Portrait – World

For this project, the students were required to make a portrait that addresses one or more of the three guiding questions; how can a portrait make a broader social statement, how can we represent the intangible in portraits, and how can portraits convey authority? For my portrait, I used acrylic as my media.

The title of my artwork expresses my intention. Everyone sees the world differently, but most people wish the world is full of serenity, sunshine, happiness, and purity. It is like a smile on a child’s face, true, sincere, and innocent.

I chose my brother as my subject because I want to show the purity and the happiness of children. The first guiding question, how can we represent the intangible in a portrait, is expressed through all the symbols of my artwork. My brother is smiling happily because he has nothing to worry about. The color of my portrait is mainly blue and white which shows that the world in children’s eyes is innocent. My brother was painted in a comic way rather than a realistic version because that represent children’s imagination and how they see things. The mountain and the white sweater are symbols of clean and honesty of a child. The texture of the painting is rough except my brother and the sky.

The other guiding questions in my portrait is how can a portrait make a broader social statement. Despite that, some children, like my brother, who is smiling blissfully and grow up in a safe environment, but lots of children are suffering every day. In order to emphasize the guiding question more, I made my brother as the focal point by the size of the figure, located in the middle of the canvas, and he has most of the bright color compare to the background. There are children who grow up watching wars and deaths, children who suffer from hunger, and the orphans that never know who is their parent. The message of my work is I hope that my brother and every child in the world will grow up happy and healthy.

My portrait is inspired by two artists, Valdivaldi, a street artist, and Chris Buzelli, a fantasy artist. From the artist, Valdivaldi’s artwork, I borrowed the technique of doing a portrait in a monochromatic way. I painted the whole mountains and the cloud using one color, cobalt blue. From the artist, Chris Buzelli, I borrowed the way how he created his subject in a comic way. I tried to imitate his technique on my brother, but it didn’t work so well

My actual studio piece ended up looking almost the same then what I have envisioned. On my final plan, I wished to make all the texture bumpy and rough except my brother, the only smooth part of my painting. I did the media testing with the modeling paste and the palette knife, it looks good to the background, but it won’t work if there is a person in the middle of the canvas. The challenges that came up during the painting is the facial proportion of my brother. When I did the first layer of my brother’s face, the two eyes were extremely asymmetrical. One eye was big, the other one was small. One eye was higher and the other one was lower. His mouth was too wide and his eyebrows were very asymmetrical as well. I painted the face with the skin color and retrace the eyes and the mouth to make them proportional. The rest parts of the painting worked fine.

I challenge myself with new techniques and ideas. Although I did some acrylic painting before, they are all landscapes or animals, none of them involved human, not to mention a portrait. This is my first time to do a portrait on such a large canvas with acrylic. I’m not fully satisfied with the way how it looks. I feel like the overall effect of the painting should go better.

I do take advantage of the class time and finished the painting on time.  I apply myself to do the best of the work. I compared the portrait painting with the painting that I did before and realized that the workmanship improved a lot. Looking at my artwork, I feel I have grown. The mixing and the blending of the color for the acrylic paint have grown compared to the media testing. The face of my brother is blended through acrylic and I feel that’s smooth.

Develop Craft:

For the media testing of this project, I learned how to use modeling paste. Although I didn’t use it for my final canvas, I got the general technique of using it. Another technique that I learned is to use the palette knife to paint the mountains. I used the technique in my media testing but only use a little in the actual painting.

Stretch and Explore:

I originally wanted to paint the face with a technique called impasto paint, and I have the pictures ready to imitate. However, after I did the first layer of the face, I realized that maybe acrylic could blend like oil paint. For the second layer, I blended it and found that acrylic can blend so well too.


For this project, I challenged myself to give a meaning for all the objects in my painting. I thought before doing the final, why I used the mountain as the background, and why my brother wore the white sweater, not a T-shirt? I photoshopped my picture before starting the actual drawing. For the last project, I feel that I think more like an artist and avoid the things that are too literal.

Acrylic Painting Media Testing

        For this media testing, the students require to take a selfie with the great light source and edit in photoshop for stronger color contrasts. After that, the student’s print out the picture. Each student grabs a cardboard, put layers of glue on the cardboard, and stick the picture onto the cardboard. The students put other layers of glue on the picture. Once the glue is dry, the students can start painting with acrylic paint.
      Unlike oil paint, acrylic paint dries really fast. If you are not using the brush with the paint on it,  it’s best to put it into the water. The brush will dry up and become as hard as a rock. At that point, the brush is dead and you have to throw it away. Also, don’t put to much paint on the tray because they dried up quickly. Put little at a time so that we don’t have to throw the dry paint away, they are all used. Also, in order to slow down the dry rate, we have to add water to the paint constantly.
        One frustrating thing about acrylic painting is that it dries too fast. It’s hard to blend colors. It’s a good thing when you want to put multiple layers on in a short amount of time. In the future, I will work on one part specifically so that I can blend some of the colors before it dries. Thus, acrylic doesn’t require much blending compare to the oil paint. I will avoid some of the blendings in the future too. Compare to oil paint, I prefer acrylic paint more.
       I want to learn how to show the brush strokes in a way the workmanship is still good. For this media testing, I showed the brush strokes but they look messy. I want to how to the slippery paint and the effect of it as well. Huang Liu is a perfect artist for me to learn the slippery paint.

