Siew Fong is a native of Kuala Lumpur who, now in her mid-30s, still lives in Ampang. Upon meeting her, I was struck by several things, primarily her enthusiasm of pursuing her dream of becoming a full-time, self-supporting artist. She is also a gentle, unassuming person except when the discussion turns to art. Then she lights up with enthusiasm and passion.
Her earliest memories are of loving art and nature and wanting to become proficient enough to express herself through art. Her medium of choice was the canvas. However, her story is similar to that of many local artists I have interviewed and profiled over the years. Parental disapproval – always the well-intentioned belief that their child would never be financially independent or stable – is a recurring theme.
Consequently, Siew Fong dutifully took the prescribed and expected courses throughout her school years to prepare herself for a career in accounting. She was quite successful, too, working at several five-star hotels in the KL area. She married and had a child. Everything was following a predictable path, but her longing to pursue her passion ultimately became overwhelming and Siew Fong began attending art classes as a part-time student. She quickly advanced to the highest levels and earned several certificates of merit.
She later found herself at The Inspire Academy and was mentored, as so many of our cover artists over the years have been, by Master Artist Yeo Eng Peng. He remains a significant influence in her life today, guiding her in towards the field of en plein air painting – or painting outdoors –as well as encouraging her explorations with different media, namely watercolours, oils, and acrylics. More recently, she has participated in several group exhibitions and the response has been very positive, thus spurring her on with great confidence.
I viewed almost 20 pieces of her recent work and could see not only her undeniable talent, but the obvious progression of her skill. Her watercolours in particular are skillfully sketched and each element in the paintings seems to move on its own with a striking 3-D aspect. She pays careful attention to minute details in what she paints, and this lends a polished, professional veneer to her finished works.
I also love Siew Fong’s use of oils and acrylics, an example of which is used as our February cover. Her ability to select primary, bold, and non-traditional colours and to then audaciously border them against each other makes for a truly signature painting. These oil paintings evoke joy and happiness in the viewer and, as I told her, I myself would want to hang one of her paintings in my own home; the highest compliment I can give to any artist.
“I want to continually try to improve myself as a person with a moral and solid character,” she tells me. “I find I can use my painting as a way to do this because it takes much self-discipline, a deep commitment and a work ethic that must be constant.” Siew Fong reflected on how this process speaks to other facets of her life, as well: “When I paint all the details in such a precise manner, I am also working on being more thorough as a mother, wife, and citizen.”
Siew Fong has long been inspired by the mountainous landscape surrounding her home in Ampang. To her, he mountains represent the height of nature’s majesty and showcase the beauty of nature’s bounty. A favoured subject, her mountain paintings are both soothing and mesmerizing.
As our February artist, Siew Fong expressed to me her appreciation for this opportunity to showcase her work to the expat community and, in this spirit, has priced her paintings at very reasonable and attractive levels. Please contact me at marybethrame[email protected] for more information or if you wish to purchase any.
Source: The Expat February 2013
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