I am a visual artist who specializes in the centuries old technique of Chinese brush painting, while honouring my own Canadian culture. As a child, I met AY Jackson of the Group of Seven and was intrigued by the boldness of his colour to delineate built structures and natural forms. I find that the Group of Seven’s use of space, the flow and spirituality of the each painting is very similar to Chinese brush painting. In both my art and life, I work toward a cohesive and respectful collaboration between East and West.
My health is supported by a medical team from both Western and Eastern medicine. I introduced my surgeon and his team to a Traditional Chinese Doctor of Medicine and a Naturopathic Doctor. This overlaying of knowledge from a range of cultures is in common with my painting practice.
I was drawn to the world of Chinese brush painting as it is technically difficult yet freeing. I have followed this path under the influence of Chinese Master Artist, Baoxing Zhang. In the Chinese culture it is important to learn from masters, be they architects, poets, calligraphers or artists. One master artist suggested that meditation prior to painting allows one to paint from the soul and capture the chi (breath or spirit) of the subject matter. With this technique, I have opened my mind and spirit both creatively and to manage pain.
In Chinese brush painting and Sumi-E, the goal is for ink and space to come together in the creation of balance and harmony. Each brush stroke is deliberate, from the tiniest of marks to the largest of strokes. Brush strokes are neither ‘touched up’ nor ‘fixed’ and once painted, so that the image evolves through the spontaneous movement of the ink as it touches the rice paper or silk, and is guided by my brushes. I start with only a general idea and let the ink and ideas flow from there.
The technique, structure and form of my paintings demand a careful use of positive and negative space, chi/flow, and commitment. Ink has no original form and so permits me to speak fluidly and without words. This medium allows me to create landscapes that depict an imaginary world of zen and relaxation
Every painting includes my seal in Chinese characters. My name, ‘Laura’ is translated as ‘Láo’ meaning working and ‘Wá’ meaning baby. Sometimes a second seal is added that represents a ‘mood’ seal. My mood seal means ‘Life Journey’.
These are all apt as I see my work as a life long journey to bridge cultural, medical and spiritual gaps.