Insider //
RAW:natural born artists

The final countdown. I will be a featured artist this weekend at Panorama, hosted by RAW:natural born artists. I hadn’t heard of the organization until I was approached a few months ago, but they currently operate in almost 60 cities across the US, Canada, Australia, and now, the UK and Japan. They bring local independent artists of various genres under the same roof to provide them with tools, resources and exposure. Yeah, sounds pretty awesome.

Panorama will take place at Neumos in Capitol Hill this Sunday, June 22nd (6pm) and will feature visual arts, music and other performance arts, in addition to fashion design. Looking forward to meeting the other artists and sharing my work. I believe blue bean studio will be the only ceramic arts there — represent!



June 21, 2014

Launching: Mug Adoption Program

I’m excited to announce that I’m finally launching the blue bean studio Mug Adoption Program in honor of Mother’s Day weekend! The idea has been swimming in my head for a very long time, but I didn’t know what to do with it until a few days ago. That is, I was finally motivated to put the idea into action…

After my last batch of mugs for the Kirkland Artist Studio Tour came out of the kiln, I realized I was going to have some trouble parting with a few of them. Since I spend quite a bit of time painting every character on each of my pots, I often get attached to them… kinda like they were my pets. It can get pretty difficult to see them go, which would explain the ever-increasing collection in my cupboard.

The problem is, our tiny apartment cannot support any more of these little guys, so I do have to send them off to new loving homes (and hopefully a few lucky ones will meet their new owners this weekend). While I’m not quite at the point of separation anxiety, I’m definitely going to miss some of these sweet mugs. My solution? Launch the Mug Adoption Program (henceforth also known as the M.A.P.).

So how does it all work? To put it simply…

More specifically, when someone picks out a mug (or any item with a face on it, for that matter), they can name the piece and write it on an “adoption card” (along with their name and the “adoption” date). Then they take a photo of the card with the mug and send it to me at bluebeanstudio(at)

I am hoping to collect enough photos to create a virtual photo wall on the website so that people can see their mugs among the big blue bean studio family. This way, I can have a record of every little creation and perhaps, one day, even keep track of where they are in the world!

Adopt a mug today : )



May 10, 2014

Going behind the scenes

Before I crossed the threshold from being merely a consumer to a creator, I had always enjoyed seeing the “magic” that happens behind the scenes to see how things are made. Now that I spend much more time with my hands dirty making things, I am even more intrigued by how and where art is created. For me, the act of observing draws me into the realm of the process and connects me to the maker.

Perhaps it is my fascination with the transformative process that hooks me in — the layering of colors on to a blank canvas to convey a scene, the melting and shaping of glass to form curvy vessels, the weaving of individual threads to form a detailed tapestry… And of course, being in ceramics, clay in particular never ceases to surprise me with its transformation from wet amorphous blob to functional or sculptural pieces.

All this to say… I’ll be on the other side of things this upcoming Mother’s Day weekend. We, along with 19 other studios across the city of Kirkland, are flinging the doors open to invite the public into our space and see what we get up to here in the Resident Ceramic Artist studio. We will be doing some demos in addition to showing and selling our work. While I wish I had some time to explore the other studios myself, I look forward to interacting with visitors and engaging others in the artistic process!

Find out more at



May 8, 2014

Oh hey, I’m an artist…

The local newspaper says so. It’s in print… so I think that counts!

Sometimes I’m hesitant to categorize myself as an artist, especially coming from a health professional background, but I can’t deny that I’m passionate about creating. Now the question is, what makes it art…? I’ll leave that one to the intellectuals debating in lecture halls.

For now, I’m happy to keep on creating and doing what I love — whether or not it’s considered art.



April 25, 2014

Let it go

First of all, no, this is not about the latest Disney animated film. I’ve heard the song a kajillion times (in countless renditions) by now, but I have yet to see Frozen. However, people keep referencing “Let it go” everywhere I go… so there it is — blog title! Let it go.

Those three words do come in handy. A lot.

They were particularly appropriate last weekend, when I decided spontaneously to try sumi-e. On a whim, I decided to sign up for a six-hour class on the traditional Japanese style ink wash painting to see if I could perhaps apply some aspects of the technique to my ceramics work.

