In you are the first causes of all things not eternal, the unchangeable origins of all things that suffer change, the everlasting reason of all things that are subject to the passage of time and have no reason in themselves. —Confessions, Saint Augustine

I’ve moved around a lot. I’ve mastered the art of traveling light. I’m not materialistic, so there are no costly things that I carry around. All these moves that I’ve made sifted out anything unnecessary from already a light load. I even gave away all my Shakespeare plays. I might regret that at some point.

The other day, I looked at a handful of things that I hold dear to my heart. Things that I always make sure to remember where I keep them. Do you sometimes forget where your valuables are because you’ve hidden them so well? I’ve done that too. Of those valuables, there are four items that I don’t mind disclosing here. Three of them are personal notes from two friends and one glamorous sage — yes, there is such a person — whom I semi-worshipped. The last but not least is this beat up book that I’ve read in an English class from college — Confessions. Have you read it? It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read. I sometimes find it more beautiful than the Bible.

I started reading it again recently, now the faded yellow pages with that old book store smell. It’s underlined and highlighted from the beginning to the end from my first reading of it from way back when. Even this second time around, I had to force myself to put it down, because I had to get to work.

I’ve learned that true friends emerge through test of times. So do personal treasures. What remained after all these years, all these jobs, all these phases in life. I guess for me, it’s the life giving words that are spoken(written) to me by people that I respect, some who know me and one in particular who doesn’t. Or does he?

It’s the words. My first love. Imagine the frustration that I’ve experienced as a verbose Korean kid who had to learn a whole new language at a time when her parents were unavailable to help as many immigrant parents were because they themselves were in the throes of things. Anyway, that’s a whole other thing that should be addressed more respectfully and appropriately.

I like where I am these days. I feel more in my body. My mind works better. I can now objectively take stock of what is important in life, my life. I love my treasures and I love my few dear friends who emerged like refined gold. I feel rich.


After Portland Marathon last October, I decided that I will not run another race unless I have a concrete reason to believe that I can improve my pace and overall result. Since then, my running routine has been reduced to regular 3 to 5 miles in the mornings.

My life right now is (and has been for some time) in the middle of a big shift, the idea of training for a marathon or even a half marathon feels a bit cumbersome.

Ever since as a wee little kid, I don’t think I ever disassociated myself with the identity, “artist.” But now, for the first time in my life, I’m trying to make a real living at it. Being one and making a living at being one, well, there is a difference I’m learning, and it takes time and monumental personal and even spiritual efforts to converge the two – especially if you’re starting out a little late in life. Running has helped so much even if I haven’t been actively training for a race. It’s amazing that one can actually develop a meaningful relationship with an activity, as many of you runners out there would nod heads in agreement.

Portland offers great motivation for running with its beautiful riverfront and many park trails. I would love to get back on a training schedule for a race, hopefully soon. But for now, first things first – I’m in the middle of a paradigm shift.


It took a long while before I was able to set up a booth at Portland Saturday Market. Having done a couple shows in LA, I underestimated what it took to set up shop in a craft show. I was spoiled by ArtisanalLA shows, because the gal who heads that up takes really good care of her vendors. You just need to show up with your items and start setting up in the space that is all ready to go. PSM is a little different, because you’re pretty much on your own to find the tent that works well, get the proper weights that can hold down the tent when a gust of wind blows through the river front, get your own lights, and so on.

So I finally had my first show this past weekend. While I was in the middle of setting up, a lady came up and with no hesitation asked for this painting. I was beyond ecstatic, especially because this one completely came out of my head, well, besides the Rumi quote. It felt good to know that my imagination, a germ of an idea, came to exist and someone was willing to pay for it.

She bought it as a gift for someone. Whoever you are, hope you enjoy it.

Back in February, a few days prior to my birthday, I came upon a cemetery while I was running around in the neighborhood. This particular site stopped me in my tracks, because it was February 2nd that day.


Do you ever feel like you’re running out of time in life? I do. That idea somehow creeped into my mind when my dad passed away two years ago and hasn’t left me alone since. Maybe that’s why I found myself here in Portland. I needed some distance from all that was familiar. Create enough room to dance all I can with that idea.

The month of March in Portland has been a feast for the eyes — cherry blossoms, magnolias, fresh green buds on the branches of trees that I cannot name. I feel as though I spent the entire month looking up at the prettiness — the flowers arching over me as if to remind me that there is more life and hope in the world than I am willing to acknowledge.

This picture was taken a few weeks after the day I found the monument. I was intrigued that someone left fresh flowers for a person who passed away more than a century ago.

Anyway. Just some random ramblings. I gotta get back to work now.

I’m excited to report that I will be selling at Portland Saturday Market! Please stop by and say hi. I may not be able to get a spot every weekend, but I will definitely try to set up as consistently as possible, unless I have to take my shop to an out-of-city art fair. I’ll create a little news update box for it pretty soon.

