2017 Intentions

It's been a rocky start to 2017 but I see it as an opportunity to continue focusing on intention. It's also been a few weeks of rainy, cold and gloominess but one thing's for sure, there's always sunshine inside and puddles to jump in outside :)

 After being on maternity leave for eight months, I'm back at work trying to manage the routine of baby Clovis, my 13 year old stepson (teenager yikes) and my beautiful marriage.  I think about this and all the fun adventures to come but also all the challenges of being a stepmother, new mother and thriving in a multi-cultural family.  One thing is certain, doing less and creating space for creativity and peace is paramount.  It's so easy to get caught up in the 1000X 'to-dos' but I'm committed to the things that matter most: Family & Friends, Culture, Art and Well Being. There's a bigger intention behind each and that's how I continue to prioritize my life. It's hard, it can be messy, but it's always clear to me where I focus my energy and I rarely sway.  Now it's going to be a challenge for me this year with the little one, but I'm ready. Here are a few things I keep in mind to keep my sanity and balance:

Build and maintain a strong group of trusted advisors: This could be family, friends or even acquaintances.  I was never big on joining mommy groups or being super active in any groups for that matter. It's the introvert in me. I knew the most important was finding those gems, those you could trust and confide in when times were rough.  I stay close to those who support me mentally, have more experience than me and those I could learn from.

Be prepared and have foresight: I remember something my father once told me from Sun Tzu: “Every battle is won before it's ever fought.” Figuratively speaking I applied this to everything I do. I prepare as much as possible before I am confronted with anything new from having a new child, relationship to buying a new house. If you front load the work, you'll save so much time and energy later.

Trust your gut:  I informed myself as much as possible when it came to breastfeeding, daycare and newborn care and at some point, I trusted my gut. I read books spoke to friends, listened to how my elders raised kids.  In the end, I knew what was right for my child (though I'm still learning).  But you know when you see that twinkle in your child's eye.

Have space for yourself: Painting, drawing and cooking are times where I can 'meditate' or recharge from the day. It's also a way for me to give back to this world in a meaningful way.  It's so important to have that space for yourself even if it's 5-10 minutes a day.  It's a way to stay grounded, and an opportunity for growth if you allow it. It may sound counter intuitive given the day's demands, but the more space you have for yourself, the more you can give to others. 

I'm celebrating 2017 with two journals, one, for my intentions for 2017 and an ongoing journal I created for Clovis last year today on National Handwriting Day.  This is a day to celebrate the beauty of writing on paper and all the memorable moments captured.

An affirmation for Clovis for 2017

An affirmation for Clovis for 2017

You are a loving, happy, beautiful human being who walks each day with courage, kindness and compassion. -Mommy
Little feet and a drop or two of baby drool

Little feet and a drop or two of baby drool

Book full of my dreams

Book full of my dreams

These are a few of Clovis's Favorite Things

My baby Clovis (and mommy) loves a few things that provide freedom, function, design and beauty. Here's a roundup of our favorites :) 

baby things

Otherware Teethers - Clovis loves his little handmade rattle teethers.  They couple as chic baby bracelets especially for the perfect costume

Yoyo BabyZen Stroller - My husband wanted something we could bring back to France when we visit his family and this one is perfect size for our compact lifestyle. It's lightweight,  folds in a snap, has convertible bassinet to toddler options and best of all, is approved for carry on in flight.

Chicco Bassinet Next2Me - Another husband obsession, this bassinet is a great co-sleeper that can be dismantled for easy travel. The cool part is the incline adjustments on either side to help your little one sleep better when they have congestion or reflux. The side pockets are great for lip balm or other small creams.

Puj Tub Foldable Bath - A perfect, foldable bath tub for your newborn made of a sleek yet spongy material that grips to your baby so they don't slide around in the tub.  This wonderful tub snaps together then unfolds so you can slide it in the tightest places for storage.

Moulin Roty Storytime Flashlight - This was such a cute bed time flashlight project  where you can switch plates for different stories. It sparks the imagination and is small enough to keep in your pocket, diaper bag or purse.

