Assimilating the natural artist

I've mentioned before, but I never got into art 'naturally'.

Kids doing art

I didn't grow up admiring artists on the internet. I didn't 'feel' much emotion by looking at static colourful images. Nor did I feel like I was expressing myself by putting paint on the canvas.

13 year old me didn't feel any inner consciousness when looking at this painting.

13 year old me didn't feel any inner consciousness when looking at this painting.

Therefore, I didn't acquire many attributes the average concept artist takes for granted.
 Attributes such as detailing, form, shapes, and indication do not come 'naturally' to me.

See drawn details didn't interest me as a kid... Actually it still doesn't interest me now!

See drawn details didn't interest me as a kid...
Actually it still doesn't interest me now!

So in learning art, I had to learn things the 'natural artist' takes for granted.

One of the first times I've learnt to a proper 'study'

One of the first times I've learnt to a proper 'study'

I think it's safe to say the 'natural artist' likes to copy images or reality. It's fun for them to see how close they can get.

The closer the artist gets to their target copy, the better. When it's 100% photorealistic to their eye- they win! It's like a game.

Playing this game gives enjoyment to the artist.

art the game

However, as a 'non natural artist', I had never played this game.

Doing art for me was 100% 'brute forced'.

So discovering the 'copy image' game is a big deal for me! It's made art so much more enjoyable. I finally understand how you can sit for hours on end doing art.


Yeah! I understand how to have fun with art!

Yeah! I understand how to have fun with art!

I'm actually surprised on how far I've been able to get without doing studies.

If you don't already do studies (i.e. copying images), I highly recommend it!

There is a system in the way you do studies, and things to pay understand when you play the game. But, that information is for another blog post.

'Till next time!

Keep Arting!


*note 'art' in this blog is based on the realism art.

Week 0: Happy New Year! Consistent nightly posts!

Happy New Year Friends!

I thought, this year, it'd be a good idea to start posting more on facebook.

facebook logo


However, after a single post, i decided that it wasn't worth it.

Instead, I'd much rather post on my blog. Posting on the blog is way more fulfilling. Right here is the best!

10pm. Mon/Wed/Fri. Lets do this.

Tonight, I'll start by sharing one of my favourite videos.

Daniel Zhu's Bboy Portfolio 2012. The best part about Daniel's 2012 edition, is that it was a point in my life where I watched breaking videos every day.

I had seen almost every video individually throughout the year.

The way Daniel wrapped it up, was gorgeous.


'Till next time!


C4D Click and Drag changes frame

Okay super short post: click and drag changes timeline

I had an issue where, whenever I clicked the mouse to move/select an object nothing would happen.

Instead, whenever I clicked and dragged it would change the frames in the timeline. It would scrub the timeline.

Essentially, it functioned as though the 'j' key had been held down the whole time.

To fix this, I just pressed 'j' and it was solved!

Such an easy fix!

If this has helped you, let me know in the comments!

It'd love to know if anyone benefits from this information. It makes me feel fuzzy inside.

'Till next time!


8 Tips on being an International Student

Being an international student can be scary. Before you go, you may be incredibly excited to witness a new culture, yet simultaneously feel scared from leaving the familiar.

Below are a few tips I have compiled for future and current international students:

  1. Do not forget your international adapter.
    1. It can be a pain to try look for a two prong American wall adapter to a 3 prong Australian. I know. It happened to me.
  2. Do not forgot cables for your electronics.
    1. I recently brought my desktop computer to America. The only issue is that I forgot to bring the power cable. Luckily electronic plugs are quite universal- but this could've been more disastrous than losing a day of time.
  3. You are likely entitled. Do not forget how lucky you are.
    1. Appreciate your situation. Not everyone can go abroad seeking better educational experience.
    2. No seriously. Really appreciate how lucky you are.
  4. Try not to stick the international student bubble.
    1. I see many international students who seek only comfort level zone with culture. I.E. They would only mingle with other international students from the same country.
    2. Remember that you are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by different cultures. You might be doing a disservice to yourself if you do not leave the 'international bubble' Learning about the culture
    3. Perhaps volunteer or do a hobby with locals?
    4. Treat it like travel. You can go around europe, 1 day in each country, party with your international buddies in every country, and stick to the tourist path. That's totally okay.
      But at the same time, there are other cultural gains that can only be understood by engaging with locals. By knowing the tourist beaches from the local ones.
  5. While you're in the country, you can become lost in the present. Don't forget what your past set out to achieve.
    1. Don't lose sight of the tree while you're looking at the leaves. Simultaneously don't forget to keep in mind you're standing in a forest too.
  6. Absorb and integrate yourself into their culture. It will be a greater learning experience. You ultimately want to act as a local.
    1. The more you can assimilate into a new culture, the more you can understand a new culture. The more cultures you understand, the greater your world view becomes.
  7. Cultural challenges/Academic challenges/financial challenges
    1. Balancing work, school, and a social life can be difficult. But hey- doesn't it make for an interesting life? :P
  8. Locals and food
    1. The most important point with making friends with the locals is that they know all the good places to eat!

