Jason’s Porch


As I’ve been absent from the blog for a while, let me share with you some stories from my first month of summertime in Pittsburgh.

Last time you saw me, I was high up in the Arizona mountains, enjoying breathtaking landscapes and equally spectacular company. I so cherish that get-away, treasuring the rest and comfort I experienced during it.

Early the next week I traveled back. As we soared over Pittsburgh’s deep green hills and towering trees, the one thought that crossed my mind was, “I’m home.” And what a glorious thought that is! Ending my first year of school, I am finally coming out of that crazy transition that college throws your way.

My first day back was spent with good friends; a coffee date for brunch, errands around campus in the afternoon, and dinner on Jason’s porch. To all of our appreciation, Jason prepared a delicious dinner for the group composed of a brie cheese spread, arugula salad, and sour-dough, turkey sandwiches. While we ate, the sun set directly in front of the little home we sat at. Surrounded by such amazing friends, those moments of golden rays were my favourite of the day.


We sat there on his little porch for a long time talking and munching on the prepared Hors d’oeuvres, when Chalisse, Lydia and I decided to head out on a late-night-walk. Call the boys lazy… or scared, but either way they decided to hold down the fort while we explored. You see, I have a favourite lookout spot in the large park behind campus, but walking there in the dark was a first. We set out enthusiastically but by the time we had crossed campus, courage began to falter. It was one dark pathway in particular, in combination with traipsing through knee-length, aboding grasses that sent us running back. We must’ve looked absolutely hilarious as we bounded back to the street, trying to get out of the grasses that clung viciously to our legs.

This is definitely a day that I will not forget.


Flagstaff, Arizona



Traveling this weekend with three of the loveliest ladies, has been such a treat. About a month ago, I was invited to join them for a sewing workshop located in the beautiful mountains of Arizona. School is now out for the summer, and what better way to spend my first week of freedom than among such wise and endearing friends.


Aunt Lori works for Baby Lock machine company as an educator. She travels to various locations around the United States hosting workshops to inspire and teach the use of Baby Lock sewing machines. I’ve so enjoyed getting to watch her interact with the students and thrive in this area that she so enjoys. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA



We ate at a delicious Italian restaurant after our first session of workshopping. My favourite was the pizza with chilli-sautéed brussels sprouts, Italian sausage, and honey (pictured below)!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Called Me Higher

Lately I have wrestled with a perception of how ambition and motivation play a role in my life. It may be the fact that New Year’s goals are still resonating in my mind, or it could stem from my life here at CMU among passionate, high-achieving students. Whatever it may be, this song by “All Sons and Daughters” is such a clear representation of  how I feel. It is both unsettling and humbling to assess the ways that I have fallen short in this area. How many times have I “settled” for completion instead of striving for excellence? Too many to count.

All of this reminds me of swim team in Kansas City. I remember Grant urging us to shoot for our “best” effort in everything that we put our hands to (whether that be surging through water, academic learning, etc.).  I truly hope this song encourages you, also, to strive for *excellence in the pursuits that are present in your own lives.

Weekend Snapshots


Studio class is extremely intriguing this semester. The above poster is a set of 40 symbols that were created by my classmates. These symbols- made of simple geometric shapes- were developed to replace our generation’s commonly used lingo. For example, this set of symbols can be used as an alternative form of texting language. The language includes words such as JK, you, me, where, LOL, lets talk, etc.



I created the symbol for “home,” which, I admit, is quite appropriate for my personality and tendencies in particular, as I am a major “home body.” And anyways, home is definitely where my heart is, so I had lots of fun with this one. To break it down, my symbol is made up of three basic shapes: a square, a circle, and a triangle. The square signifies structure, foundation, and shelter. The circle represents wholeness, center of being, or “home base.” Finally, the triangle and its orientation illustrates home as a place that we “return to.” Wayne, one of our Studio teachers pushed me to differentiate from  the typical “house” image commonly seen as a symbol for home. I am thankful for his firmness because it influenced me to push past my limit and get creative with this assignment.


Phase two of this project focused on using  dynamic crops within our symbol to create patterns. Our teachers have been trying to train our eyes so that we can see and understand images that have depth, movement, and personality. The process has been tough to say the least because I do not naturally think so critically about simple graphics.


Drawing studio has focused on the idea of dynamic curves and shapes (as you can tell from the below examples). For the last two weeks, we’ve been traveling through an exploration process of seeing, feeling, and understanding how lines move. I was up last night working on four boards that illustrate these explorations. Our teacher, Mark, gave us three hypothetical stories to represent the form that movement encompasses. We then explored these stories by drawing topographical terrain where lines travel up and down the landscape to represents the paths of characters in our story.




I am currently looking a lot less “bright and cheery,” (sitting at my desk after a four hour sleep night) than this photo taken last week. However, I’ve received so many texts from all of you over the last day/night encouraging me that you are praying for peace and productive work. Those messages are priceless. Thank you for all of your support. I love you guys! 


Strip District, Pittsburgh

Remembering our bucket-listing events early last summer, I thought you would appreciate this wintery outing I took in December. Jillian, John and I bussed downtown to the “Strip District,” to join the Saturday-morning bustle.
Our first stop was La Prima Espresso Company for lattes. We were particularly excited to visit this coffee shop because it has a spot on Carnegie Mellon Campus, and we were anxious to visit the “base camp” per say.


After enjoying our morning coffee run, we walked strolled the district’s characteristic farmers markets, fish markets, and Asian super markets. Often stopping into small shops along the way, we experienced fresh bread at an Italian bakery, a cigar-smoking-ritual in a dark parlour, Christmas wreath-lined street corners, and, of course, the beautiful Pittsburgh snow.