Kickee Pants FootieSo soft, these footie snap jimmies have the funnest patterns.  Clovis loves his little dragon in the clouds.

Matisse Dance for Joy Board Book Energetic and vibrant board book perfect to stimulate the senses of your little one and great for adults who appreciate the art masters.

Petite Pehr Bibs - Love these thick, fun, reversible bibs with a variety of fun, playful designs.

We may have a few more, stay tuned :)

 

 

 

My Greatest Journey



Over the past year, I've grown so much as a wife, step mother, daughter and more recently, a mother to my beautiful baby boy Clovis.  I never imagined how much I could love this little guy and have a new found appreciation for mothers and parents.  No one tells you how hard it is right after birth and beyond. Often people focus on the cuteness of all the clothes, baby gear and so on and not the process itself.

I've always been a process person and believe that there's beauty in it, through every moment despite how difficult it could be. My labor and delivery was difficult.

My water broke without me really knowing and before you know it, Thibault and I ate a huge bowl of spaghetti and meatballs during lunch on a Monday and was in the hospital for the next 9 days. The baby was arriving 3.5 weeks early and I didn't even finish prepping the baby room. I had this artistic vision of making the room 'Le Petite Prince', equipped with stars and murals from lessons in the magical story.

I didn't expect it to be so exhausting and ended up having severe preeclampsia which apparently could be a fatal condition.  I was completely healthy going into the delivery the first week of May and tried my hardest with our amazing doula Myriam to have a natural birth.  After a slew of nurses and doctors hooking me up to monitors, checking my blood pressure, delivering all sorts of recommendations, debating on the best decisions and countless medications for antibiotics and high blood pressure, I learned a lot of things about my birthing experience and having a baby.

When things don't go your way, be OK with the next best solution
After going into the hospital early, being only 4cm dilated after 48 hours, being pricked over 20 times by nurses to collect bloodwork to monitor my high blood pressure, having doctor's tell me I'm almost ready for a natural birth then saying my kidney's were failing and I needed to have a c-section, I realized, the only thing that mattered was baby Clovis.

At times Myriam, Thibault and I would huddle like a timeout during clutch moments of a basketball game and talked about the best scenarios given my condition.  Myriam would talk to Thibault in French, something I prepared since I wanted Thibault to be comfortable conversing in his native tongue during the entire process (I hired Myriam for her expertise and her ability to speak French). Then Thibault would then talk me through the decision.  Myriam would stand by and give us the relevant information for us to make the final decision.

It was great team work and the best decision I made to have Myriam by our side.

I call this 'Love in Translation' something I'll talk more about later.

Have joy and gratitude for having a healthy and happy baby.
I remember being so dazed during my delivery and the hour before I went into the C-section. I was exhausted, sick, swollen, hadn't eaten for 48 hours and the little plastic circle vomit bag was my new best friend.  The moment I was in the operating room, it was a familiar one - after all, I had had three knee surgeries in the past. I remember the anesthesiologist and doctor wanting to put Clovis on my body for skin to skin contact but I honestly couldn't handle it and remember shaking my head rigorously 'no!'.  Before you know it, I heard the beautiful sound of my baby crying and looked over as Thibault was holding him and smiling.  He had taken photos, cut the a biblical cord and made sure the little guy was welcomed into this wondrous world.

As I was wheeled to the recovery room, I remember the doctors placing Clovis by my side with his eyes wide open and looking all around in wonder. I was filled with joy.

He came on May 5, 2016 at 2:41am at 4lbs 3.7 oz preterm.  He came out strong and didn't need to go into neonatal intensive care. Not yet that is.

Accept help and thankful for those around you
That means get help, have your friends, family and even strangers (if you're comfortable) support and guide you along the journey of parenthood.  A lot of people said people give you so much unsolicited advice and for me, to a certain extent, it was great to hear all the stories and how other people approached their birthing experience. Thibault and I had a deep knowing that the best thing for us was to enjoy the moment and not get bogged down by all the books, research and what other's insisted were the right way to bring a little one into the world.

