Sabbatical Begins

When planning work for the new year, I realized once again that my studio was into its 7th year since officially opening on July 23rd, 2014. I actually thought about taking a Sabbatical leave back in July, but a couple of interesting opportunities kept me dreaming up proposals. Unfortunately, both proposals were turned down and the second half of 2020 just seemed to have vanished without any accomplishments whatsoever. When explaining to my non-Christian colleague the concept of a Sabbatical leave and my intention to take one until the studio’s 7th anniversary, she quickly calculated that the bank account had just enough money to cover both of our wages till July, not much and not less. In many ways, God seems to be nudging me to take a break from my usual work. The more I think about this the more it seems like a good plan during these slow economic times. My first ever Sabbatical was hence decided and commenced last week!

My plan for the Sabbatical is more of a mentality than actually taking a physical vacation away from the studio. I’ll still be going back to the studio sporadically, but will focus more on R&D and other personal projects.

The first week of the Sabbatical already seemed quite fruitful. I tried learning Chinese painting on my own and got some decent outcome. I’m also exploring comics/manga design for my second year of doing the weekly Inktober52 challenge. Besides art, I’m slowly picking up web design/development again and had just registered a couple of domains to play with. God seems to be encouraging me to explore this new path when a brother from church called me today out of the blue to see my availability in helping with the church’s website. My studio’s digital fabrication work was kept alive when a friend asked me to help him 3D-print his architectural designs last week, a perfect way to keep the idling printers busy while I explore new things during this seemingly promising Sabbatical leave.

Sketch… Sunday Service

A Dark Cold Depressing Week

Less than 10 days had passed in 2021, hope was still relatively high for a better year and suddenly news broke out that more than 50 democratic leaders were arrested under the vague national security law. A dark veil seemed to have covered the entire city immediately, everything around me seemed to have turned joyless and tasteless. It’s actually a little intriguing when I think deeper about this feeling, I don’t even know any of the 50+ leaders personally. Maybe it’s the feeling of helplessness in witnessing the collapse of a once free and prosperous city. There’s also the feeling of anger in witnessing injustice of evil prospering and righteous persecuted. Anyhow, I’m now aware that I’m more connected and in love with this city than I like to admit.

The cold weather played well with the gloomy city as we experienced some of the coldest days in the past 11 years or so. Heard that there were 5 people who died from the cold spell. Feeling a bit ashamed to say that I only cared enough to pray for the homeless to find warmth and shelter under my cozy blankets before sleeping at night.

As I was feeling depressed and all, I was told that my bedroom at my parents’ place was taken over by my nephew from downstairs. I was furious, not because my weekend bed was being occupied, but for the disrespect of not giving a heads up in advance. Feeling like Joseph in the Old Testament when he was betrayed by his brothers and was sold to faraway Egypt. In God’s incredible plan, everything happened for a reason, and the story ended with Joseph prospering and saving his entire family from famine! Oh God, what’s Your plan for me?

In midst of all the misery, I find glimpses of joy and hope from friends. One friend sent me a very thoughtful gift from Canada, another is helping me look for paper in Taiwan, and yet another just passed me his used extra air fryer tonight for free. Thank you, not just for the gifts, but for remembering me during these dark, cold, and depressing days.

Sketch… Sunday Service

Goodbye 2020

New Year came on Friday, but the atmosphere during the long weekend was the least festive I’ve ever experienced. The world seems more glad to see 2020 pass than hopeful to welcome 2021.

I spent the long weekend wrapping up a couple of projects in the studio. Reviewing 2020, there wasn’t much accomplishments to speak of, I’m just super thankful that my family and I stayed healthy and well amidst the crazy pandemic. Aside from that, I’m grateful that I had managed to stick to my daily devotional plan and read through the Bible once. The extra personal time gained due to less work and social activities certainly helped. I even had spare time to complete Inktober52 on top of the annual October event, there were nearly 100 ink illustrations I completed last year!

As we start 2021, the light at the end of the tunnel seems near as vaccines are being rolled out worldwide, but what will the post-COVID19 era look like? This coming week will be a good time to do some planning…

Sketch… Sunday Service

Winter Solstice, Christmas,…

The holiday season started with the Winter Solstice on Monday. It’s a traditional Chinese celebration when most people would make their best effort to go home for a warm family dinner. With the pandemic still serious, my family of 10 (in HK) did not celebrate together for the first time in the past 11 years since I returned to HK. I did make an effort to go home to have a cozy dinner with my parents nonetheless.

Christmas this year for me seemed even more quiet than usual. Originally thought about designing and making a Christmas tree in the studio and take a nice pic of it to send off as Christmas greetings. Realizing time was scarce, I ditched the idea in favor of catching up with Inktober 52 and using the cartoons as a backdrop for the e-card. It was a good synergistic decision. The thought and pressure of asking the girl-I-like for a date didn’t even quite cross my mind this year amidst the pandemic. This year I feel more of an urgency to help those who are suffering in our declining city. On top of donating to a NGO who ran a charity crowdfunding campaign for feeding the homeless during the holidays, I subscribed to an embarrassingly small monthly donation to a fund that helps the pro-democracy protesters who are being persecuted/prosecuted since summer 2019.

A couple of old friends in US made an effort to message and re-connect with me in the past week, one even mailed me a physical Christmas card! Feels particularly warm that someone thinks of me from afar, not to mention receiving a card during this social-distancing digital era!

Also reconnected with some old friends in Canada. The pandemic in my other home city, Toronto, is also quite serious and the whole Ontario province was forced into lockdown starting Boxing Day. Hope my friends and their families are doing ok over there. I really do miss my friends and the simpler life in Canada, a dream recorder would certainly help prove my claims. I look forward to the day when the pandemic would fade that I can safely fly back to meet and catch up with my family and friends in “our home and native land”.

Sketch… Sunday Service

Sketch… Christmas Sermon

Escape Continues…

Continuing my escape from the gloomy reality of a declining city and an unceasing pandemic. The public library was closed again, so I couldn’t continue my reading of the Midnight Diner comic series. I switched to spending more time in experimenting with real culinary arts. My theme in the past week was making all-day breakfasts and I successfully fried my first sunny-side up! Plan to experiment with making pasta this week.

Picked up cartooning again in the studio after more than a month of break from the intense Inktober event back in Oct. Target to catch up and complete Inktober 52 (one ink art per week) before the end of year. The cartoons can be found here.

Art (culinary or not) is really good in killing time and helping me escape temporarily from reality, but I do feel guilty at times for letting time just slip away so easily. When the ex-university professor Chan Kin-man (陳健民)visited Jimmy Lai, the media tycoon who is now being prosecuted and detained, he encouraged him not to waste time counting down to the day he’ll be free again but rather learn to seize the day to do good. He was speaking from his own experience of being jailed for the peaceful Occupy Central movement in 2014. I’m reminded of my highschool’s Latin motto – Carpe Diem.

My dad celebrated his 80th bday on Thursday. The originally planned big celebration had to be postponed due to the pandemic, but our whole family did manage to meet briefly to eat a bday cake together. I had a nightmare following the family meetup. In the dream, we were in a remote farming village and I was introducing to my parents my UW classmate(s) from Taiwan and they were kinda proud of the ethnic diversity I was exposed to through my university education. Suddenly, I saw 3 black bombs flying on top of my head and about to land nearby. The dream ended with me yelling and searching for my elderly father.

I think I’m stressed, not from work, but for letting time slip away and not accomplishing anything meaningful. I tried to de-stress by indulging in Art but ended up feeling I’m wasting time and back to feeling stressed again. A funny predicament that I didn’t realize existed until I wrote this post 😅.