Decorative Painting

Before I embarked on the journey of fine art, I was attracted to decorative painting.  What is decorative painting?  Decorative painting is one of the many branches of artistic expression accomplished with paint. Initially it is considered a peasantry craft, when most of the images are painted on the walls, furniture or utensil for decorative purposes.  Today some of the superbly executed painted images are collected by museums.

 As what Jackie Shaw author of the Big Book of Decorative Painting said:  “It is initially a craft, easily taught by a systematic, step-by-step approach, and readily learned…and it is when the painter’s creativity flows from the heart through the hairs of the brush…the craft of decorative painting becomes an art.”


Studies have shown that it is human nature to imitate.  When we see someone smile, our facial muscles relax and when we see someone cry on screen it will cause a lump to form in the throat or even tears to well up.  Scientists believe that human beings have six basic emotions; they are fear, joy, anger, distress, surprise and disgust, the difference between us and animals is that we have complex emotions. We can feel guilty and disgust or disgust with fear at the same time.  The problem with these emotions is that they are short lived; it is the mood they provoke that has a longer lasting effect.   The aim of any artist is be able to draw an emotional response from the viewer but emotion can changed within minutes or second, the challenge is creating the ambience to set the mood,  long enough for the viewer to contemplate and see one self through the work of arts.

Tok Li Qing (2004). 35x45cm, Oil on canvas

TLQ Portraiture (2004). 35x45cm, oil on canvas.



I wish I could Cry

The urge to write about this topic was fueled by my late mother’s intense dislike on the color – black, but this dislike was only on my clothing. I was never allowed to have any clothes in black. Any act of defiance on this, the clothes would meet the same fate in the mystery of ‘Bermuda triangle’.

My mother never explained why, and I did not understand till her funeral. Though she never tells me personally, somehow I get her point of view. Black to her is associated with death and mourning.   When a person has gone through the pain of separation through death, there is this fear of reminder of this pain. But this reasoning created more questions for me. So, we do not want to associate with things which bring us memories of pain? If that’s the case then why Rothko Chapel though depressive yet visitors are streaming in to be affected, to drive them to tears? Why the tickets for movies like Titanic sold in millions? Readers and writers revered on Shakespeare’s tragic stories?

There are many recorded entries of testimonials written by the visitors on their experiences in Rothko Chapel. Most of the records were on how they were affected and driven to tears by the atmosphere of the artwork. But the saddest entry I found was this statement “I wish I could cry”.

Human are susceptible to being mold and conditioned to vary level of self-consciousness due to different cultural upbringing. Learning not to cry is one way in which one attempt to control the amount one reveal to others, one’s vulnerability. Crying itself is instinctual; the baby comes out of the womb with the ability to cry, this ability is unlearned. What is learned is the ability to suppress crying. From young, we are molded to suppress our crying, we are trained to be analytical, skeptical rather than emotional.

Though some studies suggested that animals cry as well, but crying as an emotional reaction is considered by many a unique human phenomenon. When a person is in extreme pain either emotionally or physically, tears came as a form of soothing balm. However crying does not restricted to negative emotion, many people had been known to cry when they are extremely happy or when they are laughing. There are also instances when crying is used as a manipulative tool to receive attention and wants.

Most therapists agreed that crying are beneficial, crying can have profound therapeutic effect.   People need to be in touch with their feelings. Repression or holding in feelings is harmful, one needs to let it out, it is a human biological necessities. In this world, tears will always be with us, if learning to stop crying is necessary to maturation, to stop altogether is to be less than human.

What a revelation to be able to cry, to be touched and to be able to luxuriate in one’s emotion. One would be openly envious of people who can react openly without a hint of self-consciousness. To be able to cry might be one of the best things a person can do. Tears is similar to rain, one need it to cleanse one’s soul from the earthly mire. Without restraining oneself, but let one’s mind and soul be freer to roam. The ability to engage in one’s emotion put a person in a more receptive mood. One, who can cry, responded and lived for that moment.

One should learn to luxuriate in one’s emotion once in a while and let the feeling flow and do not let the mood be dampen by what is proper or right. Whatever which bring on the tears or an overemotional frame of mind is no longer an issue. What is important is to be able to indulge in the senses, which is there for you to feel to know that “I exist and I am alive!”

Why people visit museum?

Why people are willing to queue for hours to enter the museum? That was my encounter during a trip to Paris. Due to time constraint (travelling in group), I missed my chance to say hello to the post-impressionists painters which I was looking forward to meet in Musee de Orsay.

Why people goes to see an exhibition when they cannot see the paintings on view properly, because there are continuously people walking around them. It is rather like listening to music and in between the play, you hear noises here and there, it is distracting but nobody worries. This is especially so, in the case of an art show opening night. Everybody is rubbing shoulder against each other and one could not view the paintings without being in the way of another person.

During a visit to Lourve Museum in Paris, I was enthralled while looking at the massive scale and execution of paints on the Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon I and Coronation of the Empress Josephine in the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris by Jacques Louis David, the scale in which it was painted was to let the viewer travel in time to attend the grandeur procession, and became the witness of the consecration. But the angle which I raised my head towards the painting and the passer-by keep reminding me I am just looking at an ‘object’. And the next disappointment was viewing Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. I was surrounded with viewers who are occupied with photo taking of the small painting sealed by a layer of bullet-proof glass.

Lastly, a visit to The National Palace Museum in Taiwan. Queue were snaking in the museum, most of the visitors are queuing to view the Jadeite Cabbage (翠玉白菜). Undeniable that it is a master piece, I was torn between waiting in line for an hour to view this masterpiece or spend this hour viewing other pieces of artworks which also earned their place in the museum, I choose the later.

Mona LisaJacques-Louis DavidJade Cabbage in Taiwan


Forget the past, it is gone. Do not project into the future, it is yet to come. Live Now with awaken and conscious mind. Be conscious of the beauty of the sky and the colour of flowers, of the freshness of the breeze and the generosity of the sun. The greatest wealth is to appreciate what we have.

Yellow Butterflies

Yellow Butterflies

Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art

It is interesting to know how messages are embedded in an imCongratulatory Snuff Bottleage. Chinese words are evolved from pictorial representation. And the Chinese language has more words than sounds, so one sound can mean several things (homonym).

It is Chinese custom that one do not talk about one’s gift to another party. Example a congratulatory is embedded in a gift with this images; a monkey on a horseback and bees flying around. The homonym for monkey (猴 = 侯) is marquis or high official; on horseback (马上) means immediate; and bee (蜂=封) means sealed or granted. The deciphered code means马上封侯congratulation on the immediate promotion. With this understanding, one can derived that the purpose of this snuff bottle is meant to be a gift for someone working in imperial court.



Rose Scent

Since the Ancient Greek and Roman times, people have tried to capture the scent of rose flowers in a usable form. Perfumed ointments were produced by extracting the oils and fats from the rose petals. However, it was not possible to isolate the pure essential oil until the Arabs had invented steam distillation.  Bulgarian rose oil is used not only in pharmacology and medicine, but also in the perfume and cosmetics industries.

A painting by J Bruegel the elder, The Allegory of Scent illustrated how roses were used. It depicts a garden with flowering plants and rose pickers with a laboratory complete with distilling equipment to produce rose water as a medicine.

Jase Lim
Educed Rose (2014). Oil on canvas, 50x50cm by Jase Lim