Friends, family, coworkers, neighbors were all generous and I never knew so many people could be so supportive.  I keep telling Clovis, he's a lucky boy :)

The most helpful points were friends and family making food for us while we were adjusting to having a preterm baby AND raising a 13 year old teenager all in the same house. I never thought enchiladas, tabbouleh, casseroles and green tea lattes could taste so good.

Be proud and don't forget about self care
Giving birth takes strength I never knew I had.

All women possess this strength and it blows my mind how enriching the whole giving birth thing can be.  It's so easy to be focused on the baby and forget about yourself.  My perspective is, the more you take care of yourself, the better you can contribute and care for others, the world.  I wanted to make sure I was nourished, stretched, got massages, do the things I enjoyed (painting and cooking) and got enough rest to give it my all. It's a hard thing, but in the grand scheme of things, it makes life enjoyable and full of richness. I'm excited and feel so blessed.

Clovis brings me inspiration and this journey we have has only begun....





2015 and Beyond


Aloha from Maui! There's nothing like light stringed palm trees, swimming in the ocean at sunset and eating non stop rice plates to ring in the new year.

It's been a crazy year and I'm thankful for all the opportunities for growth which ultimately pushed me in ways I couldn't imagine. The end of the year (and throughout the year for that matter) is always a time to reflect and appreciate all the happenings from the past few months, whether they be joyous moments or hard learnings. Here are the things that come to mind in no particular order.

First Home Purchase
I think this one was a big learning for my husband and I. After coming off our whirlwind wedding celebration in 2014, we decided to be real adults and buy a home serendipitously in Mountain View - close to our work. I was still fantasizing about buying a fixer upper (maybe it was after binging on HGTV episodes like Fixer Upper) but T was convinced we should get something move in ready as much as possible. The experience did not come without its challenges but we were equipped with an amazing team of family, friends and an awesome real estate agent and lending officer to get us though. There's still a ton of work to be done but we couldn't be happier since it's close to my brother's house (couple blocks down) and close to everything possible (woot Target and Ramen!). We paid a premium but the cost for 'Peace of Mind' is priceless in my opinion.

What truly made it our home was the loving care from our parents who provided warmth to make it cozy.  T's parents came to visit us for a few weeks from Paris and we spent days building my new art studio in our garden and sewing/hanging drapes all throughout our home.  I was also happy to put up French and Chinese inspired relics given to us by our families to remind us of our heritage. 

Artist
This was a pretty epic year for me as an artist and it was a good time to remember why I create in the first place. Beauty and contribution was a common theme this year - not to mention stretching myself to be 'uncomfortable'.  This quote keeps sticking in my head: 

Through discipline comes freedom.” (Aristotle)




Step Mom
Being a parent is probably one of the hardest jobs. I now appreciate how much my parents did for my brother and I. This was the year of exceptional change (still is) and compassion.  Patience seems to be the most difficult lesson as I try to navigate living in a blended family culturally (French, Chinese, American) while also balancing being a step mom to a spirited tween (not easy).  That said,  it's amazing how much you learn about yourself, learning and caring for others.  Flexibility seems to be the key and finding joy in your passions.

Baby!
On top of enjoying a blended family, I'm so happy to share my love of a new baby soon (Yay!). I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty anxious how everything will work out but all I know is that I'm excited to share something special with my child and hopefully they will in turn be able to share their talents with the world (e.g. will they be an artist? Athlete? Cook? Technologist?) So exciting!

In the meantime, new year brings the year of the monkey (That's me and the baby woot) and many more exciting moments.  I've grown tremendously this year and I only hope to continue to grow focusing more on my gratitude. 





Fashion Week Round Up: New York, London, Milan, Paris, Oh My!



There's something so exciting about fashion week around the world. It's the allure of travel, inspiration from remarkable creativity to experiencing the unimaginable.  Over the past month, I made it a challenge to draw (or paint every day) during fashion week in New York, London, Milan and Paris.  I wanted to hone my skills in illustration and also have a little fun.  Here's a roundup and a snapshot of my own fashion moment :) After 50 days of drawing, I was happy that I was able to complete such a task.  What do you want to practice? Give it a try, and take little steps to get there, you'll be amazed by your progress.











