found an answer? Not really.
I experienced earthquake tremors for the first time yesterday. And let me tell you, though it lasted for only a minute or so, it was pretty scary. Things were swaying and creaking. It felt surreal, like "Is this really happening?" I think I said a prayer but I'm not sure because my mind was blank.
It's times like these that remind me to show love and appreciation for my family and friends, as life can be extinguished in an instant. I'm very lucky to have just made a new friend and future roommate, someone who shares common values and interests. We had such fun and meaningful time together the past weekend, and I think she is someone who can enrich my life. It seems that there's someone constantly watching because everytime I need something it's given to me, though it may not be in the form I expected. Sometimes I don't even realize that my life was lacking in a certain aspect until I receive it.
On another note, I've been following British chef Jamie Oliver's TV show 'Food Revolution', in which he tries to change the school food of America. I watched the original one set in Britain, and while I thought the situation there was preposterous, it seems that the U.S. might be worse. Many people don't even seem to perceive a problem with their eating habits. Two high school girls ("obviously foxy young ladies", Jamie said to them) weren't concerned that their lunch tray was piled with French fries and no vegetables. Well, like Jamie sniped, "Enjoy it while you can." Youth and health is not going to last forever.
Honestly, I was rather appalled with the food options when I first arrived. There was an entire aisle devoted to frozen foods, which are all processed and nutrient-deficient. I saw people piling boxes of those in their trolley. Whoa. This made my resolution to eat healthily rather tricky, especially with the discounted Ben & Jerry's and Haagen Daaz ice-cream. At the same time, I found out that a healthy eating culture does exist here, one associated with organic supermarkets like Whole Foods and fresh produce from the Farmers' Market. I think my diet is better than many college students, but still not ideal. At least I'm not eating instant ramen all the time (would you believe I've eaten it only once since I came?) Hopefully I can work towards that next semester.
My memories of a place are often tied to a certain song. Is it just me? For example, 'Lemon Tree' stands for Australia (specifically Melbourne and Sydney), and Cliff Richard's 'The Young Ones' is for Malaysia.
Now, Fleetwood Mac's 'You Make Loving Fun' will always remind me of a sunny afternoon, cruising down the streets of Los Angeles. Fleetwood Mac is a Southern California blues band, which explains why the song's vibe suits the mood of LA so well.
"... I never did believe in miracles But I've a feeling it's time to try I never did believe in the ways of magic But I'm beginning to wonder why...
Last week's activities included visiting the Santa Monica Aquarium, and having Vietnamese food (pho/ beef noodles, rice paper rolls and a desert of fresh coconut milk and ground beans) for Sunday lunch. Delicious!
Did I mention how delighted I am that spring is here? I'm enjoying the warmer weather, longer days, blossoming flowers and the feeling of sun and air on my skin. I like the ease of wearing looser clothes and fewer pieces, plus putting on my pretty jewellery. Somehow I don't wear much jewellery in colder months, because they get lost among the layers anyway.
Can't believe that I'm headed home in little more than a month. I still have so many matters to deal with. The days have really flown by. I longed to return terribly when I first came, but now I find that I'm actually enjoying myself. The kindred spirits I've met so far are a major part of my positive experience. There are still so many things I haven't discovered about LA.
1) Great shopping. One can find fashionable clothes at great prices. The Urban Outfitters store's lifestyle concept is a revelation. I'm always tempted to walk out with an armful of clothes, bottles of nail polish, quirky books and a film camera.
2) Eating places with great atmosphere. Whenever I pass by the streets in a car I always see some place interesting that I want to check out. Also, there's such a variety of cuisines available- ethnic, deli, diner food etc. The best thing to do, really, is to grab a spot at a cafe and order a coffee.
3) Farmers' Markets. I love to buy fresh produce there, and sometimes grab a snack or two. Oh, did I mention that you can find jewellery as well?
4) Mexican food! Tacos, burritos and tamales (my favourite) that are cheap AND finger-licking good. I want to buy from a taco truck but I never see one in my area :(
5) Sunshine and good weather. It makes every day seem so pleasant.
6) Being surrounded by both mountains and beaches. I like seeing the mountains in the background when driving, and the calmness of the beach (if you can find a quiet spot) is lovely.
As part of my pledge to watch more films, I suscribed to Netflix this spring break and managed to finish: The September Issue Julie & Julia Up Pan's Labyrinth
All were delightful. I think I'll cancel my subscription though as I highly doubt I'll have the time when school starts.
Films have been on my mind lately, including classic ones. I enjoyed both Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 and Alain Resnais' Last Year at Marienbad, which I saw for my English class. Wish I could take film classes.
I also had a marathon of Anthony Bourdain's travel television show, No Reservations. Love that guy's meat-eating, mouth-cussing swagger. It reminded me how much I've yet to see of the world. I mean, Azores? Sardinia? Where on Earth are they? Yet they were two of my favourite episodes. So I'm really excited to be (tentatively) visiting Abu Dhabi this summer. My mum is tantalizing me with descriptions of yummy Middle Eastern flatbreads, dates, olive oil and hummus already.
