by Fang Xie
I don't come from an art family. My parents were ordinary workers. When my father was young, the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976) took place in China. The government called on that all intellectuals should go to the countryside to learn from farmers, while the farmers and workers should go to schools to teach students.
I learned to draw with pupils in 2016
Unexpectedly, my father was appointed to be an art teacher at a local middle school. He was so panic about it as he didn't know how to paint at all. Thanks to a formal art teacher Wang who was dismissed and worked as a school cleaner. After knowing my father's situation, the warmhearted man offered to teach my father at night so that he was able to teach students next day. My father learned and taught painting for several years. When the revolution was over, he didn't want to go back to the factory, he became a chef, specialized in banquet food carving, for instance, carving dragon or phoenix in pumpkins. But few years later, he was diagnosed with cancer and had to quit from his favorite job.
“There was no psychotherapy or any career support group in China at that time. When my mother and I had to leave him for work or study, my father was alone at home. Only art kept him in company. He drew Chinese ink paintings day after day, not for any exhibition, just for himself.”
The medical treatment of cancer is hard, but curing the depression caused by the disease is more difficult than it. There was no psychotherapy or any career support group in China at that time. When my mother and I had to leave him for work or study, my father was alone at home. Only art kept him in company. He drew Chinese ink paintings day after day, not for any exhibition, just for himself. He died at the age of 50.
Influenced by what happened to my father, I always have sympathy for the poor and the ones with special needs. I became a journalist and had my personal column at Hangzhou Daily, China's Southeast Zhejiang Province, to raise funds and support for the unprivileged people.
My work, Decay, won the Best Picture Award at the UKCPS Inside the Lines 2 Exhibition 2018
In 2001, I went to England. After gaining my MA in Newspaper Journalism at Nottingham Trent University in 2004, I returned to China and worked as a feature writer for China Daily, the only nationwide English newspaper in the country. I reported many major events, including the Wenchuan Earthquake and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The job was interesting but very stressful, I decided to give myself a break. I got married and moved to Taipei with my husband in 2009.
However, life didn't go easily as I expected. Being a mother of two is far more difficult than being a journalist. The endless housework overwhelmed me, I was so depressed for years and even looked for help at local religious group, but it didn't work for me. I felt like a stone going done in the sea, no one could rescue me.
“We are our own art therapist, helping us go through the darkest time, find meaning of our life and build our beautiful inner world.”
In 2015, I met my first teacher Lin at the Art Revolution Taipei, where she had a booth at the exhibition, displaying more than 10 pieces of her watercolor works. I loved them and asked her if she could teach me, and she said yes, if I could accept learning to draw with a group pf pupils, because she also works at a local children's drawing class to make a living. In the autumn, I went to her class every Friday night with my two sons who also joined the drawing class next door for kindergarten kids.
My work, The Sound of Silence, won the Best Picture Award at the UKCPS Inside the Lines 4 Exhibition 2020.
I had basic sketching and watercolor lessons for six months, then the class was over. Lin suggested that I could draw alone at home, but I was very worried about doing it without any tutoring, Then she said to me that interest is the best teacher, never be afraid of the lack of academic art training, in other words, you are not limited by a finite set of thoughts, make your own style. Her words really boosted my confidence. Then I chose coloured pencils to start my art journey.
My inspirations derive from burning incense and flowers. I have been drawing the burning incense for years as I love the smoke layers and energy of the wisps through the air. They are so spiritual and make me calm down. Thanks to my 8 years experience of learning Japanese flower arrangements, which enables me to discover the spirit of the living plants. Express their soul with my own handwriting is what art is to me, not just copy colours I see in a photo.
Over the past three years, all of my works were sold out at various exhibitions in Taiwan, but what makes me really happy is that my works have inspired many people locally and internationally.
As a human being, we have suffered a lot when growing up. We keep searching for help and wait for others to light our fire. But in my father and my cases, we found our own matches, that's ART. In other words, we are our own art therapist, helping us go through the darkest time, find meaning of our life and build our beautiful inner world.
ABOUT Fang Xie:
Fang is a self-taught coloured pencil artist living and working in Taiwan. She began to pursuit coloured pencil art in 2016 at the age of 41. Her style of art gravitates minimalism and realism. She had her first solo coloured pencil exhibition at the Taipei Get Art Gallery in 2019. She also has participated in several group exhibition over the past two years. She won twice the Best Picture Award at the UKCPS Inside the Lines online exhibition in 2018 and 2020.