Happy Mid Autumn Festival


It's a time to celebrate with family this weekend as we explore one of my favorite Chinese festivals - Mid Autumn Festival or Harvest Mooncake Festival! As a kid, I remember celebrating with family and my parents sharing delicious lotus filled moon cakes will all sorts of goodies inside from egg yolks (my fav woot!) to fruits to nuts. Learn more about the historical significance of mooncakes and the history here.

I spent some time painting memories from the Mid Autumn Festival this morning from lanterns, lotus flowers, crab, bok choi, different mooncakes to a mooncake wooden mold (I've actually never seen one before!). I used watercolor and glimmering gold gouache to give the piece a bit of warmth.

So go out and gaze at the moon tonight, grab a batch of yummy mooncakes and you'll be left with a smile.

Check out my new post on They Draw and Cook (also on the front page today) - my first FEAST post! Here's to more foodie paintings :)

Get back to fun, relaxing and being a kid again: Coloring


DIOR HAUTE COUTURE SPRING-SUMMER 2015 FASHION SHOW

I'm so excited to share with you my first series of free color sheets I'd like to gift to you.  Adult coloring is a fun concept leveraging the joy of coloring as a child while bringing your own unique creativity into the mix.  I remember as a child collecting Barbie coloring books filled with Barbie adventures printed on newsprint.  My aunt was the most amazing colorist and I remember wanting to be just like her since I tended to color out of the lines and my colors just looked strange.  She would use white crayon as a highlight and other soft, beautiful colors. I later learned, there's so many methods to coloring, every way is actually perfect.

Three Reasons to Color

1.) For relaxing

There's something relaxing about sitting on the couch, in the park, at your desk and taking out beautiful color pencils, crayons, paint -what have you- and color to your hearts content.  It's truly a practice of being in the moment and focusing on one color at a time, creating something truly beautiful and unique to your own aesthetic.  Coloring in the lines allows you to focus on the color and not necessarily worry about what to draw, how dark the lines are, yadda yadda.  You just have to put the color on the paper. Read more about how coloring can help de-stress and a tool for meditation.

2.) Bring out your inner child, be creative in your own way
There's unlimited colors and combinations out there and coloring is a chance to use your imagination the way you want to - without boundaries.  Colors can be vibrant, subdued and serene or eclectic. You decide! There's literally endless options as long as you stay open.


3.) Creativity is limitless,  use whatever you want
Many coloring books are printed on thinner paper which may make your colors bleed depending on the medium you use:
  • Color pencils
  • Pens
  • Watercolor
  • Acrylic
Have some fun! You don't have to stick with color pencil but here are few recommendations I suggest:

Get the right paper

Ready to get started? 

1,) Print out your favorite color sheet
2.) Pick what colors and medium you'd like to color in
3.) Have fun!

Pieces of Paris

Follow more of my drawing adventures on Instagram



Make your space & Get more time


My space in progress...
A question that I seem to get over and over again from people is:

How do you have the time?

I consider time to be the ultimate luxury. You can't get it back, it's a marker of freedom and joy for me to do what I love and to be with the ones I love. This is how I do it based on having a full time, demanding job, family obligations, being a step mother to a middle schooler, and nurturing relationships in my blended family (Asian, French and African American). There's certainly many other ways, but staying open and creative is the beginning.

To me, it all starts with carving out my own space.  This use to be a nook in my room, shared office with my boyfriend (now husband) and now, my art studio in my garden.

So why your own space?

It's...
  1. A place to replenish, call your own, escape from the craziness of the day
  2. A place to be yourself free with your thoughts, habits and desires
  3. A place for stillness to organize your life, and do more of the things you love

Build it (or find an existing space)

Here's how I did it over the past few months and most recently in my garden.

  • Pick a space: In my case, I made a trip to the trusty Tuff Shed showroom, picked out some simple specs for my 8"x10" studio and a day and a half later, the shell was built in my garden. It's all about creating comfortable boundaries that you can work around that is personal to you. It doesn't have to be expensive, but you do have to love it.
  • Get your friends and family to help (or maybe share with them your idea): Feel stuck? Not sure where or how to create your own space? Solicit your trusted friends or family members for some ideas. You may have some strong ideas but you'd be surprised by the different perspectives you can get.  My husband and father-in-law helped me with finishing my studio, shelving systems and organization based on understanding where studs where, best angles to place my shelves (so I don't hit my head), sky light placements and the list goes on.