if you have anymore tips let us know in the comments! :)


You'll never be satisfied: The Journey of Taste

week 42-48

week 42-48

My taste has evolved through time. When I was a child I thought ACDC's TNT was a great song.

I still think it's a great song. However, when I was younger I only had two songs available to me. Now I have more... And while ACDC's TNT is still a great song, my palette has greatly widened. 



If something looks really cool and exciting to me, it doesn't necessarily mean it looks cool and exciting to you.

As we get older we learn more about the world. When we understand the 'how' of a creation, we can better appreciate it. 

I've recently watched Adam Neely's bass video on taste. 

At 0:49 he recalls:

When I was first starting out, I thought Linkin Park was the edgiest... most hardcore... music ever...

On the topic of taste he then elaborates how he has grown:

I don’t think that quite so much anymore

Adam Neely in this section shows how his previous taste has changed through time. Linkin Park is no longer the most hardcore music in his palette. Adam's taste has changed through time.

To which I think this idea of ever changing taste in relevant in my own life.

The closer I get to a goal, the more likely that the goal will have changed.

In breakdance I remember wanting so badly to learn how to windmill. I thought "If only I could windmill I would be satisfied".

This was the exact video I saw. 

I craved it.

I needed to be able to windmill.

So I practiced hard.

And a year later I could finally do windmills.

But a few months before having the move down, I could already 'see the light'. I could see the path I was on, and knew I could windmill soon. 

And at that very point where I knew my goal was already in my grasp, it wasn't as enticing as before.

The windmill looked like a golden shard from afar. But up close I saw it as painted plastic. 

And in the distance, I saw something shinier. 

My taste had evolved.

I was no longer satisfied with the windmill.

Thanks for reading!

How has your taste evolved? I'm super curious :)
Let me know in the comments!





Recording Yourself: Blogging vs Vlogging

Weeks 35-41: Mediums of Expression

Lately I've noticed that the way I record my thoughts is different depending on the medium I use.

It's an obvious notion. When I talk to the camera for a vlog, I am in a different head-space to when I'm writing in my blog. The way I record memories via vlogging, makes me think about the present. What is the shot, and how am I showing it? How will I condense this reality into a few short minutes of footage?

Contrastingly, when writing a blog, it's more of a constructional and analytical process. The blog had been aimed to be written weekly. I would carefully assess the week as a whole and expand on a single idea I had previously written down.

It's very interesting to me how both the blog and vlog give value to my life in terms of recording where I am in that point of time.

But which is more accurate?

A rational person may try determine the most accurate way to record their memories. A vlog? A blog? A journal? Photos? "But which is more accurate?" They might ask.

It's hard to measure which is the most successful. The vlog gives 'hard evidence' of what happens. You'll see past videos of yourself, what you really looked like.

On the other side of the spectrum, the journal can be airy and emotional. When rereading you'll remember how you felt. You can attach photo snippets, drawings, and video (if your journal is electronic). The journal will read raw, and unedited. Most people don't plan to ever show their journal to others.

The disadvantage of the journal lies in the effort required to maintain it. Without any public forum- there is no third party source to motivate your writing. In my case anyway, without publicity I feel unmotivated to write daily journal updates.

