By Mei Kuan
Ipoh-born Michael YC Lip is a practicing landscape architect and architect with equal passion for painting, crafting, photography, travel, fashion illustration, gardening, jelly making, baking, interior designing and general wellbeing.
The 72-year-old is currently working magic with watercolour and acrylic as well as exhibiting his paintings in the ongoing Arte@PavilionKL—his first ever participation in an art exhibition with other established and emerging Malaysian artists.
Ipoh Echo caught up with the amiable Michael to learn all about his artistic journey and creations.
“I have always been interested in all things creative since I was young. Drawing and painting were my favourite pastimes. Initially, I learnt how to draw and paint from observation from my talented mother and some of my artistic sisters. Coming from a large family of 12, I would go to my quiet corner to draw and paint for fun. When I attended school, I had dedicated art teachers who taught me and encouraged me further. I was always asked to design posters for school events,” the alumni of St Michael’s Institution Ipoh recalled.
In upper secondary, the Art Club President encouraged its members to enter the then Annual Ipoh Jaycees Art Exhibitions.
At the same time, the upper secondary student went into fashion designing and had his fashion illustrations appearing in Fanfare, Her World, the Crusader, the Malay Mail and the Malaysian Catholic News among others.
According to Michael, his painting pursuits came to a standstill when he studied architecture in Kuala Lumpur Technical College in 1969 then in Adelaide, Australia in 1972, followed by a Masters in Landscape Architecture in Sheffield, England in 1976.
“I took every opportunity to visit museums, art galleries, iconic architecture and gardens created by the old and new masters in Europe,” he enthused.
In 1983, he started two architectural companies besides getting married and raising a family.
“40 years later, with an established professional consultancy, I am now a born-again artist! I signed up for a course in all mediums with the notable Malaysian artist, Yeo Eng Peng. With his tutelage and encouragement, I am confident to submit my paintings for exhibition,” he expressed.
Regarding his painted works, he explained, “With my background as an architect and a landscape architect, my themes are naturally heritage buildings, flora and fauna, cultural artifacts and the human form in action. The painting style which I enjoy doing presently are Realism tending towards Surrealism and Expressionism.”
Hoping to explore oil painting in 2022, his mastered mediums encompass pen, pencil, gouache, watercolour and acrylic.
He was recently awarded the Honorary Mention Award in the Monochrome 2021 Online Art Exhibition at J. Mane Gallery USA and accepted as one of the artists by Saatchi USA’s International Online Art Gallery—adding another feather to his cap.
Proving that age is no barrier to painting, he cited his foster mum, Dorrie Ellard in Berri, South Australia who hosted him on one of the student trips to the countryside as his inspiration to keep painting.
“She is presently 99 years old and is still painting! She retired as a dental nurse in her sixties and took up painting classes besides qigong, and within a few years she started to exhibit her works. She accepted painting commissions and taught students art too,” he shared.
Michael observed that as the Covid pandemic impacted the field of arts, many galleries opted for online shows: “However, they are not as good as physical exhibitions. Now since the MCO has been lifted, one can see many art exhibitions happening in KL and Penang. I hope the Ipoh art scene will prosper too. As an Ipohite, I hope to be part of it.”
Here’s his advice for aspiring painters: “Learn everything about painting i.e. history of art, the works of great artists, their styles and themes, the medium they used. Attend organised art classes with proficient and experienced art teachers. Accept comments, be humble when learning and price paintings affordably when starting out. Publicise your works and yourself online frequently i.e. on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and personal websites. Plus, take part in open exhibitions.”
For more updates, visit his Facebook page. Art commission requests are welcomed.
One can also view some of his artworks at the Arte@PavilionKL (Phase 2) at Level 1 of Pavilion Bukit Bintang which runs until December 31.