art, painter, painting, progress

Finding My Artist’s Voice, Being Me

Lily Chang © 2018

What compelled me to pick up watercolor paints and brushes a few years ago was an unforgettable experience at the oral surgeon’s office. While the doctor was shoving bone back into place and splinting my teeth, I flashed an image of a butterfly against a bright blue and magenta background. Even after he said he was done, the lights were turned back on, and I opened my eyes, I could still see the same vivid picture for several moments more.

I remembered thinking that what I saw was strange. That had never happened to me before. Ever. Even as adventurous as my imagination might be, when I let go and run wild, a vivid picture lingering like a freeze-frame was new to me. All I knew was that it reaffirmed or illustrated a very tiny piece of the early draft for Book 1 of my series.

After a month of not being able to shake the image from my mind, not that I was trying to, I sat down and painted it.

Lily Chang © 2018

Since then, I’ve painted to encourage the creative muse out to play. My left brain — you know, the exacting, calculating side — tends to dominate and control the right, creative force. And, that can’t happen, if I’m to write good fiction.

Problem. I hesitated. Afraid of putting brush to paper.

I might mess up or it wouldn’t turn out right.

What’s the problem?

It’s not as if I’m trying to sell paintings or or to becoming a famous painter. It’s just to whet my appetite for writing.

This morning, I realized it’s because I expect the paintings to look a certain way, to duplicate the photographs I’ve taken.

But, at this point, that would be doing a disservice to my preference and passion for vibrant and vivid colors. All I need to do is let go of the expectation that I must mirror the photographs and just express how I feel and who I am. The photographs I take function merely as inspirations.

I took this photograph in the fall of last year.

Lily Chang © 2018

Early this year, I ‘sketched’ out the basics to the picture, using one of my favorite fountain pens, using purple ink.

Lily Chang © 2018

Then, last night, I started painting.

Lily Chang © 2018

And then I continued on this morning. Yes, even artists and writers must sleep. I hear it’s good for us. Sleep, that is.

I worked on it some more.

Lily Chang © 2018

And then some more. Hey, good art happens over time and in stages, right? I mean ‘art,’ not necessarily ‘good art.’

Or, maybe i just take forever. It’s my gift, taking forever.

What happened next?

Yup, you guess it. More painting.

Lily Chang © 2018

Then what?


Are you ready?


I painted some more.

I know. Startling.

Okay, I’ll stop.


Are you ready?


Are you really ready?

Here it is.

Wait for it.



Okay, really, here it is.




Lily Chang © 2018

This is me.

Me being me.

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