On Staying Current

I don't normally like rainy days. However, I feel today is a beautiful day, although it is raining, heavily.

It is what I am doing largely defines how I feel about the day: I am taking a routine coding lesson. So this rainy day is no longer boring and dull. Instead, it is exciting and challenging.

Washington Hall at Washington & Lee University

Washington Hall at Washington & Lee University

Hand drawing is a craft that has a history as long as humans have been around. Many people have "moved on" from this traditional art form to modern forms, such as digital drawing. It is my choice, though, to stick with traditional hand drawing and illustration.

That being said, a traditional art form does not have to be old and uninteresting. I am always looking for ways to stay current, mentally and technically, for example, through learning coding and programming.

It is just like a rainy day does not have to mean boring and dull. It is what we do with it gives it a life. 

Thinking about Writing a Book about "Place"

People always say, if something keeps coming up into my mind, you should do it.

So far, I have been listening to this voice and have done:

  1. Started a personal growth Youtube Channel about 3.5 years ago.
  2. Started my own business "Y Illustrations" 1.5 years ago, to channel my creativity and passions that were not utilized at my job.
  3. About 8 months ago, I closed my Youtube Channel, because I simply didn't have enough time to properly manage it and publish good content. It was a hard decision, but I said goodbye to that chapter of my adventure.
  4. About 8 months ago, I invited a challenge to do a Tedx talk. One reason was to prove to myself that an introverted individual can make a good public speaker. 

So far, these things have been giving me a great sense of satisfaction. I am grateful that there is a voice that is so quiet but persistent, which nudges me to do things and is not directed by my intellectual capability, but by something I see as a "higher purpose" or "Higher Power."

"You should start working on a book..." Again, this voice is whispering to me, repeatedly.

Where to start? What to write about? I think, something about "place" and "people" is a great topic for me, and something with writing and drawing is what I am good at.




I have been having a lot of new experiences going on lately. By being self-aware, I feel every experience is an adventure, and every adventure is a learning experience. Interestingly, the main subject, which is the initial intention, sometimes does not turn out to be the main thing that I harvest. Here are some examples:

Drawing everyday
Initial intention: to form a habit of drawing daily, and that’s all.
Ripple-effect learning: I started to search for a good subject to draw every day. It’s been interesting to see what will draw my attention, and how people react to my online posting of these pictures. It also has triggered a lot of sales of my works lately, so it also taught me how be become better at selling.

Prepare for TEDx Talk
Initial intention: to do something fun, something daring and raise my visibility.
Ripple-effect learning: the course of six-month’s preparation truly taught me humility. I needed to unlearn a lot of the “knowledge” that are out of touch with the real world and to find the authentic "me." During the self-promoting stage, I learned to not regard myself too important or too unimportant. I am just needed to see myself as one member of the human race, trying to do something meaningful! It is worth to let people know, but it doesn’t make me more special than others. 

New Job
Initial intention: to take my career growth a step further by coming into a new work environment and also learn about economic development of the society.
Ripple effect: I learned how to work with people in the state government. I learned I can have lunch with my Chinese friends and have a good visit. I learned I can have a lunch date with my husband. I learned when is a good time to leave home to go to work, so I am not likely to be caught in the busy traffic, and I even learned which lane to stay in during rush hour based on what part of town I am in, so I don’t get stuck.

It is fun to see where I aim to throw the rock, but let the ripples actually return me unexpected joy and fulfillment. If you keep your eyes open, you will be pleasantly surprised, too! 

The Art of Place

There are several layers of meanings to the "art of place", which is a primary focus for Y Illustrations:

1. Drawing is a form of art and I draw places through this form of art. 

2. I draw places, and rarely focus on people. I want it to be place-focused, by appreciating the aesthetics and integrity of a place that serve people at a deeper level. I feel many of our designs today, architectural or urban planning, are too much focused on people's immediate needs. This may cause the designer to be short-sighted. In this kind of quick-fix architectural solution, we tend to overlook the deeper meanings. For example, the symbolic social impact of architectural elements that can be seen in classic architecture, the importance of a sense of belonging by designing streets for people, rather than for cars, or, to make a place that is interesting and embodying diversity for people to explore. This is why I want to give myself and my audience a chance to focus on beautiful places, because my intuition tells me, a beautiful place actually does in turn serve people and it is for long-run.

Water Village in China

3. In the "art of place," I determined to adopt an open-mind. From the very definition of place (indoor, outdoor, building, street, landscape, etc) to the types of place (modern or classic, built or natural, aged or new, Western or Oriental, and so on), I have no limitation for my drawing subject. The "art" of places is about finding beauty in all sorts of environment that we encounter.

The view of Downtown Dallas from Klyde Warren Park.

Thank you for staying with Y Illustrations and making the "art of place" with me.

The Beauty of the Process of Creating Drawings

Drawing is a beautiful thing. At least, it is so for me. I enjoy three things about drawing: the process of creating, the thrill of finishing up, and looking at them time after time when they are done. Today, I'd like to share some images taken during the process of my creation of drawings. 

1. It all starts with observation and taking notes.

Site visit at University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Finished drawing: Old Main at University of Arkansas

Finished drawing: Old Main at University of Arkansas

2. Create composition.

Initial stage of a house portrait. The house is in Ransom Canyon, Texas.