Saturday morning rolled around and I found myself at a table, fighting with large pieces of rice paper. Probably not the best way to start an activity centered around calm concentration. We were going to be painting flowers. Breath.


The knowledgable instructor kindly gave us some background information, since a couple of us had zero experience with it. Ink wash painting originated in China. Black ink is diluted to different degrees to produce varying tonalities on a very absorbent type of paper, called “xuan” or “washi” paper. The technique involves the use of spontaneous brush strokes, lines and dots, to convey a subject. The goal of sumi-e is to capture the essence of something rather than to produce an exact likeness. Stated another way, the subject is expressed using as few strokes as possible.

I learned some other things in those six hours:
1) It’s a lot harder than it looks.
2) I can’t paint tulips for beans.
3) “Let it go!”

Let’s expound on that last one. For me, one of the most difficult parts of this activity was to be comfortable with imprecision. As mentioned above, an important component of this type of expressive painting is spontaneity in the brush strokes. Translated, that pretty much means there is very little planning… or, to a beginner like me, control. Every brush stroke is visible on the xuan paper, so there is no “going back” to correct any mistakes. Once the brush hits the paper, you’ve committed to the stroke. In trying to evoke the spirit of the camellia (or the tulip or the daffodil), I had to be rather loose on the details. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one who found it hard to strike that fine balance between letting the brush move freely and applying pressure deliberately. At one point, another student sighed, “Let it go!” And there it was, the realization that sometimes we need to let go of our need for control over every stroke and every detail, to allow ourselves to be moved. (I reflected on it outside of the painting context. How often in life do we get hung up on unimportant details? Can we let go enough to capture the essence of a moment?)

daffodil sumi-e

Although ink wash style painting has been applied to traditional Chinese blue and white ceramics, the style of “qinghua” painting I learned is much more detailed, and therefore, precise. Having said that, I have adapted the technique to my own style, choosing to use much fewer strokes and much cuter subject matters. Nevertheless, I plan my painting. While I don’t think I will be using sumi-e on my pots just yet, this exercise might just make me loosen up a bit!



March 14, 2014

A year after Jingdezhen

About this time last year, I was halfway across the world, in Jingdezhen, China. I had made a last-minute decision to join a friend on a road trip to the “porcelain capital” — he to do a soda firing, I to see how the city would inspire me once more.

I still recall how cool it was to observe the changing landscape as we drove out of Shanghai and through the outskirts into a different province. As it turned out, I got my inspiration well before we arrived in Jingdezhen.

bear in village

So much has happened since that last trip to Jingdezhen, but some of the most memorable moments during my time in China come from that place.

CATEGORIES: Insider, Inspiration


January 26, 2014


It’s been a week since we all said our goodbyes to 2013. For me, last year was one of big changes and new beginnings. I had declared it the year of Creativity in my non-specific way of making a resolution. At the time, I had very little idea of what a year of Creativity would look like and I had no specific plan to implement. I later discovered that even one little word can have the power to shift us and move us in different ways along our journey, even when we’re not consciously allowing it to.

a little heart beats

I like this idea of being unintentionally intentional, of allowing a word to permeate life in a way that we can’t fully control. So this morning as I was thinking through my day in bed I decided that I would declare this a year of (insert new word here). I went ahead and picked the first word that came to my head: Growth. Not sure why it was the first and only word that my brain could conjure up in my groggy state, but perhaps my subconscious is trying to tell me something.

The year of Growth. Growth is a good word. It is development. It implies gradual change (in contrast to the big transitions that we experienced last year).

I would love to see growth in many aspects of my life, but perhaps what is most relevant on this forum is development in the creative realm. There are definitely some specific things I can work on, like continuing to improve my throwing and hand building skills in ceramics, or getting more familiar with my new DSLR so I can take photos with greater ease. In other respects, the idea of creative development is rather vague — it could involve exploring different ways of expression, being open to other artistic influences, or finding my creative voice (whatever that means — I haven’t figured it out yet but have been told that it is something we have to constantly work on). I say let’s give it some time and see what sprouts out of this year of Growth.

At the end of the day, it’s all about making 2014 count.



January 7, 2014