Category Archives: Interior Design

When do you call yourself an artist?

A creative streak comes naturally to me. It shows itself in my home decorating, in my bright colored and stylish clothing, shoes and purses, and all the creative avenues that I’ve partaken in – such as sewing, crocheting knitting macramé, embroidery, cross stitching, cooking and cookbook writing, video blogging and for a very long time, about a lifetime ago, Dollhouseminiatures. During that period of creating I won many ribbons for my miniature projects, mostly from scratch.  

Does being creative give you the right to call yourself an artist? Suddenly I have that question in my mind.

Are you a creative, do you call yourself an artist?

Over the past 3 1/2 years, I turn the corner on my creativity. I can give credit to Jennifer. It all started when my daughter fell in love with the art of Romero Brito. Spontaneously, I took out my markers (because as a teacher with experience in primary school education, you always have markers. Teaching students a language requires the use of the philosophy that using art to draw concepts cements the vocabulary). I put together a drawing, trying to emulate his work. One month later, after returning from Sri Lanka, the vision of the palm trees on the beaches of the Indian Ocean were still in my brain. So one day without forethought, I sketched a palm tree. It was lame as it was, but it started the whole ball rolling.

A few months later I went to Italy. As a lone female traveler, I decided to go the safe route and take a six-day workshop with an artist in the north of Tuscany. When a friend Peter saw my Italy sketches, he beamed, asking me if I would draw sketches of the tea making process for his book about Tea in China. Was the Pope Catholic, I thought? I jumped at the opportunity. It gave me a focus for my art because at that point when I was flitting around with Zentangle Art and Mandalas and other topics with no real focus. 

Pizza Oven In Italy sketch

Pizza Oven In Italy sketch

One of the 25 sketches of the tea making process in China

One of the 25 sketches of the tea making process in China

Peter designed my first Chinese Chop with the characters that said “LiZhi (my name Lichee in Chinese), Artist”.

Could I call myself an artist then? Well honestly no, I couldn’t, although I continue to use the stamp to this day. 

My Chinese Chop

My Chinese Chop

Knowing that I didn’t have enough knowledge and experience about watercolor painting, I attended a weekly Kunming art studio for over a year and got a good grip on how to paint realistic art with watercolors. Learning to see the colors, color mixing, shading, shadows, I tried to learn everything. The owner of the studio offered to do a 2-day art exhibition of all of my paintings and sketches (35 in total) — and it was a huge success. Around that time a friend bought one of my favourite Chinese paintings also. 

Could I call myself an artist after that? Crazy as it sounds, no, I knew I still had a lot to learn.

Getting back to teacher art and markers, my proclivity is to small, meticulous details with paper and fine liners and pencils and markers and ink and erasers and rulers in drawings (maybe I should have been an architect, and I do love perspective, which I’m not terribly good at until now). But I still wanted to continue to stretch my skill, watching YouTube and Craftsy videos of artists teaching painting or sketching techniques. Also attending sketching workshops in Florida helped to improve my experience. (Do you see the theme here of travel and art in my life??)

Bradenton, Florida workshop 2-page spread

Bradenton, Florida workshop 2-page spread

Quite recently I developed an interest in having a more loose style. I spent the morning painting with an artist named Dan Whalen, who goes out with the Toronto Urban Sketchers group, because I really like his freer style of sketching and painting. I knew that if I wanted to try to go out sketching on location again, I would have to have that kind of style too. Why, because you don’t have enough time to finish when you’re out, so you need to be quick, and expressive in your sketching, representing the scene in front of you, all before the rain comes or the sun gets too hot or the shadows move.

Just two weeks ago, I met a lovely Singaporean artist, Beng Choo. She is an experienced artist and we have started the Urban Sketchers Kunming group in Kunming China. We meet every Friday morning and have sketched some wonderful ancient Chinese buildings while dodging the rain and the hot sun.

Then binge watching Ian Fennelly videos has really motivated me. Will I go to the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Hong Kong in April and take a class with Marc Taro Holmes because I’m a 1.5 hour flight away, or to Venice in May for 6 days and learn from Ian? I am considering it all. Because my art has moved away from a very detail-oriented style to towards a more expressive style. 

