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10 years ago

Below is an excerpt from a journal entry from Saturday, October 3, 2009.


[…] At that moment, I couldn’t take it anymore and ran off. I ran around the church because I knew that I had nowhere else to run to. […] I stopped and cried behind the Sullivan Hall. After a while, I got tired of crying and ran to where the HTs originally were. They were all gone. A truck drove off and didn’t see me. Another car drove off, too. I thought there were no more cars left and I was stuck at the church when one last car spotted me. It drove and went in front of me. 

“Hey Thao, you okay?” It was the young HT, Anh XXXXX.

“No,” I answered. 

“Wanna get in the car?” he asked.

I didn’t answer and he said, “Get in the car.” So I did since the conversation wasn’t going anywhere.

I sat in there, crying. 

“It’s okay…” he said. 

Then he called Anh XXXXX and said, “I found her.”

“What?!” 

“She ran back.”

“What?!” 

“Haha, I don’t know. She just ran back”

“… Okay.” 

I sat there, crying until I got tired of it. We started talking and such for about 15 minutes. Then, he drove me home. 

Trợ Úy Drawing 2019

This month’s theme for the VEYM DAC (Digital Assets Collection)/TNTT Arts Team is our beloved Trợ Úy’s.

I knew I wanted to include both a seminarian and a nun, so that’s what I did. I honestly procrastinated on working on this piece, but it ended up turning out not too bad! To be fair though, I did use a reference from the manga, One Pound Gospel. This manga eventually became an anime and had a live-action movie.

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One Pound Gospel – Manga Volume 2 Cover

When you see a seminarian or a nun, they always seem to have this happiness and joy that no one else seems to have beside them. It is rather mysterious. Have you ever noticed that? I wanted to capture that feeling in my drawing. I had the nun close her eyes while she is holding her crucifix and the seminarian holding out a bible. She appears to be at peace while the seminarian is joyful that he is doing the Lord’s works. Also, Trợ Úy’s are full of faith and knowledge. We always turn to them when we have difficult faith questions and they always know more than we do.

Since I was rushing on this drawing, I did not have the time to take pictures of my progress, but here is rough sketch!

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Rough sketch

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Rước Lễ blessing Drawing 2019

August’s Art Theme was Rước Lễ blessing.

Most of the time, we see Ãu Nhi or Thiếu Nhi crossing their arms around their chest for a blessing because they have not received their First Communion yet. However, we can also cross our arms around our chest when we are in a state of mortal sin and therefore, cannot receive communion. If you have not confessed your sins to a priest before Mass, then you can still receive a blessing from the priest instead of the Eucharist.

In my freshman year of college, I saw a seminarian receive the Communion blessing instead of the Eucharist despite the fact that I’ve seen him receive the Eucharist in previous Masses. I never forgot that moment. The image of someone older realizing their spiritual state and choosing to receive the blessing instead of the Eucharist stood out to me because it shows that they can truly humble themselves before God. To think “in my current state, I am not worthy enough to receive Jesus,” is something that not many people can think.

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Initial rough sketch

Hence, this is why I decided to draw a Hiệp sĩ receiving the Communion blessing instead of the Eucharist, even though he is probably of age and have already received his First Communion. We can see his humility in action at this moment. We can also see how real the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is because of the Hiệp sĩ’s action.

Because August is still Ordinary Time in the liturgical calendar, I decided to have the priest wear green. However, the background is purple because I wanted to remind viewers of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When priests offer confession, they usually wear purple/violet vestments.  This is a reminder that this Hiệp sĩ needs to have confession before he can receive the Eucharist again.

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Rough Sketch

Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures as I worked on this drawing, but I did take some pictures of the rough sketches.

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VSL: SM TT 28

#TNTT Đoàn Vinh Sơn Liêm: Sa Mạc Thăng Tiến XXXVIII (38)

💛These Nghĩa Sĩ’s first impression of me was that I do semaphore really fast. Now, a couple of them can mentally decode semaphore and some of them can write down and decode the semaphore I perform at my fastest speed. I may need to level up in other areas! 😳 Thank you for a wonderful year with you all! I have been truly blessed to have been your Huynh Trưởng this past year. 💛

Vietnamese Martyrs Drawing 2019

This month’s theme was chosen by one of our viewers. The theme that she requested was Vietnamese Martyrs. My head drew a blank when I first heard this. I was not sure of what to draw that has not been drawn yet. 

