I have new things/objects in the studio nearly every day/every week (just ask my partner, as our living/working space surely gets compromised) – from finds from my regular op shop visits to collected chance/found objects from local walks and bush/beachcombing. (All beautiful/special pieces of course, especially at the time.) But I thought I’d share some special recent finds/objects now because I simply want to, and because I believe that some of these objects mark a special chapter in my art/life. Some of them might appear small and insignificant/unimpressive to some people but to me, they’re all pretty special and gorgeous. Don’t judge a book by its cover, and don’t underestimate the divine and inspirational value of simple things and random found objects. Read above caption for more. Ciao. ~ N.S.
When I studied art in high school (way back) and in uni for a short while (also many years ago), I was taught by some wonderful art teachers and met some great art friends. However, I do believe that some of my best art education and experience have been out of art school – from everyday life as I’ve realised. I’m lucky to have close and caring/loving family and friends who support, encourage and inspire me. Especially my amazing partner. (I love you bumble.) I’ve also met some great people online and on social media who give constructive feedback on my work. (You know who you are.) All of these people, along with myself taking control of my art life/journey (by making informed and intuitive decisions to the best of my ability) and going with the flow of my life, have created an incomparable/invaluable and enriching/fulfilling informal art education and experience that I’m very happy with and grateful for. (Basically, I’ve learnt to teach myself art by living/being and observing [and making decisions] and with the help from my family and friends.) And for this, I want to say thank you so much to all of my family and friends for helping teach and guide me on my art journey. You’re awesome. 🙏
I’m not knocking formal art education at all. In fact, I’m all for it. My point is this – from the moment that we’re born, we’re forever students/learners in life; from someone or something and whether we’re in school/formal education or not. And some of the people that we meet (on purpose or by chance, some of whom we least expect or not obvious at the time) can sometimes be our best/most important teachers/mentors/guides along the way. So be wise and listen and have an open heart and mind to the infinite possibilities that can come our way every day. Don’t judge or underestimate anyone or anything. Take on board the advice, guidance and wisdom of new/different people and be thankful for the blessings. Life is one big/wonderful education. And the world is our university. Love your life and have faith in your path and that everything will be fine. And be kind and ready/willing to share your knowledge/wisdom too when you can. Just do it. Because life is short.
And last but definitely not least, here’s one more still life/painting theme that I’m also working on and very happy/proud to share with you. (I promise that it’s the final/last theme that I’m sharing with you – for now at least.) It’s not a colour based theme like the other three that I’ve shared with you already – “blue“, “iridescence and rainbows“, and “green and gold“. But “Lao and Laos” is a theme that’s very close to my heart and without a doubt, deserves a series of its own.
As a Laos-born Australian, I’m very proud of both my Lao and Australian cultures and traditions. I believe that as I live and practice a predominantly modern Aussie life (which is multicultural may I add) and learn more about Australian society, it’s easy for my traditional Lao culture to be put aside and forgotten. I feel that it’s important/necessary for me to hold on to and recognise/celebrate my Lao heritage because it’s a fundamental part of my identity. And by doing so, I can help share it to others and conserve/preserve it for the future generation. Even if it’s through my artistic interpretation of it. Lao culture is rich with tradition and traditional art. From Buddhism and Animism to Buddhist art, silver craft and silk/textiles. Learn/read more about Laos here and Lao art here. I do enjoy/appreciate the beauty/serenity of still lifes and I look forward to sharing my Lao themed still life compostions/paintings with you. Stay tuned for more updates.
As I mentioned in my last post, other than my regular paintings, I’m also working on a couple of side projects, specifically two colour based themes – “blue” and “iridescence and rainbows“. For the record, and to make matters even more complicated/exciting, I’ve decided to also add “green and gold” to the mix/mayhem. What am I doing?
One of the reasons why I’m excited about working on a green and gold theme is that the colours are so abundant in the flora world. Especially in Australia. Green and gold is also the national colours of Australia which I’m proud of. 1 It’s Spring here now and as we drive around, the colours of green and gold (or green and yellow) flora is everywhere. From native wattles to fruiting lemon trees, dandelions to tall two toned conifers. Other plants/flora that I have in mind that I want to include in my compositions include pumpkin/squash flowers, Sansevieria, golden chalice vine (Solandra maxima), quinces, bananas, papaya/pawpaw and more. Oh and of course, sunflowers. smile That’s all I can think of for now. Bye for now.