We took a pitstop at one particularly adorable Italian bakery. The business had a street-front building filled with mountains…


and mountains…


of biscotti! …behind the biscotti palace, a small alleyway brought us to a cozy cafe serving breakfast and coffee.




Autumn Challenge Round Two

Jessie and Maddie,

As October rolls around, I’m feeling quite nostalgic about the awesome memories I shared with you 2 during my gap year. Specifically, I remember the excitement I felt while making the “Autumn Challenge Bucket List” for you last fall… and our first s’mores celebration around the cook top in our little, cozy kitchen.

Anyway, this year, I propose we invite other friends to join us in the Autumn Challenge. What do you think? Take a look at the Challenge below if you forget!

Michael, do you have time to try this out this fall? I’d love to see what you can muster up in HK for the Autumn Challenge!

Museum Findings

I thought you might enjoy looking through some of the snapshots I took while exploring the Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History on Saturday. I especially enjoyed the exhibition detailing animals from the ice age. Its funny because some of the exhibits with fish and sea-monster-looking-dinosaurs reminded me of our days watching “Ice Age,” when Sid freaks out while walking around, alone, in ice tunnels.

The way that these creatures are displayed in skeletal form is spectacular. Five weeks into drawing classes, I am beginning to “visualize on paper” everything that I see; from plants to cars to dinosaurs. The information that is communicated by the skeleton version of these creatures is extremely helpful to an overall understanding of their form and movement.

I know the above description may be too small to read, but try to zoom in anyway… the second portion of this excerpt is very relative to the way items and scenes are captured today. So many of the photos we tumblr or draw come from every day occurrences– just think about instagram when you read this.


Depicted above, is my favorite painting from the short hour I spent walking into rooms full of art. I love the serenity illustrated through the lone ship and solo ice burg. The artist did a beautiful job depicting ice and water.

Finally, these chairs… aren’t they fascinating! Imagine a C4 studio with one large wood table in the middle, surrounded by 2 of each of these chairs… and the “scriptorium” rolled out with markers aplenty- some day maybe 🙂

Miss you all-I can’t wait until you get to come and share some of these experiences with me for real!

My Studio

Hey guys,

Below are a few snap-shots of my Freshman studio this year! We were given this space (with 24-hour access) so that, while working on various drawings/models/photography assignments, we have the opportunity to brainstorm, converse, and gain insight from  fellow classmates. Initially, I didn’t think that this was completely necessary. I mean, art is one of those subjective professions right? wrong. Design is so much different than the art-style I was accustomed to in high school. I’ve learned over the past few weeks, that the success of my work depends so much upon the ability to communicate a message to an audience- and in this case my classmates serve as substitute audiences.  IMG_0431


We are often accused of “living” in studio because we all spend so much time there. I don’t mind, though, because not only is our studio spatially relaxing and comfortable, but it is also full of such awesome people, lively music, and homeliness. Studio classes run from 8:30-11:30 here every morning and our professors come to us! That is a pretty big privilege on our part 🙂

I view this place as our “office,” per say, as we come every morning and usually spend most of the day at our desks.  IMG_0421



Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens


Doesn’t this look like an entrance into the “Secret Garden?” I was walking down this path for the third time yesterday afternoon and was suddenly hit with the urge to show Megan this place. She would love it.

This botanical garden houses over seventeen separate gardens, all pertaining to a specific region or theme. Some of my favorites are the Spice and Tropical Fruits garden, the Fern garden (the moment I stepped into this area, I smelled a wonderful earthy scent, like that of a damp forest), the Desert room (succulents are, of course, my favorite), and the Butterfly garden. The Butterfly photographed in this post. Although I didn’t actually capture any butterflies or moths in any of these photos, I assure you, they were fluttering in every direction.

I can imagine Megan watching the various, brightly colored creatures dance around in this glass room. It is seriously magical.


The project that we are currently working on in Drawing class (the reason I have returned so frequently to Phipps), is essentially a plant adoption. We are to choose our favorite plant and find out everything we can about it: photograph, draw, and research. We are supposed to know this plant from the inside out. I chose the “Philodendron” from Brazil (tree pictured below). I love the texture and pattern of its trunk, and the branches are  intertwined creating a very interesting structure.


The drawing below is a synopsis of five different gardens within Phipps. We were to pick one plant from each garden and use it to represent the whole. I learned so much about simplifying my work throughout this process. Every assignment that we’ve completed so far has brought me great leaps farther in my knowledge of “design drawing.” It is such a privilege to study here, under such brilliant professors. 




I admit that this process is often extremely aggravating. Drawing isn’t a personal hobby or “enjoyable activity” for me (as you know). However, I’m thankful that I have this unique opportunity to improve and learn. Tell me what you’ve been working on recently!

Miss you guys xo!

On site in Pittsburgh


Hey my sibs,

Seeing that I’ve lived in Pittsburgh for 3 weeks now, its high time that I share some snapshots of my new home with you. These photos were actually taken for a school studio project. Groups of three were assigned specific locations around Pittsburgh to explore and photograph. I was one of the three to travel downtown for the exciting photo-expedition. I had no idea where we were headed until I literally stepped off the bus into the classy, theater-filled, waterfront of Pittsburgh. It has been such an interesting place to photogrpah.

Lion King is in town this month, so all the theaters have festively dawned yellow banners and Safari characters in their windows for the occasion.






IMG_0541As I look back on these few photos, I am again amazed at Pittsburgh’s unique atmosphere. From pink bridges and sculpted flowers, to flash thunder storms and cathedrals, this place is perplexing.


Thats all for now, I hope these pictures say a thousand words about my experience here so far… its at least a little clearer than telling you about it over Skype 😉 Have a great weekend! Miss you guys!