Make a relaxing atmosphere to focus

Now how do you fill your space with a sense of calm, wonder and inspiration? It's going to vary for everyone, so give yourself permission to go wild creatively!

You may be living with roommates, have a small space, or share a space with your husband/wife/brother/sister...whatever, you can still create something amazing..

Here's 3 things to keep in mind:

  1. Music: Jeremy Passion - Lemonade I stumbled onto Bay Area native,  Jeremy from my Amazon Hawaiian playlist. It's awesome and just chill. Select your own tunes from Motown to Foo Fighters. Don't limit yourself. 
  2. Paint and Color: Ralph Lauren Metallic Paint . Go out of the lines, do the unconventional. I was going to paint a huge, colorful, floral mural but opted for a sophisticated hue of glimmering gold and black.  I wanted to bring some nature from the outside in.
  3. Be a Kid: Remember when you sat for hours coloring in coloring books as a kid? Why not color as an adult? Relax, get lost in color...heck color outside the line (my forte). For a FREE colorsheet to get your started (for those with a sweet tooth), sign up for my newsletter here.



Surround yourself with stuff you love

  • Rip up some magazines: Colors, nature, fashion and travel are ways for me to find inspiration. To create something meaningful, I decided to surround myself with colors that give me energy.  Colors and shapes that will spark some kind of idea for my projects.  So tear some magazines and tape/pin/tack/staple them on the wall so you can see it and spark your imagination.
  • Get stuff organized: I love Muji's acrylic cases.  They organized all my Mr. Sketch, Sharpies and other wonderful pens. My husband also introduced me to Bullet Journal, a simple, fun and systematic way of journalling. Organize your way and get your place in order.
  • Books: Stack or prop books so you can see them and they're accessible.  They also add some visual interest to your space. I had to buy the book It's a Small World (Includes the CD) after it brought back so many childhood memories with my family visiting LA's Disneyland. Not to mention it has beautiful illustrations inspired by the ride. Another book that helps me hone my sketching skills is Urban Water Color Sketching, Here you'll find some of the most freestyle rich examples of sketching.






Google Headquarters: Mobile First Show: @Slice cafe


I set out on a massive challenge this year after pushing myself creatively last year. I decided to create new art pieces both on different materials and sizes (Something I've been incredibly afraid of).  First, it was taking on a design challenge on Google Cardboard for a non profit benefiting homeless youth.  For that, it was about creating a world of dreams, a world outside the norm where one's imagination celebrated the surreal.  My approach was building hope and fun into a simple cardboard device.

The next challenge was showcasing my artwork at Slice cafe, located at the center of Google headquarters. This was my 3rd showing at Google after hanging back in 2012 in Crittenden and the Zurich office. I hadn't created any new designs since Christmas when I sold new holiday cards at the Youtube Bazaar.  I remember walking into Slice to scope out the space and was shocked by the massive walls.  "How the heck am I suppose to fill this with art?" I remember thinking to myself back in December when my husband, stepson and I were celebrating the last leg of our wedding (We had decided to have three wedding celebrations last year to ensure all our close family and friends could come - Half Moon Bay, Paris and Hong Kong).   I was extremely nervous since we also just bought a house in Mountain View which closed in January.  How was I going to make all new pieces I could be proud of by May?

So the madness began....

I started with the concept and somewhere read in the guidelines that art hung at Google should be 'technology related'.

Great.

My forte was not exactly inspired by technology but I decided to take a different perspective.  I asked myself the question...'How does my mission of celebrating diversity and connection through  cultural mashups, travel and lifestyle relate to technology?' Then for some reason two words came to me. 

Mobile First.

I knew Google's emphasis was on mobile technology, so I thought about my own life and how technology became a beautiful norm in my everyday interactions.  The best part during the art opening was hearing the interpretations through others and how some pieces mirrored real life from how we read books, track time, interpret beauty and so on... 

