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The title of my small collection is A Phantom Odyssey, with each individual painting bearing no title. In this collection, there are three 12”x9” paintings that present different landscapes: a cottage near a river, waves by the shore, and a pond in the misty woods. The subject in each painting is a phantom. They are made with oil paint but the root structures on the canvas are composed of air-dry clay, toothpicks, and acrylic paint.
Before commencing to paint for this collection it was necessary to reflect, for what had I aimed to instill in the viewers? For a few years or so, my curiosities regarding the complexity of emotions grew. Nostalgia, in particular, seized my attention as it is a paradox. The intricate emotion combines feelings of regret, bliss, and grief in one, despite their stark differences.
Nostalgia essentially inspired all three paintings in this collection and their driving question: As humans, we can feel linked to some of the places we visit – what if we became rooted to them?
Over the course of painting, I focused on the interconnectedness we share with nature and settings rather than people. Some close friends and family have expressed how they feel attached to places vital to them. When recalling memories there, they feel a sense of elation or a sense of sorrow; a sense of acceptance or a sense of denial. After all, the word “vital” bears multiple meanings: “essential” and “fatal.” As long as memory permits, would these sentiments tied to those places ever ebb away? For it seems as though a piece of them have been left behind, meant to forever be rooted there and wander like a ghost. Certainly, how can they forget the place if they’re always there?
As humans, we naturally feel rooted to settings we’ve been to or find significant to us (such as home). The reason why is for each individual to unearth through rumination and exploration. To go on a conceptual odyssey and reconnect with what’s been left behind — the phantom. The “part” of us constantly living there, drifting about in limbo.
Throughout my time working on this collection, I reflected on my goals as an artist. For instance, I strive to have viewers contemplate over my artwork instead of having a swift, waning burst of emotion. Color, an element of art, aids in my attempt to do so by conveying a sense of mood or depth. Yet, I have excessively obsessed over the “right” in my artworks: the right shade, the right amount of pressure to exert onto the canvas, or the right brush. These obsessions did not lead me to creating a better piece, as more time should’ve been spent toward understanding oil paint properties, techniques, and color theory due to my lack of experience in working with the medium. I believe that I have plenty of room to improve going forward, especially in craftsmanship.
Some of the major inspirations for my artworks are Louis Aston Knight, Donald Demers, and Claude Monet, who are accomplished landscape artists. Their use of color and special attention to detail, therefore creating artworks that astound
their viewers, left me fascinated. Though encouraged to do the same, I’m not as masterly as Knight, Demers, and Monet. Still, I am determined and eager to continue challenging myself to become a better artist.
Lastly and most importantly, I want to mention how thankful I am to have received the grant and to be guided by my Art Appreciation teacher, Mrs. Chu. Painting with oils has always been a desire of mine, and through the grant I have been able to do so. More importantly, the grant gave me an opportunity to step outside my current reality and to explore. I found myself among waves, cottages, flowers, pine trees, roots, and phantoms – through art.