- The national colours of Australia (green and gold) was established by the Governor-General of Australia, Sir Ninian Stephen on 19 April 1984 on advice from Prime Minister Bob Hawke. The gold colour represents the golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha) which is Australia’s national flower. The uniforms of Australia’s national sports teams are usually green and gold. The golden wattle flower and the colours green and gold are also featured on the Coat of arms of Australia. Reference: Wikipedia. ↩
Hello there – it’s been a while I know and I apologies for my absence. I’ve missed several weeks of blogging/posting (for several reasons, including pure procrastination) and I’ve broken my promise of posting every Sunday. (It’s a shame because I was on a roll there for a while.) I’ve been wanting to catch up and I’ve even thought about backdating new blog posts to fill in the missing dates. (It’s my blog and I can do whatever I want.) But I’ve decided to just let it go and move on forward (and to accept the natural flow/order of my life) and to write afresh/anew from here. I do like to be organised and to have routine/structure in place (because it can make life/work so much easier) and I like to have control and order in my life. But sometimes, things are just out of my control – plans/ideas change and new unexpected things/events arise. And by being too strict/rigid to plans/expectations, it can hinder our creative process, spiritual growth and ultimately, happiness. Change is inevitable and it’s wise to be flexible and adaptable to the infinite possibilities/changes that can occur. And for this reason, as from now, I’ll be writing and publishing new blog posts whenever I can/want, and not just on Sundays. 1 Although today is Sunday. smile Believe me – this is quite a break through.
Now, about “iridescence and rainbows”. Would you believe that after just one week of posting that I was going through a blue themed art period, I was tempted to also explore an “iridescence and rainbows” theme for my still life compositions/paintings? I know – so much for a focused/dedicated idea/activity. It’s the story of my life sometimes – one moment, I’m focused on and doing one thing and the next moment, I’m focused on something else. And again, a lot of it is talk and ideas at the moment and not much real/actual action/artworks going on. A wise lady once said to me “an idea is only an idea if it’s just in your head, you need to apply and make it happen or at least write it down.” Well, at least I’m writing it down and slowly making it happen. Here’s to all the thinkers/dreamers and ideas people out there.
So what is iridescence? Wikipedia defines iridescence (also known as goniochromism) as “the phenomenon of certain surfaces that appear to gradually change colour as the angle of view or the angle of illumination changes… It is often created by structural coloration (microstructures that interfere with light)”. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a lustrous rainbowlike play of color caused by differential refraction of light waves… that tends to change as the angle of view changes”. Iridescence naturally exists, for example, on soap bubbles, oil slick, butterfly wings, beetle exoskeletons, sea shells, certain minerals, bird/peacock feathers, and as alkali formation on old bottles (as you can see in the photo above). It can also be manufactured, for example, on textiles, lenses of sunglasses and as paints or nail polish. Some decorative objects such as glassware are specially treated or “iridised” to have an “iridescent effect” such as “carnival glass” which I’m currently in awe of.
I’m fascinated and attracted to iridescence and iridescent objects simply/purely because it’s pretty and beautiful. Like many people I believe, I find its magical/mysterious rainbow-esque colours alluring and mesmerizing. Just look at it, how can you not find it attractive? They remind me of rainbows. And I love rainbows because they too are just beautiful – a divine/magical display/performance of a myriad/spectrum of colours. They’re cheerful and hopeful, fabulous and fantastic, and spiritually symbolic. They represent the bright side of life and another mythical and mystical dimension. The world is truly an amazing place. 2
So over the past month, on top of finding blue objects for my blue themed still life compositions, I’ve also been on the lookout for iridescent things and thinking of composition ideas for them. While “iridescent” objects are quite easy to come by, iridescent plants/flowers are not. 3 Although, I do like a challenge and necessity is the mother of invention. So perhaps I can also include other plants/flowers to my compositions, such as rainbow roses and/or dyed Singaporean orchids? We will see. I’m excited about exploring this iridescence and rainbows theme for my paintings. I’m still continuing with the blue theme as a side project from my regular paintings/artworks, and this iridescence and rainbows theme is yet another side project. Furthermore, believe it or not, I have other themes that I want to explore as well, including “Black”, “Green and Gold” and “Pink”. I’ll share more with you later. How excitement. As for now, all the best. 🌈
Meanwhile, Swan was very sick two weeks ago. It started when she unexpectedly had a bad turn – she had a fit and diarrhea and was weak and unable to stand or walk. We don’t know what caused this. She’s been very lucky over her 14 years of life and has survived many traumatic near death experiences. But because she’s an older dog now (and because she’s so thin), it’s more difficult for her to recover and bounce back from such trauma. We carefully/closely nursed her back and thank god, she’s regained normal health. She’s returned to her old self and has got her regular appetite back. We sometimes forget just how old she is. She’s the most beautiful/exceptional dog and we hope she lives with us for many more years to come. She will be under constant close care and a short lead from now on. We love you so much Swanny. heart