I started with wood panels and sketches ranging from 24"x24" to 24"x48" all cut, mounted and finished by hand (with the trusty help of my loving husband)

Packed and ready to go!
  Some amazing help hanging at Slice!
Let the show begin! Early excitement :)
Some support from loyal friends and family share the fun at the opening!


Couldn't have done it without the help of my art coordinator and fellow Googler, Janice. Thanks Janice!

In the end, I sought out to create juxtaposition, imperfection and something beautiful in hopes of representing technology not as something intrusive, but rather as part of this seamless experience we're all learning from together.

This project took eight full weeks with dedicated weekends to complete seven pieces.  It was a personal accomplishment and a pleasure working through the ups and downs of creating something truly special.


Here's to thinking big. Can't be there in person? See more here and follow me as my adventure continues.....

All artwork will be displayed at Google, Mountain View until August and all originals are for sale. For inquiries email natalie.woo@gmail.com


Dreams Incarnated


I was honored to participate in a recent artshow in Portland at p:ear, a nonprofit that builds positive relationships with homeless and transitional youth through education, art and play. Every year p:ear programs help almost 900 young people age 15 to 24. Thank you everyone for your support and to Instrument for the collaboration. 

This was a challenge for me to design something on a dimensional surface.

To me, this is what my art is really about - building confidence, hope and connection.

100% proceeds benefit homeless youth.

Check out the behind the scenes work in progress







Lazy Sunday R&R


Sundays are always the best to slow down, take a hot coffee or tea and well...just relax..

After a long, hard working week, this is the time to take a moment for yourself  and enjoy the space.

I like to wake up early on Sundays, when it's still quiet, and start sketching or painting...this is where I start putting all the ideas I've had over the past few weeks onto paper.  This week it's all about honoring compassion for oneself and others.  Self care is something that brings out the greatest health and love others naturally gravitate towards. I tried to capture this in this sketch.

This year has been full of blessing as I've been fortunate to share my wedding experience with family and friends around the world.  Our last soirée will be in the bustling city of Hong Kong.
On the flip side, with the celebrations come the non stop bridal magazines....The beauty from these magazines are the nuggets of wonder found not in the products themselves, but from the nuances such as color pallets, or the lush variety of floral arrangements.

How will you take care of yourself today?

Travel Curious: Russia


This week's travel takes us to Russia, inspired by my wonderful and animated friend Xenia, who I've known for years. She always travels back to Russia for a few months with her family and I was always excited to hear about her adventures or curious to see what she brought back.   Once she gave me some linden tea leaves (which are btw great for soothing your throat and for relaxation) which has been a lifesaver during my bouts with the cold, dry winter air. Or maybe it was the super cute Matryoshka tea set she had placed on display in her lovely new home (wish i could find the picture! :/) 

   Inspiration for this piece includes the colorful and whimsical St Basils Cathedral, Matryoshka dolls and the national flower, Chamomile. I've always wanted to visit Russia, especially in the winter, while snow is falling (I know brrrrrrr).  

Where should we go next week? I'm thinking somewhere warmer....hmm 

Travel Curious: Brazil


Ahh the warm sun shining down on your skin, abundant fish, lush vegetation, drums, dance and joy. The energy of Brazil is unmistakable.  This week we visit the wonderful country of Brazil! One day I will visit :) Where should we go to next week? 

#travelcurious


New Challenge: Travel Curious



Traveling is the secret to adventures. It opens your mind to the undiscovered and creates enduring memories.  My illustrations are inspired by travel and my next project is all about finding that next adventure. Maybe it's traveling to somewhere new...maybe it's traveling to the familiar. All I know is that there's always something to uncover. From food, beautiful architecture, hidden streets to cultural traditions, travel is one way to dream and experience something completely out of one's comfort zone.  

Challenge: Paint a new place every week for the next 6 weeks of places I've never been

Adventures come in all packages and you don't have to have tons of money to travel.  I've found some of my favorite discoveries have been in my own backyard (literally).  

