It is always good if paintings have meanings. I feel every single piece of work ought have a reason or story behind. But for me, they should also be visually pleasing. I've observed, especially in the local art scene, that many over-emphasized or prioritized the messages that they want to convey and as a result compromised the visual aspect of a painting. How I admire those who are able to convey a strong message beautifully. I feel, 'beauty' should still be apparent in an 'intelligent' painting.
The first virtue of a painting is that it be a feast for the eyes. (Eugene Delacroix)
I did this last December but I noticed a very 'unforgive-able' error, so I've discarded it to one corner. Today, as I've run out of supports I went through my discarded 'department' to see if I can recycle any of them when I saw this. Despite knowing that it cannot be saved, I still went ahead with repainting certain areas to see if I've progressed in colours and well, that's another story. This re-painting or touch-ups if you like, reminded me once again, the importance of accurate drawing skills....which I must do continuously...
....but who can really compete with gravity? this quote is a little 'impossible' for me...
"If you are not skillful enough to sketch a man
jumping out of a window in the time it takes him to fall from the fourth storey
to the ground, you will never be able to produce great works." -- Eugene
I was in town the other day, it was at first cloudy, then heavy rain started to pour. I couldn't get out of the car when I was near my destination, so I drove to a very narrow back lane of a shop-block. At first I didn't pay much attention to the surroundings but gradually, as the rain started to subside and after slowing down the windscreen wiper, I began to look around and the view in front of me began to materialize although still quite 'blurry'. It was to me, a beautiful view. Suddenly, I felt like painting the scene in front of me and quickly took a few photos to refer to when I get back home.
This scene is not an uncommon scene here in streets of Malaysia. Especially when you're near china town. These streets, and lanes, they were a familiar scene in my daily life when I was very young so it is not a surprise that everytime when I am in town, i'm enveloped by a feeling of nostalgia.
When I drove away from that spot, I realized that the lane actually leads to a Chinese school (Confucius Secondary School). In light of the recent disturbing and sensitive events/issues on religion, race, etc...this scene, is to me, very apt. A narrow and dark lane, a Chinese school at the other end in the open. I hope we as Chinese will be strong enough, wise enough and most importantly, calm enough to face the challenges ahead in this country.
It may not be obvious, but I've learnt a lot from these 2 oil studies. They, I think, may be considered my turning point(s) in my oil painting journey. Off course, they are not the type that will encourage praises, but it really doesn't matter.
(not sure why this spoon painting looks greenish here...but it isn't)
A few days ago, I was at the ladies in the University where I work and I happen to go at peak time. There were so many students in there, chatting, smoking, putting on makeup, etc. When I entered, there was a sudden hush. Well, I went ahead with my business and after that came out to the common area to wash my hands. Some students were still around. Suddenly one finally approached me and asked if I'm a student and if i'm a Chinese from China. I laughed! so that's why they were staring at me. Well, off course i'm not and told her so. She said that I looked not like a Malaysian and not sure what to make of me. I'm surprised to hear that from a local. I've been asked if I'm Japanese, Vietnamese or Taiwanese but never China. So that's one country to add to my list.
Then later the same night, we had a church gathering at home and some brought their kids along. As usual, I entertained the kids with my 'silliness'. After chatting for some time a pair of 8 or 9 year old twins asked seriously after studying me for awhile: "What are you?" I was stunned until they continued: "What should we call you? Che Che (Big Sis), Aunty? Or are you a YOUTH?" Ha ha! YOUTH really made me laughed! What a term to use by kids! They are so cute. Off course I gave them some silly answers and they teasingly settled at the title: Po Po (Grandma). And we all laughed.
These 2 brief conversations made me think of my art that I've sadly swept under the layers of my heart for a while. What am I? Where do my art belong? Where does an artwork that is neither cute, nor whimsical nor refined (in the world of fine art ie.) stand in the world of cuteness and full of trends? People do not know what to make of me. What are they (art)? What is this? What am I?......
My back is feeling a little 'strained'. Sholuldn't be but it is. The left leg is swollen again. I hope i'll be fine by tomorrow morning.
This is an impromptu sketch of myself yesterday when i looked to the right from my desk. colour pencil. thinking of Frida Kahlo, thinking about my faith.
oil on canvas pad. a study of the wedding tea ceremony tea set my parents used during their wedding 44 years ago.
I've learnt a lot from this study. it was a gruelling first few hours, and towards the last one hour, i felt it looked so 'confined' so 'rigid' that i said to myself: what the heck, just do it the way i like it! so this is the way i like it, just focusing on what i feel is important and nothing clearly defined unless you look at it as a whole painting. it's tough to be a self-taught.
Today will be my last day to experiment with painting - if i feel alright enough, as i'll be going back to the office tomorrow. but i think i'd better rest today. i do not want another re-relapse so soon!
I had a memorable March. i collapsed again and was hospitalised, went for operation, etc..but on the positive side, i get to draw without guilt. physically, i was weak but spiritually i was hopeful - looking forward to the opportunity to draw, to explore. it is ironic that now, physically, i've improved slightly but as the day to return to the office draws nearer and nearer, my spirit becomes lower and lower. i'm going to have a talk with my CEO tomorrow over the phone, to discuss on my return, but i dread it because i know i'm going to be untruthful...i've delayed the call for 2 days now but i know i have to make it. I know that i'm going to say yes, i'm returning on a certain date, etc, etc...i'm only saying and doing it out of gratitude. but i know what the real answer is deep inside....
well, above are some of the drawings, sketches, illustration done during my stay in the hospital, during my recovery period at home (which is still on-going).
I dreamt that an artist whose works i admire came over to my house to do some of his own paintings. we let him occupy the basement (funny thing is, in reality, there's no such thing as 'basement' here in Malaysian houses) i wanted to approach him, to ask if he can teach me, but i was too shy. instead of talking, i will find excuses to go down to the basement to see his painting process. Not sure how but out of the blue my nephews were with me as well and i had to entertain them down there at the basement. the interior changed to a corner of my own house corner years ago, where i have all the badly done paintings displayed on a cabinet. As i was entertaining my nephews, i suddenly remembered the artist and turned around. he was there sitting very quietly, looking at me, deep in thought. Although he didn't seemed to mind our presence, i apologized for our intrusion. As we were exiting, i was overwhelmed by regret, that why have i not thought of removing my own paintings before his arrival.
Well, i guess i must really want a right mentor or formal trainings in art. I've never dreamt of any painting artist until now.
While I continue my search, i will have to bear with the traffic congestions every morning and every night.
But if the destination is to the place of a great painter who can also teach well to learn under him/her, i'm willing to go through 2 hours of bad traffic per journey everyday.