Ego in Different Settings

Hello everyone! This is my 3rd project of  Foundation 2D of my first semester in ADM, Ego in Different Settings! This is probably one of the most tiring and fulfilling projects I have done so far, and I am here to bring you through my process today. Hope you enjoy the really long ride!

(Also, I intended to include some progress sketches I did in my visual journal, but I forgot to take pictures of them until I started writing this post. Will add when I get it back!)

Pre-lesson (week 9)

So when we were first given the assignment, like any other projects, my mind was a blank canvas. What should my theme be? What can I do on? How can I do 12 squares in the span of 3 to 4 weeks? This is insanity! (Not like I didn’t know that already :P)

However, since Joy said we could use any medium we want, there was this medium I’ve been wanting to use for a long time: paper cutting! I’ve done paper cutting previously before, however I haven’t had the time to do so lately, so this was the perfect opportunity to make my fingers swollen again (nervous sweat)… Anyway, when I did paper cutting last time I did on more nature related subjects so I was thinking, why not do that again?

So I decided on one of my subject matter: flowers. I have always found flowers to be a very intriguing part of a plant, not only does it stand out, but they also come in so many different shapes, sizes, amount and what not. With that in mind, I delved a bit deeper into flowers and decided to start looking different meanings and symbolism behind some flowers. So after 4 hours of Googling, I came up with a list below (it’s a pretty long list, you can skip it if you want to know which ones I chose in the end):

Crocus: Cheerfulness, gladness, youthfulness, glee, mirthfulness

Marigold: Passions and creativity // Cruelty, grief, jealousy

Dandelion: Faithfulness, happiness, ability to rise above life’s challenges

Daisy: Innocence and purity

Calla Lily: Overcoming challenges, liveliness and innocence of youth

Peony: Honour, beauty // bashfulness and shame

Frangipani: Strength to withstand tough challenges

Hibicus: Fleeting, beauty of fame and personal glory

Lavender: Purity, silence, devotion, caution, serenity, grace, calmness, royalty

Larkspur: Love, attention, strong attachment, sweet disposition

Petunia: Yearning to be with someone // anger and resentment

Poppy: Beauty and success // consolation

Snowdrop: Purity and rebirth

Tulip: Unrequited, passionate and enduring love

Zinnia: Thoughts of an absent friend, daily rememberance

Light Pink Rose: Gentleness and admiration

Dark Pink Rose: Appreciation, gratitude, thankfulness

Yellow hyacinth: Jealousy

Blue hyacinth: Sincerity

Interestingly enough, some flowers with different colour variations have different meanings too, and also some other flowers have both positive and negative symbolism in different cultures and parts of the world. So that’s something to take into consideration. With that in mind, I start to develop this idea further.

Before that, I did some research on the colour harmonies that were mentioned in the brief. It certainly helped me in devising the colour scheme I wanted for my work. With these 5 colour harmonies in mind, I begin to experiment with my theme and different colours.

I started formulating how I want my equation to look, which led to this:

Excuse the subpar drawing LOL

I plan to represent myself as a seed, which is like the beginning of a new life, put myself in a setting, and eventually because of that setting, it will grow into a flower that reflects my attitude towards the setting. At this point, I still have not decided what kind of setting I want. So I researched a bit on some kind of nature setting I could use, and I came up with the 4 seasons for each of the 4 setting panels. With some Googling I found a colour wheel representing different moods for each season.

4 seasons, 4 moods. Retrieved from on 29/10/17

I also digged a bit into some interpretations of the different seasons and what they mean to people.

Winter: Despair, loneliness, pain // Renewal, rebirth, hope

Spring: Joy, love, youth, growth

Summer: Searches, friendship, joy, warmth, exploration, freedom

Autumn: Reflection, changes, bounty

Everything got pretty moody, however after giving it some thought I eventually scrapped the idea of the 4 seasons as my setting since I feel like it does not make sense in my work other than trying to forcefully fit a nature themed setting in. So I left it at there until later on.

26/10/17 (First consultation)

Before consultation, I tried a bit of paper cutting based on some inspirations I found off Pinterest while looking at flower paper cutting. Below are some works that I took note of.

I did my own spin on that work, resulting in this:

A nice little red flower dress.

It was at this point I realised I could incorporate my own illustration with the flower paper cutting, creating some kind of hybrid. This is where I decided to incoporate another medium into my work: watercolour! I have always loved watercolour painting, so I thought I could centre my entire work around these 2 mediums.