Morocco is a place I've never visited but dreamt of visiting. I've always been mesmerized by the culture, colors, scents and sounds of this amazing place without ever being there! Maybe it's the allure of the exotic or the glowing light from the iconic lanterns. I've always painted based on experience, and I've realized through painting this, that sometimes you have to paint from just being curious and pushing yourself to think differently. Stay tuned for more paintings in my 'Travel Curious' series....

Do you have a place you'd love to visit? Where should I travel?

Follow me on Instagram to join my adventure

New Design and Stamps

photo by Twin Soul Art
I've been working on branding my artwork for the past few months and super excited with my Moo cards (below).  After running out, I decided to go with a more personalized touch by exploring rubber stamps! I sketched some concepts below, focusing on a light, elegant floral touch and collaborated with a brilliant maker: Twin Soul Art.  Check out her beautiful stamps and more....


Glimmer and Gold...A Sketching Experiment

Happiness is the only thing that is doubled when you share it

I found an old pad of black art paper - as black as coal - bought maybe 10 years ago and I decided to create a series of drawing experiments with some of my favorite items - nail polish and gold ink! There's something beautiful, glamorous and pure about those three materials.

Here's some test illustrations :)....

 Follow me on Instagram @natalie_woo_artwork to see more artwork realtime...





Fête in Paris


photo by: Timothy Wong
Paris is a city of adventure, amazement, energy and wonder.  Here's some snippets from our wedding celebration.

http://flipagram.com/f/F4d2lpfJHl


Some highlights:
  • Always celebrate with family and friends. I was fortunate enough to have my family join our wedding celebration from Hong Kong, Zurich and California. Some came for a day and en route to places like Bordeaux, Prague, Boston and London. It was a joy to celebrate my aunt and uncle's 25th anniversary as well.
  • Make the most of crazy weather. Photoshoot by Notre Dame. In sweltering 90 degree weather, Thibault, Benjamin (Thibault's brother), Tim (our photographer and friend) and I trotted ourselves up 9 flights of windy stairs to Benjamin's flat in Le Marais, across cobblestone roads, across bridges, through a sea of tourists to capture some special moments as the sun set in Paris.  We had laughs, pretended we were chased by paparazzi and walked through energetic crowds watching people pole vaulting by the Seine. Never a dull moment. A day later, came flash flooding and rain!
  • Eat, get lost, have some change and practice your French. I can go on and on about this one but it was fun practicing some French after using Duolingo for a bit. It's a great app with some fun features to motivate and reward your efforts.  Food itself was an adventure as I tried the foie gras balls at the wedding (looked like candy apples!), ate loads of banquettes with butter and finally exchanged some cash to get some travel essentials (love the scent of Lush products!)
Tonight I travel to the south of France in Rodelle to do some intensive drawing.  Stay tuned and I'll need to get some rain gear...à bientôt!


Lovely Moments

It's been a while since I wrote and a refreshing 4 months full of change, delight, adventure and more!
Over the past few months I resigned from my job, took three months off to focus on my art, hit the 'reset' button, learned how to transition into family life, traveled, found a new job and just did nothing. Time is such a precious commodity these days and to have it is to cherish those special moments small or large. Here's a few things I learned along the way..




















photos by Tim Wong

Being married never felt so good...
After 6 years of dating, T and I got married on a beautiful sunny day in Half Moon Bay.  We were surrounded by our closest family and friends from every stage of our lives, childhood, college, high school.... I can't help but wonder, why didn't I get married earlier? I never knew it would feel so good..ok OK...people DID tell me to get married earlier but this was the perfect moment....and you can't rush a perfect thing right?

 I was a bit nervous since the day before was freezing and my mom literally called everyone to bring extra clothes to keep warm. We've been through so much including cultural and experiential differences that could have easily pulled us apart.  I'm now a new mom taking care of my beautiful 11 year old step son Lucas and never knew marriage could feel this fulfilling. I tell T we're still in the honeymoon period and he responded with 'We've been in the honeymoon period for 6 years!' :)...A huge highlight of the night was a surprise Lion dance from the 'Lion Dance Me' troupe (who competed on America's Got Talent).  I stumbled across their company while trying to find a special 'something' to celebrate my Chinese heritage and surprise my our parents...(Check out the video below...the first LED lion dancers).

