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persona (noun)
the aspect of someone’s character that is presented to or perceived by others

Persona (2019)

In April, BTS dropped the first album in their Map of the Soul series titled Map of the Soul: Persona. In ‘Intro : Persona‘, RM asked himself, “Who the hell am I?”.

나는 누구인가 평생 물어온 질문, 아마 평생 정답은 찾지 못할 그 질문.

‘Who am I?’ the question I’ve had my whole life, the question I probably wouldn’t find the answer to my whole life.

RM, Intro : Persona

I have asked myself that question several times (maybe you have too) and like RM, I may never fully answer that question. However, I am working on it and taking my time to discover myself (flaws and all).

BTS’ Map of the Soul series is inspired by Carl Jung’s model of the psyche (see Jung’s Map of the Soul by Murray Stein). Jung split the human psyche into archetypes: persona, ego, shadow, anima-animus and self. According to him, the persona is the ‘conformity’ archetype. It is the mask we wear in the presence of others but it is a false representation of who we really are. We use the persona to adjust to our surroundings, presenting the best of ourselves to the outside world. The danger here is believing that we are the mask that we wear.

I painted ‘Persona’ at the end of April (a birthday gift to myself), inspired by RM’s intro, as a representation of what Carl Jung accused me of.

The photos above are the references I stitched together to decide on a layout for ‘persona’ and ‘shadow’. I used the horizontal mirrored layout because it more appropriately represents how the persona and shadow are opposites of one another. My persona embodies only my positive qualities and is out in the open for all those who encounter me to see. Whereas, my shadow hides away my negative ones deep down in my subconscious.

This is the concept sketch I made before applying paint to my canvas. ‘Persona’ is multi-coloured while ‘shadow’ is in shades of grey. My persona mask is collection of traits that I have picked up from my experiences and people that I have met over the years, hence, the mosaic of colours. The colours are bright because they are the ‘good’ things that people see at first glance. My shadow, on the other hand, is upside-down and buried in the dark, ignored. She is monochrome and is a representation of the ugly parts of me.

That ‘who am I?’ question is the foundation of this public art diary that is Onye?CA. The ‘Persona’ painting is an example of how I am creating and using art to explore my thoughts and the way I see the world in hopes to one day find my true self. I hope that through this, you too may begin to uncover your shadow and find your true self some day.


Life Drawing

Maybe it is the anticipation of studying Product Design next month that has got me hyped to take my art more seriously. But whatever the reason for the boost in morale, now that I have a lot of time on my hands, I’m just going to Nike it.

Just do It!


Two books inspired me to try out life drawing: Draw – A Graphic Guide to Life Drawing by David Hedderman (I highly recommend it!) and Monet – The Ultimate Impressionist by Sylvie Patin (more about this in another post). So, I searched online for life drawing sessions near me and booked one.

The session was split into two 5-minute poses, one 10-minute pose, one 15-minute pose, a 20-minute break and two more 15-minute poses. The model for the evening was clothed as a half-dressed clown for most of the poses except the last two where he went fully nude. Side note: I thought he was going to be nude from the beginning but since he was clothed for the first few poses, my expectation disappeared. But then after the 20-minute break, BOOM! His robe went off and voila! a typical nude model (Am I weird? Haha).

I was surprised at myself for sketching these in 5 minutes as it was my first time doing quick timed sketches. I focused more sketching the outline and proportions of his body rather than expressing the shadows and highlights. For all the sketches, I used his eyes as the starting point; I wanted to capture the look on his face first. Plus, it just made sense to start with his face and then move on to the rest of his body.

The sketches above are the 10-minute and 15-minute sketches. The coordinator made things a little more interesting by including props like the violin and the cake. At this, point, I had gotten used to the idea of quick sketching and I started to feel the time drag. The more time I was given to draw the model, the less I knew how to properly depict his facial features and expression and even his body. The 10-minute sketch is my favourite out of all the sketches I did that day because of its simplistic look. You can see from the 15-minute one that I had a bit of a problem with foreshortening and proportion. Oh well! Surely, I’ll get better with practice and time.

This was the first nude pose. I really liked that the model had that sad look on his face while he held the empty wine bottle. You can imagine any number of scenarios or story lines that could have led to this pose: maybe his girlfriend dumped him, he got fired or he is tired of his day job as a clown for childrens’ parties and longs for the day he will achieve his real dream of becoming an actor. What do you think can drive a man to this point? (I digress!)

This was the last pose of the evening. At this point, his state of mind was worse (there’s a cigarette in his mouth) and his pose harder for me to draw. Like before, my main issue was with foreshortening and proportion. I tried to do some shading so that the sketch didn’t seem flat but it was still bare minimum.

I liked that there was a variation of poses and props. It was also nice to see how the others interpreted him. The guy next to me drew caricatures of the model instead of realistic depictions. Another guy focused on the model’s facial features, taking the time to shade in the details of his face (how he did it in 15 minutes and less beats me!).

All in all, I really enjoyed the class. I’m glad I did it and I’ll definitely do it again.

Just Getting Started

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

Last year, I had no idea what I wanted to do with myself. I was bored and tired of repetitive tasks at work and then someone reminded me that I like drawing and painting. He suggested starting a blog for my art. At first, I waved it off but well, here we are!

I am going to use this blog as an art diary of some sort. With every painting, sketch or design I post and explain, I will be exploring myself and the inner workings of my mind. Feel free to tag along for the ride, maybe you’d discover things about yourself too.

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