The blog on the other hand is a pure public construction of words. There is no 'raw' text that you must put down. You're not writing about the daily life (Atleast I don't). And there is no life footage from the day you must work with. All ideas can be made and twisted. And the publicity of a blog may influence you to bend reality as far away as you can from the truth.

- - - -

People have gained fluency in different languages and skills. I speak English pretty well, but struggle with conversation in Italian.

I think the same idea applies to blogging, vlogging, writing in the journal, taking photos, composing a song each day, etc.

Any creative medium is a craft. How well it reflects your human condition is dependent on how fluent you are in the skill.

And nobody is born speaking perfectly.

Till next time!
-Mark David Teo


- - - -

Further Reading:

Two Languages, Two Minds: Flexible Cognitive Processing Driven by Language of Operation (

- - - -

P.S. Huge hiatus on the blog. I have made 30 videos on youtube since those weeks before. It almost feels like I've always made vlogs. Crazy.

P.P.S. I 'graduated' on youtube and stopped writing "Vlog X" before each video. I think I've levelled up to the stage where I'm confident enough not to hide behind the title of "vlog" in each video.

P.P.P.S. This 'graduation' on youtube titles has influenced the removal of "Week X" in the titles of the blog. I hope it won't be missed.


Week 34: Painting Learning Paradox

Personal Ramble: Late post. I shouldn't consider the vlog and the blog to mirror each other. They should be thought of different mediums. And hence, require a different mindset. Thinking of both as the same this week caused me to have a questionable vlog- and also a lack of blog post.

Lately, I've been understanding painting a little bit more.

From taking Bill Perkin's Composition class at Concept Design Academy, I've become able to read images more fluently. This idea relates and goes back to art as a language. But essentially, when you learn to read images more fluently, you can deconstruct elements of the picture and understand how they are contributing to the overall whole.

With the picture as a language background/foundation in mind: I watched Marco Bucci's Painting Fundamentals video. I had seen this video before, and thought I understood completely. But now with increased painting knowledge I can more fully grasp what he is saying.

The Learning Paradox:
You Must Know An Idea BEFORE You Can Learn It,
but you Only Learn Ideas You Don’t Know

There is a paradox called the learning paradox. It's along the lines of "You must already know an idea before you can learn, but you only learn ideas you don't know".

Essentially when you 'really' know something you are able to fully articulate it. However, there are some things we think we know, but cannot explain it well with words. There is just a vague and ethereal 'knowingness' without complete rational justification.

Matt Moody a social psychologist with a Ph.D. in Social Psychology & Family Sociology, answers this paradox. He writes:

The key to unlocking this conundrum is in distinguishing the difference between Experience-Knowing, Word-Articulation-Knowing, and Whole-Knowing:

Moody then explains that if you don't have any experience pertaining to the specific 'Word-Idea', then you cannot have the lightbulb of 'whole-knowing'. I think of it as, if you don't have a fuzzy cloud of experience in your mind, when words of electricity pass by, it has nothing to ignite. Concepts and ideas cannot spark in a vaccum. word-ideas will fly right by you, because you do not have the anchor of experience to ground them.

Whole-Knowing occurs when there is a cycle of words, ideas, and experience, building ones knowledge.

Reflecting back to painting- I could only ever understand what I had an experience of.

Previously, I had not looked at much art, nor understood visual elements. Therefore, without the experience, I did not have much mind haze in the realm of painting. Even though I had previously seen Marco Bucci's video, yesterday's second viewing taught me alot. On first viewing I thought I understood it all. But now I see it again with a cup more of art experience, his ideas spark 'whole-knowing' moments.

**Moody notes that this type of learning heavily reflects a conceptual type of knowing. The type of 'knowing' that involves mechanical learning, happens more directly in the experience of doing.

Door County Afternoon Gouache 5 1/2" x 11" by Richard Schmid

Door County Afternoon Gouache 5 1/2" x 11" by Richard Schmid

The more you know about something. The more fun it can become.

'Till next time!


Week 30: Vlog begins!

I'm so excited!

I had an experiment during the week on monday night. I couldn't sleep and so I thought about making a vlog. It excited me so much I jumped out of bed and begun scrawling ideas on paper.


