Sheila Tang 陈欣莲 is Singapore’s third generation Nanyang artist. The Singapore artist graduated from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1987 and was an office bearer for several art societies in Singapore.
Some artists prefer to paint only indoors in the studio but some artists, like Sheila, relishes painting outdoors.
Painting outdoors is tough. There are lots of things to bring, from easel to canvas to paints. There are lots of practical things to be concerned, from weather to crowds to toilets.
And not forgetting the challenge of painting itself.
The first time Sheila went plein air painting was with her teacher.
She was shocked at how difficult it was, to paint on the spot, with all the fluid changes in the environment – the sun light was constantly changing, the people were always moving, there was a lot of distraction from the activities around her, and the level of skill required to painting hurriedly and accurately.
It was a very different environment from the quiet and serene studio when painting indoors alone, where one can paint slowly.
But as she slowly got used to painting plein air, there was no turning back.
Painting outdoors was invigorating and addictive; the immediacy of the mood that needed to be captured, the challenge of painting the scene quickly, the company from the artist friends who were working next to her.
She may have painted the same spot multiple times, but it was never exactly the same, as the sun and clouds today create a different atmosphere, or the people and activities yesterday were unusually interesting.
So it didn’t matter that she was burnt by the hot sun or tired from standing for several hours painting. She will be out to paint again.
Sheila loved painting the Singapore River, where she had good memories and where she witnessed its major transformation over the years. She once planned to paint all 14 bridges along the Singapore River, and well, it is still in progress!
Watch Sheila Tang 陈欣莲 share more stories of her plein air painting in this video.
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