The ninth person on my list is....
10 Most Artistically Inspiring People of 2011
I can't wait to show you the amazing art work of Ching Chou Kuik. This lady is the reason I got into Copic markers, which is the reason I met Mandi, which is the reason I saw Jane, who is the reason I took my first ever drawing lesson - so really Ching Chou and her work started me on a whole new life chapter - where do I begin to say thank you?
Ching Chou Kuik is a professional artist, now living in Taiwan with her husband and new baby. Her designs are sold worldwide as stitching patterns, decoupage designs, rubber stamps, mugs, bags, note cards, art prints and original art. I first saw her work while stamp shopping on-line at Sweet Pea Stamps - I was mesmerised, here were stamps, images I would love to be able to draw myself - but sadly lacked the skill or talent to create - I was in fantasy stamp heaven!!! So I bought ahem 'a few' of Ching Chou's designs and then followed the info to the designer's pages and there was some of the most beautiful watercolour art I've ever seen. Until that moment I don't think I had seen (or maybe hadn't noticed) water-coloured fantasy art. This was like a whole new world and I couldn't get enough. I went through every image on Ching Chou's gallery, checked out her Facebook page, and bought err 'a few' more images, I felt a little like an internet stalker, but honestly I was captivated - the elfin features, the flowing hair, the design elements, the colour and OMG the backgrounds.
Unlike many professional artists Ching Chou happily shares her creative process and has even created several pages of photographic tutorials which show the steps in the creation of her art works - you can find her tutorials here, some are more detailed than others, so have a good look around - my favourite is Lavender Venice Night. Ching Chou also creates pieces on commission, which is how I got to know her - you can see my post about this here. For me, this was a fabulous experience, not only did I end up with drop-dead-gorgeous art worth every cent I paid and more, but the experience of seeing how a working professional artist creates a piece first hand was a wonderful learning experience. I got to see the line work, progressing to the colouring, to the alterations to the colouring (eek my fault there), to the detailing to the finished piece. All I can say is WOW what an amazing opportunity to 'see' how a professional goes about things! As an added bonus I got to know Ching Chou a little better, my goodness what an uber-talented, patient, caring and generous lady - not only did she answer all my questions but she really allowed me to be involved, something I really was not expecting. This may sound silly but I think the images Ching Chou draws are a reflection of the beautiful soul within, look into the eyes of her art and you see a little of her - luminous, compassionate and kind spirit- she really is a joy to work with. Now I asked many, many questions some of which were, what does she use to create these amazing artworks (I was kind of hoping that in using the same supplies a little of her magic may rub off on me) and this is her reply:
'I mostly use watercolours for my fantasy work, especially since I began selling my art in the summer of 2006. I love and used to use oil for my private work. Then I found gouache is a good medium for my fantasy art, so I use both watercolour and gouache since two/three years ago - the brand is Winsor and Newton.
About the paper, I used to use cold-press watercolour papers, but after I tried hot-press watercolour paper, I just love it! I especially love Arches hot press watercolour paper.'
So what do I find most inspiring about Ching Chou's work, well this one is hard as there is more than the one thing - in fact there are 3 - other than her amazingly drawn fantasy women!
1. Her stunning watercolor backgrounds, the colour, the texture - they wow me every time. I need to create amazing backgrounds like this - why - for some reason they appeal to me more than any others - the fluid and delicious colours, the look - sigh - beautiful! I checked and Ching Chou says she likes to use salt to give her backgrounds the textured look, well I know the salting helps with the texture, but what Ching Chou does before and after this really makes them special - the graded colours, the bubbles, the detailed designs - check out her gallery for more images. One of my goals for this year is to figure out how to create backgrounds like Ching Chou's using my Copic markers, stay tuned as when I finally figure it out I'll be sharing! Here are a few examples of what I mean...
2. Her absolutely mesmerising ability to blend a variety of colours and make it look 'right', who would think that yellow, pink, blue, green and purple could look so good together. I have to say I love this bold blending of colours, the use of contrasting colours - it really adds 'oomph' to the images - yet somehow it all melds together so well. I love that she incorporates light - not through the traditional addition of a tone or shade of the same colour - but via adding a different colour entirely, a contrasting colour or something in between. Again - breaking those 'rules' I had in my head, this makes me really want to try something like this myself. PS - check out the amazingly detailed designs added to the clothing and background!
3. The way she creates the most delicate looking transparent fabrics and wings. Transparent objects are one of the things I find hardest to colour and I can only hope one day I can create something that looks as delicate as Ching Chou's wings - whether clear like the first image, or beautifully coloured and still transparent like the second - they are just so beautifully done. While I can 'see' how they are painted, I can't believe how ethereal they look - lol silly I know, but they really do amaze me. Again check out the detail on the fabric and look at the depth in those eyes.
So a BIG THANK YOU to Ching Chou for breaking down a few more of my pre-conceptions, for introducing me to the beauty of watercolour (which now I MUST learn since I bought the supplies), for inspiring me to try using Copics, for making me buy soooo many Sweet Pea Stamps (OK maybe I shouldn't thank her for that one lol), for continuing to inspire me to try new ideas and techniques and pushing the limits of what I thought you could do with colour and finally for setting my feet on a brand new path - you've opened my eyes to posibilities and made me want to know more. Your
watercoloured wonders are a joy to behold (even better in person and up close) and I can't wait to see what you create in 2012.
You can find out more about Ching Chou Kuik and here art on her web site. Images re-posted with Ching Chou's permission.
PS - just found out that TODAY there are new Ching Chou Kuik stamps available at Sweet Pea Stamps - I thought that was perfect timing, click image on right to have a look.