Prints, portraits, doodles, and sketches

I spend my time gestating, these days. If I had said this a year ago it would have been a metaphor for a stage of the creative process, but now? It’s the literal truth. It’s a lot of work, making a new being, even when there’s nothing hurting and everything looks normal on the surface. (Yesterday the dental hygienist said, “You look great! I mean you look really great! I would never have guessed!”) I’ve been comparing it to running a massive background program on your computer: it’s not that you can’t use your normal apps, but everything’s just going to be that much slower, meaning some programs will scarcely be worth trying.

Unfortunately, non-gestational creative work has proved to be one of those programs not worth trying. Like Photoshop or Illustrator, writing and painting use a lot of processing power, and most of the time I simply haven’t got that. This wasn’t a conscious tradeoff; it’s just what happened: a seed implanted itself, and just like that, my inner artist fell dormant, like Sleeping Beauty. I can wake her up if I need to, but with effort.

That said, I do have some work to share from the past five months. I think, really, the quality of my work has stayed the same. It’s just harder to get myself into the right state to make it.


It astounds me that I never posted about this here, but back in May (just before I became pregnant), I did an event at the Oakland Museum. Not in the galleries, but as part of their weekly showcase of local artists and crafters. I love the museum and it was fun to be a part of it in this way.

Lisa Hsia creating live portraits at the Oakland Museum of California

My sister Allison took this photo!

I did on-the-spot portraits and sold prints of a few recent works — the first time I’ve ever done prints. I had enough left over to post on Etsy, so that’s where they are now. Clicking the images will take you to the Etsy listings.

I find it rather stressful and doubt-laden to create artwork for sale, so I don’t publicize it much, and I haven’t followed through on my plans to place these prints (especially the cat one) in local shops. I’d like to get more momentum going on this at some point, but what can I say? At the moment it’s not a priority.

Some Cat Shapes: a diagram for identifying cat postures

You Are a Work of Art: print


(Regular readers may recognize this pencil painting from this earlier post.)


I’ve done two portraits for my hair salon since I became pregnant: one when I didn’t yet realize, and one more recently. Both of these went way faster than my previous portraits (about an hour each) and I have no idea whether pregnancy has anything to do with that!

Pencil sketch of Roula in preparation for her portrait

Portrait of Laura

In-progress watercolor portrait

Portrait of Roula

The gallery at the salon:

Manifesta Portait Gallery, Manifesta Salon, Oakland

Doodles and sketches

I made a doodle on a grey day last December, while feeling heartsick over the outcome of Eric Garner’s death by cops. Half a year later that doodle ended up on the cover and in the pages of an indie anthology raising funds to support organizations for Black justice in the US. I am so glad to be a part of this. Clicking on the image will take you to the publisher’s website and purchase links.

After Ferguson, In Solidarity: an anthology

And just a week ago, I went to a gathering organized by one of my Meetup members (herself a talented artist) at the magical Bonsai Garden of Lake Merritt. I quickly tired of being in the sun, squatting on rocks, but I love the garden and feel such reverence for the bonsai, so small, so wise. Some of the trees are centuries old!

Sketch of Japanese black pine at the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt, Oakland

Sketch of California juniper at the Bonsai Garden of Lake Merritt, Oakland

Sketch of trident maple at the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt, Oakland