Saturday, 29 May 2010

Simply Fabulicious People – The Artist, Her Addiction and A Tea Box

We’ve always known we have a fantastic pool of readers from all walks of life, brimming with talent and many with fascinating stories of their own. Sometimes we smack our foreheads and wonder why no one has discovered their stories yet? Then Elaine and I had a stupendous brainwave: let’s feature some of the fabulous ladies (and the odd guy or two) who make up our quaint SimplyFab community! So in this new column of SimplyFab People, we turn the limelight onto the remarkable people in our midst.

First up, meet Wyn-Lyn Tan, 35, a professional artist, journalist and totally fabulicious cool chick!

And because Wyn-Lyn’s a stylish girl who would humour us, we ask her crucial questions we’ve always wanted to ask artists but felt they were too indelicate to mention.

SimplyFab: So, how true is this notion that all artists are ‘starving’? Are you?
Wyn Lyn: Most of the artists I know may be thin, but I don’t think they are starving. More likely we are too preoccupied or inspired with work to eat! But seriously, I think there’s always a way to make a living—if not yet from your art, then at least from a supplementary income. Yes, it won’t be easy juggling two jobs at one time, and splurging on a Gucci bag is definitely out of the question. (And I know of many artists who give up on art because the reality is that it’s hard to survive on just art alone, especially in Singapore.) But I guess one really has to persevere, have a dogged belief in what you are doing and think of the bigger picture. I’m fortunate that I have another income from freelance writing.

SimplyFab: So if our daughters want to run away with an artist, what is your advice?
Wyn Lyn: I would say, by all means let her follow her heart, but he’d better be a dedicated, responsible, talented, hardworking artist. Stick with him and who knows, he may be making a fortune from his art in 15 years time!

SimplyFab: How and why did you become an artist?
Wyn Lyn: My journey towards being an artist was actually a little long-winded. I did the whole “get-a-proper-degree” thing (I have a business degree), worked for a year-plus as a full-time writer, then quit my job to finally pursue a Diploma in Fine Art at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. I had always been very interested in art, and one day realized that hey, it’s now or never. I didn’t want to just do a part-time night art course either, as I was going to make art a profession and not a hobby.

Art is a calling one can’t explain either. You could say it’s a passion that has become as natural as breathing. When I paint, I feel alive—frustrated, sometimes, yes, when a painting is not working—but always, there is excitement, energy, buzz and sense of knowing “this is who I am” that I wouldn’t be able to give up. In a way, art defines my existence. Even when I am not physically painting, I am constantly thinking about a work-in-process. When I am unable to paint, I feel cantankerous and unfulfilled. You could say it’s almost like an addiction. And I’m not talking about getting high on turpentine-sniffing!

SimplyFab: Sorry, but abstract art is all splotches of paint to us. Care to give us a few clever comments which we can bandy about so people think we are really deep?
Wyn Lyn: In general, abstract art is not as much about the subject as about the feeling it invokes. So, you could always offer an opinion on how the art makes you feel—quite foolproof, since one single painting can incite different emotions in each viewer. You could say, “I love the energy (or calmness) in this piece.” You could also comment on the visual, like, “I like how the brush strokes draws you right into the space.” Some other useful phrases to keep up your sleeve: “a playful use of colour” (for a colourful work), “intriguing” (dark colours), “very lyrical” (soft, wash-like paintings). Or simply throw the ball back in the other person’s court by asking for their opinion thus: “This artist has a unique sensibility that is hard to describe. What do you think?”

SimplyFab: We like!! Does that mean abstract artists are deep, dark and emo?...since they seem to appreciate something that most of us don’t understand?
Wyn Lyn: Maybe we’re deep, but not necessarily dark and emo, lah. I prefer to think that we just see things in a different way, that’s all.

SimplyFab: Can we just splotch some paint across a canvas ourselves, frame it and call it art? Will that fly?
Wyn Lyn: Sorry, no. There’s a difference between a simply decorative piece and real art. Real art takes into account factors such as the provenance (or origin) of the artist, his or her reputation and biography as an artist. All these matter when it comes to how much the art is worth.

SimplyFab: How about a quickie on appreciating abstract art in 3-5 tips?
Wyn Lyn: Some elements to look out for:
1.Composition: a good composition has a focal point that draws your eye to it.
2.Line/ Mark/ Stroke: Can be gestural (freeform and loose) or more deliberate. Often used to convey the sense of energy in a painting.
3.Space: The artist’s use of positive and negative space gives the feeling of depth in a painting.
At the end of the day, abstract art is all about feeling. To quote Wassily Kandinsky, one of the first modern abstract painters, “Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for colours, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential."

SimplyFab: If we still don’t see the art in the splotches of paint, what do you advise we do?
Wyn Lyn: Don’t worry, it takes time. Everyone has different preferences; perhaps you simply prefer realism to abstraction.

- By EW


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