what art has done for me

Art has helped me figure out who I am.

Is there something you’ve loved your entire life? That sounds like a big question because it is. Human nature and survival instinct demands that our personality and sense of self evolves with the world around us. However out of all the phases I’ve gone through, one thing I know that has always been true about me is that I love art. I love recreating, creating, and everything around and in-between. In elementary school, that looked like drawing an underwater landscape that got proudly displayed in the hallways. In adulthood it looks like… well, this. Out of all the words people have used to describe me, the only one that has always felt right has been “artist”. My relationship to this identifier continues to grow stronger with every stage in my life and it’s where I go when I lose my sense of self in other pursuits whether academic or professional. I come back to this word because I know it and I live it. I know who I am as an artist and it is exactly who I am as a person – complex, emotional, meticulous, compassionate, beautiful, and always yearning for connection.

Art has given me the tools to manage my emotions and learn how to communicate.

Maybe all of us go through this, but I think when I was younger I was often overwhelmed by my emotions. I don’t think it’s in the parent handbook to teach your child how to manage anger, sadness, grief, or envy. And when you’re a naturally shy and introverted child, these emotions can really wreak some havoc on your heart especially when you hit puberty. When I read my old livejournal blog posts, they’re like… insanely depressing. Like ridiculously melodramatic. But that was my reality! That’s really how I felt in that moment back in the day. This is when I truly found sanctuary and solace in art. My art teachers were sort of like second mothers to me, teaching me how to express myself effectively and manifest my energy into something worth sharing.  Continue reading

current beauty routine

Once upon a time, my mom bought me an Urban Decay makeup palette for Christmas. Lil old me had no idea how to make a good eye look out of it so I did what any normal person does, I looked up a tutorial on YouTube. I found one YouTuber who I thought was so beautiful yet down to earth – she reminded me of one of my college BFFs. One video led to another and the rest is history. Here I am over a year later and I am addicted to watching YouTube makeup gurus every night before I go to bed. Part of it is to learn more about beauty and skincare and the other part is that its become ritual. It may sound lame, but it starts to feel like these personalities are like your friends.

Some of the products I list here are from YouTube recommendations, others were random finds, and some were recommendations from real live friends. I have no idea if you’re interested in my beauty routine at all, but I’ve found some really good keepers so I thought I would share just in case! This is not my entire makeup collection – just my absolute staples for the last month or so. Without further ado…

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Starting with skin; I feel like I’m so dumb when it comes to skincare. I’m rapidly approaching 30 this year and I’ve yet to figure out the best things for my skin. Since I have a short makeup attention span, it’s been hard for me to stay with something long enough to love it. The products above though? They’ve been working for me for the last month or so and I think I’m in love. Everything feels great on my skin – light scents, refreshing textures, and really easy to incorporate into my bedtime routine. Of all the things, the Origins GinZing moisturizer is probably my favorite. It smells like a tall glass of OJ for my face! Oh and here’s what I look like without anything but moisturizer on:

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Yup, that’s me. My biggest qualms with my face are texture and tone. I’ve been trying out lots of foundations and concealers this year (high end and drugstore) and the combo pictured above is the best of the best right now. The other foundations I used this year were: Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Foundation, Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation, Maybelline FitMe Liquid Foundation, and Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation. Surprisingly enough, this L’Oreal Infalliable Pro Glow is pretty much the best of all worlds. It gives me good coverage (not too much but not too little) and leaves me looking dewy, like myself. Paired with the Hourglass primer and the Maybelline FitMe Concealer… match made in heaven. At least for now.  Continue reading

5 thing i’ve learned from doing festivals

Now that I’ve completed my two craft festivals for the season (that’s the max I can handle right now), I wanted to put together a short list of the big takeaways I have from doing craft festivals. Take these with a grain of salt, because everyone has a different experience and I’ve really only done a few. Things may be totally different in different cities or with different organizers, I’m not sure.

photo via Capture Life Through the Lens by JONATHAN PHILLIPS

The very few I’ve done are Indie Craft Experience (Holiday 2015 and 2016), Root City Market (Holiday 2015), and American Field (Atlanta 2016). I mainly sell art prints of my own artwork so that may also affect my experience as a vendor. But I feel somewhat confident that if you are at all interested in doing shows like this, these things will be useful for you to know before going in.  Continue reading

defying job titles

I sat down this morning knowing that I wanted to write a blog post, but I wasn’t quite sure what the topic would be. I think that pretty much sums up my entire life – that I’m never really functioning under a single purpose, but rather, many at any given time. This time last year I was excited by the thought that I could use holiday markets as a way to figure out my ultimate goal, figure out how I was going to make my design creations an independent business. In my head I was thinking that I would finally receive THE answer – and that the year following would be THE year it all happens.

