Hello, everyone! I’m Elisa Choi Ang, a watercolor artist from the Philippines, currently living in Singapore with my husband. I am thankful for the opportunity to be asked by Charlie to share my creative journey.
When I was a child, I enjoyed recreating stories from cartoon shows by drawing them comic-style on my lined notebook. I sold those to my siblings using fake cardboard money. We were quite the “enterpreneurs” at a young age. I find entertainment in drawing characters in coloring books and interior designs found in picture books. Back then, my childhood was filled with colorful art making, written stories, and role-playing with toys.
One might think that this child is going to grow up as an artist. Fast forward to adulthood, my parents decided that I should take IT (Information Technology) because they believe it can give me a future. I stuck with it, did my best and worked at an IT firm.
In the midst of working, I rekindled my passion for art when I started exploring watercolor in 2011. It was my favorite medium because of the way the colors flow and the various techniques that makes it so interesting.
I practiced often and devoted free time to exploring drawing and painting. I joined a number of online art challenges like Sketchbook Project, art swaps, etc, that has not only stretched my skills but also exposed me to the amazing works of other artists around the world. I created paintings and gave those as gifts for special occasions, to cheer someone or to commemorate an event.
Eventually, I left my job of 5 years to pursue a short course in Visual Design. I also began working on a few commissions. When I got married and moved to Singapore, I started teaching drawing and painting to children (ages 4 and above) at a local art center. I find teaching art a great way for me to become more aware of my process, to share what I learn with kids by relating the lesson to their life stories, to inspire them to be creative and to have a growth mindset. Every session is different. There is so much to glean from teaching and learning.
My husband, who’s an awesome videographer and photographer, has been a great supporter of this calling. He has encouraged me to build my own business centered on teaching art. I teach online classes where I empower people to make art inspired by their stories. Hearing testimonies of artists who used to feel fear or not having enough time to make art, finally took the courage to start sketching and painting. They inspired me a lot because teaching is all about enabling others to succeed and seeing others start something of their own.
“We are created creative and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed.”
When it comes to brainstorming ideas for a project or lesson plan, I will do a bit of research but I find it so helpful to flee from the computer after that and stick with pen and paper. I will write down the requirements or objective and start to doodle my ideas (even silly ones). I will test those out by creating thumbnails or rough sketches and paintings. This process helps organize my distracted mind and helps me realize which idea I am going to drive along further. When all else fails, I will take a short nap, do chores or take a walk.
My art materials are all about simplicity and portability. It should enable me to make art easily and often. I use Sakura Pigma Micron pen to sketch the life around me. I pre-squeezed Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolor tube paints in my paintbox. I have a travel size paint brush that comes with the box. I bring a small A5 Grandluxe Monologue Basics sketchbook or sometimes cut out pieces of Daler Rowney watercolor paper. I put everything inside an elongated pouch for easy access.
The inspiration behind most of my personal works is found in the story of my life. I believe that we will never run out of ideas when we look at the life around us. My favorite things to sketch are nature, architecture, unique scenes and people. Sketching in pen and painting in watercolor enable me to focus on the process of enjoying the subject—where the edge begins and ends, the light and shadow, the odd shape, the change of colors, etc.
My goal is to make my artwork personal and creative to who I am as an artist.
The one challenge in sketching and painting from life is the risk of making mistakes. Sometimes when the output was out of proportion, I just turn the page, move on and start again. My sketches were seldom straight lines but I treasure the time well spent in learning and making art. Truly, practice makes us better artist.
“Art is a path on which we honour our world. Art may not be the only path, but it is a good path, even though at times a difficult one. As bearers of this honour, we artists do not need to simply render our world as we see it but as we might ourselves redesign it. As artists, one of our privileges is to invent.”
– Robert Genn
I am immensely thankful for the grace of God for orchestrating all the different events that have led me to where I am today. It has not been an easy journey but the lessons that I have learned were necessary to mold me to become more like Him. I glorify God in all that I do knowing that everything comes from him.