Digital Island Artdump Week 2

Many things and not so many things occurred this week.

To my great unsurprise, the government announced a partial lockdown in my state and the surrounding peripheral state. We’re not allowed to travel between districts or states without the excuse of an employment letter or a letter of exceptional circumstance… meaning I can’t go to my rainforest residency (unfortunately not an exceptional circumstance). I was meant to go tomorrow. I was meant to have my bags packed with snacks and mosquito repellent. Alas… Another one of my 2020 travel plans, derailed.

I had already half-expected the possibility of unofficially running a makeshift residency at home. Thank the gods then that I was persistent in my desire to clean up and refurbish (slightly) my bedroom-studio. Now I can enjoy working without the outgrown baggage of my past hanging over my head — regardless of the bedroom-studio’s somewhat scrappy, termite-chewed and dust-wrapped condition.

Otherwise, Week 2 is uneventful. I spent most of the week making pet portraits and attempting to muster motivation to work on Monster Aunt thumbnails. Yesterday, I cleared 95% of my outstanding commissions and told myself I wouldn’t be taking in any more until Nov 19. Hopefully the creative Sisyphean struggle resolves itself by then.

I started reading Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. I loved Nosrat’s TV spinoff TV show — it’s actually through her that I discovered the concept of wabi-sabi, now a guiding philosophy in my art-making. So I was really excited to pick up this book (helps that the production value is gorgeous! Makes for wonderful decor in my bedroom-studio!). I am enjoying her warm, casual tone and how she presents and thinks about concepts. It’s very close to the way I think: intuitive, ad hoc, agak-agak* yet informed by a deep understanding of craft and process that inspires experimentation, possibility and full creativity. And I think, this is the way I want to teach too.

*agak-agak is a philosophy? way of doing? that forsakes precise measurements and rules, instead preferring to trust the process and one’s intuition. Usually applied to cooking, but can be applied to other things. I may or may not officialise it as one of my guiding philosophies.

Lately, I’ve been developing an interest in cooking as an art form and a means of connection with culture and history. When I first learned to cook 5 years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to discover I have a talent for it (of course after a few hiccups as I familiarised myself with how the stove behaves and how heat works. I didn’t want to burn down my apartment lol). The talent’s since grown into an active passion. I am always looking for new ways to expand my recipe bank, experiment with new ingredients, refining my palette. Cooking feels like another version of drawing; lots of play and observation, trying new things, seeing what works. Which is why I am glad to have cooking as a hobby, now that drawing’s become a career.

I finished Meander, Spiral, Explode today. A book recommended to me (indirectly) via a Twitter thread encouraging the publishing industry to explore non-Western, non-linear narrative structures.

If you have been following my recent going-ons in this blog, you’ll notice 1) my big interest in narrative structures that aren’t simply the Hero’s Journey or the Three Act Structure 2) my intent to push my naturally kishotenketsu style further. It’s an interest I cultivated out of rebellion and boredom: I’m kinda bored somewhat by the constant, direct-and-indirect valorising of the Three Act as the ideal, perfect structure; stifling any possibility of alternatives and devolving a reader’s ability to approach stories outside of what’s familiar. Very colonial. Very boring.

(I don’t mean that the Three Act is garbage; rather it’s the attitude that puts it solely on the pedestal that is garbage)

I had a fun time with MSE! I love Allison’s critical analysis and how she treats visuals, imagery and an understanding of art-making as valuable tools for literary criticism — a breath of fresh air when most of publishing/scholarship actively disregards the value of illustration and visual literacy! To see a genuine appreciation for visual art employed for literary analysis is encouraging. And that’s before we get into the narrative structures explored in this book. (Wave, wavelets, meanders, spiral, radial, network, fractal and tsunami?)

Personally, the book didn’t give me anything too new, but it gave me analytical tools and other books to read. Both of which I cherish, as someone who loves to analyse things and expand my worldview a little more each time.

Anyway, tomorrow is the start of Week 3, my as-of-now unofficial residency. I prefer not to talk about my plans (though they will look very much like what I discussed last time in the first Art Dump). Fingers crossed!

Until next time.

Hello, hello

Reimena Yee is a graphic novelist, artist and flamingo enthusiast.

She creates the webcomics The World in Deeper Inspection, and The Carpet Merchant of Konstantiniyya; the latter of which is the first Malaysian graphic novel to be Eisner-nominated.

Currently writing and drawing a whole bunch of stuff. Is a nerd for all things spooky and historical.

Melbourne / Kuala Lumpur

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If you’re not already familiar with @reimenayee’s work then her debut graphic novel, SΓ©ance Tea Party, is a perfect place to start. It’s a heartwarming love letter to childhood told through the eyes of a girl who’s afraid to grow up & the ghost of a girl who never will.

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