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.

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

A Forgetful Neuron & Ariadne’s Thread / 깜박하는 신경 세포와 아리아드네의 실타래

I need an aid to catch little lessons from drawing before they slip into oblivion. I feel like one of those tiny neurons, the cells that comprise the brain. Any one of them would get excited with an electrical pulse, but then would dissipate the charge and lose clue of what just happened, in just about a tenth of a second. A neuron is too short-sighted for the giant world its host lives in, where food or a mate is often not obtained with a subsecond deliberation.

I, its host, am no better though. I would be drawing one day and would be exuberant about finding a gem of an idea, but when I come back in a week or so, I would have lost the stone or its shine. Progress is often not found in my foggy horizon.

To have any hope, I will have to employ some tactics, perhaps borrowing from the neurons. A neuron fights its forgetfulness in at least two ways. It tells others what it just heard, like in a telephone game but with a more serious ambition, so that someone down the line would remember the message and remind it back when it has long forgotten what it said. It also gradually revises its phone book of synapses, the connection to other neurons, depending on who answers the call and what happens afterwards. So after enough revisions the neuron calls those neurons that answered its call or got its host goodies. The neuron thus patches its amnesia with the aid of its group and its phone book.

I may use such aids, social and material. I would discuss ideas with friends, so over time they may remind me where I was and re-excite me. They would even add their ideas on top. Attending a meet-up was a critical source of help for me to resume drawing after years of pause.

On the material side, I might look back on the trace I left to remember where I meant to go from there. I started posting works to leave the trace, but the far end of the trace gets out of sight soon. Hence a little retrospect, sorted by themes below – Ariadne’s thread I left in the labyrinth of growth.

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Expressing emotions without facial expressions
표정 없이 감정 표현하기

Bamboo and Morning Glory  /  대나무와 나팔꽃
A Whole New World  /  새로 열린 세상
Living Room Festival  / 거실 축제
Unlikely Allies: Squid and Whale  /  뜻밖의 동맹:  대왕오징어와 고래

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Holidays for Creatures
동물들의 휴일

Halloween for Beans / 콩의 할로윈
Sharks Booed! / 상어의 할로윈
Cookies for Rudolph / 루돌프에게 쿠키를

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Crosswalk Series
횡단보도 시리즈

Crosswalk (for Benches and Containers) / 벤치와 컨테이너의 횡단보도
Crosswalk on a Foggy Day / 안개 낀 날의 횡단보도
Stroller on a Rainy Crosswalk / 비 오는 횡단보도를 건너는 유모차

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Studies for “Return”
“귀환”을 위한 습작

Study 1 / 습작 1
Study 2 / 습작 2
Study 3 / 습작 3

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Taking photos as I would paint
그림 그리듯 사진 찍기

Wind Chime / 풍경
Snow in Harlem / 할렘에 내리는 눈
Snow on Hudson River / 허드슨 강에 내리는 눈
Out of the Night / 밤으로부터
Low Lights can Elevate / 높여주는 낮은 빛
Out of the Old Window / 낡은 창 밖으로

그림을 그리면서 얻은 작은 깨달음들이 망각의 저편으로 사라지기 전에 잡아두려면 도움이 필요하다. 뇌 안의 조그만 신경 세포가 된 기분이다. 신경 세포는 전기 자극을 받으면 들뜨지만, 십분의 일 초도 안 되어 전기가 새어나가면 무슨 일이 있었는지 까맣게 잊고 만다. 신경 세포 하나는 그 주인이 사는 거대한 세상에 비하면 너무 근시안이다. 일 초도 안 되는 궁리로는 음식이나 짝을 찾기 어렵다.

신경 세포의 주인인 나도 그리 낫지는 못하다. 어떤 날에는 그림을 그리다 보석같은 아이디어를 얻었다며 기뻐하다가, 일 주일쯤 뒤에 돌아와 보면 그 돌의 어디서 광채가 났는지 잊어버리기 일쑤다. 뿌연 시야 안에 앞길은 좀처럼 보이지 않는다.

조금이라도 희망을 가지려면 무슨 수가 필요하다. 신경 세포에게서 귀뜸할 수도 있지 않을까? 신경 세포는 망각과 싸우는 방법을 적어도 두 가지 갖고 있다. 하나는 무언가를 배우자마자 자신과 연결된 다른 신경 세포에게 얘기하는 것이다. 전화기 게임에서처럼 – 하지만 더 진지한 이유로 – 여러 세포들이 다른 세포에게 얘기하기를 반복하다보면, 자기가 말한 내용을 잊어버린 뒤에도 다른 세포들이 되알려 주기를 기대하는 것이다. 다른 하나는 메시지를 받을 때마다 시냅스가 – 다른 신경 세포로의 연결점이 – 나열된 전화번호부를, 누가 전화를 받았고 그 뒤에 무슨 일이 일어났는가에 따라 조금씩 고치는 것이다. 그러면 다음에 자극이 왔을 때 응답을 했거나 주인에게 좋은 결과를 가져다 줬던 신경 세포에게 연락을 할 수 있기 때문이다. 신경 세포는 이렇게 동료들과 전화번호부의 도움으로 건망증을 극복한다.

나도 그렇게 사회적, 물질적인 방법들을 동원해 볼 수 있겠다. 친구들에게 아이디어를 얘기해서, 나중에 내가 어떤 생각을 하고 있었는지, 왜 들떠 있었는지 깨우쳐 줄 수 있게 하는 것이 한 방법이다. 친구들이 자기 아이디어까지 더해 줄 수도 있다. 몇 년 동안 중단했던 그림을 다시 그리게 된 데는 그림 모임에 나가기 시작한 것이 큰 역할을 했다.

물질적으로는 내가 남긴 그림들을 되돌아보는 방법이 있겠다. 원래 그 이유에서 그림들을 블로그에 올리기 시작했지만, 시간이 지나면 옛 그림은 곧 잊혀지게 마련이다. 그래서 서로 관련된 그림들을 위에 모아 보았다. 배움의 미로에 남긴 아리아드네의 실가닥이다.

Reliefs for Olympus / 올림푸스를 위한 부조

(photo by YK / NYC 2017)

“Save the rust,” I imagined, “wouldn’t it look almost too luxurious for a kitchen to have lids like those on the lowly streets for its containers, made of metal thick beneath the name of the contents engraved in relief, unless the kitchen belongs to, say, Olympus?”

‘녹만 빼면’, 하고 상상해 보았다: ‘길바닥에 있는 저런 뚜껑을 부엌에서 쓰면 너무 호사스러워 보이지 않을까, 그렇게 두터운 금속에 내용물 이름을 새긴다면? 올림푸스 신전 부엌이면 모를까.’

(in response to Weekly Photo Challenge – Experimental)