I showed Joy my flower work and she found the idea quite okay, just that I could make use of the flower in a few different ways such as emphasising the roots of the flower in a family setting to show my strong ties to them, or maybe the flower is wilted to show disappointment. So here I asked Joy what possible settings I could present my idea in. She suggested maybe using different objects that are used to grow plants to represent my settings. For example, a terrarium could represent my bedroom. This basically sparked off all the ideas in my head, which I would elaborate further on. Next I asked Joy how I could represent the ‘Me’ part differently in different kinds of seeds, so she suggest I look into various seed dispersal techniques to start off. With a small bud growing in my head, I took my ideas even further.


With the idea of ‘terrarium bedroom’ in mind, I decided to focus my settings on succulents, specifically mini succulents. I take an interest to small objects in nature, so succulents are a great subject for me to work with. I also wanted to do watercolour work, so my inspirations came from some of my favourite artists.

Instagram: @meyoco
Instagram: @circususagi
Instagram: @maruti_bitamin

Now that I have some ground work set, these are the 4 equations I decided to use:

  1. Me + Bedroom = Safe haven
  2. Me + Crowded places = Dislike and uncomfortable
  3. Me + School = Places for opportunities and development but also some form of restriction
  4. Me + Art = Infinite possibilities

My plan was to use the 3 basic complementary colour scheme for the first 3 equations, and I would use a split complementary colour scheme for the last one. The ‘Me’ section would be a seed work done in paper cut, the ‘Setting’ in watercolour, and the result in both paper cut and watercolour.

As for the colours, I tested out all 3 complementary colour schemes, with one colour being more dominating than the other, however the complementary colour balances the work out. I think this is much better than just pure analogous harmony of colour, which feels a little too boring.

Colour testing:

Red and green
Yellow and purple
Blue and orange


Me + Bedroom = Safe Haven

I Googled on what kind of flower I could use to represent safe haven, and I got a pretty good match: The Bird of Paradise.

Wings of Freedom. Retrieved from on 29/10/17.

The Strelitzia, or more commonly known as the Bird of Paradise, is known as the symbol of paradise, joy and freedom. What’s more, the petals literally look like a bird’s wings, opened fully and all ready to soar into the vastness of the sky. This pretty much represents me in my bedroom, since I love to cuddle up in my own private space with the freedom to do anything I want without and interference. Since the colour of the Strelitzia is yellow, my first series would then be in yellow and purple, which are complementary to each other. I chose to include myself in the ‘Result’ panel with the flower placed in such a way that it reflects my mood. As for the Strelitzia, since they look like wings, I came up with a few compositions that includes me and wings and this was how it turned out:

A blooming flight

As for the ‘terrarium bedroom’, I chose a round terrarium since it looks similar to a bubble, literally representing me being in my own bubble. I decided to include a bed to represent the bedroom aspect and some cute succulents to represent the nature aspect, such as Jade and Green Prince to finish off the mini nature look to it. This was the result of that:

A bubbly bedroom


Me + Crowded places = Dislike

For this one, I was wondering what kind of flower could exude hate, and the Orange Lily came up.

Fun fact: In Japan, this flower is called the Sayuri.

Although the Orange Lily could mean passion, some interpretations of it see it as a symbol of hatred, pride and disdain. This would then lay the groundwork for my second series, which would use the complementary colours orange and blue.

I was thinking of how to use the orange lily to frame my composition, so I jotted down some ideas in my Visual Journal:

After some consideration, I chose the bottom left composition, since it best represents how I feel about going out, how I feel so overwhelmed and drowned out by the noise. The shape of the orange lily also makes it seem like some kind of horn, and so many of it are blaring at me at the same time, creating extreme annoyance. After 3 hours and some swollen fingers, this was the result:

Apologies for the shadow over the picture, better picture at the end!

As for the setting, I chose cactus related succulents, such as mamillaria and barrel cactus, mixed in together with an urban setting. The spikes on the cactuses are supposed to show how I view crowded places, somewhere that I would rather stay away from. With that idea in mind this was what I conjured up:

The complementary colours make the orange cityscape stand out against the blue cactus and flower pot.


Although I have my “Setting + Result” panels done for the first 2 series, I have yet to do the ‘Me’ part of them yet. As previously mentioned above, I want to represent the ‘Me’ part as seeds, so I went to Google for a few different methods of seed dispersal. The seed dispersal methods mentioned below are those that I chose to use for the first 2 series.

  • Ballistic dispersal – The seeds are dispersed from the parent plant through an explosive mechanism, hence these seeds are usually found near the parent plant.