Finished drawing: House after the Rain

3. Then is the challenging but enjoyable part: to draw, for hours, days or months.

Creation process of details of a downtown drawing of Little Rock, Arkansas

Finished drawing: Downtown Rock(s), 2015

4. The final touch-up by scanning it, and cleaning it up in Photoshop. Feel free to play with variations, if you want some more fun! And sign.

Waypoint at DeSoto Marina at Hot Springs Village, Arkansas (Variation 1: line-oriented vision)

Waypoint at DeSoto Marina at Hot Springs Village, Arkansas (Variation 2: color-oriented vision)

5. Sometimes, copying great works of others is just as important as creating your own, as a way to sharpen your skills.

Copying the painting "The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt, but I used watercolor pencils and markers

6. Sketch, sketch, sketch! Observer as you were to draw, and actually draw.

House portrait, a sketch

7. Don't forget to take pictures along the way. So you can write a blog like this.


One last note: I, like many creative professionals, have critical voice towards my work. How I handle that is to remind myself that I am creating something nobody has done before, and this is contribution to the society already.

A Big Day for Y Illustrations

Today, two things are going to happen:

  1. I will discuss with a venue, regarding hosting my very first art show, which is set to start at the beginning of April; and 
  2. I will attend the very first social event for Y Illustrations to promote my products.

It is not the first big day, though, for Y Illustrations. I remember the day I decided to do this, the day I finished my first drawing and posted social network, the day I designed and received my business card, and the first day I reached out to potential interested parties to introduce myself and my product...

That said, all these important days does not discount the significance of today. Today is the day that I take another first step; therefore it is worth cerebrating.


Here are the pictures taken during the two occasions mentioned above.

The most popular local pizza place, Deluca's Pizzeria in Hot Springs, will be my exhibition space. I believe it will be a hit!

A great social network event for architects, artists, developers and government officials at the studioMain in Little Rock.

I am Proud to Produce “Art”

When I first started Y Illustrations, I was hesitant to accept being called an “artist” when my husband suggested the descriptor for my Facebook Page. That was eight months ago. At the time, I preferred to be referred to as a “drawer” or “architectural illustrator”, the reason being I did not want to be perceived as unpractical and that I am producing wishy-washy “art” that does not serve the society but only my own pleasure. To build a business, I thought I needed to be as practical as I can, and to not just be another “starving artist”.

That was not logical. I have to admit that my argument was based on a misunderstanding about “art”. When I recently searched the term “fine art” on Wikipedia, which is not necessarily the most academically reliable sources but it is one of the most popular sources on earth, my understanding about the word art changed. It says,

“… fine art is a visual art considered to have been created primarily for aesthetic and intellectual purposes and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness, specifically, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, graphics, and architecture. In that sense, there are conceptual differences between the fine arts and the applied arts.

… The word ‘fine’ does not so much denote the quality of the artwork in question, but the purity of the discipline according to traditional Western European canons.”

As I am devoting my time towards drawing, I have definitely experienced the hope I have for each piece through the effort of making it visually pleasing, expressing the integrity and authenticity of the drawing object, keeping it pure and focusing on the beauty of architecture and its surrounding environment. I have even adopted a habit that when drawing existing buildings, I choose the ones that have grown into the environment rather than a brand new structure. In this sense, my drawing is a form of fine art and, even only for this reason, it is practical. It has a meaning and purpose; that is, through producing an aesthetically pleasing drawing to promote the appreciation of the beauty of architecture and to advocate thoughtful and artful architectural design practice.

On architecture being a type of fine art, Wikipedia explains,

“Architecture is frequently considered a fine art, especially if its aesthetic components are spotlighted — in contrast to structural-engineering or construction-management components. Architectural works are perceived as cultural and political symbols and works of art. Historical civilizations often are known primarily through their architectural achievements. Such buildings as the pyramids of Egypt and the Roman Colosseum are cultural symbols, and are important links in public consciousness, even when scholars have discovered much about past civilizations through other means. Cities, regions and cultures continue to identify themselves with, and are known by, their architectural monuments.”

It is refreshing to be reminded that architecture, when in the appropriate context, bares the responsibility of being a symbol of the society of its times within its culture. Hopefully, drawing, achieved through an artist’s trained eyes and craftsmanship, helps to reveal and record the symbolic meanings of architecture to its fullest extent. 

What is a "Y" brand?

“Y” is not only the initial of Yang’s first name (the founder and chief illustrator of Y Illustration). More importantly, the letter “Y” possesses a deeper meaning. It refers to:

  1. “Why?” – We love questions, and we ask questions. By asking “why”, we think outside of the box and nurture true creativity that is authentic, flexible and stylish, rather than merely trying to be novel and edgy.
  2. “Y” as in “x, y, or z” in a coordinate system – axis “y” extends infinitely, just like we find profound potential in true creativity. On the other hand, the axis “y” is bonded within a multi-dimensional system with other components like “x” and “z”.  Symbolically, this reflects that we respect, appreciate and celebrate collaboration with our clients and peers. 

Thanks for being here! We look forward to connecting with you!