Hong Kong Garden

About Me

Darkness devours all light. As I look into this vast space, I see however more than this colorless black. At the corner of my eye, there is a sudden spark of fluttering cadmium red specks, enveloped by trails of yellow ochre and hooker green. Then turquoise droplets ooze to the bottom of the picture and crimson stains the pure ebony. My creative imagination flows boundless just as this darkness spreads infinitely. The air is like an old film replaying moments of my childhood playground, family-friends reunions and school experience. Here, each memory triggers another inspirational story, highlighting my admiration for artists and successors. Then, I open my eyes. I lift up my paintbrush to relive and produce the moment. I am a painter who brightens stories with color.
In the promising studio, a freshly painted canvas of the Hotchkiss sun, lake and plains snaps with liveliness at the last stroke of my brush. I try hard to portray my fondness of the campus while incorporating the styles of Van Gogh. I praise his unique swirls and abstract layers which emphasizes atmosphere, but at the same time realistically portray the subject. My art teacher once told me, “The best way to learn about something is by drawing it”. When I observe the curves and indents on the surface of the lake, my eyes trace every ripple thoroughly. As I paint what I see, I also begin to illustrate my own personality. My opinions and affections for this beautiful scenery are gradually conveyed through my markings. By using these interpretive strokes, I narrate through my painting, a three dimensional tale. I can present my vision and emotions fully to others, in my own special language.
My inspiration also derives from the well-known places and the familiar faces, thus, my art becomes an appreciation of my own identity. Two summers ago, my rewarding travels brought me once again to the Shree Mangal Dvip Boarding School in Kathmandu, Nepal, where I became an art teacher. My class was filled with twenty five diligent students aged from ten to sixteen. Not until then did I understand that teaching arouses creativity for the teacher herself.  The students were intent on this wondrous world of art; they were blank canvases absorbing the colors on my own palette. At our first meeting, I outlined on the chalkboard, the vivid curves of the Himalayan Mountains, snakelike rivers and the sun as a perfect circle. I showed them everything I was taught through demonstrations, from techniques to proportional measuring. The children then sketched the things they cherished such as their family, friends, sports and hobbies. Their drawings of people, objects or places, held a meaning much more than an illustration; it was a representation of who these children were and where they came from. Their rough and simplified sketches influenced my understanding that art can share a representation and sentiment with another, a resonance between different perspectives.  They had put a piece of themselves within the frames.
I showed them how to expand their imagination by asking them what they had learned about their subject matter through our sketching exercises and the children replied with enthusiasm, ‘Round eyes, happy mouths and a kind-heart.’ As they held their drawings high with widespread smiles on their faces, I could see that they learned how to perceive personality through drawing appearance. It was then when I first understood why I became an artist myself. I, who creates, also have the ability to inspire.
I shut my eyes and retreat into the darkness. At a young age, I had been passionate about art and throughout the years, my memorable experiences have developed my talents and ideas. I draw what I see and what I learn from my audience, incorporating both onto the canvas. I would like to continue painting beyond college, capturing minds as I have done to my students at SMD and my peers who engage in my art work at Hotchkiss and at Stanford. Thoreau had beautiful Walden; Mozart had his black and white keys; I have my images in this darkness. I paint my life.
-Vickie Li