“Your mind is a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers. You can grow your favourite things, your favourite souls and even your favourite person. To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. It’s your future.”
Celeste Koh (Feb 2017)
“With you, I can be anything.”
Taeyeon (in my mind)
My vision, direction and process for Taenggu’s birthday artwork weren’t very clear and straightforward this year. I wonder if it was me who is fickle-minded or indecisive. I was unable to get fixated on a single idea as quickly as I used to.
Initially, I thought maybe I wouldn’t feature Taenggu as a mermaid anymore this time especially since I had just passed on this mermaid role to Tiffany on her birthday last August (For Tiffany: Mermaid In A Fish Bowl). But after Taenggu recently released a new episode of Taenggu TV on her youtube channel which featured her swimming privately at her hotel swimming pool in Bangkok, I was amazed by how good her swimming skills actually are and was convinced that she is still a mermaid after all! (see video in related post: Love Diary: Swimming With Taenggu In Parallel Reality)
Recently, one of my favourite things to do is to visit The Green Party, a new chain of budget lifestyle and gift shops that have been popping up all around Singapore lately, to admire at their cute products and gain new inspirations. On one of the visits, I saw these notebooks on their shelves and their cute cover designs struck a brilliant idea in me.
Yeah, who says a mermaid can only be just a mermaid? It can be a hybrid of bunny and mermaid too!
And that’s when I started to get greedy. I want Taenggu to be anything and everything that she can be. Mermaid, bunny, unicorn and butterfly, all in one. Together, she’s entrusted with a wholesome power to conquer all land, air and sea! Although she may be a mermaid like Tiffany, a unicorn like Hyoyeon and a bunny like Sunny (her nickname “Sunny Bunny” as fans call her) and Seohyun, there is only one animal that solely and rightfully belongs to Taenggu for sure – and that’s butterfly! We shall never forget the fact that Taenggu has been a butterfly all along!
Now that a multi-charactered identity for Taenggu was settled, it was time to think about the background. My idea was to have her sitting on a crescent moon (aligned with my last year’s artwork TAEYEON DAY 2018: SINGING ON THE MOON WITH YOU) in my mind garden filled with flowers, plants, some ocean elements and butterflies. Since our mind is like a universe, a galaxy background would be the most ideal.
But it was unexpectedly challenging to find galaxy background papers for sale outside. I visited a few local art shops but couldn’t find any suitable ones. One possible option was to get a wrapping paper with galaxy designs but it’s only available online and has to be imported from overseas. I didn’t want to waste time to wait several days for it to be delivered to my house and I wouldn’t be able to make my artwork in time for Taenggu’s birthday in that case.
Then I thought maybe a galaxy washi tape would do the trick. So I bought one from Carousell and tried. This was the result.
Eew, no way. It ended up looking like repeated patterns in a kaleidoscope. This definitely wouldn’t work well as a background for my artwork.
Then I found a vendor on Carousell that sells galaxy wall canvas prints.
So I initiated a chat to ask if he could customise just a 12×12 inch galaxy canvas print for me. No reply.
I was left with no choice but to tweak my idea a little. I found this scrapbook paper with cute star illustrations on Papermarket website which I thought could be a suitable alternative.
On a Saturday, I took the time to make a trip to Papermarket physical store to try my luck if I could get this paper directly in-store instead (save delivery costs and time!). I enquired an assistant there and she said they had no more stocks of this paper in their shop unfortunately. Remaining undeterred, I asked if they have any other papers with galaxy related designs. She said they only had this one left and pulled out this super large canvas paper.
OMG!! This was exactly what I wanted! 皇天不负苦心人! (meaning: Heaven will not disappoint the person who tries (idiom). If you try hard, you’re bound to succeed eventually.)
Now what I needed to do is to cut out a 12×12 inch square from this large canvas paper and paste it onto a blank grey cardboard that I had already prepared.
Next, I did a pencil sketch of Taenggu as the mystical looking creature that I envisioned her of on a piece of white sketchbook paper.
I used this photo from her recent photoshoot with Nylon magazine as a reference.
Next, I did simple colouring on her face, upper body, hair and bunny ears with watercolours. Then I cut out her whole body from the sketchbook paper, the crescent moon from a gold paper and butterfly wings from shiny silver papers.
Next, I used a purple glittery washi tape to cover as the surface of her mermaid tail.
Then I thought her silver butterfly wings looked a little too plain so I used a gold glitter glue to create some line patterns on them.
While I set the wings aside for the glitter glue to dry (which actually took a few long hours!), it was time for me to start sticking some dried flower petals and other plant and ocean elements at the bottom of my cardboard. I got my materials from The Green Party.
They are actually home living materials that are meant for aromatherapy. They give off a mix of lavendar and ocean scent. It’s extremely suitable for Taenggu who is well-known for being a lover of perfumes and scented candles! Hehe imagine now Taenggu not only can see and touch my artwork, she can even smell it too!!
So let the sticking begin!
I used a white glue at the start and when I finished the whole bottle halfway through, I switched to a superglue instead. Both worked equally well, though I would still prefer white glue as it dries faster and has no odour.
Almost done with the garden stuff! 🌳
Now let’s add in the ocean stuff as well! 🌊 There go a seashell, a starfish and some wooden pieces.
By now, the gold glitter glue on the silver butterfly wings was finally dried. I could proceed to put the remaining pieces into place. The moon, the wings, Taenggu’s body, 2 small pink seashells over her boobs (keke!) and finally, some decorative butterflies!
Oh wait, I wasn’t done yet. The final, FINAL last step I did was to stick a shiny gold horn on top of Taenggu’s head. 🦄
And TA-DA! The whole artwork was complete!
More detailed shots of my artwork. 📸
Hehe notice how I tried to put a lot more purple colour stuff into my artwork this time, not just blue. Because recently, she revealed her first favourite colour is purple, second blue. Previously, I thought it was the other way round. Hehe now Taenggu and I are the same purple freaks! 💜
And what’s birthday without a birthday card? Just a day before I was about to mail this artwork out to Taenggu, I quickly did a simple handmade birthday card for her too. 2 years ago, I made a Jack Skellington card. 1 year ago, it was a Unicorn Mermaid. This year, a unicorn whale it shall be! 🐳
On this special day, I wish Taenggu to have the happiest birthday every year! A day that is overflowing with love, warmth and blessings from fans, friends and family all over the world. I’m posting this while I’m away in Perth, but that doesn’t stop me from celebrating it with and for Taenggu in my own special way.
To the most beautiful mystical unicorn bunny butterfly mermaid girl in my mind garden,
HAPPIEST BIRTHDAY TO YOU! Always be by your side. I love you so much so much!
With lots of love,
Celeste Namu Koh