I recently discovered the Polish-American sculptor Elie Nadelman's works. I'm frankly much less acquainted with sculpture than I am with painting, which is a pity because sculpture can have such a commanding physical presence. I'm intrigued by how classical references have been distorted into something savagely beautiful in these figurines. Tradition and Modernist traces in the form of rough, expressionistic surfaces and simplified forms coalesce into works that are subtly powerful.
Samples of my work from life drawing and model drawing class. I'm working on taking photos of the things I have now, and I should have more to show soon. I like that we have more freedom to experiment with different techniques and mediums this semester. It's a shift from the fundamentals towards personal expression and finding your own artistic identity.
My recent visit to the Norton-Simon Museum reminded me of the sensitivity of Degas' drawings. He is uncomparably skilled at capturing the gait of a ballerina and the sheer, floaty quality of her tutu through spare, suggestive lines. Also, the addition of dints of highlights emphasizes the pose and gracefulness of her limbs. We're starting to use pastels now in class and these drawings demonstrate their expressive potential.
I'm back from another gruelling day at school, and already it seems that we have a ton of work to do. I started my model drawing (aka fashion drawing) module yesterday and it was very interesting to experiment with different ways of depicting the subject and her mood and clothes. For life drawing we're working on a larger scale and eventually life size. I'm slightly daunted by the prospect, but I trust that everything will work out well as long as I practise.
Form and Space class seems much more bearable now that we're not forced to work with certain materials. I'm thinking of wood here. Cutting and fitting together pieces of wood was the bane of my existence in first semester. My palms often got pink from abrasion with the wood after working for some time. This time we're given a lot more personal freedom. We're about to start on a sculpture project based on our own theme, and using materials of our choice. Further on we'll construct a form out of textiles and fabric, which sounds pretty intriguing.
I received Julia Child's memoir My Life in France as a Christmas present from my friend. The title was my request; another option I considered was The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I'm having a lovely time reading about Child's culinary adventures in France (Paris and Marseille especially), and the book is a great inspiration to anyone who wants to learn how to cook i.e. me. Why does it seem that fiction which revolves around food appeals to me? Under the Tuscan Sun comes to mind here. The rustic simplicity of Italian food described in the former and the elegant sophistication of French food in My Life in France are equally intriguing. For that matter, my taste buds appreciate almost any kind of cuisine. Maybe it's because memories of a place, for me, are intimately associated with the local food that I understand the spirit of these books.
Though winter here is extraordinarily mild and I don't have to put up with a perpetual feeling of stickiness (aka sweatiness), I can't help missing the ease of throwing on a tank top and breezy skirt and waltzing out the door. I miss the feel of the sun on my legs. I bet I'll be eating my words when I get back to the sweltering heat of Singapore, but right now I'm pining for summer. Maybe looking at these simple and strappy summer-appropriate shoes will help to cure my longing.
Isogawa manages to keep things fresh each season with interesting and effortlessly-stylish draping, and splashes of vibrant colour and prints. These garments are perfect for dressy events in summer like a night barbecue- light, breezy and not too formal.
My cousin's wedding is coming up in July (and I hope my brother's is not too far from that). Hmm, what should I wear? I'm thinking of re-wearing my prom dress but it's fun to consider other options.
Picking oranges and persimmons- I know this is no big deal for locals, but it's a novel experience for someone from Singapore. It was so sweet (literally and figuratively) to taste a fresh fruit that I had picked myself, rather than one that is imported.
Visiting Old Town Pasadena- the atmosphere of that place reminds me of Europe, especially when night was starting to fall.
Exploring the Botannical Garden- I realized how long it's been since I was in contact with nature and the outdoors. This place is huge compared to the one in Singapore and boasts a fascinating array of flora and fauna. I love rubbing lavender and rosemary between my palms in the herb garden and leaving a lingering scent. I spotted mandarin ducks, herons and a bluejay!
Opening presents under the Christmas Tree- Again, all-too-familiar for some, but a new experience for me. I received a lovely pair of flats from my aunt and uncle.
Visiting the Norton-Simon Museum- Great to see artworks that I know in person. This museum has an especially expansive collection of Degas' drawings, paintings and sculptures.
Riding the train on my own- It felt so relaxing just to read a magazine, watch the scenery flash past my window and observe fellow travellers. Even better when I opened the lunchbox that my aunt packed for me.
Having delicious food- An essential element of any holiday. Highlights include assam laksa, Ipoh hor fun, dumplings and radish cake. The taste of Chinese home-cooked food is so endearing to me.
The best part of the holiday for me? Realizing that there are people out there who are always ready to open their hearts and doors to someone they barely know. Since arriving here, there have been many occasions which made me feel how large the world really is, and how small and insignificant I am in comparison. I'd really been living a sheltered and privileged life. It's amazing to say that here, in the sprawling expanse of the U.S., I've found another family. The thought of having a place always welcome to me is immeasurably comforting. It sounds cliche, but now I think it is true that it all comes down to love. There is plenty of love in the world to go around.
I passed by this amazing house while walking to the Rose Parade. Doesn't the front gate (which is really tall) seem like something out of a fairytale? It feels like a modern version of Wemmick's Castle in Great Expectations. Utterly surreal.