It’s not every day you have a meal with an artist while her vaunted artwork hangs just over your head, but here we are. We’re brunching and chatting with Lucinda Law, a self-taught botanical artist who has amassed close to 17K followers on Instagram (@lucinda.law) as well as the admiration of art lovers, amateur artists, beauty and fashion brands, corporate entities and anyone who has seen her paint live or gush about flowers on her IG Stories. The photogenic 41-year-old, who used to write and lecture, has worked with brands such as Chanel, Kate Spade and Leica, either by lending her intricate botanical illustrations in campaigns and workshops or by appearing as an influencer. She’s also the first brand ambassador for Diptyque Singapore and the first Arts and Graphic ambassador for Faber-Castell Singapore. Her two latest coups: An exhibition called Edible Beauty, where till June 4, her watercolour renderings of plants such as pineapples, mushrooms and torch ginger flowers will enthrall diners at Hilton Hotel’s Verde Kitchen; and a project commissioned by Changi Airport Group at the T1 Arrival Hall, where botanical subjects inspired by the gardens of Changi Airport will provide an experiential walkthrough for visitors till early 2019. We ask her to tell us how art and nature can make our lives just a little bit sweeter.
#1 Creating art helps you to relax, if you can just let go.
“Painting is a very soulful expression,” says Lucinda, who holds regular art workshops and creative retreats. “It’s something you do from the inside, which brings you peace of mind. When it becomes a regular practice, it’s extremely meditative. It’s a great relaxation tool. And you must be able to let go of the judgment of what you think your art must look like. I think as Singaporeans, we grew up in an education system where there’s comparison, and also the idea that if you can’t do it well, you shouldn’t do it at all. But it’s not the art, but the creative process that matters. There is no right or wrong. Just enjoy being in the moment.”
#2 Connecting with nature helps you to connect with life.
“I think there’s a resurgence for sure, a new interest in botanical drawing and appreciating nature. There’s the understanding that nature needs to be seen, and that its beauty needs to be shared. My classes are not just about the technicalities of art, but also about being creative and mindful, and how you can apply this to other areas of your life. I devise the journey where there’s aromatherapy, tea, and meditation. It’s a holistic art practice, so people feel good. It’s about connecting with nature and wellbeing. People have told me that after my workshops, they don’t see plants the same way. They say, “You have opened up a new world for me.”
#3 Being an artist forces you to embrace #slowlife.
“[Creating my watercolour botanical illustrations] is a very slow process. It’s thin pale layers of water and colour. You have to put in the hours — you can’t rush it. I enjoy it ’cos I get a lot of wisdom from it. I realised that that’s why it takes so long for flowers to bloom, or to produce a thing of beauty. I had to observe the laws of nature. To make the painting look 3D, with the details, there is no short cut. It’s a long process and very lonely, and you can get bored, but I have techniques — little rituals like taking breaks, creating music playlists that match my vibration, where I get into a trance and find my flow. I take trips to nature for inspiration, or go out to the garden for an hour to take pictures of plants.”
#4 Using social media to promote your old-school skills is also a form of art.
Using the modern medium of Instagram to help market an artform as old-school and vintage as botanical drawing — ironic? We think not. When you can do it as well as Lucinda, it elevates both mediums. She says, “Botanical painting has this old-world charm. There is no margin for error — it has to be perfection. I can’t even cough over the painting. If there is one mistake, it’s finished. Once, I was sleepy and accidently put my paintbrush over my work, and I had to throw out four hours of work and start again. It’s exactly the opposite of a photo. You can’t erase it or Photoshop it if things go wrong. [As for using social media to promote my work], I think finding an angle or a narrative is important. I was a writer before, and it’s sort of like packaging the story and showing your audience the journey, and spreading the message. Yes, I guess part of my success comes from [being able to market myself]; I don’t want to be the starving artist.” (Laughs)
#5 Painting teaches that to get to the beautiful, you have to endure the ugly.
“We’re so used to things being digital that people think something like drawing can be done so easily. Sometimes, even I feel like pinching my painting, and thinking ‘How come cannot enlarge?’ (Laughs) “The painting has to go through an ugly phase. It’s the metamorphosis. I have to suffer the ugly part first. (Laughs) Okay lah, not so drama — it’s like you have to sit very patiently and wait for the last 20 per cent. Suddenly, you contrast and sharpen, and it’s like, ‘Wow, where did that come from?’” (Laughs)
To purchase the Edible Beauty artworks, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. 10 per cent of profits go to charity group Food from the Heart. For more info on Lucinda’s exhibitions and workshops, go to within.sg.