Happy 52nd Birthday! Today, I had my virgin experience of social art jamming, with the intention of painting something that could be gifted to you as your birthday present. Well, art alone without meaning is but a symphony of colours harmonised and mingled together with brushstrokes bold and fine. So here is a list of things that went through my head as I embarked on a 3-hour long artistic voyage on a Tuesday afternoon without even pausing to drink or eat:
- Just like how I am your very first child, your maiden voyage into this big, uncertain, sometimes scary world of fatherhood, this piece of art is my first jab at creating something somewhat aesthetically pleasing.
- First attempts are never perfect. The artwork is definitely not perfect. And neither am I. If you asked me, I could go on and on about all the regrets I have about this painting and the mistakes that I had foolishly made precisely because of my inexperience. I screwed up, made mistakes, cursed myself, panicked, found solutions, asked for help, prayed for things to get better and go my way. I sketched and erased, tested the waters, debated between purple and grey. But still, the background is too patchy, and the branches look too flat. The petals of some of the flowers are warped and slightly deformed. Yet, despite all these blemishes and imperfections, they are unmistakably mine and I own them like how you have owned me in the twenty years that you’ve raised me — proud and with the most unshakable conviction of a creator, a father. And I salute you for that.
- Being a father, whether it’s your first time or 5th time, is always stressful. I can’t claim to have carried the kind of weight you’ve been carrying, but painting under a time limit is pressurising period. Not to mention painting outside the comfort and private confines or your own home. Every stroke, every move is made under public scrutiny. Constantly, your ears are helplessly deluged with cacophony of opinions, peoples’ ruthless judgments, comments and criticisms. You try not to buckle, take a deep breath, calm your nerves and continue your hustle. Thank you for raising me in your own way, even when the voices that tempt and mislead echo ever so loudly and persistently.
- Cherry Blossoms. Why Cherry Blossoms, you may ask. You have always wanted to go to some place like Japan in the summer during the Cherry Blossom season, but have been unable to because of your busy schedule and us. This painting is for you and all the opportunities that you have missed because of me, Bin and Kai, while we await that one summer when we can finally catch the flowers together as a family. Aside, the Cherry Blossom is perhaps the most fitting embodiment of life and all it’s beauty, ephemerality and fragility. This is a reminder to cherish every second spent with loved ones and every moment, no matter how upset or angry or disappointed you may be, because it is precisely these emotions that lift the highs of life even higher.
Infinitely, with love
Your daughter, Ning ❤