At first, I drew some sketches but found them unsatisfying. They have all been done before or it was nothing interesting. Then, I tried to draw inspiration from the LBM Dance that my Nghĩa Sĩ kids did. I drew another sketch, using a photo from the dance as a reference, but still found it unoriginal. Finally, I looked at the backdrop of the LBM stage. Although the Huynh Truong who did it put little effort into it because he wanted to do the bare minimum work required, the backdrop was straightforward and simple. That was what I liked about this backdrop. I drew inspiration from this.

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Rough sketch and Initial Inking

Perhaps I was thinking too much into the words “Vietnamese Martyrs.”  Maybe I needed to think simpler. 

Right before the LBM performance for my Nghĩa Sĩ kids, I gave them a little prep talk about the colors they were wearing. Red and brown are the colors of the Hiệp Sĩ Khăn Quàng. The red represents the blood of the Vietnamese Martyrs spilled onto Vietnam’s land, which is represented by the color brown. I decided to somehow incorporate the Hiệp Sĩ Khăn Quàng into my drawing.

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Color Penciled

“If the Hiệp Sĩ Khăn Quàng basically represented the Vietnamese Martyrs, then I should draw that,” I thought. I wanted to show all the different kinds of Vietnamese Martyrs: priests, bishops, friars, non-clergy men, and women. I drew as many and as different as I can to show the different kinds of people who were martyred. Anybody, even ordinary people, can love Jesus Christ as much as they did. 

I put the least amount of thought into this drawing, and yet it somehow had the most meaning. 

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Adobe Photoshop CS6

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Diocese of San Jose Priest Ordinations 2019

This is the second Priest Ordinations Mass that I have attended. It has been 2 years since I have attended a Priest Ordinations Mass. 

It was the same Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph that I have attended multiple Masses during the weekdays for over half a year. However, I felt a different sense of peace and hope as this Ordination Mass went on.

Congratulations to the newly ordained Fr. John Hoang and Fr. Victor Trinidad!

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

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Camp Drawing 2019

This month’s theme for the VEYM DAC (Digital Assets Collection)/TNTT Arts Team is Camping. I initially had many concepts in my head, but had a difficult time transferring it down on paper. Maybe it is the lack of completion of my imagination or maybe it is the lack of drawing skills. I did draw another concept before this final one, but I decided not to pursue it since it would have probably taken twice as long to finish. In the end, I chose this concept because I felt that it captured what I thought of camp.

When I think of Camping, I think of the spiritual peak of the camp, which is Hành Trình Đức Tin (HDDT). I remember the first thing we have to do is receive and decode a morse or semaphore message. Sometimes, it could be both going at once. Back when I was a Đoàn Sinh, I would be one of the fastest people to decode the morse or semaphore messages. Being the first one to decode was crucial because it basically dictated whether or not our đội will come in first for HDDT. It meant winning.

That is what I wanted to capture here: the concentration, the competitive spirit, the adrenaline rush. I felt all that while I wrote down the message and decoded it as quickly as I can.

Last year during camp, I was assigned to Ngành Thiếu, but that obviously did not stop the Nghĩa Sĩ kids from noticing an unfamiliar female Huynh Trưởng performing Semaphore so quickly that it was nearly impossible to record. This year, I am helping out with Ngành Nghĩa Sĩ and I was assigned to review Semaphore with them. During my lesson, the Nghĩa Sĩ kids were very attentive because they remembered how fast the semaphore was during the previous camp. They wanted to get used to my speed so that they would be prepared for this year’s camp. A good number of them were very focused. This drawing reflects those kids during my review lesson.

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Coloring using Adobe Photoshop CS6

I really enjoyed teaching the Semaphore review lesson because the Nghĩa Sĩ kids quickly started recognizing the letters and decoding out loud as I performed the message. I beamed with pride and thought, “This is how good they should be!” I was proud of them.

After that lesson, I knew my Nghĩa Sĩ kids were ready for camp.

One of my art friends complimented on the foreshortening and I had to give credit to the reference I was using. It is a photo from an HT training camp that took placed in Miền Tây Nam. Training Camp in Miền Tây Nam, specifically Liên Đoàn Nguồn Sống, has a special place in my heart.

