Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hair : rambling on symbols

Blue eyes.
Slow slow progress...
Progress...Cocoon of hair.
Moleskine page.
In my larger Moleskine - getting hairier

+ another long rambling warning +

i'm not sure how other artists work, but for me, when i incorporate symbols into
my works, it's very likely that i wasn't aware of the action, or i did it without any
cognitive thought process. i wish i were able to do it out of will, more,
able to send out messages and stories, and all that good stuff that really good artists
must be able to do.
(maybe "metaphors" is a better word than symbols).

midway through preparing for my next show, i started obsessively drawing hair in strands and folds.
it was something that kind of started being a pain, due to its slow progress and completion time,
but it was soothing at the same time, and i felt like there was something in there for me as well.
listening to some books and music, letting the stories and thoughts seep into
each strand, fold and crease i drew - i can still recall what i was listening to or was thinking
when i run my fingers over different strands!

some people have comment that they love the "hair style" i create, or say that maybe
i must particularly like long, flowy hair.
(probably since my hair is short, it must seem as if i have hair-envy. i don't.)
these were a bit more literal that what i had in mind...

... which made me think about this for a while about symbols.
i've read somewhere that hair, traditionally, symbolizes lust or vanity.
(which is why monks and nuns often got rid of their hair first).
i knew that this meant little to nothing to me, maybe a little bit.
after some thinking, (and recently having gained a little more lucidity in mind),
my own, personal meaning in the hair started to take shape slowly :
hair seems to be something that we have no control over.
it grows as if it's got a mind of its own - the speed at which it grows,
or its shape, form or texture, we can't control.
you can keep cutting it off, but you can't stop it from growing from you.

maybe i am using hair to represent a part of oneself that one wants to get away from and hide.
or the opposite - something you want to protect yourself with and hide behind.
or perhaps the sprouts of thoughts and ideas (inner demons, even) that you are
incapable of stopping, and only have to come to embrace.

all the folds and creases of the hair might reflect the mazes of the mind,
which might reflect the mazes of the environment?

in the earlier pieces i'd done, the hair flew more freely in more of a mass bleeding into the background
- where the girl perhaps wanted to blend and melt into the environment,
letting the surroundings seep into herself...

the 'self' now maybe wants to be enveloped by its own burden, or even be protected by the
surrounding elements and find its own holding spot.
in spite of all the faults and shortcomings, embracing oneself...

sorry about such a long ramble!
writing a little statement about the upcoming show has got me thinking more,
and thought i'd write a little bit out here in case i forget.


"There are symbolic dreams-- dreams that symbolize some reality.
Then there are symbolic realities -- realities that symbolize a dream."
— Haruki Murakami, A Wild Sheep Chase

also :
"Symbolism and meaning are two separate things."
— Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore.

+ EDIT : the finished pieces that are shown in progress are posted here now.


  1. Anonymous2:57 PM

    a lovely interpretation on your symbolism. I can certainly attest that symbolism in my art definitely filters into my paintings without me realizing it. Isn't it wonderful to be intuitive with your imagery?

  2. its lovely how you describe the art evolving- blending into surroundings and then wanting to stand out!
    Love your work

  3. I love the attention to detail on your hair!
    You are one of my favourite artists, I especially love your sketchbook stuff.
    Why is everything Murakami says such truth.

  4. Really enjoyed the read! I've always admired your work, and I love what you are working on now. Can't wait to see the finished results. :)

  5. i've been really loving the hair in your recent works too. just gorgeous.

  6. Oh I quite enjoy your "long ramblings" which I don't find to be long or rambly at all. I think they are quite insightful. I've never thought of hair the way you described it, but a quite agree with your ideas.

  7. it's always nice to hear the insight of the artist's mind.

    i'm found of the new work, especially the first one:)

  8. I have hair-envy too. Such is the way of women!

    I'd love to see a zoom-in of a hair portion; I inherited a ton of Prismacolors and have been struggling to find something to do with them. How do they work on the wood? And do you top-coat them with something? Best of luck with the show(s)...

  9. thanks so much for the comments! wow.

    @yoskay - thank you!! i guess we have similar taste. :D
    your works constantly blow me away. <3

    @CGriffin - wood is a great surface for pencils. and yes i varnish it.
    thank you!

  10. oh and @CGriffin i don't really have hair envy. :)
    i like my short hair - which is why i keep cutting it i guess!

  11. The details are really amazing :) and thanks for sharing your thoughts behind the process. Sometimes I would think the hair is a form of thoughts sprouting and growing from our mind.. but not sure if you're having a good thoughts all the time your hair might be strong and beautiful at the same time XD

  12. wow, great "rambling"! haha.
    i too, am OBSESSED with drawing hair. like, i will rush through a face just so that i can draw her hair.
    and i have always wondered what i love so much about it, its so tedious yet so soothing (as you said) but your description of hair really was helpful to my understanding, you pretty much took what i couldn't figure out in my head and wrote it down:)

  13. Hi Stella
    I love reading your 'rambles'. It's so juicy to get some insight into your thoughts and see you picking apart your own ideas. Far more interesting than having some art critic give their take on your work.

    Hair carries so *much* - culture, style, sensuality, symbolism. I love abundantly, overflowing hair. Gorgeous.

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  17. I really do love your new work and the detail you are putting into the faces. the glow they have. ^__^

  18. 好喜歡你畫的圖~

  19. the news works are amazing!! love the way you draw the hair! hope i'll be like you one day!

  20. I have just found your blog and art and find it to be beautiful and mysterious. I love what you are doing with the hair. I love braids and texture, flow and pulling it back. Last night I was sketching braids... a bit like a math problem figuring out where the lines went, I should have looked in the mirror at my braid, ha.

    Your art is lovely and I love seeing the pieces unfolding in the different stages and hearing about your process and thoughts on hair. Hair means different things to everyone. It really is an interesting subject.