Video 1 is where I try get experience creating videos. Just wanted to try something easy to get the ball rolling. Just wanted to begin.

"Just post something. Get started." etc.

Video 2 is scripted. I know in future I want to explain things. In this video I try do so.

I don't think Video 2 was very successful. But it was a great learning process. I learnt the essentials of after effects while creating it.

Video 3 is a reaction to Video 2. Instead of trying to formalise and create content- I take a back seat. I talk to the camera, and edit my thoughts into a video. I feel it reads much clearer than video 2.

This is today.

A vlog on vlogs.

Looks like these vlogs are being defined as a public learning process on how to vlog :)

How to read art (Short Introduction)

This is part 1 in a series. As newer parts are developed I will update links here.

The ideas for this series are greatly derived from Bill Perkin's Composition & Cinematography course at Concept Design Academy.

Art is a language of visual communication.

Many can appreciate art without learning how it's formed. Many create art without knowing what they're doing.

Similarly, many speak English without learning how it's formed. They use it everyday. Fluently. There's no issues.

However, have you ever tried learning a foreign language as an adult learner?

It becomes blatantly apparent that a good way to understand the language would be to break it down and learn how the language constructed.

Many have broken down how a language is constructed.

When you find the pieces of grammar scattered around- pronouns, nouns, verbs, etc.

You may realise that you may have never understood your original language.

Then, after you learn your original language, you further realise how language works.

Something clicks in your mind, and you gain a new rational, structural awareness of the language you have been speaking for a lifetime.

The same may apply for art.

You may already know some words or phrases in art, but have never considered it's grammar.

Out there in this big world, there are people who have broken visual art down. [explained in part 2]

The following posts in this series will delve into how one can read visual art.

It will do this by identifying how different images are made.

'Till next time.

Week 29: Wrist Issues begin

Every artist I've met in the last week has their own wrist issues story.

How do I know this?

It's because I've let them know that I'm developing my own wrist troubles.

In response to my wrists issues, I am met with an aged story. They recall the tale of how they've developed their own wrist issues. How they deal with it. How to be ergonomic.

Wrist exercises. Stretch. Frequent breaks. Draw from shoulder. The advice is the same from every person. Ways to reduce symptoms.

End of the day, just 'gotta live with it right?


Week 28: Line + Value + Colour ≠ Everything

I thought it'd be an easy, three step process to learn art. When I first started learning art, it seemed so simple.

Line refers to drawing lines in perspective. If you learnt 'line' you could draw any object.

Value refers to the way light reacts to objects. If you learnt 'value' you could greyscale render any object.

Colour refers to the colour objects and scenes are. If you learnt 'colour' you could light any object.

I thought with these three things you could theoretically paint anything in the world. Draw an object, and light it. You'd easily then become an amazing concept artist.

The idea was along the lines of this:
Step 1: Line
Step 2: Value
Step 3: Colour

However reality hit.

Experience and new knowledge has been acquired since those beginner days.

Line is related to value, and value is related to colour. The image as a whole is a combination of all these things. You can draw with value. Paint with lines. And describe 'value' shifts with colour.

Art is not as fundamentally straight forward or fragmented as the outlined 3 step process.

It is obvious now, but it appears as though everything is connected in ways that I did not previously understand.

While the 3 step method outlined above does make sense- it completely negates how to learn line/value/colour.

For example, 'value' mastery is gained when you control it in a composition. It is not knowing how to render every object in greyscale.

An image is a picture making process. Therefore the whole picture must be considered. Composition and structure become important. There needs to be a simplification of the scene. Knowing how to fully render all materials is only a skillset. The structure of the full image will fall apart without an overall value structure. I now believe that knowing greyscale is not just being able to render any object to completion. It's how to indicate forms/mass within a decided structure. The larger total image is the first and foremost priority.

Till next time'

Week 27: Willpower as a muscle

How does a mechanic solve the problem? He begins by trying to identify the specific conditions that trigger the noise. Is there a screech when the car is accelerating, or when it’s shifting gears, or turning at slow speeds? Unless the mechanic can give the screech a context, he’ll never find the broken part.
— One of Walter Mischel's favourite Metaphors

The last week I had been feeling a bit demotivated and unsure on work to be completed. While there had been work to do, unconsciously I perhaps realised that it didn't completely align with my goals. Instead of doing art work, I would instead begin learning trumpet and guitar. I would look into rap. I would be doing things that did not move me forward in my immediate career path (Something I currently value for financial reasons).

