OTM #24: Snowman

Last week was so beautiful. I had never seen such unity – everyone was in the Umich Diag chatting and throwing snowballs at nearly midnight. Snowmen were being built all around town. I was out with a friend and ended up taking pictures with a bunch of them, feeling like I was looking through a museum exhibit. My friend even built her own tiny snowman (pictured to the right), made to look like Totoro from the Ghibli film My Neighbor Totoro. People even walked past to compliment us – it felt like a world out of a movie. So much love, all because of the winter air and snow (this, however, later dissipated as we watched a group of guys destroy peoples’ snowmen). Though it’s one degree outside right now, I’m still going to try and enjoy that sunlight and make the most of things. Have a great day everyone!

OTM #23: Run

I used to run every day in high school. I was on the cross country team all four years, and the track team for like, three. It was hard, yes, but it was really cathartic and cleansing for me, too. I love the feeling of running, the ability to be in tune with my body. Once it gets really intense, my brain feels full – full of joy, of adrenaline, of stress – it’s a magical combination of emotions spurted on by physical activity. I never fully fell out of running after graduating, but coming to college definitely made it harder. I lost my motivation to do it every day, I didn’t have a coach or events to look forward to. But I’ve never stopped; as of late, I’ve been getting super into it again. My apartment building has treadmills that I’ve been getting on almost every day of the week. And I’ve noticed how much harder it’s gotten – running, I mean. I used to be able to crank out six miles easy, but now I’m struggling to finish three. Sweating feels good, though. I feel like I’m sweating out schoolwork, stress, societal pressure. I love it, I can’t get enough. I have shin splints right now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way (despite these being a bad thing). I guess what I’m trying to say is, hobbies are cool; nowadays there is so much push to monetize every single hobby, but running is one that I’ve kept beautifully sacred to myself. I think it’s important to have those.

OTM #22: Perception / Characters

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about art. About how much I draw myself. I can give myself any form, and over time this can become more and more abstract.

I’ve been doing OTM for almost two semesters now, and thinking about how I’ve created a sort of persona for myself. I’ve always loved character design; I think comics and cartoons are so amazing at creating relatable characters with simple shapes. I’ve tried to make my own drawings of myself come off that way – I’m most inspired by stuff like Calvin and Hobbes, using simple dot eyes and fun expressions. I don’t really draw myself based on how I look most days anymore, but rather use a recognizable, repeatable, exaggerated version of myself. Truth be told, the blonde streaks I draw on the underside of my hair are barely visible anymore. But over time, I’ve grown really attached to them as a part of my cartoon “persona”, so I continue to draw them. It’s really fun to be able to think about these things, and I’m really grateful I get to reflect upon how I see myself through art. That’s always been my favorite aspect of art – being able to see how people view the world through their work. I’ve been thinking about characters and character designs a lot because of this, practicing making my own interpretations more.

These are a few of my results from my drawing exercises; characters from one of my favorite childhood games, “Ib.” The original sprites are above, my drawings are below. The original sprites are pretty vague and simple, so it was super fun to be able to draw out fun colors and interpret what kind of outfit each character was wearing. My result is very different than the original, but that, to me, is what makes it so fun. Fans of “Ib” could still recognize them as characters from the game, but I’ve given my own personal touch of love. Character design is so amazing!!!

OTM #21: Scary Movie

Welcome back, everyone! Hope you’re having a great start to the new year. I certainly am – my roommates and I have been trying to watch a lot of new stuff during our downtime. I’m a fan of all sorts of genres, but I’m particularly partial to horror, so we’ve been watching a lot of scary stuff. I’m to a point where horror doesn’t really affect me anymore – I won’t get scared but I will be intrigued – yet for the first time in a long while, I was actually scared watching a horror film. We watched Parker Finn’s “Smile”, a movie that was well known on platforms like TikTok for making users cry in fear. I was always curious about it when it released, but never assumed I would be one of those fearful viewers. But oh my god, this film was insane. It follows a woman who is cursed by a malignant presence, taking the form of any random stranger who just stands there, smiling. I never realized a person simply standing and smiling could be so unnerving, yet once the film ended, I nervously laughed to my roommate – only to be met with a strained response of “Don’t smile at me right now!!” We had to turn all the lights on, turn on a silly cartoon and sit on the floor trying to distract ourselves long after the film ended. It felt like we were little kids at a sleepover. There’s a lot of joy there, despite the discomfort we felt. I missed that feeling of being scared.

OTM #20: Empty Halls

I’ve been taking lots of photographs of empty hallways lately. With the incoming cold of winter and late night study days, an empty hall is all I can think of. A sense of liminality, a familiarity of a class building but sharp feeling of emptiness accompanying it. I feel like I’m in a liminal state in life, in search of a proper career in college, in the final moments of a difficult semester. I’m in a long, empty hallway, lit coldly and seemingly never-ending. I could keep walking, or I could stand still. I’m really fascinated by this idea of liminality; there’s this horror concept online called The Backrooms that has taken people by storm lately. It’s similar to my paintings of empty hallways – the idea of the Backrooms is a never-ending, familiar yet unfamiliar space. It’s lit with a yellowish light, there are no windows, you become lost within an instant. It’s scary to so many, simply because it draws upon our notions of architectural familiarity. Something as simple as a hallway can become scary, unknown, and we can be forced to reflect on our humanity when seemingly nobody else is present. Maybe that’s why I’m so captivated by the empty halls. I feel like I’ve been needing to do a lot of self-reflection, and there’s a scary comfort in exploring spaces like this. Hope you are all navigating finals okay, and have a great week!

OTM #19: Compliment

Welcome back from break! Hope you all had a relaxing time and are doing alright getting back into things. I was sluggish this morning on my way to class, throwing together a bulky, stupid outfit and ready to zone out for hours. My roommate offhandedly made a comment that I looked like a celebrity at the airport (I supposedly captured the comfortable yet mysterious and hidden aura, haha) and though I don’t think it was meant to, it boosted my confidence and motivation for the day. I walked down the street with a childlike whimsy, a runway strut in my mind as I listened to my music and basked in the mysterious feeling I evidently carried. I love compliments like that, ones that are oddly specific; they feel so cute and personal, something that drives me creatively and makes me love the world around me a lot more. Compliments are so nice, which is such a silly, obvious thing to say, but I really remembered that today. Feeling grateful. I hope you all compliment someone you care about soon, too, and have a great Tuesday!