Arts & Culture

Renowned artist reflects on inspirations

By Don Fennell

Published 2:47 PST, Wed February 5, 2020

Last Updated: 10:31 PDT, Tue March 17, 2020

An observant teacher recognized early that Walter Poon had a special talent.

Inspired by words of encouragement, the gifted 10-year-old grew up to become one of Hong Kong’s most admired artists. 

And today, his influences have extended to Richmond where he recently established the Fotocine workshop and has co-organized a children’s drawing contest.

“I hope that art can be widely appreciated by everyone,” he says. “

For young people, engaging in art making and knowing about it is the biggest happiness in life. No matter what field of art you are engaged in, self-cultivation, knowledge and humility are important. Only with all of these will your artwork come alive.”

Poon has always been remarkably observant. It is reflected in the pursuit of his dream and in his subsequent works.

“I kept observing, visiting exhibitions and watching the artwork to absorb the nutrients,” he explains.

He also took note of the different styles of painting by other artists—from watercolour to oil to pastel to Chinese ink.

“Ink painting can be expressed in a thematic way. Observing the creation of ancient Chinese works, and after studying through my own self reflections, I decided to find my own style without following the path of the ancients. After deciding on a style of painting, and enjoying it myself, it is most important that it be appreciated and enjoyed by others.”

Upon graduating from middle school, Poon entered vocational college to study advertising design. He was about 20 when he realized he could pursue art as a profession. 

When Poon is working on a piece, depending on the content or theme, it can take him anywhere from one hour to 10 days.

“Some people’s attention is an encouragement (and) that makes me work harder to innovate and create,” he says. 

“The best reward for me is when work is given praise, not measured by money. When my work is being appreciated, joy and happiness come from the heart. The most gratifying thing is that the effort is not in vain.”

Of his many works, Poon’s personal favourites are mainly ink paintings. They include “Double Kindness,” a bird painting; “Double Happiness,” a fish painting; and “Double Emptiness,” a painting that includes a faceless monk and faces of village children. 

Poon is particularly partial to his Chinese ink paintings because of their simplicity.

“The mist during dawn and dusk is dyed blue. Those blues are the favourite colours of Chinese folks,” he explains. 

So whose work does Poon admire? Monet, for starters. “I love his painting with personal creativity and colour theme.” 

For a Chinese painter? “Cheng Shifa.”

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