Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back from Neverland (Actually, China...) with a New Direction

Ok... I cannot believe more than two months have passed since I last posted here. Such a long lag is not entirely due to my laziness -- I have traveled back China during this period of time, to accompany my father for his cancer treatments. This has been a difficult year -- I lost two dear art friends to cancer and one to suicide. Suddenly death has become such a close-by acquaintance, a vivid face instead of just a distant whisper, a blurred shadow. In this difficult summer, I feel that my entire self has settled down, precipitated into a more pure, more sensitive and deeper being. 

Run, Baby, Run (Study of Jan Kunz)
Watercolor on Saunders Waterford #140 Cold Press paper, 15"h x 11"w, WIP 1

Art, fortunately, has always lingered in the tense air through each difficult and surreal moment. I have painted -- off and on, enough to not let the once familiar brushes fall back into becoming strangers again, but not really enough to show anything significant here to you, my friend. More time was spent looking at the amazing works of Chinese artists -- watercolors, oils, charcoal sketches and pencil drawings -- as well as the drastically different land that has inspired their artwork. For the first time, I took in this land I grew up on with a fresh eye and revived interest, and absorbed it as a returned stranger, a guest, a returned travelling soul. I visited quite a few art exhibitions and artist's studios with every bit of free time I have, although it is hard to squeeze time out during this visit. And for the first time, I feel inspired and a little more confident to try some subjects that I have always avoided due to their difficulty, including figure and portrait paintings, because I felt so inspired by the amazing portrait work done by contemporary Chinese masters of watercolor.

Uncanny Smile (Study of Jan Kunz)
Watercolor on Winsor Newton #140 Cold Press paper, 15"h x 11"w, WIP 1

I've always been scared to try my hands on this daunting genre, I know. But during this trip, for the first time of my life, I felt really compelled to put my brush to paper in order to capture the different souls I encounter -- old, young, fresh and lively, or tired and burnt out -- I never felt so close to every single one of them, because of the clear understanding -- an understanding beyond the abstract knowledge of death -- that each unique soul can only exist for a brief moment in the ever-running river of time, like a bubble in water. Being able to capture the impression of them as their lives cross path with mine is such a exhilarating experience, yet the process of recreating that moment in time for that particular soul is such a humbling struggle! I could not help myself trying again and again, despite of all my fears and incompetence dealing with such subjects...

Best Friends (Study of Jan Kunz)
Watercolor on Lanaquarell #140 Cold Press paper, 15"h x 11"w, WIP 1

The few pieces I've shown in this post -- all of which still works in progress -- are projects following master watercolorist Jan Kunz's tutorials. Jan is a master of beautiful figure and portrait paintings whose work I greatly admire, and she is a very inspirational teacher through her books and dvds as well. Despite of my best efforts, I feel all of these paintings are still a bit stiff in their gesture, and the colors of the subjects' skins are not as fresh and delicate as they should be, but they are my first tries of this daunting genre (at least to me it is!), and I'm really happy that I've finally started my exploration, instead of putting it off to the indefinite "tomorrow"... Better late than never, right?

You can now buy high quality Giclee prints of many of my sold paintings, both on paper and canvas, as well as some note cards with my paintings here:


  1. Hope your father is doing well. I admire how you explore all the watercolor possibilities!

  2. Thanks for your kind words, Meera...


Thank you so much for taking time visiting and commenting on my blog! Your feedback and encouragements are things that keep me going with I am feeling down or frustrated... I will try my best to reply to every comment ASAP but sometimes life gets in the way and I am a bit slow in my response. I would like to apologize if that happens...

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