To remedy this I have re-evaluated my one year goals, and hence been able to narrow my short term goals.

Furthermore, I had noticed my willpower had also been declining. Something that needs to remain high.

To hone my willpower I've been training through exercise.

Something as simple as setting a goal of 100 situps in a row is challenging. Even though my body would like to give up at 20, I push through, I struggle. After the session I can be satisfied with the strife. The next day, body soreness acts as confirmation of struggle and success.

The willpower and satisfaction then transfer to my work. I become more motivated when doing tasks. The previous exercise literally tells my body through soreness "You are growing". It's reassuring and motivating. There's a feeling of growth and improvement carried into the work I do. It makes the challenge of work more appetising to conquer.

I've been understanding for myself the idea of "Willpower as a muscle". I've known this idea for awhile, but these last few days I've been putting it into action. So far it's worked out well.

'Till next time!

[1]: Walter Mischel Quote:

A good read on willpower: Don’t! The secret of self-control. Jonah Lehrer

Week 26: Architecture and Games

Skybridge, by Daniel Dociu

...if Dociu’s buildings and landscapes are spaces that tens of thousands of people have experienced – far more than will ever experience whatever new home is featured in starchitects’ renderings cut and pasted from blog to blog this week – then surely they, too, should be subject to architectural discussion?
— Geoff Manaugh, 2008

One reason I've begun studying concept art is due to its effect on me growing up.

Living in suburbia, I was never much exposed to the city life. The grand buildings in architecture magazines were irrelevant. The way the city functions was a mystery I had no desire to understand.

Instead, the more important gesture was the spaces in which people can interact.

I grew up playing video games. In an MMORPG, thousands routinely witness the same space. They interact within the game, playing, and enjoying themselves. The greatest space for interaction was not in the realities of architecture- it was online.

Therefore it makes sense that I want to contribute to the interactions of the virtual realm.


Geoffrey Ernault made this VR environment last night. Damn. I would like to do that too.


Anyway- 'till next time!


Week 25: Simplification

Lately I've been thinking that good picture making is about being simple.

Perhaps it is due to the way we perceive the world.

The Big Picture writes:
"Let’s start with a simple yet somewhat counterintuitive truth: we don’t see the world as it is, we see the world as it is useful for us (from an evolutionary perspective).

Our brain works like a filter lens. It filters reality in such a way that makes us aware of certain elements around us that are useful to us (for our survival generally or in a particular situation) and unaware of other elements that are less useful.

This means that our brain does not work like a camcorder – it does not passively receive sensory information. Rather, it dynamically shapes what we perceive with our senses through the lens of evolutionary biology – for our survival, generally – and through the lens of cognition (memories, emotions, judgements, intentions) contextually." [source]

We understand the world through a lens. We don't take in all sensory information. Instead we only track what is important.

If we try show everything within a visual medium- will the viewer be able to understand? It would not reflect the way we view our everyday lives. The artist wishes to convey a visual idea to the viewer. Therefore when presenting work, or image making, should we not be as focused as possible? When image making, should we not simplify reality for the user to easily digest what we are saying?

If the artist wants others to understand their vision, they must be able to simplify the idea so others can understand.

Till next time!


Week 24: Learning in non-accredited schools versus university


Learning is nicer when you choose to learn.

I currently attend two 'trade schools'. Brainstorm School, and Concept Design Academy. Both of which teach art. I define them as 'trade schools' as you go to learn a trade. Unlike regular colleges or other institutions, there are no certificates for completion. At both Brainstorm and CDA, there are no degrees or diplomas. The reward is expertise in the student's skill.

At a university there is always pressure to finish an assignment. There's a task to be completed. And it must be completed to receive a passing grade. You are enrolled to pass exams and receive a certificate. The greater the grade, the shinier the certificate.

At Brainstorm and CDA, there are no penalties for not completing an assignment. There are no formal exams. in these trade schools I am in, learning is the fundamental goal. If the student does not complete their work- nobody cares. It's the student's choice entirely to do homework.

