“When you think you have made a mistake, think of it as an opportunity to make something beautiful.” – Barney Saltzberg
How wonderfully reassuring it is to know that it’s okay to make mistakes and that it could be transformed into something beautiful. Encouraged by a recent setback that turned out to be a blessing in disguise, this artwork is an exploration of ideas and emotions behind fixing mistakes and a discovery of something beautiful in the process.
Working with ink on rice paper is generally unforgiving, for it is difficult to fix mistakes made. The process of working with ink has been both a therapeutic and empowering experience that led to an ephiphany of sorts–how one tends to focus on the mistake and miss out the bigger lesson of growth and transformation that accompanies it.
This is part of a series of abstract ink experiments on rice paper that explores the relationship between fear and discovery, navigating between zones of comfort and unknown, during a period of difficult emotions. The artworks are a reflection of a particular season in life, a personal journey of struggles.
Working with ink on rice paper is generally unforgiving and difficult to fix mistakes made. The choice of medium was therefore an intentional one as I felt a need to deal with the emotions within through the process of exploration with ink, water and paper. Each painting unravelled different discoveries of the self and allowed the process of sublimation to take place. Personally, the process of working with ink has been both a therapeutic and empowering experience that led me to realise how I often tend to zoom into the mistake and miss out the bigger lesson of growth and transformation that accompanies it.
As an artist and a teacher, inquiry is a process of self-discovery and learning, trying to make sense of the world around us with the world within us through artmaking. It is a process of investigation, motivated by a curious desire to seek understanding and reconcile conflicting feelings and impulses in an aesthetically satisfying way.
Therefore I believe it is important to allow a child the physical, cognitive and emotional space to explore, experiment and express during artmaking that would develop a healthy disposition towards life, a curious mind and a hunger for learning.
One of the things I enjoy doing with the pupils during exam season is allowing them to express themselves freely through large collaborative artworks of paint drips, splatters and scribbles. Most of them were afraid to “make a mess” with the paints but later found the artmaking process particularly therapeutic in relieving exam stress. It helped them to loosen up and imagine themselves as artists confronting the unknown and allowing the effects of paint to unfold. These experiments with different ways of applying paint on paper allowed the pupils to imagine and interpret ideas and emotions through the layers of lines, textures and colours. They also discovered that artworks do not always need to look beautiful, and even abstract pieces can be meaningful.
Abandoned this painting and left it hanging in my room after making several mistakes with the ink washes and one day it finally caught my attention. I felt that it reflected a state of mind that was preoccupied with doubts and the unknown. That moment of realisation prompted me to rework the ink washes and include the Pumpkin Girl as a reminder and encouragement.
“Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come. Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won and all the fears you have overcome.” – Unknown
“Just when you’ve had enough, life gives you more. And just when you think it’s rained enough, it starts to pour.” – Unknown
What started as an experiment with brushstrokes later transformed into raindrops as it reminded me of a rainy day. The repetitive motion of the brushwork was gently soothing for the heart and mind, just like how the rain washes away the filth.
In search of new inspiration from comfort and familiarity?
Whose standards should I then follow?
Even as fear and frustration brew, hope is still around.
Like old memories that have faded, let the fears float away.
|| Lim Xiao Ting