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August 20, 2015

The Documented Life Project :: Visible Peculiarities

 I am honored to write this blog post as a Featured Artist,
for the good people at the DOCUMENTED LIFE PROJECT 2015: THE JOURNAL.

The challenge given to me is to use multiple mediums to create an art piece that includes faces or the human form and to allow the piece to speak to my younger self ... and to provide advice to that younger self.

First off, I would NEVER give advice to anyone, including my younger self, unless I was explicitly asked or hired to give advice. There's a lot of judging, preaching, and unsolicited advising going on where people are meddling in the business of others ... frequently disguised as well-intended advice ... like "choose happy" or "be brave" or "be free" or "dream big."

So much so that a person who might not be feeling happy or brave or free or dreaming big might believe that there is something wrong with her ... different and peculiar from the rest of the world. What I've learned in my life through advice and counsel I have explicitly sought and sometimes paid for (and also through biographical stories I've heard or read about), is that I am who I am, and the more I can embrace all of the emotions I go through, the more fulfilling and meaningful my life becomes. It is a full time job to mind my own business.

When I was 7 years old, I left my home in South Korea and moved to California. This photo below is of a spread in my passport back then, with a photo of my younger self. One section of the passport that I've always thought interesting is a category titled VISIBLE PECULIARITIES. I don't think they have that category on their passports anymore but nevertheless, it has always gotten my mind stirring about human peculiarities, both visible and invisible.

Peculiarities ...
Visible ...
Invisible ...
Hmmm ... these words float in my head as I start to create this piece and I grab a piece of cardboard, some acrylic paints, palette knife, and black pencils.

IMG_0725I use a palette knife to first smudge on some pink paint. And while it's still a little bit wet, I smudge a bit of white paint right on top of the pink paint. I don't worry about perfection, but rather allow the paint to be applied loosely and scumbly.

IMG_0728Next, I use my pencil to make a scribbley face on a piece of vintage ledger paper. I intentionally make the face look "peculiar" ... imperfect eyes and nose, and a mouth positioned to one side of the face. I use a paintbrush wet with dirty water (water that I have used to rinse out dirty paintbrushes so that it's nice and murky) to loosen up some of the pencil marks around the face so to create a drippy cloud of hair for the face.  IMG_0731
I tear the paper with the face into a smaller piece and then I start holding it up next to the smudgey cardboard to find the orientation that I like best.


And I decide on this one.


Before I adhere the paper to the cardboard, I use my pencil to sketch an outline that unifies the face with the smudgey paint ... to create sort of a mermaid-ish girl. Nothing definite. A bit "peculiar" and in a state of evolution. I like it.


With my pencil, I extend the silhouette of the hair beyond the paper and onto the cardboard and then I take my paintbrush loaded with some dirty water to paint the extending hair onto the cardboard.


I glue the paper onto the cardboard and then add additional loose and scribbley pencil marks including rain drops, illegible writing, anchor, and a word that is:

1) not a cliche
2) not judgemental or preachy
3) unexpectedly split in the middle and stacked
2) loose and scribbley


I wonder if my younger self were to see this piece whether she would realize that all humans have peculiarities, both visible and invisible. And that embracing them rather than pretending that they don't exist is what makes life interesting and weird and honest and tragic and joyful, and everything else. I hope so.

Thanks for tuning in,
Jenny :-)

PS: Some things you might want to check out if you want to:
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there are times when I have read something on Your blog that has just blown me right off my feet, today is one of those days !
thank you for sharing such profound thoughts and words , my spirit has been fed by them.

Thanks so much for joining us as a Featured Artist for The Documented Life Project, Jenny! I love your piece and thanks for showing your process. I have some peculiarities and as I grow in wisdom I know that I just need to embrace them and cherish who I am!

What a wonderful dose of common sense that you have offered to me today! I've always felt that we should "experience" our feelings in order to learn and grow from them. Your words remind me of my Dad who used to tell me to put my brain in gear before stepping on my motor mouth pedal. Thinking about your feelings is very important. Today, I have learned more than a new way to approach a page - and appreciate this very much. I also love your given name Jenmi. It is beautiful.

Thanks so much for this awesome post and creation...I love the loose and scribbly..I need to do that more...your words of wisdom sank in..Ive been embracing my peculiarities for a while now..but you know..new ones keep popping up..its an ongoing process for sure..!:)

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and process with us. Your art piece is awesome and touches my heart!

Thank you so much for joining us as a Featured Artist this week, Jenny. I love the approach you have taken being inspired by "visual peculiarities". Such an odd category! We all have our peculiarities but they are rarely visual! Great piece with so much quirkiness! Love.

Hello fellow artist and new friend! I just landed on your blog...no idea how...but I'm so glad I did. Leaving Korea for the US at 7 must have been something. I left the Czech republic for Canada at 9. New life...eh? Now I'm between Canada and the UK during each year, but still go into Prague for extended periods. Do you get back to Korea for visits? Great policy to not hand out advice. I give myself loads of good advice all the time, but very rarely manage to follow it. I'm off now to see some more of your posts. :D

Hi Jenny! I bumped into the Documented Life Project a few weeks ago and I'm so excited that you are the featured artist this week! I took a private class with you last May and it has moved my art journaling and painting to new and exciting places. Thank you for your thoughts, writing, and creative inspiration x Theresa (from Brooklyn ;)

What a treat to have you as one of our Featured Artists this year Jenny! I have always enjoyed your interesting take on all things, art included, and loved what you shared with us! Thank you for being so generous with your time and talent!

Thank you so much for this lesson about embracing our individual peculiarities, Jenny, it definitely speaks to me!

Simply - wonderful. Thank you for your vision. CT

I LOVE this, Jenny! Thank you for the tutorial! Blessings!

Wow - this was wonderful. I have lots of human peculiarities.... they often hold me back. Thank you Jenny for this inspiring and encouraging message and artwork. Very powerful. Very meaningful. Many many thanks... and many many blessings to you and your. j.

Thank you for this! When I first looked at the word "visual peculiarities" it made my heart hurt. I think of what that means to me as a mom to a son with severe disabilities. For a split second - if he stands still - he looks perfectly invisible... then you watch - and see he has many peculiarities - hands flapping, pacing all over - not able to sit at all, noises that resemble that of a sick baby - no words... and I think - yes - peculiarities or what is meant to me as a mom. I am wondering if they meant "wears glasses" as an item of peculiarity or did they mean: profound mental retardation, severe autism? Thank you for your take on this! It helped to sooth my heart a bit!

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