This holiday season, I feel very differently. I’m not quite sure when my perspective shifted or what caused it, but I think I’m starting to realize that putting all my eggs into one basket is never going to be the end goal for me. Sure, if I ended up just designing products and painting all day every day, I would definitely be a happy camper. But this is the year that I’ve begun to realize what I would lose if I made that become my whole world.  Continue reading

my routine breakdown

Hi. Have you met me? If you have, then you know that I go through a mental/creative breakdown about once a quarter… lbh, maybe more like once every two months. I’ve gone through it so many times that I know it’s all part of the process, but it still doesn’t make it hurt any less. It still burns my eyes and my heart gets real heavy, wondering “what is the true purpose of it all”?

The questions I have are questions I’m sure every creative has. Does it matter? Am I just part of a makers-gonna-make fad? Why am I doing this? I’m young and free so maybe I need to spend my time living life and being outdoors instead of twiddling around on the computer color correcting a piece for the tenth time. How long does it take before I feel like what I do is actually inspiring change or making any real impact in the world?  Continue reading

friendship

Friendship. It’s a tricky thing, ain’t it? I thought it was tricky in high school, but it continues to grow more elusive with every passing stage of life. I’ve come to a point in my life where a true friend is quite a rare find. And still even so, those true friends you do manage to keep end up being compartmentalized. That’s where I find myself, at least. I’m not sure if everyone else does the same or if it’s just the circumstances in which I’ve found myself (please do tell).

My college friends and I scattered after we graduated. Some stayed in my home state of FL – although all over up and down the state – and others went to opposite ends of the country. I slowly acquired new friends in Atlanta through work, craft, networking, and the like. You know, the adult ways. Yet still I’m quickly approaching the ripe age of 29 and often feel very lonely. Continue reading

it’s written in the stars

It’s been much too long since I last wrote. Much much much too long. But these things happen and all I can do is just forgive myself and move forward. The main reason I haven’t written is because I haven’t gotten the chance to really discover things the way I usually do. As I get older, that play time shrinks more and more. I feel guilty for blaming my age, especially when I’m not a mother yet, but it’s true. You get older and you just feel… tired. Tired of playing the game, looking for the next thing, and living on the edge. It becomes more appealing to sit back and enjoy what you got. There’s merit to both really.

While I do want to be a little bit more careful in how I spend my days, I don’t want to lose my sense of curiosity and urban exploration. It’s part of what really keeps me feeling alive and relevant. I haven’t met any new friends in a long time and I think that’s one of my priorities now – ensuring that I’m strengthening the little connections I have to people. And this blog is undeniably a part of that.

As per usual, this blog post doesn’t really have much of a point except to raise my hand and say I’m still here. I promise, I’m still here. Obviously, you can catch my instagram to see more frequent updates, but I do fully intend for the next few months to have more photographs and artwork and updates and all the good things coming to this page again. Until I can gather up some more content, I’ll just look to inspiration.

First inspiration, a new playlist to take me through summer. These songs take me everywhere from studio, to driving with the windows down, to hyping me up for work, to pining for the good ole days.

Second inspiration, a sneak peek at a piece I did randomly at the beginning of the year and has been sitting in a pile of pieces. I don’t know why it’s taking me so long to turn these into prints but this is yet another priority on my list.

finally some new paintbrush to paper… sometimes practice becomes a new piece!

A post shared by Christina Kwan / tide & bloom (@tideandbloom) on

 

Hopefully more to come very soon!

 

tell me the point

“the trouble with everything always is nothing’s just right,
just to figure out nothing could keep you up half the night
not to know what you want is a terrible thing you should fight
you just suffer the face of the dark while you wait for the light”

I’ve been trying to dig up bravery to write something real for a couple weeks now. The problem is that I’m not quite sure how to put into words exactly what I’m feeling. I don’t know if there’s truly a point because I haven’t figured it all out yet. I guess maybe that is my point? …That I don’t know what the point of anything is right now.

Maybe part of growing up is accepting that your grand purpose in life isn’t so grand. And maybe not so purposeful either. I know I’m really like… ALWAYS spewing crap like this, but it’s been a long time since I’ve felt this aimless. Over the past year I think I was pretty much always motivating myself – there were ideas, there was connection, there was hustle. It dissolved with the passing of the new year and I’ve yet to find it again. I mean, is that possible? Have I lost my hustle?  Continue reading

where i’ve been

Hello world (or, just people who know me and read my blog every now and then). Lately I’ve been experiencing a lot of “you are amazing”, “I don’t know how you did it”, and just general admiration coming my way from friends I know and/or work with. In my heart I wholly accept these compliments, but I also have to say that it didn’t happen overnight, it’s still a work in progress, and that they can do what they love too. I felt like I was starting to repeat myself a lot so why not write about it here.

