ORINDA -- According to local artists, the numbers "three" and "eight" mean fun, whimsical and crazy in Chinese popular culture.
That's the philosophy behind the Three-Eight Art Studio, a group of East Bay Chinese American artists who say that whether they create art or simply get together, it's all in the name of fun. With its exhibit at the Orinda Library Gallery through September, the group aims to share how whimsy translates to different art forms.
Being a fun-loving artist means not being beholden to a certain medium while taking a few liberties with tradition, said the artists.
Shunghwa Chow said she may initially want to paint a scene in watercolor but her mind isn't set in stone. Her philosophy: Go with the flow. She said even if her mind might say watercolor, her heart may say "Use ink."
"I really don't have a style," said Chow, who teaches Chinese brush painting and ceramics at Pittsburg Adult School. "Everybody paints differently. When I compare my work now to a few years ago, it looks different. The more you paint, the more you gain knowledge about your technique."
At the current show, Chow features her watercolors depicting landscapes from Antioch where she lives. Scenes include Contra Loma Park and the Marsh Home in Antioch. Some of Chow's ceramics are also on display at the show. When creating her ceramic pieces, her same philosophy of spontaneity applies as she said she prefers rough and sandy surfaces as opposed
Beichen Li uses transforms images from photos she's taken of objects, places and people to create whimsical, playful acrylic abstracts on canvas. Her "Stairs Series" of paintings show scenes of stairs she saw in South America and at the Chicago Contemporary Art Museum. Since Li also paints figures, she has combined stairs with a figure in one of her paintings.
"I like colors, shapes and boldness," Li said. "It fits my personality."
Wang Hai Chen said his acrylic and ink on canvas series "Portrait of History from the Artist's Diary" reflects his interests in reading and traveling. Last year, he read many autobiographies and books on Chinese history, literature, philosophy, archaeology and religious subjects in order to enrich his travels through China. He said that while he's practiced traditional Chinese calligraphy, he's taken a contemporary approach to his paintings by applying it on canvas rather than rice paper.
"I try to find ways to merge modern visual elements with ancient Chinese cultural influences based on my travels in that ancient land," Chen said.
Lucia Tsang said that while she aims to create museum-quality clay sculptures, she still likes to have fun creating them. Her work, she said, has been inspired by women from the Tang Dynasty -- the golden age of Chinese history. These women were independent, she said.
"They had a free spirit; they were very active for their time," said Tsang, a Rossmoor resident.
Other artists featured in the show include Me-Yu Lo, Paul Fan, and Doris Chen.
I hope the public will get to see the free spirit and playfulness of the Three-Eight Artists," Tsang said. "The beauty of the artwork is a feast for the eyes."
WHEN: Through September
WHERE: Orinda Library