Tell us an interesting story that occurred during art-making.
I started painting in Jakarta when I was living & working in an advertising agency there for a couple of years. I just love touching surfaces, paints & fabrics so that was how I started painting – with my hands.
One day, I was having so much fun that even my feet were smudged with paint. My partner had to get me two plastic grocery bags and put my feet in them so that I can slide slowly without leaving a rainbow pathway to the bathroom!
From then on in Jakarta, whenever I paint, I was made to wear my plastic bag “slippers.”
Share an experience that helped shape your perspective as an artist.
Growing up as the eldest in the family and a bit of a bossy-boots sort of person prepped me for my career as a producer in the advertising industry. Being naturally bossy is definitely a plus point and being in control of all aspects of production is key in ensuring a project’s success. Control has always been an issue for me. Okay yes, I admit it. I’m a control-freak and there’s no denying it.
In 2007, I was told that I have some issues with my left eye and that there is no cure. That if I don’t keep it under check, I could go blind.
That experience actually helped me “see” a lot of things. That I cannot control everything and sometimes letting go is the best thing I could do to help myself. In fact, usually letting go is the best way to move things along. I’ve had to learn this over and over again in my life through many other events even before the eye diagnosis and it was challenging to say the least. And the prospect of going blind propelled me to want to experience colours and the world even more.
My art is shaped from having to be in constant balance between being in control and letting go. I choose my colour “scheme” but mix it on the canvas directly. I need to be totally focused on painting but yet I must be at ease with the process to let it overtake me and just let it all flow. The pieces that I don’t try to control so much during the creation process would always be the better work.
I’ve had to learn to surrender and I think that’s the best lesson I’ve learned so far that shaped me not only as an artist but as a human being.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
The reason I started painting was my love for colours. But most of the time, where I draw inspiration from is actually from an emotional impetus and not from anything visual.
It could come from a small scene in a movie. Or a tune from a song. My dreams do play a big part in my art as well. One day, I would like to be able to produce close to what I actually see in my dreams. Now that would be something!
How do you keep up with what’s happening in the art community today?
It is pretty impossible to do so to tell you the truth. Plus, on top of that I am actually quite a hermit and when I am creating art or writing, I tend to be even more of a recluse and shut myself out from any stimulation!
Being a producer does clash with my hermit-ish tendencies as well. They definitely run counter to one another.
In the months or years that I am out and about and very much connected with society, I keep up the same way like how everyone keeps up with everything nowadays. The internet! Apart from going for real life art events, I read art blogs and I am subscribed to quite a lot of art websites and am connected to a global community of artists.
Words of wisdom, or a favourite quote you live by?
Oh this must be the most difficult questions out of all the questions! I am a quote collector. I hoard them in folders, notebooks, snapshots you name it. Rumi, Rilke, E.E. Cummings, Pablo Neruda and Abraham-Hicks are usually my top favourites.
I’m not really sure who was the one who originally came up with my current favourite quote because there seemed to be two names credited for it but this person wisely said, “Don’t be afraid to give up the Good, to go for the Great.” It explains certain things in my life that I’ve never been able to really articulate but only know instinctively. This quote says it all for me.
What are you currently reading, watching, listening to or looking at that inspires and fuels your love for art?
I have this habit of reading between 2-5 books during the same period of time. Right now it is between “the Tiger’s Wife” by Te’a Obreht, Ben Okri “Starbook” and Hilary Mantel “Bring up the Bodies.”
I’ve just watched “Comet”, it’s an indie movie centred around love and relationships. I love the way they employed colours in the movie and the clever edit which is thought-provoking.
One of my favourite movie, Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain” visualises themes of boundless love, spirituality and about how beautiful and fragile life is. It also mixes fantasy and history beautifully. Not only is the visuals breathtaking, I found the story heart-breaking.
My art is driven a lot by music since I love to dance while painting. I make playlists in fact- just to paint.
I find that certain music makes me produce different kinds of movement or reach for different kinds of colours. Although normally I listen to a broad range of music from Classical to Alternative to KPop and anything in between, I tend to listen to music in the veins of Kate Bush, Bjork, Tori Amos, Émilie Simon and Florence and the Machine while painting. I find the rhythm and emotions of the music produced by those artists translates best for my art.
I’ve painted quite a number of pieces while listening to Cosmic Love by Florence + the Machine. That was my favourite song to paint with for quite a long time.
What are you trying to communicate with your art?
I don’t sit down before I paint and think of themes or subjects per say then sketch it out. My work is intensely mood-driven and is spontaneous.
Painting to me is a process of transmutation. If I feel sad, I channel that energy through my heart, out into my body and down into the paint that will eventually merge with the canvas. However the resulting piece won’t necessarily feel sad. Somehow on its way to the paint and canvas, something happens and opposing emotions take over. The energy changes.
My main drive in the world is to be a source of inspiration. I’ve always preferred for my art to be emanating energetic signature of joyful vibrations or of Love.
What else out there worthy of worship but Love?
What’s the best advice you can give on how to be more creative?
Let go. Don’t control. Don’t hold back.
Apart from that, another thing I have learnt is that when I am painting, I find it helps if I don’t consume too much sugar. I find sugar to have a numbing effect and I feel the difference the most when I am creating art.
What is your dream project?
Oh how I would love to 3D Print my art! Or something to that effect!
I would love to incorporate textiles and more 3D dimension into my art. I’ve always, always love fabric. Combining my work with wood and textiles would definitely be THE dream project.
What is in store for 2016?
I’m working to improve and expand on what I’ve coined as my “flowral” technique. Nature especially flowers feature heavily in my work. In the future, I really would like to create pieces with deeper perspective, complex layers and minute intricacy.
So for 2016, I’m still doing what I’ve been doing in recent years. Experiment a lot with adding different materials and working on many different surfaces. I’m also about to launch another pet project this year so I’m aiming for an interesting but fruitful Monkey year, for sure.
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