There are numerous paintings of trees out there. Trees seem to be a popular subject for many artists.
Such series of tree paintings could be a complexly layered, diverse array of green paint splattered across the canvas, with branches spreading across and beyond, as a faint glow of yellow seeps through the cracks of the bushes of leaves. Another painting may include another tree painting, this time of a tree with almost completely bare branches if not for a few reddening leaves hanging on, even though the sun’s healthy ray seemingly illuminates the clear, blue sky…
A series of tree paintings can consist of different compositions and colours. It may provoke curiosity from viewers as to what theme the artist is trying to convey through the trees. Growth? Passage of time? The unpredictability of life?
Hong Kong artist, Michelle Chiu, has painted a number of tree paintings.
This is what she has to say about it:
“I decided to paint trees [because] they have flexible forms, they look beautiful and I like trees.”
It’s as simple as that.
There was no particular meaning that was assigned to each tree painting she made. The only meaning that you could say can be derived from her series of tree paintings was the experimenting and practicing Michelle had been trying to do with her painting style and technique.
In fact, she can tell you that most of her artwork does not attempt to convey grand philosophical concepts or life lessons. Michelle is very honest about that. Most of the time, her artwork is created out of her sheer love for painting and exploring this form of art.
“I am honest to myself and acknowledge the fact that [as of now] there isn’t a grand philosophical concept that interests me as much as ‘painting’ itself.”
At this stage, Michelle is focused on simply enjoying the art-creating process and honing her skills. She is not desperate to prove herself by making paintings under headings that do not genuinely underlie her creation.
Michelle clearly knows what she stands for as an artist: Honesty and Sincerity.
Ever the honest painter, Michelle is inclined to use her own intuition, above all else, as her guide in creating art. Despite the subject of her artwork being day-to-day commodities or sights, they facilitate her creative expression. She paints out of her head, using a subjective perception of an object— which itself, affected by personal emotions attached to it, is in abstraction— and unrestrictedly translates it into art through playing with the composition of the painting as well as different colours and techniques.
Ever the sincere painter, Michelle likes to space out her time in finishing a painting, so as to be able to think through her art. She usually spends up to three hours at a time working. She would then take a photo of her progress, go elsewhere, take a breather and continue thinking about her work with a refreshed mind.
I suspect you would rarely find her in a rush to complete her projects. She had no exams or deadlines when she was studying at Slade School of Fine Art in London, which gave her a lot of freedom to adjust her working style and helped develop her individual sense of art. Free-spirited but focused, Michelle does not restrict herself with elaborate sketches and paints almost straightaway on canvas. She is accepting and maybe even welcoming of making mistakes. She would paint the subject several times over on new canvases, where she would retain elements she liked from previous drafts and improve on the rest of the painting.
With a clear view of what she stands for as a painter, it is not difficult to understand why Michelle has chosen simple, everyday-life objects as the subjects of her artwork. Amongst others, her portfolio includes “A Towel”, “A Room with Red Curtain”, “A Room with White Curtain”, “A Sink”… Yes, it is as literal as it can get.
Michelle recently graduated from Slade, and has returned to Hong Kong, where she now works as a freelance art/ English teacher. Even though it has been difficult for her to spare time to paint regularly, she has not forsaken – and does not plan on forsaking – her dreams as an artist.
“My hope is simple: to keep wanting to be an artist… That is because I know how easily [it is for] one [to] give up on it.”