- Another good reason to sign up for my Newsletter. ↩
- I recently learned about fogbows and moonbows which are similar to rainbows but are as the names suggests “a bow in fog rather than rain” and “a rainbow produced by moonlight rather than sunlight” respectively. We’ve not seen these in real life together yet and look forward to doing so. I’m happy and proud to say that we’ve seen several double rainbows – ones where an equal-sized lighter/fainter rainbow exists below another (with space in between); and another where a thinner lighter/fainter rainbow is attached to the underside of a larger rainbow (sort of like a mother/father rainbow with a baby rainbow attached to it). I also recently learned that triple and quadruple (and more) rainbows exists, as shared on Instagram. Have a look at this #triplerainbow as an example. How beautiful/wonderful do they look? We’ve not seen more than a double rainbow in real life together yet and I look forward to our rainbow discoveries. Perhaps triple and quadruple rainbows have appeared to us before but we just couldn’t see them clearly/properly? Either way, it’s a blessing to see a rainbow in any form and I look forward to seeing and photographing more rainbows in the future and painting them. As you may know, rainbows can be easily created with water spray from a sprinkler or hose outside. Have fun. ↩
- Here’s an interesting article on why iridescent flowers are not so dramatic. So far, from my online research, iridescent plants that I know of include Begonia pavonina (Peacock Begonia), Begonia rex-cultorum and Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus). ↩
It’s official. I’m going through a blue period. I’ve decided to experiment and explore the colour blue in detail in my art. I’ll be working/collecting blue objects like a satin bowerbird. And I’ll be arranging/painting my still life compositions with a blue theme/palette. It all started when I wanted to try a monochromatic composition. At first, I thought about pink. Because pink is pretty. And there’s so many pink flowers around. Then I thought about red. Because it’s the first colour of the spectrum. But I’m not very good at following orders/rules. Then all of the other colours of the rainbow popped into my mind. And black and white. And fluorescent. (How fabulous would that be?!) But blue stood out. And it made sense. Because we both love blue. And we already have a few blue things in the house. The universe was aligning us on a blue path. Blue was everywhere. And so blue it is. And here we are. Blue has become the centre of my attention over the past week.
Many great artists have appreciated the colour blue. And produced many beautiful blue works. Including Picasso, Van Gogh and O’Keeffe. Some of my favourite artists. And to name a few. I look forward to following in their footsteps. Picasso produced powerful/emotional blue paintings during his blue period. Van Gogh used blue freely/intensely with his expressive brushstrokes. For example, in ‘The Starry Night’. And O’Keeffe used blue beautifully/poetically in many of her ethereal works. Recently, I’ve been inspired by the works of Australian still life artist Criss Canning. I first discovered her works on Instagram. I love all of her detailed/luscious oil paintings. Including her wonderful monochromatic works. She’s one of my favourite Australian still life artists atm. And a great inspiration. (Thank you Criss!) Along with Margaret Preston. And more. Do view Criss Canning’s works when you can. They’re just absolutely exquisite! 1
Blue is such a beautiful colour. I do love it in all of its myriad shades. It can be cool and calming. Deep and emotional. It doesn’t always have to be sad. It can also be bright/happy. Just look up at the sky. And out to the sea. It’s the colour of our planet. And blue looks great – in the house or out. And it’s easy to wear. I’m not sure how long my blue art period will last for. Maybe one year, maybe two. Maybe just one painting. But I’m going to give it go. I might also experiment with all of the other colours of the rainbow one day. But we’ll wait and see – one step/colour at a time. Let’s see how blue pans out first. Anyhow, a blue period seems like a fun/exciting idea to explore. It’s a side project. And I’ll keep you updated on its progress. I still have other ‘normal’ paintings that I need to complete and new ones that I want to start. And I’ll continue to work on them. So please keep your commission inquiries coming. Do you like blue? Excuse me while I try on my denim jacket. smile
- Read about other blue highlights in art history here. Also, don’t forget about the upcoming ‘O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism’ exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (1 July – 2 October 2017). The exhibition is the largest survey of O’Keeffe’s work to visit Australia. We are going to this Cynthia and Pet. ↩
I love my parents so much. Especially my mum. I loved her to bits when I was young. And I still do. And I love you too dad. But mum and I – we have a special connection. A bond. Mother and son. That goes way back. And will always be. Possibly because she gave birth to me. Possibly because I was the youngest child/son. Possibly because I was a soft/gentle lad. All of the above. Either way, I’m very close to my mum. She knows me well/best. And we’ll always be spiritually connected. And she’ll always be in my heart forever. She’s my creator/maker. My nurturer. My origin/source. My holy spirit. My guide. My eye. My first love. And she’s my muse. A forever source of inspiration and infinite/unconditional love.