Oil Painting Media Testing

The oil painting media testing required the students to take several selfies with the great light source. Picking the best photo, we change the color to black and white and adjust the light to make a greater contrast on the face. After all the adjustments, we printed out the photos and began the grinding. The gridding sizes vary depending on the students and I chose three by three centimeter. We grided on the printed selfies and grided on the cardboard with the exact same size and grids. The purpose of the grid is to help us to have a better understanding of the facial proportion. The drawing started once the two grinding was done. After the drawing, the students asked each other for proportion problems. Once everything is fixed, we could start painting after erasing the grid lines. The teacher told us to start with pure white and slowly add black to create shadows.

The oil paint is so different from acrylic paint and I’m glad to learn this new material. This is my first time to use the oil paint. I learned that oil paint is easy to blend and take a long time to dry. Oil paint works well with turpentine. Oil paint is thick and turpentine helps to smooth it out. For cleaning the brush, we use the paper towel to wipe the oil paint out of the brush as much as possible. Next, we dip the brush into the turpentine and mix it. We use the paper towel again to wipe out the turpentine. The final step is using water and soap to clean the brush.

I like that the oil paint can blend nicely and dry slowly. Unlike oil paint, the acrylic paint dries very fast. When I come back to blend a color after few seconds, it’s already dry. If the class is over and I didn’t finish the part, I can still blend the color perfectly at the next class. Since oil pain is thick, I can cover the wrong color easily with the right color. Thus, the turpentine can lighter the color if one place has gone darker.

Although oil paint dries slowly is a good thing, it can sometimes be bad too. For example, when I did my eyes, the black line was too dark which made me look like “Amy with heavy makeup.” I tried to change it, but the oil paint is too wet and mixed with the new color. I have to do lots of layers in order to change the black line. Instead, I did other parts and come back to the eyes next class. The oil paint dried a bit, but still wet. I didn’t realize any mistake when the painting is done. When I look at the photo of my painting, I found that my nose is too long which made my entire face looked werid.  Thus, the size of my eye was getting smaller and smaller when I looked back at the process photos. In the future, I would avoid the silly mistake like that. I will wait for the paint to dry more before making any adjustment.

I want to learn how to blend the oil paint more smoothly and how does the brush affect the texture of the painting. This is my first time to use the oil paint and I don’t think I did it successfully. I will search online for the oil painting artist and study the technique from them.

Documentary-Saving Banksy

The documentary, Saving Banksy, is about illegal graffiti street artists and multi-perspective distributors of art dealers who remove graffiti from public walls for profiteering. The street artist, Banksy, wants to get his artwork “Haight Street Rat” back.

I think the initial idea of the graffiti street artist’s idea is good, they want to share artworks to the public. People can enjoy the beautiful artworks on the street instead of spending one afternoon go to museums. The light that this documentary shed on me in terms of the working of the contemporary art world is how people seeing one artwork in a different way. As mentioned above, some people think it’s enjoying the public, seeing the deeper meaning behind the artworks while others believe that the artworks can make a huge profit?

I’m on either side of the street artist nor the art stealers. I think for a while and a question leads to my mind, does either of the sides has the right to stand?.For the street artists, they know that it’s illegal to paint on the streets in many countries, but they are still doing it. The art stealers took paint off the walls and sell them as their own profit and don’t have the permission from the artist which is illegal as well. If both sides are doing illegal things, there is no point in arguing. But, if it’s legal to paint on the street or a specific building, and the art stealers took the artwork without permission from the artist, the art stealers won’t stand.

The most important takeaway from this documentary is how people value the same artwork and what kind of profit or advantages can people see through.

Converging Cultures- Adaptation


The Converging Culture is a project that required students to use photoshop to create a photo or a series of photos that represent the two cultures. The students can either use themselves or their family member(s) to design the artwork. I did a series of composite images and they are based on my mom’s story.

The title, Adaptation, shows a continuous change in feeling when adapting a completely foreign environment with different barriers. In the three pictures, my mom, the maple leaves, and the red color are what keep them related. The background color theme is from light to dark which represents the process of adaptation.


The first picture represents the hard times when my mom first brought me to Canada. English barrier became the main part of her anxiety. She felt that she had nothing to do, no job, no friends, nothing could help her. The waterdrop that surrounds her represents the anxiety and stress. The maple leaf and the landscape is the proof that she is in Canada but looking at China which is the other side of the sea. The Tian’anmen Square and the vague Great Wall are the signs of China. Although it seems like she is walking on the path that connects China and Canada, the truth is that she is flowing on the path and can’t go back to her home country yet. There are 29 layers of the first studio work.