Love is not loosely used between us and now we know that everything we've worked so hard for was truly a testament of unconditional love, resilience and compassion...nothing more..nothing less..just perfect.



Do more of what you love and take risks 
In the spirit of growth and curiosity, I really wanted to flex my artistic muscle and took a creative chance on a few things over my break.

1.) Attempt to design my wedding.  I went on a diy-spree by creating 500 coffee filter flowers, 16 tissue paper poms, painted a tryptic guestbook, made origami ceramic vases...covered my house full of glitter and paper for days....and managed to drive T crazy...but in the long run..it was worth it :) The idea was to take time, explore new artistic processes and create a vision for something deeply personal to me...my wedding. More pictures to come :)

2) Apply and exhibit for the first time at a major art fair: Renegade Indie Art and Craft Fair Austin SXSW.  I remember one day flipping through Instagram and saw 'Renegade' post a call for applications for their Austin show.  Renegade is one of the biggest indie art fairs held in Brooklyn, London, Chicago, LA, San Francisco and Austin. I said, 'What the heck' and applied...This is a curated event and a day later, to my surprise I was accepted! 3 weeks before the show I gathered as much information as I could - set up - travel - production - support - sales - permitting - you name it.  Long story short, I couldn't trick any of my friends to go but managed to have my cousin support me while she was visiting Austin, bumped into a high school friend who happened to live in Austin with his family and got a lovely city tour from a friend who's a country singer.  I went by myself, carried two huge check in suit cases filled with prints, wedding decor (I had to borrow from my stash given the tight timing) and lucky money magnets... lived off fruit, pizza and splurged the last day on Austin delights (Perla's anyone?). It was a stretch, my first show, got some great feedback..was one of the most exhausting things I've done...flew back to Cali and felt a great sense of accomplishment :) It wasn't for the money, it was for the curiosity, growth and learning opportunity.

3.) Signed up for an art bootcamp with a renowned art agent Lilla Rogers. 
I stumbled across an amazing art bootcamp from Lilla Rogers http://lillarogers.com/. She's had over 20 years of industry experience and her e-course talks through art trends in the Paper, Wall Art, Baby Apparel, Editorial, Scrapbooking, Textiles market and more.  Her class is full of joy, support and experts in the field brining real world experience and talent (e.g. interviews with Directors from Crate and Barrel to Anthropologie and more).  Her classes are intense, really push you to grow as an artist and I'm learning more and more..See more of my stuff here.

Go out there and travel. Near or Far.
Getting away was a great way for me to serendipitously meet great people, get a greater sense of renewal and simply enjoy what matters...time..space..and new experiences...






Los Cabos, Mexico
I had a burning desire to getaway for a bit before the wedding.  I didn't want to go too far so I decided to go to Los Cabos to surf.  Unfortunately it wasn't surf season but I made the most out of it and took city tours, glass boat tours, enjoyed some Mexican embroidery, read at the beach, watched movies and did nothing :).  It was whale watching season as whales migrated from Alaska to the warm Baja Peninsula. The most beautiful site was seeing whales breaching right in front of my hotel by the ocean.  The best was also having an impromptu Spanish conversation with my shuttle driver...priceless..(nothing beats communicating like you're playing charades and remembering words from my high school Spanish class).

Disneyland
Last minute road trip with my friends to the happiest place on earth...and a place of childhood memories. Need I say more? Oh and it was 'A Small Worlds' 50th anniversary :)


I'm grateful for the real luxury I had, time.  Time with Attention. Because time in itself is pointless without the attention to enjoy it. Really happy I had T, Lucas, family and friends to support me through my curious shenanigans .....Here's to more!


Scrapbooking

I'm taking an art class for 5 weeks and this week we're focusing on the scrapbooking industry.  The inspiration comes from vintage ink bottles and our task was to create a suite of vintage scrapbooking items (e.g. stickers). I've been busy doing some diy work for my upcoming wedding stay tuned for some updates :)

Enjoy!