My muses are manifold. Both my mum and dad included. My partner and Swan. Other family members and close friends. And God and Mother Nature – the universal/infinite muse/source of inspiration for all to share. And that we’re all connected to. But my darling/precious mum will always be a special muse to me. And have a special place in my heart. We live apart now and I’ve moved on. But we’re still connected. I can sense her in the spirit world everyday. She’s my mum and I’m her son. And this will always be. When I touch base with mum (either talk to her on the phone or see her in person), I feel grounded, revitalised and at peace. With sparks of new/fresh ideas/vision. She’s one with the Earth and the Great Spirit. And for this reason I know that we’ll never be apart. And I’ll never be alone.
When you give something love, it gives love back to you. That’s how it works. It’s a natural/spiritual law/order. It’s karma. What goes around comes around. Give love selflessly/unconditionally to your mum and dad. And to the world. Be kind and generous. And expect nothing in return. It’s the right way to be/live. You will be blessed/rewarded. In the form of love, guidance and inspiration. Our parents do this. Because they love us. And because it’s their job. God and Mother Nature do this too. Because we’re also a part of them. Our mums are an incredible force. And also our dads. We’re lucky to have them. They’re our link to the divine. Give/show them love/reverence. Make them happy/proud. Everything is possible when there’s love/faith. We love you mum. heart
I love to op shop. Also known as thrifting. Browsing/shopping in a charity/secondhand store gives me great pleasure. I enjoy the experience/chance of finding something interesting/unusual and special at a reduced/affordable price. Mainly for my art. From useful household items to props. Cute knickknacks to clothes. Don’t judge a book by its cover. And don’t be embarrassed to walk into an op shop. It shouldn’t be underestimated nor looked down upon. There’s truly some good stuff to be found. The folks who work there are also super friendly and helpful. And you’re supporting your local charity/community. Love your op shop because it loves you. I’m a seasoned op shopper. And proud of it. Here’s some food for thought on how to op shop with some success.
Don’t go too often. You won’t find many good things then. Give the op shop time to replenish. If you know what I mean. And a chance for other shoppers to find good stuff too. If you’re lucky enough to have a few op shops nearby, pace yourself between them. Try once a week or fortnightly, perhaps. And go when your heart, mind and soul are in a good place. And as a reward for yourself after good/hard work. This way, hopefully, the universe will be kind and reward you with some extraordinary finds. But that’s just my theory. And sometimes, it’s just a matter of luck what you’ll encounter. Op shopping is fun. But it can also be addictive, expensive and counterproductive. And with side effects. (This applies to shopping/spending in general really.) It’s good retail therapy. But if you don’t need to go. Or if there’s nothing for you to buy. Don’t. Spend your precious time and money wisely. Paint and save.
If you see something that you like, grab it. Immediately. Don’t risk walking past it only to return and find that it’s gone! (And the lady walking around with a smile on her face has it tucked tightly under her arm. Argh!! True story. The pain is real.) Grab a basket from the entrance and shop baby. There’s no harm in returning an item to its spot if you’ve changed your mind. Just don’t do it too often. And you didn’t hear it from me. Always have a kind heart. If you find yourself reaching for the same item as someone else, you know what to do. Especially if they look a little mean. Or an old lady. If you missed out on something, don’t sweat. There’s probably a good reason for it. And it’s very likely that you’ll find a better item some other time. It’s usually the case.
