For several years I have watched Katherine Cheng's work from afar. Her compositions are always nicely balanced and thought provoking. She treats each detail with care, and creates pieces that will one day, I hope, serve as a launching place for new artists to explore traditional mediums, pushing their creativity and originality even further!
Please welcome Katherine /Snowmask to Shadowness!
I recognize your screen name from a few other sites on the internet, and I know many others here have known you for some time as well. How long have you been participating in online art communities and why do you remain involved?
I have participated in online art communities since 2001. In this day and age, it is the most convenient way to reach out and communicate with like-minded people from all over the world, people who, at heart, share a passion for creating art. It is important for me to stay involved , watching artists evolve and develop always gives me great inspiration, and I hope to return the favour.
I have noticed several different themes in your well-balanced compositions. Where do you gain your inspiration?
I tell stories through my paintings. Each of them is a celebration of a singular potent moment, whether it is the finding of faith, overcoming grief, or exhilaration from remembering an evocative dream. I am always delving deeper in the emotional realm, therefore my inspirations are nothing short of personal experiences.
Thank you for the compliment. The balance found in the compositions of my paintings are my attempts to capture still images in my mind. Emotional inspiration is fueled by my love of music and the human form, which comes from 15 years of training in Classical Ballet. Synesthesia swiftly takes place - my mind going into “Fantasia” mode - choreographing a sequence where figures, shapes and splashes of colour are swept into a dynamic waltz. All that is left for me to do is to “get that shot”, so it can be translated to a painting.
Several of the pieces that you’ve uploaded to Shadowness are watercolors. Is this your primary medium and why have you chosen it?
For the past 2 years I have been honing my skills with watercolours. It is a fascinating medium, as they are infamously punishing yet full of creative potential. I chose to use them in a way that defies their very nature, with results that are clean and precise, while still retaining the depth and brilliance found in their pigment.
The time-consuming methods I adopted have now proven extremely useful for my transition to oils, which is so much more forgiving. It is like releasing ankle weights that have been on for the longest time; bitter before the sweet.
What is your opinion of the way online communities have influenced art over the past 20 years? Is it positive or negative and why?
My goodness, has it been that long already?
Overall the effect has been positive. Resources become more readily available as more and more artists feel open to share their techniques. Turning art into a serious hobby or even a career is now more widely adopted. One no longer has to take pilgrimages halfway across the world to learn art-making secrets from old established masters. I am happy that more people than ever are taking an interest in art, and have the means to create art.
On the other hand, popularity systems throughout art communities both on-line and off have given rise to the school of thought that the road to fame is built of nothing but shortcuts. It is a powerful trend, because sadly, it does happen. When celebrated subject matters become so much the central focus that creativity, thoughtfulness and ever-evolving technique are abandoned, the growth of art itself becomes stagnant, resulting in the superficial commemoration of ongoing mediocrity.
Fortunately, the increasing sizes of online communities gives rise to pockets of artists and art-appreciators who devote all effort to the cultivation of art, always seeking new challenges and possibilities to invigorate and inspire one another, thus contributing to the art world by keeping it fresh and alive.
How did you learn about shadowness and what convinced you to join?
I was introduced to shadowness and invited by my friend Jude Christopher Roxas (jcroxas).
What is your greatest artistic achievement and what artistic mistakes have taught you the most?
Every newly-finished painting is my “greatest artistic achievement”, because I push myself with each new piece, both in technique and subject matter.
I never sketch, nor do I ever abandon a painting. The most memorable lessons for me always come from massive mistakes, which only hit the hardest when I am working on something that truly matters. They are dear to me, because I took them seriously from the first, knowing all the time that they would not be lighthearted experiments, but serious paintings that require all aspects of effort to create.
There is not a day that goes by where I am not reminded of my hardest falls, and what I gained from them.
“The longest and most arduous road will always prove the shortest.” Or simply put: never be tempted to take shortcuts. It is important to recognise this sudden lack of motivation, before it is too late. Shortcuts always come back to bite with a vengeance.
Additionally, it is always a sound investment to commit maximum faith and sincerity to each step of the process, because when errors occur, and occur they will, all the time and energy that was devoted makes it a whole lot easier to fix these mistakes. Wise words from my good friend and extraordinary painter Sam Raffa (sphilr).
I learned something new from my latest painting – that I should never take my instincts for granted.
Do you have any elements that absolutely have to be there from piece to piece, why or why not?
I love painting people, they are the words to my stories. I have yet to paint a piece that does not feature people or their simulated form, however this does not mean they are an absolutely necessary element. And therein lies my next great challenge – to express emotions and ideas fluently without human gesture. My favourite landscape painters have that capacity, and I am eager to try my hand when I feel ready.
Who is your greatest supporter and why?
My husband Keith, by and far. It is he who first unlocked the door, convincing me against my fears and doubts that I have the ability to express myself through painting. To this day I still battle with my own sense of worthiness, because I refuse to accept anything less than perfect on my part, and every day my husband nourishes me with new strength and confidence. Painting is my life, and his constant support leaves me indebted and grateful.
Is there anything you would like to tell the Shadowness community?
It is only recently that I became active on shadowness, and it quickly became a daily routine. I very much enjoy the closeness of the community as well as the strong support given from one artist to another.
Outside of shadowness, my portfolio can be found here:
Katherine, I am proud to say, is a friend of mine. She is a brilliant and thoughtful creator who is guided by her heart. Technically, she walks boldly into places of great risk and she finds confident, expressive solutions to problems. Her themes reflect a young life's optimism tempered with a rare, mature wisdom about the highest universal concerns.