The above is similar to me at home, where I am never too far away from my family. With that in mind, this was the composition I came up with for the first series, where purple is the dominant colour and makes the yellow very striking against it:

(I forgot to take a picture! Oops!)

  • Wind dispersal – These kind of seeds rely on wind and air to disperse their seeds, usually resulting in seeds that are further away from their parent plant.

This represents is me when I am outside and far away from my roots. I chose a dandelion seed as it is the most easily recognizable seed. This has a dominant orange background and floating blue hues amidst it:


Something felt amiss about these paper cut crafts, but I decided to wait until the next consultation to do something about it.

2/11/17 (Second consultation)

While presenting my ideas and my colour harmony plans to class, they seemed to like the watercolour works I did. However, Joy pointed out that the paper cuts seem lackluster and makes the work look more flat, where I shared the same sentiments too. She suggested that I should instead use the watercolour papers to create my own colours that are more similar to the colours I was using. With some valuable advice in hand, I continued on to the rest of my compositions.


Me + School = Bittersweet

While I was researching for different ways succulents can be arranged and placed, I chanced upon this:

What could be more fitting to represent a school than with a birdcage? Back when I was in my primary, secondary or JC school, I always felt like something was holding me back from doing what I like. However, as I pondered longer, I realised that an invisible bird cage would work better, since my time in school was not necessarily all bad. This was the result:

I used masking fluid to get the invisible bird cage effect
A beautiful prison

Hence, with this sentiment in mind, it gave birth to the result of ‘Bittersweet’.


As I was thinking what would be a good flower to use to represent bittersweetness, I thought that a flower with thorns would be good, but didn’t want to use a rose because it may come off too romantic. Digging a bit deeper, and to my surprise, this flower has thorns:

Yes! Bougainvilleas indeed have thorns. Bougainvilleas have been used as a symbol of welcome in some countries, while in others it means a symbol of beauty. It’s beauty juxtaposes against it’s thorns nicely, so I went with it. As for my composition, I did a few sketches and chose this one:

Joy: It looks like a scene straight out of a drama (which hey, I ain’t denying HAHAHA)
…it really does look like a drama scene LOL

I chose to make my school bag bougainvilleas since my bag contained all of my knowledge for the past 10 odd years or so, everything that is good and ugly. My character also has her head turned over looking at the audience since I want to evoke the feeling of (literally) looking back at my school life. The expression on the face is also not one of complete happiness, but neither does it show sorrow. I gave the composition some flying petals to make it look a bit more poetic and fill up the space around the composition (haha). As for the colours, the red/pinkish red bougainvilleas go well with the last pair of complementary colours I used, red and green.


I started working on my ‘seed’ composition, specifically the one in the first equation.

Note to anyone intending to do paper cutting in the future: Those small circles are really really hard to cut

As you can see, it looks largely similar to my first attempt with coloured papers, however with the use of watercolours this time instead, I can control the colours of the different parts better, and also add shade and hue to make them look less flat. The patchy watercolour effect of the background also give the work more texture. Here’s the finished work!


Definitely looks much better than when I first started out, non? 😀

Similarly, I redid my dandelion compositions in watercolour – paper cut style:

Gone with the wind

10/11/17 (Third consultation)

I presented my ideas once again to my classmates and, and they think that it was okay! Was genuinely happy that my efforts are paying off.

I also started working on my third seed composition, which I chose to use animal dispersion to represent it since the schools I’ve been to are of different distances from my house (but none quite like NTU, tbh). The result was of me painting a bird in red and sticking green paper seeds onto it, since seeds of these kind cling onto the animal and are transported away from their parent plant, which for some reason ended up looking like rice grains.

(I unfortunately forgot to take a picture of this one, if you want to see it please scroll down to the final presentation!)


Me + Doing art = Infinite possibilities

For this series of composition, I chose to use the square tetradic colour scheme since I want it to look as colourful as possible while sticking to the colour harmonies. Since there are 12 main colours on the colour wheel, there are 3 possible combinations, namely:

  1. Red, Yellow Orange, Green, Blue Violet
  2. Orange, Yellow Green,  Blue, Red Violet
  3. Red Orange, Yellow, Blue Green, Violet

Like every other composition, I did a couple of sketches to get my brain juices going on how I could represent ‘Doing art’ the best. This was what I chose in the end:

A pencil holder with art tools that I frequently use (can you name them all? :D) and sprinkled with some succulents to complete the theme. I used colour combination 2 above (Orange, Yellow Green,  Blue, Red Violet) to colour it in, with red violet as my dominant colour since these colour harmonies work best with one dominant colour. This is the result!

