At the beginning of the summer, I had a lot of ideas of things I could draw or paint or ways I could engage with living in Japan and express that artistically. At first this worked pretty well, and I did work in my sketchbook and some paintings based on the experiences I had in my daily life. After a while though I felt like I wasn’t making any real progress toward an end. What I wanted to do this summer was plan and execute a painting. That’s a pretty broad goal, and maybe that alone sounds easily achievable, but what went into the planning and the execution was a lot more complicated. The planning phase is what I spent most of my time on, deciding what I wanted to paint and planning it all out and sketching and arranging and finally starting to paint it before deciding that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I learned a lot about the emaki style of Japanese painting and saw a lot of that type of scroll paintings that tell a story in my art history class as well as in museums and galleries, and I was inspired by that and wanted to fashion my project around that structure. But creating this structure made me feel really stifled and after spending so long planning the paintings I wanted to do and doing practice sketches, I didn’t have the energy left to actually paint it. I got maybe halfway through and I knew I needed to do something else, that something was missing. Even though I had planned¬†what I wanted to paint really meticulously, I didn’t really have a reason or drive behind it. I felt like I was really working against the grain trying to do this painting when I felt no connection to it, like someone else could do what I was trying to do, and probably do it better. That’s when I stopped and started to dig deeper into the artist side of things. I started paying attention more to stories of artists and their connection to their work, why they were making it. That’s what really helped me define my place as an artist and approach painting more as trying to express something that I couldn’t express any other way. It’s easy to¬†lose the spirit of painting, and by that I mean if you try to paint something too realistically you lose the fundamental aspect of painting, which is that it is a painting. It’s not a photograph or a drawing, it’s a painting. It shouldn’t be a copy of anything but a creation of something new. Of course as a painter I am informed by my subject, but the subject doesn’t dictate the painting. Somehow in the end of it all I learned a lot about painting and Japanese art/art history, and I’m really excited to keep painting, learning more and developing my style.