My name is Esther Geh (follow me on Facebook!) and I was born in Penang, Malaysia but have lived a large part of my life overseas, largely in Singapore and England. I have always loved art, but my career choice as an anaesthetist, and starting a family, made it hard to find time for art until I returned to Penang, and set up the Creative Art Club in 2007 with a friend.
Since then I have participated in several art exhibitions as a member of the Creative Art Club; and had a solo exhibition in 2011 at WAF Art Gallery in Straits Quay, Penang. More recently, I was invited to contribute 2 pictures to the Penang Colouring Book in 2015, have some designs used by Nubex for their Precious Cards range, and, very exciting for a budding botanical artist, to have a painting (“Durians”) exhibited at the Society of Botanical Artists’ annual exhibition in London this year!
Right now my main passion is painting botanical subjects in watercolour, though I am still exploring and developing my personal style.
I am drawn to painting subjects that have interesting shapes, structures or patterns, the more complex the greater the challenge! Which means that some of my paintings take months to complete, also largely due to my very erratic painting schedule!
Before I start on a painting, I will make several sketches and colour notes of the subject from life. This is essential for me to work out the form of the subject, and to match colours accurately, as the majority of the larger or more complex paintings will be done from photographic references.
I use Schmincke Horadam watercolours, initially due to necessity (they are the brand that is available in the art shop in Penang), but have come to love their pure, transparent colours, which also come in a huge range to choose from! I prefer to use a limited palette, and my favourites are Translucent Yellow, Pure Yellow, Ruby Red, Magenta, Ultramarine Finest, and Helio Cerulean. With a combination of these, I can pretty much mix all the browns and greys I need. Of course, painting flowers requires just the right orange, red, pink or purple, depending on the subject, but these are add ons to my basic palette.
I use Da Vinci Maestro brushes, and find that I only need one or two brushes for the subjects I choose to paint, usually a 3 and 5. My paper of choice at present is Lanaquarelle 140lb hot pressed or cold pressed. We have started to get in Arches, but I haven’t yet plucked up the courage to paint on it, especially since it’s much more expensive! We can’t get Fabriano here, but would love to pick up a sheet or two on my travels abroad.
I am constantly learning, and hope that I can encourage anyone who is interested in being creative to feel that they can produce remarkable works of art in their own personal style, even though they may not have had any formal art training.