Artist Tsun Ming Chmielinski uses sumi-e to create flowing, spontaneous images. Visit her website to see more of her work.
My lifelong art journey began at a very young age in Hong Kong when my father taught me Chinese calligraphy before elementary school. Before I entered high school, I was already studying Chinese brush painting with Chinese Zen master Lupsing Shaw.
I came to the United States in 1976 for college and put my artistic journey on hold, but passion always returns! After decades of pursuing a higher education and climbing the corporate ladder while raising a family, I returned to art through formal schooling in oil, watercolor and pastel.
I have always been drawn to painting colorful, joyful and fun images of flowers, nature scenes, birds and cute animals. In recent years, my art has turned towards a bold and spontaneous form of sumi-e (Japanese ink painting, based on the Chinese form), building on my earlier traditional Chinese calligraphy and training. I focus on simplicity in serene, calm and peaceful scenes, often with a little bit of humor.
During the latter part of 2018, we downsized our family home and moved into an apartment facing the Boston harbor. Then, we unexpectedly faced the lockdown of the pandemic. I had a lot of time to sort out my life and get familiar with a new and exciting environment. Social distancing brought me inward, and the art in this exhibition follows that journey.
The paintings “Across the Bay” and “Mermaids” were done when I was gazing out of my apartment windows into this amazing vast openness which was sadly empty. On one hot summer day, I was imagining how fun it would be if we invited all the mermaids out from the water and the birds to fly around. The images were captured in my imagination and I decided to paint them in a colorful way, to celebrate my first year living by the ocean.
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During those many months, I dealt with a consuming feeling of fear through my paintings, even though I could not articulate what fear. “Conquering fear” was the first one I did, as a depiction of a young child riding a tiger.
It shifted my perception, and since then I’ve focused on painting whimsically. A sense of adventure and fun has emerged. I feel that lock-down has reconnected me with an inner calling to play.
Like many, I’ve only had Zoom to stay in touch with family and friends. I’m convinced more than ever that we all need company. That led to creating my “Buddy Series” paintings with two figures that are ageless, genderless and race-less in varying scenes—sharing, talking and walking. Even silence is more profound in the company of others. It is that shared sense of calmness, peacefulness, and love that nurtures us most in these times.
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