The surreal devices that are used in the first picture are transparency, dislocation, and scale. The transparency is the landscape. The landscape is the inception effect but you can see the mountains at the side. The Tian’anmen Square and the Greatwall are another transparency. The dislocation is where the Tian’anmen Square bridge is on the water. The scale is my mom inside the waterdrop.

The first picture is inspired by Erik Johansson’s cut road photoshop piece.


The second picture represents that my mom is half used to the new environment. She starts to speak English and begins to make friends.  The background shows the two cultures are slowly mixing together. The red dress represents China while the maple leaves show the Canada culture. My mom is having her Chinese dress on while trying to accept the new Canada cappa. There are 36 layers of the second studio piece.

The surreal devices that are used in the second picture are transformation and dislocation. The maple leaves transform to the cappa, and the red flag transforms into the dress. The dislocation is the stars on the dress.


The third picture is where my mom totally adopts the new way of life. The universe background represents that she now has a universal mind and is sitting on the earth. The two wood sticks that have a mixture of China in red and Canada in the yellow show that now the two cultures are perfectly combined. There are 12 layers of the studio work.

The surreal devices that are used in the third picture are elongation, scale, and dislocation. The elongation and the scale are for the wooden sticks at the bottom of the earth. The dislocation is where my mom is sitting on the earth instead of living in the earth.

My actual studio pieces end up looking differently than I had envisioned in my plan. For the first one, I feel that there isn’t a focal point in my final plan. For the actual studio plan, I used inception effect, the opacity of the picture, and the Tian’anmen bridge to create a focal point where my mom is walking on the street. I add maple leaves as well because there is no culture representation in my final plan. The second studio work looks similar to the final plan except I changed the flags to other culture representation things since flags are too literal. I want to use levitation for the third picture but end up didn’t. I want culture food or music to fly around the universe but it’s too messy. I keep my third picture simple with a clear focal point.

Honestly, this is my first time to use photoshop and a lot of challenges came up, especially for the second one. The first and the third studio work went ok, no big challenges came up during the process. The second studio piece faced so many challenges. For some reason, when I was halfway through the second picture, the photoshop stopped working. I went to the ICT and asked for help. They forced quite the photoshop and let me redownload and update the version. Since the photoshop stopped working and was forced quite, all the work for the second picture was gone. I redid the work. Before I begin any of the studio work, I researched some more photoshop effect such as the one on the top. I wish to use it for the second picture but the picture has so many layers. I spend few hours searching if there is any way to do the effect. The answer is it’s impossible to the effect on different layers, especially that many layers. I end up putting three different pictures for the background and used the liquify tool to mix the background.

I challenged myself with some new techniques in my art project such as liquify different layers and create clipping mask. I didn’t approach my project in a realistic way but a more of a fairy tale style. I don’t think I did a good job of avoiding literal things even though I replaced the flags. I feel that the buildings of China and the universe background are too literal. I want to replace them but don’t have a better picture for that. By looking at my photoshop piece, I think I have grown but not matured as an artist yet. I think I have grown because I learned a new type of media, the photoshop. Not matured as an artist because I think my artwork should be more realistic like the one that Stephine did. I think I used my class time wisely despite the fact that I missed a few classes. I reached the deadline and submit my three pieces on time.

Artist Habits of Mind-Develop Craft

I have zero experience with photoshop until we, as the whole class, did some photoshop tutorials together. The double layer exposure helped me a lot in the second work. I missed the previous photoshop tutorial classes and the double layer exposure became the first photoshop artwork I ever did. At first, I was completely lost on how to do it, without the help of the teacher, I couldn’t do it.  I practiced few of the double layer exposure at home and eventually got used to it. I catch up on the missing tutorial at home and practiced until I was used to them. The dress and the maple leaves are the examples double layer exposure.

Artist Habits of Mind-Express

The converging culture project is different from the other ones because you are telling your own personal story or a real story into the project. During the process, I have to think how each object relates to my mom and how the object represents the cultures. During the creating process, I’m thinking how does this create the feeling and how does that tell a personal story. I think the first work out all three shows the best of expressing ideas.

Artist Habits of Mind-Envision

For the third artwork, I played around with the “create clipping mask” and the Hue/saturation technique. The original universe is light blue but I changed it to dark yellow. I just did it and don’t know what the next step is. I felt that I was just playing around with it. When I nearly finished the project, I realized that the dark yellow background helped me to create a strong focal point and the color matched the maple leaves.

Valentine’s Card

The Valentine’s card is designed for my best friend. We were both new to the school (in Canada) and we were the only Chinese students that were super good at Chinese and bad at English. Slowly, we became good friends and started to learn English together. We have same hobbies and the same value in lots of things. The character in this card, Miku, is her favorite anime. I used Miku to bring back the memories that we were together and tell her that even though we are in different country, I still remember and miss her. I want this design to create a feeling that Miku is coming for her and bring my message to her at the same time.

In this card, there is a color contrast between the anime character and the words. Most valentine’s card prefers warm colors, I want to show that in my design, cold color works too. The space on my card is split into two section, the character, and the words. The yellow background works as a mixture and builds a connection between the two sections.