FYI, the succulents shown are Trachyandra and String of Pearls.

I went on to brainstorm how I want to depict ‘Infinite possibilities’. I want the composition to look as happy and lively as possible and likewise came up with many sketches for it. This was my inspiration for the final composition I chose:

And this is my take on it:

…do you REALLY wanna cut that?

First off, I chose to use colour combination 3 above (Red Orange, Yellow, Blue Green, Violet), with blue green being the dominant colour since most of the composition involves leaves. Secondly, I chose to represent myself leaping in the air while holding a brush in one hand and a cutting knife in the other (well it’s only fitting that I included the 2 main art tools I used in this composition right, haha), creating a (almost) flower circle. A circle is empty, yet it holds infinite possibilities, just like me when I do art. Thirdly, I chose 4 flowers, which are

  1. Frangipani, which represents the strength to withstand tough challenges

2. Crocus, which represents youthfulness and cheerfulness×1200/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/c/r/crocus_flower_record-web_1200_1.jpg

3. Marigold, which represents the creativity and drive to succeed

4. Calla lily, which represents overcoming challenges and the liveliness and innocence of youth.

They also fall within the 4 colours that I used, so they will stand out against the green leaves.

2 swollen fingers, an almost broken blade, some happy little accidents, muscle aches and 3 hours later, I finally finished cutting the shape out:

Making slow progress
Pain, pain and more pain 😀

This is probably my most tiring and exhausting paper cut I have done up till this point. But hey, it was worth it in my opinion! 😀


As like the other 11 compositions I have done so far, I pondered what is the best seed to use to represent ‘me’ in my ‘doing art’ state.

Hey Hilary! Since you could be ANYTHING, why not use all kinds of seeds?!

Oh yeah, of course that’s the only right answer!

A bit of Pinterest searching yielded those oddly satisfying arrangements of different types seeds laid out nicely on the table:

I knew I wanted to mimic that setting, so I began drawing my own composition:

Seeds come in all shapes and sizes!

Hold on Hilary…. do you have any idea how much cutting that takes?! Have you lost your mind?

Well, I probably have at this point, but I sauntered on anyway… thank you hands for tanking this monstrous task, haha.

….that was a hell of a ride

This composition gets colour combination 1 (Red, Yellow Orange, Green, Blue Violet) and I painted it as a gradient across the paper.

<everything at once>

In hindsight, during presentation, Joy stated that I should have given the composition one dominant colour just like my other works, so that there is something to focus on. Something to take note of in the future I guess!


After confirming all of the coloured papers I used for my ‘Infinite possibilities’ composition, I glued everything together:

…vs reality on the back of the paper HAHAHAHA

I originally thought I could finish this in 1 hour or so, but nooooooope! This took me roughly 3-4 hours to complete. A few reasons for it being so time consuming, the first being I used different hues of colours to make the composition look less flat, so I have to coordinate the colours to make sure they go harmoniously with each other. The second reason is that with the holes so close to each other, I couldn’t just slap one big piece of coloured paper onto the watercolour paper, I have to cut them in a (almost) perfect size so they don’t appear in the spots they are not supposed to. With these 2 factors combined and my ever growing sleep debt, the whole process was a really tedious one.

And so, the last thing to do is to add the words to my compositions, which are also colour coordinated with their respective works.


And with that, it was time to spread my seeds and watch it blossom into a floral beauty.

16/11/17 (Presentation day!!)

I presented my garden to the class, and to my delight they really liked it!  Joy also seemed pretty satisfied with how the colours came out, so that’s a plus too I suppose. 😀

Colours in the air, colours everywhere

And with that, the blooming is complete.

Some reflections:

All in all, this was probably one of the most time-consuming and tedious projects I have ever done, but it is also one which I am greatly passionate about, which is probably why I put in a lot of effort into making it a reality. Many a times I wondered to myself if the effort put in was worth the outcome since I also had to deal with a multitude of problems, such as paper cuts gone wrong, coloured papers do not have the colour I want, and also a great lack of time. Ultimately though, I guess my mom summed it up the best, and I quote her: “你只要对得起你自己就好了“, which when (poorly) translated (by me) means “as long as you can face yourself with whatever you do, it is good enough.” Well, I am certainly proud of myself for completing what I set out on doing, and left no regrets behind.

With that, see you guys next time! (:


Extra reading for those curious about my inspirations for this project!

What inspired me to use flower symbolism:

Where I got most of the flower symbolism readings:












Author: Hilary

everything looks better with night mode

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