A lot to do between now and my first day at the market, as PSM requires the vendors to sell 100% handmade items. I actually had to submit my products and paintings for a review by a panel of jury before getting accepted. I love it that they take originality seriously, but it also means I cannot sell some of the popular items from my etsy shop and that I have to generate a bigger inventory. As I have been saying for sometime, I want to be prolific, so this is a welcomed challenge. I’m hoping that my jewelry design, graphic design and art will eventually converge into one cohesive business, but right now things are a bit disjointed.

A good friend of mine came to visit me in Portland for the past couple days. She helped me evaluate my situation more clearly in ways only caring friends can. Even though over all I am excited for the things to come, I can’t help but feeling l like I’m in a do-or-die situation sometimes. It really tests faith in myself. Come on Joy, do you have it or not?



I think I have another series in mind. For a while there, I had different images of whales kept coming into my mind. Went to a several library branches looking for books on whales to investigate. Without getting into it too much, here’s a silk screen print that I put together as a study this week. Message me if you’re interested in purchasing an edition.


“Mom, there is no such things as a starving artist these days.”

I had many ideas and plans swimming in my head during the whirlwind preparation for the move to Portland. It was a whirlwind, because it all happened very fast. As if it were a fate, as soon as I made up my mind to move, things started lining up and working themselves out — the apartment, the money, a good friend who could make the time to help out (In the middle of the holiday season with some family tragedy of her own to deal with! A truly good friend indeed!) — all in a matter of one month.

What am i going to do? What am I going to do in Portland? I kept asking myself. After the consecutive big losses in the past three years, I needed a new beginning, a clean slate. No, after the undoing of the immigration that left me stranded in a deep psychological hole for many years, it was important for me to finally gain a clear sense of command over my life. Live this thing the way I want. Or maybe it’s the mid-life crisis. There, I said it. It’s such a strange word “mid-life.” Just not used to it.

Whatever it was, added to that was the endless summers in California — the one-note-climate that seemed to have dried up my spirit the way it has dried up the green hills to brown. I was done with them. I had been done for a long time, actually.

I’m going to do art. I’m going to paint. I’m going to make things with my own hands and sell them. No mom, there is no such thing as a starving artist these days. We have the internet. We can promote ourselves, sell our arts on the world wide web. If Van Gogh had the access to the internet and was a blogger like many artists are these days, his website would literally glow from the plethora of golden images from Arles in the gorgeous Mediterranean light, his readers would visit obsessively to find out what would finally happen between him and Gauguin, and his post about the mutilated ear would definitely go viral. The world would flock to his door to see his work. His paintings from his online shop would be selling out faster than he can post a new piece. He would not die an untimely tragic death in a bitter and lonely psychological turmoil, broke and starving.

So went my thoughts and my argument as my poor mom couldn’t let go of her deep worries for me or just couldn’t let go of me — the first in the family to leave California since we moved from Seoul.

Well, I’m here in Portland, I’ve been here for almost three months and I have to admit, this is a daunting task. To make the matter worse, my bread and butter client company is particularly slow this year in coming out of the lull from the winter season. I’m not starving yet, but I’m beginning to wonder about my bold statement. Makes me laugh.

It is difficult, because I have to handle everything on my own. I really wish I had an assistant, a coworker or a business partner, or just somebody to call over to my desk and ask something as simple as if they thought the logo on my layout was too small. I love and enjoy losing the track of time in creative tasks, but that comes with a high cost of later logging many hours into the night to catch up on logistics of running my humble business. I wonder if Van Gogh would have been any good at administrative stuff. Am I boring you with this? Are you still with me?

It took a while for me to get back to blogging, didn’t it? Thanks for keep coming back. I’d look at the unchanged daily stats for my blog and cringe for guilt. I should be able to log more regularly from here on out. I’m also working on my ecommerce site that will function independently of etsy, which is one of the reasons why my blog took so long to reset. A lot of load to pull here. And I’m just one person, though I’m hopeful that it will change soon.

On a random note, I’m also trying to rearrange my schedule so I can fit in some group running — Portland is a runners’ city.

Do you remember that U2 song? How does it go? “Sunrise like a nosebleed, Your head hurts and you can’t breathe, You’ve been tryin’ to throw your arms around the world. How far you gonna go? Before you lose your way back home, You’ve been tryin’ to throw your arms around the world.” I feel like that these days. From about five in the morning until well past midnight.

I’m doing my utmost best. I go through many ups and downs through out a week, but here’s the thing about trying to build your life on your own terms with your two hands: I wake up grateful and go to bed with a big smile on my face. I hope the tides will turn soon. In other words, I hope I don’t starve. Haha!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 439 other followers