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A lot of these people (you included maybe) haven’t known me for very long. Ask my best friends about how long I’ve been working toward figuring out my path and they would say it’s been going on my whole life. Yes, seriously my whole life. Years and years of doubting myself, years of quitting, exploring, and monthly breakdowns about my lack of direction. Read this and this and this and you’ll see what I’m saying.

After much contemplation and struggle, here are the keys to success (that sounds real cheesy) I’ve learned over the last few years.

Be patient.

Seriously, be patient – with others and especially with yourself. Nothing happens overnight. People don’t change overnight. And life doesn’t change after a single “eureka!” moment. It happens after millions of small steps, each just a tad closer to the life you wanted. It’s okay to be in a state of growth and transition. After all, that’s just life.

Listen to yourself.

If something is really bothering you or you’re constantly wanting something different, don’t ignore it. Sometimes it feels impossible to know what your heart wants and that’s okay. But do something about it. Yes, be patient, but like… don’t just sit there! Make an effort to make what small changes you can to improve your life and improve yourself. Even if it’s just taking one hour every week to sit in a cafe to enjoy your favorite caffeinated drink. Do the things that will nourish your heart and your soul.

If it’s hard, then you can probably learn something from it.

This one I would have to say mainly comes from my boyfriend. Through all the struggles, he always reminds me that despite not being my ideal situation, what I have is what I have to learn from. There are valuable lessons to be learned and the people who surround you will be the ones to lift you up, so don’t take that for granted. Open your eyes to what’s around you and make the most of where you’re at. It can only help you to become a stronger professional, a stronger person.

Appreciate what you have.

Live in the small moments of beauty. Things could be so much worse.

Talk it out.

As evidenced by all my introspective blog posts, you can see that I think about my life and my growth… a lot. And I’ve probably talked about it 100x more with my colleagues and friends. So don’t bottle things up. If you have to talk it out, then talk it out. Find someone who is willing to listen or is going through a similar situation and give yourself permission to vent. Sometimes those talks really lead to figuring out what you want for yourself.

Alright, that’s all I got for now. You definitely have the capacity to shape your life into the life you’ve always wanted. You just have to make the decision to take those small steps forward and know that it may be 50 or 50,000 steps more to wind up where you wanted to be. Either is okay, as long as you don’t give up.

hello

Hi, my name is Christina.

I’ve shied away from writing in this for a little bit, but I’m forcing myself to get back into it. The holidays took a toll on me, as they usually do, due to working in retail. But it wasn’t really only that – I think it was also partly my age. I’m becoming more acutely aware of the fact that I’m far from family and far from friends. So when I’m not living that Insta-worthy life, I find myself craving those relationships more and more. Combine that with the fact that everyone else is making holly jolly memories and you’ve got a sour Christina.

Though it may seem aimless, there are a couple reasons why I wanted to write something, anything.

  1. I want to get my real voice on here again. It’s easy to hide behind pretty pictures and awesome clothes and make you think I’m this cool inspiring girl who has everything she wants in life.
  2. To let you know that I have pauses and breakdowns too. Everyone is always like “you’re so amazing”, “I don’t know how you do everything you do,” et cetera… and the answer to all those is that at some point, it’s too much. So that’s why I had to just step back from it.
  3. Setting resolutions can be done on your own timeline. So while the world rang in the New Year, I was like ummm yeah I’m going to bed. I’ll see you in a month. I do have resolutions, but I kind of always have resolutions for my life. That’s where my drive comes from I guess.

And lastly, is that I’m not giving up. Just like in a diet, sometimes you have a cheat day and that’s okay. It’s hard to change your lifestyle. We’re creatures of habit and routine and comfort. I had a cheat month, haven’t painted anything haven’t done anything to push myself creatively. It felt overwhelming to even try.

That doesn’t mean I failed or that I’m set back in any way. I’m human. I’ve still got the same dreams, the same motivations and while it’s hard to tell, I am excited. In a quiet way I guess. I’m excited to continue growing. I’m excited to continue discovering. I hope you’re still down for following along with me.

Because I feel like I need to be giving you something else, here’s my current studio playlist. Studio meaning my living room couch slash also my car.