An Unexpected View


The city center of Cambridge is usually busy with tourists and shoppers during weekends, so if I have to shop, I usually scramble to get out of the center as soon as possible. But this time I decided to take my time and check out a cafe my friend recommended. The inside was full and steamy, so I had to take a seat outside, and funny enough, only then I noticed the view of The Round Church, the 800-year-old church that I have long wanted to visit.

The air was hazy and cool, and as I drew, someone knocked on the cafe window behind me. An elderly couple smiled and raised their thumbs. It was a sweet unexpected excursion in the middle of the busy city.

“Home” Art Exhibition Open!

I’m glad to tell you that I had two of my pieces accepted at “Home” Art Exhibition. It’s held to support refugees and homeless people, and today we had a reception. It was inspiring and humbling to see works and performances of refugees themselves, as well as other artists.

As of my works, first, thanks for your support while I was submitting them. The gibbons didn’t make it, but my earlier works on experiences of moving home did. Here are the pieces, and the accompanying labels:


Lawful Evacuation

This is about the too-common experience of having to move home involuntarily without a particular wrongdoing. The objects can be found in any living room, where they would sit peaceful and harmonious, but one may feel they are thrown into a sea of uncertainties when they have to move.



Grandma Comfy Ready to Move

Moving can feel like starting a new life, and ending the old one. Here, a welcoming recliner, “Grandma Comfy”, is disassembled for move. She is sitting there as if she is fine. She looks ready for her next life, to greet the family again, in a new place.

Reading: Thaw Out Your Lonely Heart


There’s something puzzling about this painting (by Claudia) with otherwise ordinary-looking composition. There’s a moon and a pond, in which there’s a reflection of… Wait. It can’t be the moon! The direction is wrong, and it’s too warm.

So the moon should have been a source of warmth, but it’s turned cold, rimmed with ailing green. That seems why the trees are wavering and in need of thawing. They are standing together but they are lonely—their common ground is painted cold. But warmth is coming from outside the view. It’s so overwhelming it drenches the whole meadow and the sky. Lots of stories in the rich palette.

(painting by Claudia McGill, reposted with permission)

Boxer at Rest / 쉬고 있는 복싱 선수

The weary boxer in bronze was excavated in Rome. His photo when he was found looked as if he was taking a short rest after a bout of work.

Continue reading Boxer at Rest / 쉬고 있는 복싱 선수

Sunday Morning at Pool Cafe / 일요일 아침 수영장 까페에서

A public space can be quietly inspiring when it has seats enough to be half empty. If I were an urban architect, I would add seats just so that they can be empty most of the times. Just like desks need more wood than fits a book and beds more than fits a body.

공공장소에 자리가 반쯤 비어 있으면 조용한 영감을 얻는다. 내가 도시를 설계한다면, 대개는 비어있을 수 있도록 자리를 더 놓겠다. 책상이 책보다는 커야 하고 침대가 몸보다는 커야 하듯이.

Me and my spirit / 나와 내 영혼

Encouraged after our first collaboration, my daughter and I worked on another story. Again she wrote the story, and I illustrated it:

One fall evening couldn’t be more peculiar. The sky was grey with weird bits of bobs that looked like hard bits of rock.

My spirit tugged my sleeve. I sensed she was scared. Since I was scared, too, I broke into a run. But as I did, something most extraordinary happened. My body slowly rose off the ground. It was so silent you could even hear a feather drop off a bird’s wing. A second later, I was in a different world.

The sky wasn’t grey any more. It was the most creamy type of yellow you could ever see. As I describe this, the smell was unbreathable. Even though the smell was disgusting, I decided to find something or someone to entertain me. As I lifted my head up, I was shocked to see a funky looking eye staring at me. It was big and floating. Something about it made me scared. At least I had my spirit inside me to keep me going. I finally made up my mind to ask:

“What’s your name, and what are you doing here?”

After a short silence, it said:

“Why should I tell you?”

The voice reminded me of a robot that was almost rusted.

“I don’t see why not. I’ll start first. My name is Roberta Smith Jenkins. But of course you’ll say your own name.

“I don’t know what I’m doing here with my spirit. You see I’m new to this country. Can’t you show me around?”

All this talking was making my throat dry.

“My nam i 1BZA47. Im hee fo a inaor”

I guessed he said “I am here for an invader.” But who would it be?

My legs had pins and needles in them, so I decided to stand up. Just then, I heard a siren and to my surprise, I was stuck in a red blob!

– Written by EK, illustrated by YK

첫번째 협동작품 뒤에 힘을 얻어, 딸이 쓰고 내가 그림을 그린 또다른 이야기이다:

어느 가을 저녁은 더할 나위 없이 이상했다. 하늘은 돌조각을 흩어놓은 듯 잿빛이었다.

내 영혼이 소매를 끌었다. 영혼이 겁먹은 것을 알았다. 나도 무서웠기 때문에 달리기 시작했다. 그러는 동안, 이상한 일이 일어났다. 몸이 땅에서 점점 떠오르기 시작한 것이다. 너무 조용해서, 새 날개에서 깃털이 떨어지는 것도 들렸을 것이다. 금세, 나는 다른 세상에 와 있었다.

하늘은 더이상 잿빛이 아니었다. 가장 크림색같은 노랑이라고 해야 할 것이다. 냄새가 맡을 수 없이 지독했다. 냄새는 고약했지만, 같이 놀 사람이나 물건을 찾기로 했다. 고개를 들자, 희한하게 생긴 눈이 나를 쳐다보고 있어 깜짝 놀랐다. 크고 떠다니는 눈이었다. 어쩐지 무서웠다. 그래도 내 속에 영혼이 있어 용기를 낼 수 있었다. 큰 맘을 먹고 물었다:

“이름이 뭐니? 뭐 하고 있니?”

