Watercolor paintings - Chien Chung-Wei,
Chien Chung-Wei, "Moscow at Dusk," watercolor, 2016, 27 x 36 cm

Chien Chung Wei, who was on the Watercolor Live 2022 faculty, shares his inspiring way of pursuing art.


My only philosophy of art: to accomplish a profound and unique painting.

I am not so much developing a style, but rather constantly exploring and seeking the essence of painting (or of watercolor) and the ways to express the essence more beautifully, more loftily, and with more meaning and value.

I started learning to sketch and paint in watercolor in a studio when I was 17. Since then, I have never asked anyone the question of how to paint this and that or what I should or should not paint.

The funny thing is, once I completed the basic training in painting; I also forgot what it was. It wasn’t until recent years did I truly appreciate the way Egon Schiele perceiving beauty is to affirm our awareness of suffering or pain, and really sense the mighty bedrock of shapes, lines and forms in expressionism.

I hope I can make some great paintings to pay a tribute to past masters in art and create some works which I myself regard as marvelous in this life. I’ve been working toward it and have not yet seen the results. I know it’s a tough goal which is difficult to achieve. However, it’s the “toughness” that I delight in to push myself forward.

The only thing I adore, being passionate about and having full confidence in is the expressive form of painting in “extracting the beauty and intrigue of form from Nature with various painting media.”

I have been enchanted with the magical art form of painting on a plain paper since childhood. With talents and passion, I’ve been in pursuit of beauty for some 20 years. Now I can feel that I start to see the light…. Therefore, I can feel at ease exploring Nature in the real world, revealing, playing, and extracting shapes to my heart’s content. On a watercolor paper or a canvas, I create the ideal, perfect, and intriguing image in my mind. No need to seek out my own style anywhere, because “I” am Style.

The ultimate happiness of a creator often comes from the search for self-fulfillment. Striving to create heart-touching paintings is the true origin and the end. It’s just that simple!

Compared with ten plus years ago, now I don’t use exquisite strokes and I give up all the special techniques. I choose subjects from daily life, set up a clean composition, and try to get back to the original state of “simple watercolor.” I never knew that the past 20 years was just a detour, and it is until now that I am really getting to know what transparent watercolor painting is.

Interestingly, every time I am in the middle of working on a painting, I feel so convinced that I am a rare genius! However, when I finish the work, the defiant and agitated confidence is completely lost because of the flaws that have been gradually accumulated during the painting process. And that is the moment I feel the pain of aiming higher than I can achieve. On the other hand, this is the kind of pain that keeps me constantly improving myself and striving to create masterpieces of immortal value.

Chien Chung-Wei, "Old Town," 2017, watercolor, 37 x 27.5
Chien Chung-Wei, “Old Town,” 2017, watercolor, 37 x 27.5

Whether I can be regarded as a famous master painter or not cannot be only decided by my works; in addition, my unsociable and introverted personality probably makes it even more difficult for me to achieve fame. I just hope that, for the rest of my life, I will accomplish works comparable with those of the Old Masters, and thus I will have no regrets in my life! Yet, for now, I have to confess that I am still far from being a “master.”

In fact, I have not yet accomplished many works that I can be genuinely proud of. I am looking forward to attaining that kind of happiness. I do not have much patience or perseverance. I only have a strong passion for painting!

Chien Chung-Wei, "Seine Blue," 2019, watercolor, 56 x 75 cm
Chien Chung-Wei, “Seine Blue,” 2019, watercolor, 56 x 75 cm

Art is not abstruse at all. I paint what I really want to paint, I do not fool others or myself, and I do not aim too high than I can achieve; I ask myself to widen my horizons and strive for excellence… This is my way of pursuing art.

I have just always been doing what I found very interesting, difficult, meaningful, valuable, and beautiful, and I have been doing it with effort and persistence. I have seen how “good” it is and would like to share it with others. ”Virtue never stands alone; it is bound to have neighbors!” I am extremely grateful for all the feedback from these arts-loving teachers, students, and friends.

I just want to speak the truth and paint with sincerity. That’s it!

Thank God for making me meet such an amazing painting medium like watercolor! I will definitely make every effort to create immortal masterpieces until I die. This journey of painting has just begun.

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