In my quest to learn all I can, and with an art school within a 5-minute walk from my home, I just began a 10-week course, ‘Song Dynasty Chinese Painting on Silk’, which uses traditional Chinese black ink and painting techniques but with Kuretake watercolour paints. The process is very slow and detailed, with many steps so far. I have only learned how to paint the outlines on silk with ink and how to mount and stretch the silk onto a wooden frame. My teacher, Peng, says it takes 10 2-hour classes to complete, but that I am a fast learner!!!!

[Starting in 960 and ending in 1279, the Song Dynasty consisted of the Northern Song (960-1127) and the Southern Song (1127-1279). With a prosperous economy and radiant culture, this period was considered as another period of ‘golden age’ after the glorious Tang Dynasty (618 – 907).]

My first painting will be a copy of a Song Dynasty painting of crab apple flowers and my background is a soft beige colour, not this dark, boring colour.

Song Dynasty Crab Apple Flowers

Original silk painting of Song Dynasty crab apple flowers

 

Do I have the right to call myself an artist now? Have l earned that right yet? I guess the answer is I have to feel it in my heart, and my heart tells me that I am able to represent the feelings I have when I do art so much better than when I first embarked on my art journey a time ago. Stay tuned for more on the answer!

Miniature Chinese Tea House Plank Flooring & Pu’er Tea Cakes

Ramblings on the Slow and Steady Progress of My Chinese Tea House

I received my order of 1,000 Starbuck’s wooden stir sticks to make the wood plank flooring. Good thing it was that much since more than half the sticks are wonky in some way, not straight or not flat.

After sorting enough sticks for the floor, I weighted them down with a board so that they could flatten even more (it’s the rainy season right now in Kunming, China) so the humidity should have some positive effect.

weighing down the sorted wooden sticks

Weighing down the sorted wooden sticks

Seeing how everything looks so far

Seeing how everything looks so far

As for the knock-off PaperClay, it’s fine. It dried well, it stuck to the board and it only shrank a little. No cracking, which is a good thing. I’ve decided when I start to do the brick walls, I will do sections horizontally. Need to measure off the horizontal rows and use my long metal ruler to carve the horizontal lines of bricking. Then go on to carve the vertical lines for the brick. My bricks will be 1″ x .25″ and will simulate the Beijing brick which is longer and thinner than Western bricks. 

Then I also need the Pu’er Tea Cakes that are wrapped in tissue paper with a round label. I’m trying out different colours and textures of fine tissue to see what’s the most realistic.

Wrapping the disks of Pu'er tea

Wrapping the disks of Pu’er tea

Real Pu'er tea cake - a 7 inch round wrapped disk of compressed tea

Real Pu’er tea cake – a 7 inch round wrapped disk of compressed tea

So much to do! I’ll keep you posted.

églises & L’AVE VERUM DE MOZART !….]

Eglises_de_Russie1.pps

Chinese Calligraphy Brush Holder Turned Jewelry Stand

I was just muckin’ around a bit on different blogs and came upon this one…http://tresorsdeluxe.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/keeping-it-organized-minimizing-the/ . I thought to myself, “I’ve got a great idea similar to the ones pictured right in my bedroom and I should share.”

I’ve been using this Chinese calligraphy brush holder to organize my own collection of precious, semi-precious and fashion jewelry since coming to China in 2005. It’s gone with me to 3 different cities and has served a wonderful purpose – keeping my lovely collection ‘in my face’ so I can wear it. I’ve got another nice organizer on a fancy clothes hanger made out of chintz fabric hanging on the back of my door in my bedroom hallway and sometimes I forget what baubles are there.

The holder stands on a gold lacquer place mat with my collection of wrist watches and my variety of colours and styles of reading glasses sits in a clear glass vase. Rings, broaches, and earrings are stored in little jewelry bags hanging from their ties. And a Pashmina scarf covers up an unsightly chest of drawers. Another project for another day!

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