Since early childhood, nature has inspired me to create art. I grew up in a village named Lim Chu Kang (formerly known as Ama Keng) in Singapore. My home was an orchid and vegetable farm, surrounded by tropical fruit trees. We had farm animals (free-range chickens, ducks, rabbits, turkeys and pigs) and wildlife (tropical birds, insects, monkeys, four-legged reptiles and black cobra snakes). There was a natural stream flowing down the hill from our house where catfish and turtles swam.
Nature was my mentor. I used to draw images on the sandy ground while watching ducks swim in our pond. They went up and under the water to catch fish; they ate water lilies. During rainy season, I’d watch the rain pouring over our zinc roof and down to the stream—kids in our village would run through the rain to cool off from the heat. We used coconut leaves, weave them into a horn and blow musical notes. When sad, I often talked to the trees or animals which comforted me. My interest of painting and creating art began here.
Now my village is long gone. I thought that I will never again be able to appreciate nature same way as I did in my childhood—until I came to Philadelphia to continue studying art and design. I visited national parks, wildlife reserves and organic farms. It was a wonderful sign! Had my forgotten childhood memories come back to haunt me or welcome me? Was it fate or chance? I decided to move forward through my art.
I began bird watching at national parks and refuges. John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum is my favorite. I was fascinated by the native birds and began to paint detailed studies in ink and acrylic on paper. Now I paint in bold black lines and color on large canvases to bring my subjects to life. I also create three-dimensional art installations using recycled and raw materials with a bird and nature theme. My thoughts flow to recapturing my long-lost and unforgotten appreciation of nature. My goal is to share my experiences about nature and wildlife habitats—to make you aware of the need to preserve nature and its impact if gone.
Nature has taught me to live a more meaningful life on this changing earth. Do something as simple as lay under a big tree; relax and look up at the moving clouds; watch the breeze move the leaves in the trees; see the birds stop by. Nature can heal the human soul—we should protect it.
Nature is invisible to everyday life, if you fail to take time to notice it.