Winny Liu

Success is when I get my art right the first time.

Failure is a sign to quit and end it all.

(This was my mentality, previously)

“When you fall off a horse, get back on”


To begin, I do not have work outside of class to show, which means I don’t have any personal work as examples to show for symbolism or themes. Most, if not all, of my works shown in my chapter is entirely made in a class setting, for the purpose of a graded assignment. I was never the proactive student who would sit down to practice for the purpose of getting better at X art form (honestly, I lack the discipline and fiery passion most artists have for their craft). The only time I work on art is when there is a grade attached to it. This may be part of the reason why I have always felt like an imposter in my major. I never had this sense of belonging (this sounds so melodramatic, I’m sorry). I see my peers who are so passionate and dedicated to their craft, while the only things running through my mind was the deadline and trying to make my composition look presentable.

One thing that I have noticed in my work is my tendency to gravitate towards a subject/composition I am familiar with. I am reluctant when it comes to trying new things, like new mediums or different compositions. This is where this my fear of failing comes in. I make excuses like “I’ll try it next time” or “I’ll do it when I feel like I am ready.” The problem is is that there will always be this next time and I will probably never feel ready.

When I do try a new composition, I tend to become frustrated and discouraged, sometimes even apprehensive. When that happens, I would do what I can within my ability to avoid whatever composition caused these negative feelings. I believe this is detrimental to all artists, new and old (this is a terrible habit of mine that I have developed, it is something I am working to change). I believe this hinders growth in an artist. Not only will your works have little diversity, there is little growth as an artist (and as an individual) when you don’t face challenges. When things get difficult and you fail, you have to pick yourself up and try again. 

First Still Life (2018),  oil paint
this is the first painting I’ve done in an academic setting.


Third Still Life (2019), oil paint
third painting in ART 292, I am using the same angle as I did for my previous painting.


Fourth Still Life (2020), oil paint
the SAME angle of the table, I got lazy and comfortable with the same compositions


Still Life (2019), oil paint
This was the first painting I did when for  my second art class and I was frustrated with it. The composition was new (normally I did angled paintings) and I was out of my comfort zone.

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest times, if one only remembers to turn on the light” – Albus Dumbledore


I don’t have an art making process to write about, since I am still figuring it out myself HAHA. So, what I am writing next does not pertain to an art process, but it is related to art in a way. I think everyone experiences a slump in productivity at least once in life. Personally, I experience them quite frequently. While in these funks, I feel more unmotivated than I normally do and begin to question my purpose in life. For example, why am I even pursuing art? None of the art I make is good, I should just give up. In moments like these, I want nothing more than to curl up like a ball and disappear into myself. However… I think it is normal and okay to feel this way sometimes.

It is important to acknowledge these feelings even if they aren’t necessarily positive. I don’t think it is good to force yourself to pretend everything is okay– acknowledgement of those feelings helps me get out of those funks. So, I have a process of getting myself to feel better and motivated. First, I would begin by addressing those negative thoughts. Then I think about something positive and motivational, like what I want to do when I graduate. By remembering this goal, I can get rid of these negative feelings and give myself that much needed kick to stop feeling sorry for myself, because that will not do me any good. I think about my dreams, my goals, and my wants (which motivates me to continue to pick up my pencils and my brushes).

When I don’t have school assignments, I make myself pick up a pencil, a sketchbook and a device with internet connection. I search up something I have seen recently or have shown interest in and I sit down to start a drawing. I do this mostly to maintain my skills. Not drawing for a while is similar to not turning on a car for a long period. To keep the engine functioning, you must turn on the car regularly. So, to retain my drawing skills, I must draw regularly. To make it not feel like a chore, I would pick topics that I personally enjoy to make the process more fun. So, this isn’t an art process, but it is more like an exercise to get me (or you) motivated to make and create. Hopefully by doing this, you will find your art process (like me right now!)

Grandma (2018), charcoal and graphite

Grandma (2020), graphite

re2 doodle (2019), graphite

TLOU doodle (2019), graphite

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” – Kurt Vonnegut


A personal project that I hope to work on soon is developing an art style, since I don’t have one at the moment. This is something I have wanted and been meaning to do for a while, I just felt like I never had the time… nor did I feel ready (but then again, I never feel ready). I’m the type of person who never begins something unless I am good at it (which means I don’t start a lot of things because I always end up talking myself out of it!).

I think there is a misconception about art classes in general. People think that by going to class, you come out with skills on par with Picasso or Michelangelo. I believe art classes help artists work in a classical manner. Art classes also helps with training your eyes to draw from life and seeing colors in a different way. The developing your own style part comes from using individual time outside of class to develop. I too had this misguided notion that art classes would get me get from Point A to Point B of the art style that I wanted to achieve (it took me a while to figure out the obvious: it wasn’t going to happen). I spent most of my time as a student artist just doing classwork, never bothering to go explore different styles and mediums on my own time. Now, the only things that I can produce are the same old, academic drawings and paintings. It’s frustrating, but it ultimately is my fault for not being more proactive.

Reflection (2020),  graphite on paper


Cast Shadow (2020), graphite

Landscape (2020), graphite on paper

Saturation (2019), oil paint

Daruma in a Fruit Bowl (2020), oil paint

Temperature (2019), oil paint

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe


My inspiration (or giants) for pursuing art comes from my childhood: Disney and Ghibli Studios. I was captivated by the art and the story that appeared on the screen and this was my inspiration to draw. However, I lost that drive and passion I had towards art as I got older, eventually dropping it all together. I didn’t find enjoyment in it as much as I did as a kid. I had my mind elsewhere, doing homework and having fun with friends.

Fortunately, I slowly got sucked into the art realm once more, during the boom of YouTube and video gaming. I was interested in seeing the 3D worlds, the characters and the stories in video games. 
As an adult leaving school for the last time, there is a lot of uncertainty and unease towards going into the “real world.” My giants now are those former students who were in the same position as me, who made it in their field despite all the uncertainty and stressful moments in their journey. Their dedication, determination and perseverance is my inspiration for continuing this path.

Concept art from AION, digital

This picture has a lot of sentimental value. This was the picture pushed me to pursue my art dreams.

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new” – Albert Einstein

Einstein knew what he was talking about, when he said this quote. I believe people cannot grow without failure; it is necessary to build character. I’m not encouraging anyone to intentionally fail at something, but welcome failure when it comes. Do not fear it– it is not the end of the journey when you experience failure. Failure is something I struggle with personally. When I failed, I took it as a sign to quit, that I was not good enough. I developed this irrational aversion towards failure that I would do whatever I could to avoid them (this sounds childish, now that I am writing this).

Lucian Freud Master Copy (2020), oil paint

The painting on the top was my first pass at a master copy of Lucian Freud’s painting (this was also my first time painting a person under formal instruction). After completing the piece, I wanted to give up on it, due to my frustration. I wanted my painting to look good the first time, not the next (life doesn’t work that way!). If I had it my way, I would throw my paints and brushes into the garbage and quit painting for good. However, if this was my approach to life, I wouldn’t get anywhere or amount to anything, really.

My first instinct was to immediately think negatively about my work. My copy is ugly, misshapen and disproportionate. Ugh, I should just drop out of this class. What am I doing here? Sometimes I forget to step back and look at my painting objectively. The colors were off and much too saturated from the original. In addition to this, the proportion of the head was too big for the body, which made the features look unnatural on his face. I eventually returned to my painting, ego and frustrations aside, painting with a clearer head. I was able to improve the proportions and my colors.

Success is growth, but failure is also growth. 


Thank you for reading

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Winny Liu by Timea Tihanyi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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