Upon entering the Grace Art Studio, one cannot help but marvel at its pristine white interior and well ventilated space, setting the perfect mood to lift the paint brush. It was at these premises that Ipoh Echo had an exclusive one-on-one with Lydia Chew Siew Ling, the owner.
Hailing from Bukit Mertajam, Penang, the 44-year-old moved to Ipoh at the age of 21 to start a family. She picked up painting skills via visits to art galleries, guidance from her mentor and self-learning on her own. Lydia named her Malaysian mentor, Dzull and a Taiwanese artist, Chien Chung Wei as her favourite artists.
Her forte is in portraiture and in both oils and watercolour. “Your look is God’s creation and everyone is unique in their own special way. Hence, I enjoy painting portraits because I can see the beauty in each person,” the amiable Lydia told Ipoh Echo recently. Sketching a portrait with pencil takes her around 25 minutes while an oil painting can take up to one month.
“I always tell my students that they must let go and relax themselves when they paint. When I teach them, I learn something from them in return. There is no right or wrong in painting. The key point is you must enjoy the painting process,” she explained. Teaching for over 20 years, her passionate students range from four to 80 years of age.
With fees starting from RM70 per month, she was teaching from home before establishing her studio in January this year. Since the last few years, she offers one-on-one home tutoring too. Whenever she has free time to spare (usually during public holidays), she runs a sketching booth at Concubine Lane. Her art studio brimming with her masterpieces is open to the public for visits too.
When asked on the challenges she faced along the way, the mother of three replied, “I wish I could be a full-time artist but I need to take care of my family and students too. Plus, it is difficult to obtain some art supplies here.”
In the 2nd International Symposium on World Chinese Women by the World Chinese Women’s Association in 2003, she was awarded a consolation prize for her oil painting depicting herself and her son. In October this year, she emerged champion for the Plein Air Challenge and third placing for the Portrait Challenge in HERarts, organised by PORT (People Of Remarkable Talent).
This is her major painting principle cum advice for other aspiring artists out there: “Painted in every heart is a distinctive picture that belongs only to each. Listen to the voice within you and search for it. You will then find peace and yourself. By all means, paint! Do not be afraid.” And her job is to help one to express it.
“It is by God’s grace that I got to set up the studio, hence the name of my studio,” she added.
To fix time for lessons and visits, interested readers can contact Lydia at the following:Studio address: 70A, Lebuh Lapangan Siber 2, Bandar Cyber, 31350 Ipoh. Facebook: firstname.lastname@example.org Contact Numbers: 016 5937 161 or 016 5346 272