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The lesson of patience and relinquishing control in watercolor painting

This weekend I was in Los Angeles visiting someone. They are a fellow art school grad and we reminisced about those days since we have mutual friends. Those who know me later in life might not know that I studied Studio Art in college with a focus in Drawing and Painting. I declared my major before I even step foot on campus and knew that's what I would pursue.

The studio was my social space and educational space. I spent countless hours there. Our curriculum required us to take a foundation class of every focus area, but oil painting was my favorite. What I love about oil paint is that you could paint alla prima (wet on wet). This means you can just manipulate the paint to essentially do whatever you want. I loved it because it provided full control.

Watercolor, on the other hand, felt like the opposite. I took one watercolor class in college and struggled with it. I have not been known for my patience, and having to build up layers of washes to create form was really frustrating for me. It was the only watercolor class I took during my four years there (though my professor is awesome).

After graduating with a BFA, I took a year to really focus on my artwork. My intent was to get into graduate school to pursue my MFA. I ended up getting into the California College of the Arts (CCA), but deferred. During that time a certain device came out that pivoted my career to focus on design. It was called the iPhone.

Years later I find myself occasionally getting a spark of inspiration to make art again. Living in San Francisco, I have a much more condensed space so I don't have a studio where I can have my giant oil paintings anymore. I ended up at the Blick Art Supply store one day after a great dinner at the House of Prime Rib. I thought to myself, "why not? and picked up some water colors and walnut ink (a medium I adore). My life is now constrained where I compose pieces that are walnut ink and watercolor on paper.

Heads down in work with the same type of iPod classic that I used to listen to in college.

To my surprise, I really enjoyed watercolors now. What changed after more than a decade to make me like watercolors? My life.

The things that used to frustrate me about watercolors now became something I took advantage of. Instead of complaining about the slow dry times and inability to control, I let the watercolors control me and let it guide me. It helped me uncover a lot of directions I wouldn't have approached, such as layering watercolor over the dry walnut ink.

My role in design is a lot different than when the iPhone came out. I am now a leader of designers and don't do much actual design work myself, but rather get the opportunity to see my team do great work and grow. The change from an individual contributor designer to leader was very much like my oil to watercolor process. In order to be successful with my team, I have to be patient, trust where the process is going, respond to it, and make brush strokes with deliberate intention.

Here is a work in progress (WIP) piece I'm doing. Be deliberate, trust the process, and be patient.

If you want to follow the progress I'll be posting it on my Microblog.

Goodbye to Facebook

It seems like just a few years ago when I was in college and my housemates were convincing me to sign up for Facebook. Of course then you had to go to to and see if your college had Facebook available. Like many, I have various opinions about Facebook itself as a social network and company. Last week, while my friend Brady was in town, I decided to delete Facebook; not deactivate, but delete.

There was no reason in particular, but everything in general. When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced Congress on his booster seat, I'm certain many people felt compelled to delete their accounts in the name of privacy and security. For me, it wasn't a single event, but a decision over time. I reflected for a long time about what my "reason" was for leaving.


I simply need more clarity, and removing Facebook was just one of many things I could have done. I will admit, when I posted on Facebook that I intend on terminating my account, a few people who I rarely heard from posted comments about how they'll miss following my updates. I was a bit shocked that so many people were paying attention. Some people simply want to passively be kept in the loop with updates, and that's okay. If I had to be completely honest I re-considered deleting my account, but when my friend Brady came in town to stay with me, that re-affirmed my decision.

Brady is a friend I've known since 6th grade. It's very rare to find friends who've known you for so long and see you change as a human. We spent a lot of moments on the weekend having deep conversations about love, our future plans, and our passion for making/creating. I never would have engaged with him like this on Facebook.

It's not possible to have that deep of conversation with everyone you know, but there was something about the quality of the conversation that I really appreciated.

This isn't a Medium post about why you should delete your Facebook account, but simply sharing my reason and to assure my friends it wasn't something they did. I'm really looking forward to the clarity I'm seeking. For example, I probably never would have taken the time to write this and would have been scrolling through Facebook. I hope my friends continue to follow my adventures and engage in conversation, but I'm just doing it a bit more old school with blogging and RSS. It truly will bring a smile to my face to see comments here.

It just won't be on Facebook.


Advising for Fernish in Los Angeles

A few weeks ago I made some edits on LinkedIn that probably alarmed a lot of my coworkers. On my commute to work I felt a bunch of notifications from my phone. A lot of messages included "What?!?" and "Did you leave One Medical??!?!"

To make it super clear, I am still at One Medical as the Head of Product Design.

I did add on LinkedIn that I'm advising for a Los Angeles-based startup called Fernish. Turns out I forgot to turn off the toggle that announces it on LinkedIn!

So why am I advising for a startup in Los Angeles when I am in San Francisco? It started when I was on vacation there catching up with my good friend Lucas Dickey. We met at Philz Coffee (if yo know Lucas, that's the only option) to catch up, and he shared with me an idea he was looking to start with a former colleague. From there Fernish was born.

Lucas is a friend I've known for a decade and we've always wanted to work together in some capacity, and advising on Design and Product was something that was a good fit.

Fernish is a company in LA focused on changing the way you live by offering subscription-based furniture. As someone who has constantly moved in the last 10 years of my life, Fernish is something I need in my life. Imagine a world where you can simply pack a suitcase, move to a new home, and have the home you dreamed of. I have flashbacks and nightmares about all the furniture I used to share with my roommates that we bought off Craigslist for $40.

If you're in the Los Angeles area, check them out at

Follow Fernish:

The setup of my home workspace

It seems like every coworker I've had knows that I am very particular about the tools I use when working. I have two modes, completely mobile on a laptop/tablet (no plugging into monitors) or a full-on battle station. Both serve different purposes. I travel a lot and don't like to pack heavy, so will take a 15" laptop when that's all I'll have available. When I'm at home, I lay things out in a more particular way. Here's a photo I snapped of the setup I have at home.

What's in the photo:

iMac Screen for design and LG display for development. As a designer who really values immediate feedback and iteration, I like to write code and build what I'm designing. A friend of mine thought this setup was actually a pairing station but it's simply just for me. I also don't like to context switch too much so simply looking over or slightly shifting works well for me.

Yes, a mechanical keyboard is essential for me. I like other keyboards just fine but having one you really are comfortable with will allow you to work effectively and not-to-mention help your fingers over time. I can type about twice the speed on a mechanical keyboard than I can on a magic keyboard or the laptop keyboard.