Please introduce yourself. Who are you? Where did you grow up? Where do you live?
My name is Winnie Wong. I grew up in Hong Kong and came to the United States in 1984. I attended Cal Arts the same year, earned my BFA in Fine Art in 1987, and I have been living in the Bay Area since then.
Tell us more about what you create. What style(s) do you work in, mediums, etc.
I paint in oil; I draw with charcoal or graphite. I specialize in still-life, portraiture, and figurative paintings. My goal is to paint with fidelity. My paintings are filled with contemporary elements using time tested old-master techniques. I also teach drawing and painting.
Where can we find your art besides at 4th Street?
In my home studio and online from my website www.winnielwong.com
How long have you been creating?
Visual art has always been a major part of my career. I have always been creating, in different media, such as color pencils, photography, video, and audio visual presentations etc. I have become a serious realist oil painter since 2006. I have always been fascinated with fine art painting since growing up. And I am fortunate to be doing what I love.
When you're not making your art, what do you do?
I spend majority of my time practicing painting; I do have chores to do. For leisure, I like to travel.
Is creativity a luxury or necessity for you? Tell us more about that.
Both. I have always been a doing something. It is natural for me to be a creative person in many ways. Being a full-time professional artist has always been my dream. I would say it is quite a luxury for me. I have put it on hold for awhile; now I'm fortunate to have time to pursue art and my family has been very supportive. So I would say creativity is luxury because I have time and it is necessity because I am a creative person and it is unbearable if I don't create.
What obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?
I know many artists do not make money. Many creative people cannot make enough to get by. I know many artists have to work odd jobs or change career path because they have family obligations to fulfill. The obstacle I encountered was self-criticism. I am the most harsh obstacle. I am a perfectionist and I have to overcome and accept the fact that nobody is perfect. I feel that I have not learned enough. I feel that I must work 100 times harder to be an adequate painter. I am the worst obstacle. I need to be kind to myself and be on the slow lane. Now I am happy to take baby steps and be grateful if I make progress.
Did someone in your family, a friend or teacher introduce you to your creative side or have they helped you along the way?
I remembered my mother taught me coloring with crayon when I was 3 or 4; one of my summer jobs was an apprentice to an realist portrait painter; my friend thought I had great artistic talent. All those things added up and it suggested that I could become a visual artist. I studied graphic design, photography, and digital imaging as my career choice. My family, especially my husband, is supportive. I am fortunate.
Where do you find inspiration?
I do not know exactly know how I was inspired. I know when I see some painting it moves me profoundly. I really want to paint like that painter. For example, I was in Boston Fine Art museum and saw Antonio Lopez Garcia's exhibition, I know that is the direction I would pursue - Realism, for visual pleasure; not narrative, not political art, not feminism... I just need to paint the most convincing and beautiful colors. That is where my inspiration is based.
What’s on the horizon for you and what you do?
I will open my own atelier. I want to invite learners of all age to unleash their creative potential. I love to share my artistic skills. I know many representational artists have great ideas, somehow, their works are hindered by lacking of skills. I graduated from fine art university; very little or no skills are offered in their curriculum. Techniques are never outdated, just like good grammar in writing, it is the necessary building block of a solid painting. Being able to describe light on the forms with good textures, and apply correct colors are critical. My atelier will fill that gap. Besides, opening my atelier, I will accept portrait commissions, like Neilson Shanks, Pietro Annigoni, and John Singer Sargent, I want to follow their footsteps to be a portrait painter.
If money wasn’t an issue how would your life change with regards to your art?
Money can do a lot for the fine art community. My goal is still the same, just larger in scale. I will open my fine art academy and make it an art center. I will have a museum for children's art. I will become an art collector. I will not sell my paintings, I will keep them all.
What inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?
Dream big. Be kind to yourself and believe in yourself. Learn as much as possible. Skills are learned and never out of style. Having some talent helps, but keep learning.
Who are some artists that inspire you?
Many. Spanish realist painter, Antonio Lopez Garzia, American artists, like, Jermery, Lipking, David Kassan, Dutch artist, Henk Helmantel, Chinese painter, Leng Jun, etc. Old masters like, Pietro Annigoni , Lucian Freud, Repin, Velazquez, and Neilson Shanks, to name a few.
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