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Liên Đoàn Nguồn Sống’s Xuất Hành XXIX (August 2018)

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VEYM Heroes Initiative 2019

Last month, my brother, Socrates Pham, was given the opportunity to make a video promotion for the VEYM Heroes Initiative and I offered him my help because I know how difficult video projects are. It has been a while since I have been in front of the camera so I was a little rusty while filming! But it was fun nonetheless!

Unfortunately, my brother did not know that you are not supposed to have direct sunlight on your face while filming… Can you catch when there’s direct sunlight on my face?

I also had the opportunity to finalize the flyer for the VEYM Heroes Initiative as the original designer became unavailable. There was a lot more extra work put into this since I tried to keep the original design as much as possible, but I also needed to include the changes that VEYM wanted. There were probably 10+ revisions to this flyer. Here is the final version:

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Ultimately, I am happy to have the opportunity to help out with this VEYM project.

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Easter 2019 Drawing

It was honestly quite difficult for me to come up with an “Easter” drawing. When I hear “Easter,” I think of eggs, grass, and pastel colors. However, in the context of Catholicism, I see the cross with a shining bright light behind it. That’s it? I can’t just submit a simple drawing of a cross. So I pondered what did the cross on Easter mean to me.

Easter is the season that comes after Lent. The season of Lent is the time Jesus spent 40 days in the desert. Likewise, we spend 40 days in the desert, either by giving up something for Lent or by doing something good more for Lent. Whatever we do for Lent, it should be something that can help us become closer to God. When Lent ends, we emerge from the desert and head towards the Easter Triduum.

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Original Lineart

In my art piece, the Nghĩa Sĩ girl and Ấu Nhi boy are finally coming out of the desert and towards three crosses, the middle cross with a piece of white cloth. (The white cloth is to represent Easter.) The three crosses represent Good Friday, the day Jesus died for us on the cross for our sins. When I think of Good Friday, I think of the 14 Stations of the Cross, which has a very special meaning to me that I also do not fully understand myself. During the silent retreat in January, my spiritual director told me to pray and meditate on the crucifixion. The 14 Stations of the Cross has had a special place in my heart ever since my first silent retreat in December 2014 and have become more obviously important to me after this recent silent retreat. The only thing I know for certain is that my feelings on the crucifixion are indescribable.

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Colored with color pencils

The Nghĩa Sĩ girl is walking towards the three crosses. Nghĩa Sĩ is the age when you are first learning more about yourself and establishing yourself from your peers. This is the life stage when you want to be a unique individual, but at the same time, fit in and have friends. It’s when you navigate through high school and all the confusion of who you are. The Nghĩa Sĩ girl is walking towards Jesus, towards hope. I hope all kids in Nghĩa Sĩ find themselves turning to God and know that God is always with them, despite the doubts and questions they may have.  

The Ấu Nhi boy is holding onto the Nghĩa Sĩ girl’s arm. He is confused and is depending on the Nghĩa Sĩ girl on where to go next. She is leading him as an example. I currently teach Ngành Nghĩa Sĩ at my Đoàn and I hope that they all know that they are often looked up to by the younger kids, Ngành Thiếu, and Ngành Ấu. In addition, the Ấu Nhi boy represents innocence, which contrasts with the Nghĩa Sĩ girl’s faith journey. When we are younger, it’s so much easier to pray because we have not seen the horrors of the world. When we are older and have been through so much pain, it could be difficult to pray. Despite this, the Nghĩa Sĩ girl still turns to God and the Ấu Nhi boy follows. We should all follow her example. When it is most difficult to pray, that is when it is most important to pray.

I imagine the two as siblings. Whether as blood-related siblings or brother and sister-in-Christ, these two are close to each other.

This concept was the first one that I drew and came up with. At first, I was unsure of what the meaning was and did not like how hard for people to understand its meaning (if it even had one). I drew up other concepts, which all stopped mid-way because I didn’t have any clue of what I was trying to draw. In the end, I came back to this original concept and just embraced it. I trusted God that this idea was the one that should be published.

I had hope that God will lead me on the right path with this drawing. I hope you all feel a sense of hope when you look at this art piece.

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Coloring with Adobe Photoshop CS6

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