Art from Singapore
Chan Chang How was born in Singapore in 1943 and he is a member of the Singapore Watercolour Society.
Chan Chang How has won numerous awards and was recently selected in 2010 for the Shanghai Zhujiajiao International Watercolour Biennial Exhibition.
The following text is part of article “Long Journey of Art” from his watercolour book:
“In the early years of learning to paint I had not had much interest in doing watercolour. I didn’t quite know how to begin and gradually grew less and less excited about it. However, I had great passion for Chinese ink painting and for a long time immersed myself in it.
I was fond of the figures painted by Wang Ziwu, the landscapes by Li Kern, the modern-style landscapes by Qian Songyan, the Chinese minority figures by Cheng Shifa and the serialised illustrations by Shi Dawei. I was impressed by the fresh ideas of these artists an their refreshing styles. I came to the realisation that art is no formula, that innovation is essential to painting and that an artist must create beyond traditional techniques and expand his individual stregths.
… I owed my gratitude to two teachers in my days as student of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts: Zheng Guo Wei and See Chin Tee. It was under their guidance that I became keenly aware of the characteristics and merits of sketching. Despite its monochromatic nature, the visual language inherent in a sketch is a rich one. For this reason I persistently studied the art, experimenting with different kinds of sketching pencils. On weekends and public holidays I would make sketching trips to various places with friends on which we would observe one another’s drawing techniques, ways of composition and other issues.
… Some of the first-generation Singapore artists also visited the Singapore River to do sketches and that was how I got to be acquainted with watercolourist Lim Cheng Hoe. Mr Lim would paint at home in his spare time, sometimes getting his children to be his models. From observing him I learned a lot. It was also thanks to his introduction that I got a chance to know another watercolourist Ong Chye Cho. On several occasions I was invited to join them on sketching tours to Malaya and other places. This prompted me to reconsider taking up watercolour.
From the 1980s on I invested all my efforts single-mindedly into watercolour and even though it was tough in the beginning I had no regret.
… On a drawing trip I had the opportunity of exhanging views with Mr. Gog Sing Hooi (former president of The Singapore Watercolour Society, deceased). Something he said cleared the blockage in my mind and seemed to point the way ahead for me succinctly. I joined The Singapore Watercolour Society in the early 1990s and my art has been growing since then. The activities of the society are not restricted to the local scene, we have ventured out into other parts of the world. I have had the occasions of being invited to participate in overseas art exhibitions, which was why I had the opportunity to visit Begium with four other fellow artists. I have stepped out of my house and come face-to-face with excellent paintings by various masters from all over the world. I makes me fee tiny. I constantly remind myself to make efforts to be self enriching.
Having been revived by the fresh breath outside my watercolour painting has undergone transformations from my original style. I insist that every piece of my watercolour work is unique: they are enriched with elements of Chinese painting, kinear skills and compositions inspired by pictorial illustration.
My watercolour paintings are individualistic: they may not be remarkable but nevertheless they are unmistakably my creations”
You can find more on his sketching and watercolour painting here: