Hi! I’m Cheryl Sun-Ong, a watercolor artist from Manila, Philippines, and soon to be residing in New South Wales, Australia. (Follow me on Instagram and Facebook!) I’ve always been passionate about art. Even when I was young, I would always fill my school notebooks with doodles and sketches, and would also excel in arts and crafts.
Though I took up Fine Arts and majored in Industrial Design, I ended up becoming a graphic and web designer, to fulfill my dream of entering the corporate world, while still dipping my toes in creativity through digital arts and design. It was only when I quit my job to be a full-time housewife that I found myself longing to use my hands and hold a brush again. So, my sister Katherine encouraged me to try watercolor.
I was hesitant. Watercolor was a medium I’ve veered away from for a long time, because I always found it was too challenging for me. The thought that I wouldn’t be able to control how the pigments move with water; and that I wouldn’t be able to correct mistakes or make changes intimidated me. In the end, I succumb and bought my first watercolor set.
I started painting February 2016. My first tries were horrible and it discouraged me. But, amidst the feeling of defeat, there was an overwhelming desire to keep on learning the medium. I challenged myself to create at least one painting a day to document my progress.
In just a couple of days, I was already hooked, and there was no turning back. The very things I once hated and feared about watercolor became the factors why I fell in love with it. Watercolor is uncontrollable, spontaneous, and rebellious! And, these are exactly the behaviors which turned my fascination into an addiction.
I was blessed to be living in a country where the watercolor community is both budding and extremely supportive. Painting flowers was the most popular in our community, and taking inspiration from that, I started practicing my brush strokes to create loose floral paintings.
There was something so tranquil in painting loose florals. Eventually though, I got tired of it because of the lack of structure and diversity. The struggle of an art enthusiast or an artist has always been to discover one’s own uniqueness, and that was what I wanted to do.
I wanted people to recognize me when they look at my paintings, even without looking at the signature. That became the dream that drove me to seek my own signature style. At first, I took inspiration from artists I admire, then cultivated my skills to create something inspired, and yet truly my own. I only hope that I’m doing enough to accomplish that.
Materials are also a big part of how I improved. It is crucial that the paints I use are transparent/translucent, simply because my style requires a lot of layering. Having transparent/translucent paints keeps the colors of my painting fresh-looking and not muddy.
Materials I use, and therefore recommend are any of the following : For paints, Sennelier, QOR, Daniel Smith, Holbein, Schmincke Hordam, Mijello Mission Gold. For brushes, I mostly use brushes that have natural hair, because they hold a lot of water and pigment.
Flowers became my muse and the style that I gravitated towards was Abstract and Impressionism, but with a bit of structure. It became the influence that inspired my paintings. I love to play tricks on minds and create impressions or illusions of reality.
As time went on, people started recognizing my work on Instagram and Facebook. It created an opportunity for me to share my passion with other watercolor enthusiasts. I was by no means a professional, but I wanted to share the passion and my techniques to those who were interested in my style. I began conducting watercolor workshops on August 2016, teaching my kind of style in painting flowers. People were intrigued with the techniques and concepts of how I paint, especially the concept of negative painting, which I absolutely recommend.
The Fantasy Blooms series is a collection of paintings using my techniques in watercolor; capturing nature but evoking a more abstract and whimsical feel to arouse dreaminess, fantasy and femininity. I wanted to impart hope by bringing joy and calm to those who view them, and maybe, even give a short time escape from reality into a fantasy world full of blooms.
In these paintings, I wanted to emphasize color harmony, balance and color layering, while still highlighting the dreaminess effect. Flowers could sometimes be an intricate and unforgiving subject. With my style, it is essential to train ones mind to see shapes, not objects, and to always see negative spaces to define your subject.
I am honored to be part of a community that supports creativity and positivity through ART. Watercolor is a way for me to express my creativity, joy and passion; as well as a way for me to reach out to people both near and far.