I feel that this mentality is better than academia. Within academia the grade comes first, and learning is an afterthought. Would you rather score 90, learn little, or 49 and learn alot? From my experience, it's a no brainer within academia. Take the 90.

I always work towards my future learning and benefit. Therefore I am learning much more in the trade school. With the removal of grades or expectations, I feel freer in my learning process. There is no pressure to complete 'busy work'. Instead I choose my own assignments that I think will give me greatest value for time. Time can be customised per situation.

I study at any institution I think I will learn the most. I choose the amount of work that I do. There are no guidelines for my curriculum. Gosh. I hope my Frankensteined education will work out. We'll find out for sure by Week 100!

Till' then, one week at a time.


Week 23: The entitled complaints: 'The Hardest Part of Travelling'

is this 'travel' yet?

is this 'travel' yet?

This is the stereotype I think is rapidly shaping our generation: (20-30).

"The Hardest Part of Travelling that No One Talks About" discusses that the hardest part about travelling is getting back home and being different. It highlights how nobody understands you. Once you have travelled, you learn to let go of previous inhibitions. However, when you return you're distraught to find yourself not wanting the same things that you did before. You've changed. And nobody can understand that.

Nobody at home can understand you after you've travelled. You've grown. Now you are so very very special.

Everyone tries to be themselves. However, I feel as though many entitled middle class kids are blaming the wrong target. If society doesn't conform to their ideals, the topic of individuality is brought up. Society doesn't understand. The trendy 'character' of all 'unique' 16-30 year olds have been unjustified manifestos. However, more frequently these days it feels as though there is a new 'god-source' cited for any self-important character. 'Travel'.

Bragging with travel has become a new form of currency.

The article seems to have an air of elitism. It ostracises those who have not travelled and frames those who have as beyond the commoners understanding.

The following are excerpts and responses from the article:

You’re glad everyone is happy and healthy and yes, people have gotten new jobs, boyfriends, engagements, etc., but part of you is screaming don’t you understand how much I have changed?
— KD

The author compares new jobs, boyfriends, and engagements to travelling. Travel is great, yeah. But author KD screams at everyone how much they have been changed by travel. A tantrum guided by misunderstandings.

You want everyone to recognize this and you want to share and discuss it, but there’s no way to describe the way your spirit evolves when you leave everything you know behind and force yourself to use your brain in a real capacity, not on a written test in school.
— KD

This last sentence can be extrapolated to say:
"Travelling made me use my brain in a real capacity. I have escaped. I am awake. But I cannot explain it to you".
Thanks KD.

It’s like learning a foreign language that no one around you speaks so there is no way to communicate to them how you really feel.
— KD

When you learn a foreign language and return back to a 'home city', it is very likely you are not the only person who speaks the language in the city. I think it's an issue of knowing where to branch out and look for new friends. Find people who can understand your newfound 'travel language.' Just because your 5 closest friends don't speak Spanish, doesn't mean there aren't 37 million in your country who do.

Just because your current circle of friends appear to not understand travel the way you do- doesn't mean everyone in the world doesn't.

This is why once you’ve travelled for the first time all you want to do is leave again. They call it the travel bug, but really it’s the effort to return to a place where you are surrounded by people who speak the same language as you.
— KD

There is a mystique/romanticism to foreign cities. Does this mean that home doesn't have anyone else who has travelled? Yet,  other cities do?


In saying this rant, I know plenty of amazing people who 'travel' around and aren't shoving dogma down other's throats. They are absolutely lovely people.

But I feel like the whole 'travel' idea is moving to the extremities of an elitist cult.

The travel cult motto blasts at everyone "Those who have travelled are enlightened. Those who have not, will never understand."

But the sad part is once you’ve done your obligatory visits for being away for a year; you’re sitting in your childhood bedroom and realize nothing has changed.
— KD

That's one thing they got right. Nothing changed. You're still like the rest of us.


Thanks for reading ya'll! Peace!


(P.S. If you're in the travel cult and believe everyone needs to be enlightened, perhaps check out plato's cave. You'll feel good about yourself :))