Saturday, January 9, 2010

Maggie's Chinese ink art

Poised with her brush

My friend, Maggie has not lost the love for Chinese ink painting since she picked up the brush 12 years ago. 'It was the love to draw since I was young that made me pursue this art form.' Looking at her collection of works, I must say, she has done well to satisfy her inner spiritual needs.

One of her favourite pieces - 'hang it in the kitchen for good luck'.

She recalls the earliest days when it was just holding the brush correctly and practising strokes that go up and down, and sideways! Imagine the tedium. Any impatient soul would just chuck it away and not look at Chinese ink painting anymore! But under the guidance of her sifu, Chong Cheng Chuan, she persisted. One of her earlier pieces depicted chickens. And she was utterly surprised that someone liked one of the chicken pieces and paid RM200.

An earlier piece - who can forget the chickens that got sold??

Really, for Maggie, it's not about money at all. Since then, nothing has been sold but it does not bother her. Her technique has really improved and she is proud of herself. Her sifu has taken a few of her pieces to exhibit in China and Singapore.

Maggie and her husband, Mr Ho, Sifu Chong Cheng Chuan at the centre where she paints. To the right of Maggie is her art piece for a recent exhibition.

'I can do better,' she says. 'It also depends on the mood.' That's artisitic reality. It's hard not to feel unsettled when she draws in public at exhibitions but this is all an accepted part of training. She proceeded to show me how the lines are captured - when to increase the intensity and when to lift the brush for the 'light' touch, all the while being in a relaxed frame of mind to execute the desired effects.

'The flow is important' - a piece on Chinese orchid

With her neighbour, they have been attending classes regularly, once a week. Practice should be daily but it seems to be a struggle so it happens only twice or thrice a week. The young and the old come together to the sifu's class in Cheras to learn this art . The youngest is 6 years and the oldest, 70 years. They try their skills on popular subjects - scenery, fish, bamboo and plum blossom.

I have to marvel at Maggie's achievements for after a full day's work in the office, she gathers her tools to relax and unwind in her hobby till it's time to have a good night sleep. She especially loves to draw fish - be it carp, angel or gold fish.

Maggie gave me an art piece a few years ago to accompany my telling of an old tale from China,'The Magic Paint Brush' to the kids during my storytelling sessions. The kids and parents will gush with admiration when they see it. That's when I tell them about my friend, Maggie , the artist.

Floral piece of plum blossoms and chrysanthemums

Tools : ink of different colours, brushes, big, small, fat, thin, rice paper and palette

Maggie's most recent achievement

Old works - many hours of practices

One thing she's ever so thankful for is her husband's advice to make great effort to learn how to write her name in Chinese. That seals her own piece of achievement. Last of all, comes the bright red seal with her name inscribed on it.

What about any word of advice for aspiring artists? --'Be patient. Passion will get you there.'

Yes,without any doubt, Maggie has sealed her talent there.


  1. Wow!!
    Its really great art !!

    (I thought you would made a snow post ;)

    Have a wonderful weekend

  2. I love ink, paper, brushes but could not do as beautiful as Maggie's works...
    But I can dream I can... :)
    Have a nice weekend!

  3. i love chinese painting , in fact i have one hanging in my room which i bought in hong kong

  4. Another wonderful post - I love how you shine light on so many talents, but this piece in particular is very moving - because Chinese and Japanese art does require patience and passion in equal measure. To persist with the practise of line and stroke is like a kind of meditation... I love painting this way too..

  5. Hi
    Anya,I hope my friend, maggie is reading this post. She loves her art and hope this will spur her on:))

    Bananaz, definitely great strokes that are learnt with patience.

    BLOGitse, thank you for visiting. Patience is a virtue and the practice of this art enhances it :)

    xplorer, yes, hong kong is a good place to buy chinese ink art paintings. enjoy your piece!

    Shiasta, thanks for your kind comments.

    Gran, maggie deserves compliments for her hard work and perserverance.

    wenn, thanks!

  6. Ooooh! Love the chickens! Such expression! She shouldn't have parted with it, ha ha!

    This post has inspired me to pursue art again despite my work commitments. Perhaps an hour a week. I love to sketch and do cartooning. Now it seems to me like I only ever doodle during meetings.

    Thanks for this bit of beauty on a Monday morning, Keats!

  7. I am amazed at how the art can be distinctly Chinese. I mean I know we can categorize art but Chinese ink produces distinguished art that we immediately recognise as Chinese. How is that so? (I hope you understand what I'm trying to say).

  8. Hi
    ~Covert_operations'78~, I like the chickens too! Maggie says she'll do a special piece for me so I wait in eagerness:)) You do keep a busy schedule. Anyhow, pick up the brush and give it a go! I know you 're an all-rounder:))

    Ocean Girl, Chinese ink art is very recognizable. Some friends of mine do Chinese calligraphy and that is an art in itself but I must admit, for me, it is easier to appreciate this art.

  9. My grandpa was a talented Chinese ink artist but sadly, we never kept any of his paintings when we moved out of our ancestral home.

  10. Hi Sunshine Girl!
    I am so thankful that wonderful people share their talents... she is a remarkable artist! One of my favorite mugs has this kind of art on it. :)

  11. Hi
    Veronica Lee, I agree, that's sad. Perhaps there's some hidden talent among some family members??

    Rosey Pollen, that's nice to have a mug with chinese art on it. let's drink to this!

    Pete, I think we need more art exhibitions of this nature.

  12. Wow..she has so many beautiful paintings. They all look delicate and fantastic!

  13. Hi

    I studied Chinese painting under Mr Chong Cheng Chuan for 6 years until 1990 when I had to go overseas for further studies. Since then I have been working overseas and lost touch with him as he is no longer based in his old studio in the Imbi area in KL. I would like to get in touch with him again but cannot find him through the internet. I would be most grateful if you can please help me get his contact address or telephone number in KL? Thanks.

    Marcus Hing


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