잠시 후, 눈이 대답했다:

“내가 왜 대답해야 하지?”

녹슨 로봇 같은 목소리였다.

“대답 안 할 이유는 없는 것 같아. 나부터 시작할게. 나는 로버타 스미스 젠킨스야. 물론 너도 네 이름을 말해주겠지. 난 여기서 내 영혼과 함께 뭘 하고 있는지 모르겠어. 이 나라에 처음인데 안내를 부탁해도 될까?”

말하느라 목이 건조해지고 있었다.

“내 이르은 1BZA47 야. 나느 치입자 때무에 와어”

아마 “나는 침입자 때문에 왔어”라고 한 것 같았다. 하지만 침입자가 누구일까?

다리가 쑤셔서 일어나기로 했다. 그때, 사이렌이 울리고, 눈 깜짝할 사이에 나는 붉은 방울 안에 갇혀 버렸다!

My horrible birthday / 비참한 생일

My daughter wants to write multi-volume stories, which turned out to be a daunting task, for anyone including an eight-year-old. So I suggested she start with a short one that fits within a page or two. She was not entirely happy with the restriction, but we made a deal that I would illustrate her story every time she finishes one. So here’s the first one (fiction, that is):

Me and my dad went out to buy some ice-cream because… it was my birthday! Dad didn’t look that happy to buy me an ice-cream. I guess that’s because he thinks it’s unhealthy.

I got a triple scoop of chocolate ice-cream on my mega sprinkle cone. After I said “Thank you”, we headed home.

But then, something terrible happened. I tripped over a rock, and went flying with my ice-cream onto another street. Luckily, I wasn’t hurt badly, but my poor ice-cream became a sticky brown puddle with a lump. Dad was smiling when he came over to me. It seemed like he was so happy I dropped the ice-cream. I cried even more, I cried until we got home.

– Written by EK / Illustrated by YK

딸이 여러 권짜리 이야기를 쓰고 싶어하는데, 곧 8살 어린이를 포함해 누구에게나 어려운 일인 것으로 드러났다. 그래서 한두 페이지 안에 끝나는 짧은 이야기로 시작해 보라고 했다. 딸은 길이 제한을 좋아하지는 않았지만, 이야기를 하나 마칠 때마다 내가 그림을 그려 주기로 하자 승낙했다. 그 첫번째 이야기이다 (픽션이다):

나와 아빠가 아이스크림을 사러갔다. 왜냐하면… 내 생일이었기 때문이다! 아빠는 아이스크림 사 주는 게 그리 좋지 않은가 보았다. 건강에 나쁘다고 생각해서일 것이다.

나는 스프링클 콘에 초코 아이스크림을 세 덩이나 받았다. “감사합니다!”하고 말한 뒤 집으로 향했다.

그런데 그 때, 너무한 일이 일어났다. 내가 돌에 걸려 넘어져서, 아이스크림과 함께 거리 위로 날아간 것이다. 다행히 크게 다치지는 않았지만, 내 불쌍한 아이스크림은 봉우리가 있는 끈적한 갈색 웅덩이가 되어버렸다. 아빠는 내게 왔을 때 웃음짓고 있었다. 내가 아이스크림을 떨어뜨려서 너무 행복한 것 같았다. 나는 더 울었다. 집에 갈 때까지 울었다.

– 이야기 EK / 번역, 그림 YK

Drawing “Tranquil” / ‘고요한’ 그리기

Tranquil is drawn after a tree in Coe Fen. On fine afternoons, the tree stands with a glow of sunshine on its back. In the photo, you can see it is growing new twigs, that almost look like saplings, from its limb lying on the left. Surrounded with lush vegetation, it looks as though it symbolizes resilience.

In the drawing, I omitted all leaves and abstracted out the background, to focus on the form of the tree’s body. While I followed what was compelled by visual composition, I wonder how that changed the substance. To me, compared to the real-life model, the tree’s situation seems more desolate—as some of you suggested—, as if the whole tree and its surroundings are burned down. Its ultimate victory, which in fact happened, is suggested only in spirit. I wonder how you feel.

I want to try another version of the tree. My challenge is to keep the spirit of hope (and perhaps the leaves) without ruining the composition. I may modify the form, but I’d like to keep the original tree’s intuitive appeal and subtlety. That’s a lot to wish for, so I would appreciate any recommendation for works to model after.

고요한‘은 코펜에 있는 나무를 그린 것이다. 맑은 오후면 나무는 햇볕을 후광으로 이고 빛난다. 사진을 보면, 왼쪽에 있는 줄기에서 잔가지가 마치 어린 나무처럼 자라고 있는 것을 볼 수 있다. 무성한 수풀에 둘러싸여, 나무는 끈기와 생명력의 상징같아 보인다.

그림에서는 줄기의 형태에 초점을 맞추기 위해 잎과 주변을 모두 생략하고 간소화했다. 구도를 위한 선택이었지만, 내용에도 영향을 끼친 것 같다. 원래 나무에 비해 그림의 나무는 – 독자들 중에서도 지적했듯이 – 더 쓸쓸해 보인다. 나무와 주변이 모두 타버린 것 같아 보인다. 나무가 결국 승리했다는 사실은 희미하게 시사될 뿐이다. 독자들은 어떻게 느끼시는지 궁금하다.

나무를 다시 한 번 그려보고 싶다. 희망의 기운(과 이파리들)을 살리면서 구도를 어지럽히지 않는 것이 과제다. 형태를 변형할 수도 있지만, 원래 나무의 직관적이고 미묘한 느낌도 남기고 싶다. 어려운 과제이니만큼 참고할 만한 작품이 있으면 추천 부탁드린다.

Painting & photo by YK, 2018