These wonderfully offbeat doodlewashes come to us from Stephanie Hew, an Australian, born to a Japanese father and a Filipino mother, and currently living in sunny Singapore (follow her on Instagram or visit her website to see more!). She lives with her husband and their two very naughty cats (they call them the “clown show” because of their antics). She grew up moving around various countries in South East Asia until she finally set her sights on Sydney Australia for her university studies. While there, she completed a degree in Ancient History and started work in the education industry.
Stephanie has a much older sister and brother who also painted as a hobby when they were younger. “Growing up, I remember my brother shutting himself up in his room with his oils,” she says, “and the next thing I knew he’d replicated Van Gogh’s Irises (ugh – still jealous! lol). My sister, a few years later painted a great version of Van Gogh’s Wheat Fields too. I loved watching them paint, it seemed so spontaneous and the mixing of colours on a palette seemed pretty magical (I didn’t know about primary colours back then lol).”
Since then art has always reminded her of happy things. Her siblings soon moved away from home to see the rest of the world, so “it reminded 8 year old me of them, the museums and art galleries my family would take me to on holidays, and my own little creations that I was so proud of.”
This ongoing interest came in handy later when she started work, since a lot of projects she was involved with often required some creativity. She found that by putting a little bit of thought and personality into an event poster, a worksheet or signage around campus increased engagement with people significantly. She enjoyed projects like these very much. “Looking back on it now, I think of these moments as little ‘nudges’. I didn’t know it back then but now I think nudges like these were my heart telling me that I was fulfilling an important need to create and express myself through art.”
It’s taken a few more years since then and a move away from Sydney, but she’s finally taken her art seriously and has just started her own art business this year here in Singapore. Now she creates art and reproduces them as prints and other merchandise. Her work is available on Hipvan.
Stephanie says, “My art is often very whimsical and surreal. People have described it as quirky and offbeat and I like that description. I especially like to put animals in odd situations, the stranger the better! Ideas for these types of drawings come from everywhere. My favourite sources are from conversations with my husband (he has a great sense of humour) and from naps. Naps are awesome! If I’m struggling for an idea, I find sleeping on it works to organise my thoughts.”
Whatever idea she ends up with, she really likes showing the subject as comfortable with however they end up, even if they’re a cat wearing a donut, or a fox in an old diving helmet. “I like seeing them comfortable with how they are,” she says, “because in a way, I also hope to be that comfortable and confident with whatever I do as well.”
One other thing that gets her in that nice creative mood, is to listen to the music of Made in Heights. There’s something about their lyrics and music that just helps kickstart my imagination. Stephanie would love to hear from you about any other music recommendations as well! Let her know in the comments!
In terms of the mediums she works with, Stephanie started off with just watercolors (she loves their translucency), but these days she’s also been practicing with pen and ink and has been creating more art that combines that two. “There’s something about the fluidity of watercolour,” she says, “that works well and looks so good with the stark black lines of pen/ink. A few of my influences include Japanese ink wash paintings and old fairy tale or fantasy illustrations. For these two, I really love how they clearly look handmade and imperfect. Right now, I’m learning to implement these qualities in my own work and finding that nice balance.”
For the future, one of her goals is to hold a solo exhibit for her work. Another goal would be to create more art and grow her little business from there. For both of these, she says, “I think that defining my art style would be very important so I’ve been making it a habit to practice every day and maintain that momentum. Seeing other people’s doodlewashes and joining challenges like #inktober definitely helps keep me creating every day!”
We’re thrilled to include Stephanie as an official member of the doodlewash family! We wish you much success with your business and can’t wait to see more of your awesomely offbeat animals! And don’t forget to follow on Instagram, visit her site, or check out her store to see more from this talented artist!