“This is even harder than saying yes I do.” I tell my friends over coffee. The girls break into giggles and ask why that is so. “Because, if things don’t work out this time, I have nothing to fall back on,” I reply matter-of-factly. 1st October 2015, my move to Singapore in search of a wider choice of artistic opportunities, will begin. If we could put a price tag on Creativity, what would its value be? Some say that creativity is priceless. Some argue that it is worthless. The answer seems unimportant to some but when you carry a suitcase with the intention of living away from home in the name of Creativity, you want to know the answer.
Being an artist seems like an extraordinary career to many. Initially people are amazed by where artists get their inspiration from, but then the interest wanes when it comes to pursuing this as a serious career. How can an artist survive solely on the sale of his or her works? This is when reality seeps in, turning the artistic career into one that is rarely embarked on. Hence, while everyone loves to make art, few venture into it as a full-time profession. The rule lies in not seeking the extraordinary career but in making one’s career extraordinary. Every career has its challenges. It depends on one’s mindset in pushing optimism to a higher level, prompting self-confidence and trusting oneself in optimal delivery.
As a classical portrait painter, I have been refused many times by media and galleries because they prefer to feature abstract painters and showcase their paintings. This is because there is a bigger market for abstract work. There are many times we cannot challenge the truth that our works are appreciated by a smaller group of people. Have you ever experienced this? Not wanting to change my direction, I changed my mindset. When a trade is less appreciated by the general public, it actually becomes a niche because it caters to an audience who is congenial to this style.
In my constant search for opportunities, I’ve learnt to never lose my genuine self and honest style but to enhance it with each learning experience. I continue to experiment – to use this as a stepping stone to better understand and improve my style and techniques. Inspiration can also be drawn from the lives of prominent artists, both past and present – that shows that behind their success lie stories of rejection and failure. However, those same stories show how acceptance and success triumphed in the end.
Mary Cassatt (1844–1926), an American painter during the peak of Impressionism, was one such person who I greatly admire. Mary did not start off smoothly in the world of painting because of the strong objections from her wealthy family. She was not well-accepted into the less privileged society either because most male painters those days regarded females in the trade as unwelcoming and perhaps, even threatening. In spite of these challenging circumstances Mary continued to pursue her academic studies by herself. She also travelled to Paris and spent many hours tirelessly painting copies of masterpieces in the Louvre as a way to improve her skills.
After some years, Mary’s hard work paid off as she became an established artist. However, her yearning to learn art led her to continue studying and painting across Europe. She also actively encouraged young American artists by sponsoring them and using her successful artist’s status to connect wealthy art collectors with works of these new artists. When I first laid my eyes on Mary’s paintings of children and women – I was immediately captivated. I became even more inspired after learning about her story
No successful journey ever comes easy. As I stare into my cup of coffee, I ponder what the ingredients are to an extraordinary career. Being in love with your work, the determination to work hard, the relentless pursuit of knowledge, courage to push across limits … My deep thoughts are suddenly interrupted by my girlfriends’ giggles. Oh yes! Don’t forget to add a dash of fun too!
Huifong is an author, painter and a poet. Her book “A Cup of Simplicity – mixes poetry with her art to depict the art and pleasure of simple living. She is an intuitive painter whose works are sometimes painted without a model, a reference or a photo. Beyond Brunei, Hui Fong’s work has been exhibited in Italy and Singapore. She is also the recipient of the Premio Speciale award from Biennale of Art, Umbria.
Read Huifong Ng’s featured story by clicking Here!