Non-Art Theme

Research Overview

For the current body of works that I am creating, I am looking at a number of ‘Non-Art’ Themes related to the environment and connected to my work. I am intrigued by the nature and the technique that birds use to build their nests and my work always has some aspects of exploring the bird’s life and their homes, how they survive in the present environment that has taken away some of the peaceful trees, replacing them with high technologies, as well as coping with the climate change and how the climate change effects migrating birds.

The connection with the non-art theme, is that I also find myself looking at how I had to change, adapting to a new way of life, new identity when I migrated to Australia and being influenced by the new world around me. This change of environment was quite extreme. While my past life slowly drifted away I try to hold on to my childhood memories, memories of my family, my homes. The series of self-portraits that I am creating serves to reconnect within myself and my identity.

When researching the bird migration I learned how the environment change effects them and how extreme these changes are. |They can be isolated and have to survive and live in a lonely world.

According to Allen Hurlbert, Some birds are adapting to climate change by altering their migration schedules. Other birds are migrating at their usual times. What can we learn from these examples?

A biology study revealed that birds have varying responses to climate change. While some birds are migrating nearly a week earlier in response to warmer weather, other birds are following their historic migration patterns. Birds migrate to take advantage of seasonally available food sources such as insects. They time their migrations to arrive when their food is most abundant.

Researcher Allen Hurlbert worried that birds that maintained their old migration habits might arrive at their destinations after the insect populations they prey on have passed their peaks. He believes that natural selection could remove those birds from the ecosystem because they are unable to compete with the early arrivers who enjoy peak food levels.

John Alcock described bird migrations in the 9th edition of his Animal Behavior textbook. Migration patterns vary between species and within species. A slight majority of birds that breed in North America remain in Canada and the USA throughout the year. The rest spend the colder months in South America. Migration behaviors evolved to maximize benefits such as access to food and mates while minimizing risks such as the risk of falling from exhaustion during a flight over water.

The details of bird migrations can vary on a few scales. Only some birds respond to climate changes with new migration patterns. The example of the European blackbird suggests that staying still when the temperature changes can be difficult for the weakest members of a population.

Why do I use Environment as a theme?

I have always been a nostalgic person, looking back on my past and my childhood memories. I’ve been lucky to experience and share the ups and downs with my sisters while growing up with a single mother. There were times that we never knew where or which house we would be living next and this became the norm for us for a long time, we were always ready to move as soon as my mother told us without asking questions. This pattern of moving houses continued here in Australia. I can’t remember how many places and houses I have lived until now. I am blessed and fortunate to have a permanent home for the past 10 years.

The series of bird nest that I am creating represent many homes that I have lived in both countries. I work the nest with the memory of my home that I lived with my mother and sisters, I remember that we were very happy; we were singing and dancing around in a corner of a small room or middle of the dust road. These houses were our home, even just for one night, because we had each other. These happy memories helped me to remind myself where I come from and how I was able to cope with extreme environment changes and the challenges that came my way.

A place to call home 

A home to me is a place where you were brought up, which is related to childhood memories and is the symbol of comfort and wellness. It revokes memories related to traditions, family, people, objects, colors, music, toys and favorite dishes.

The place we called home is kept in our memories as an ideal one, even if it is not so perfect, but it should be the placed where you feel secure, warmth and being with your loved one under the same roof.

Home serves as a kind of fortress to us. The word home is a many faceted word that combines different concepts. Home is culture, religion, the placed where you live, family gathers with friends, relatives, neighbors, cuisine, personal objects and environment.

This shows my last home before I migrated to Australia, 9th May 1970.


Artist that I investigate for self-portrait work.

I am influenced by artist Anh Duong. The artist was born in Bordeaux, France to a Vietnamese father and Spanish mother, who live and work in New York. Her work has similarities to my work, painting mainly self-portraits with oil paints and sculpture.

The artist is a recognized painter in New York City. Forgetting the subject to focus on the technical painting itself, she forcuses on the portrait, and mostly the self-portrait which she painted on a daily basis as a diary. Her paintings expose an unexpected, unglamorous, intimate relationship with herself, which I feel related to by the theme and the idea of creating.

Anh Duong’s Artworks

Duong’s paintings should be viewed as contributions to a different genre – they belong alongside the work of women such as Dora Maar, Anaïs Nin, and Frida Kahlo, artists who compellingly exposed interior worlds whose beauty, intelligence, and character inspired creativity, both in themselves and in others” (artnet Magazine, 2004).

In general I mostly work with Acrylic and Water Colour for painting. But I am most interested to work with oil paint, especially with the new body of work that I am working on at this present and also for future work. I also like to work with different materials to create 3D work.

When comparing other artist’s work to my current work, I learn that I need to improve the technique of mixing flesh tones, blending and applying wet on wet, variation of the skin tone and the depth of the painting. The technical and artistic knowledge I gained while listening to teachers and mentors.

One of the great joys of my life is having a studio space which is shared with other students. I enjoy the balance in my arts practice between making 3D and painting; I am both contented and excited to have moved into this new phase of my life.

I am expanding my painting with different approaches, focusing on the use of lights and darks, shadow, layers, brush strokes, exploring techniques of blending, wet on wet and experiment on different skin tones, and extend my research to find more artists that have the similar themes and the connection with my work until I find the right one that I like, and I will use their work for inspiration.

Before I begin with a new painting, the idea or theme have to be good enough to get me started, have all the materials at the ready, correct size of canvases, selection of brushes, and paint for my palette. Most of all I will take my time to sit back studying, and studying the subject and refine the idea until I am at the point that I feel happy to start working.