Take only what you need. You might have a good eye for bargains and/or design/style. (And you might have a thing for vases, for example). But don’t be greedy. And don’t grab too many good stuff. Be kind/generous of spirit. And only take a few of the items that you need. Leave some good things for others too. This makes the whole experience so much more pleasurable for everyone. Be selective and wise with your purchases. Learn to control yourself. Do you really need all of that stuff at home? Do you want to be faced with the hoarder’s nightmare of having too many things? Tucked under the couch? No you don’t. But if you do find yourself in that situation, don’t fret. Just consider selling some of the items online/eBay. Or giving them back to charity. That’s how it works. Beats throwing them in the bin. This way, everyone wins. And you can op shop some more.
Op shopping is fun. And there’s some seriously good things to be found. Don’t judge it. And don’t be embarrassed to go there. It’s a charity store. A place for the public to find cheap/affordable stuff. And hope/inspiration too. Make the most of it! A mixed lot of people frequent it. From grannies to the arty types. And serious bargain hunters. While you’re there, don’t be a fool or rude. Be kind/polite and respect the other shoppers’ space. Don’t ruin the experience for them. If you have change left over, put some in the donation box. Practice kindness and give when you can. For me, op shopping is more than just retail therapy. It’s a chance to zen out and find ideas/inspiration and props for my art. Some of the items/objects that I’ve found are truly beautiful/special. To me at least. I consider them as gifts/signs from the universe for my art/life education/direction. Op shopping plays an important role in my art practice. More on this later. 1 smile
Well that’s something I don’t see every day! In my neck of the woods at least. After a good day’s work of painting the house, Swan and I walked down the jungle-like back laneway to get to our car. We haven’t done this in a while. And she loves every opportunity for off-lead walks. As we turned the corner at the end, a dole of doves fluttered off from the ground with musical wings. We had startled them. I then noticed a promising cream-coloured flower (with its back towards us) growing on one of the luscious plants with heart-shaped leaves in the shared laneway. I got up close to check and indeed it was a perfect/beautiful blooming flower. I was so happy to see it because I’m currently fascinated by the unusual/sculptural flower forms of the Araceae/Arum/Aroid family. Its spathe/spadix construction reminds me of Monstera deliciosa. Although different and I doubt this flower/fruit is edible. Anyhow, I quickly threw Swan in the car, got the camera and returned to the plant to take some photos.
I managed to take several photos of the luminous flower glowing in the setting sunlight in the golden hour. I hastily took as many photos as I could leaning against the wall. I was tempted to pick it but I decided not to. I thought that I was lucky enough to have found/seen it and photograph it. And that I shouldn’t be selfish and should just leave it alone for others to enjoy. The next day, I returned to the plant to take more photos but they didn’t turn out as good. A woman from a house nearby took out her garbage bins and noticed me in my awkward position. We looked at each other but none of us said anything. I should’ve said hello but I didn’t want to cause a fuss. Anyhow, I noticed that there’s new growth near the flower. I’m not sure if it’s new leaves or flowers developing but will later return to check up on it. If there’s more than one flower on the plant then, perhaps I could/should pick one for a proper/composed home floral arrangement? We’ll see.
I’m not certain what type/kind of plant it is. But judging from the leaves, my guess is that it’s some kind of taro. Am I correct? Please help me id it if you can. Is it Alocasia or Colocasia or other? The leaves are huge and soft, heart-shaped and beautifully patterned – reminiscent of elephant ears and the tropics. If it is taro, then the root/corm is the main prize. But for me, the sculptural flower is the pièce de résistance. It’s so unusual/surreal and alien. The hexagonal design on the tall/phallic (there, I said it) inflorescence/spadix is unbelievably intricate/perfect. It looks like a tall conical honeycomb. An erect monument/obelisk/tower protected by a radiant cobra-shaped hood/cape. Masculine and bold. It reminds me of both Brancusi’s ‘Maiastra’ and Georgia O’Keeffe’s ‘Jack in the Pulpit’. Do you agree? Mother Nature is so incredibly beautiful and infinite. And god is kind and great. Inspiration is everywhere. Have faith and be hopeful. And be prepared to find inspiration at any time. Especially after you’ve worked hard and earnt it. You will be rewarded.