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#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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Holy Family Drawing

I contributed another piece of artwork to the VEYM DAC (Digital Assets Collection)/TNTT Arts Team this month. This time, the theme is The Holy Family.

Lately, as I scroll through Facebook and Instagram, I have been seeing Huynh Trưởngs from other Miềns getting married and having their first child. This month’s artwork is inspired by those many couples which are now new families.

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Original sketch

February was a very busy month with Tết and lion dancing. However, I am very happy that I was able to carve out some time to work on this. For some reason, I’ve realized that I do not see (or notice) many Holy Family statues or pictures, so I googled “The Holy Family” for some inspiration. This one particular image caught my eye:

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“The Holy Family And Doves” by armondscavophotography.com

Jesus offering Mary flowers stood out from the other images. Most Holy Family images I have seen are the simple Joseph, Mary, and young or baby Jesus. However, the flowers here in this specific image reminded me of Dâng Hoa, but also reminds me that we should honor Mother Mary and our parents.

When a husband and wife have their first child, I imagine they would imitate the Holy Family. Like Mary when Jesus was born, new mothers are overjoyed that they can finally hold their child in their arms. The father is supportive and provides for the family.

At my Đoàn, older Huynh Trưởng who are now married with children bring their children to sinh hoạt every Saturday. Sometimes I see the mother wear her TNTT uniform while holding hands with the new Au Nhi child and holding a younger child in her other arm. Once in a while, the father is busy and walking somewhere. This drawing is also inspired by those older Huynh Trưởng who are now parents.

If there was anything I would do differently about this artwork, it would be to perhaps make the Huynh Trưởngs a little older or have them be Trợ Tá so it would be more obvious that the two Huynh Trưởngs are parents of the Au Nhi child. I only realized after realizing that the two Huynh Trưởngs might look “too young” to be parents. 

What do you think of when you look at this drawing?

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Chúc mừng năm mới!

I wanted to get back into lion dancing this year and I did. 🦁 I performed for the first time in almost 2 years. #OutOfShape Performing again reminded me how much I love lion dancing. (Not the 🧨) It’s so exciting and fun! However, the one thing that gave me the extra motivation to get back into it was knowing that I’ll be bonding with my Nghia Si kids. 😊💛 (Not pictured: Andrew)

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