“There is no right or wrong in art. Go forth and create what feels right to you.”
Can you tell us about your background.
I am born Malaysian and grew up in a humble little suburb off Kuala Lumpur (named Subang Jaya). I did both my primary and secondary schooling in local government schools - both situated within five minutes walk from my home.
After completing my degree in Maths & Statistics at Warwick University in the UK, I went on to pursue my Chartered Accountancy with KPMG in London - focusing on audit in the financial services.
After about four and half years in London, I got bored and asked for a secondment to Zurich, Switzerland. There, I was fortunate enough to get involved in a huge variety of Advisory and Technical Accounting work all around the world including Korea, Germany, New York etc.
After nearly eleven years with KPMG, I decided to quit and pursue my lifelong dream of running a restaurant, ending up with working as the Assistant Manager at a local restaurant in Zurich, Switzerland. It was one of the most humbling moments of my life by far.
How did your art career came about?
My husband and I decided to settle in Singapore after our six months honeymoon / travel around Asia. I was two months pregnant when I lost my highly paid banking job in Singapore and struggled to find anything else because of my (pregnant) status. Around the same time, I started having a dream that kept recurring - a very vivid image of poppies.
My best friend urged to have a go at painting it. I have not picked up a paintbrush since my high school days. So I went to an art cafe at the Mandarin Gallery in Orchard - and started attempting to paint this dream. I ended creating a series of three poppy paintings very soon after.
Around the same time, we were struggling to find any suitable decor and artwork for our baby's room - so I decided to create little paintings myself. That attracted a lot of attention from friends and about a year later, I landed my first commission. From then on, word began to spread through Facebook and word of mouth, and the commission orders started to come in and I continued to grow my following on social media.
Please share on your learning experience and what you like about My Art Space.
Just before I came to My Art Space about a year ago, I started having another recurring dream - something that urged me to start a new series... something more adult and completely different in approach compared to me "Children Art".
The key thing that I really appreciate and enjoy about My Art Space is the diversity of the mentors here - I enjoy having different types of conversations with Shan (who helps me to focus on the more technical aspects), with Chan Kerk (who always challenges my concept and philosophy to each painting and teaches me to see the bigger picture) and Matt (whom I enjoy having philosophical and broader art conversations with).
I have learned so much from My Art Space within the short space of a year, with the most profound being "there is no right or wrong in art". I deeply appreciate how the teachers here coach us to bring out the best in us and to learn to "talk to the painting" and listen to our gut instincts. I love the fact that they are not here to 'teach' but more to guide us and bring out the best in each of us. It is a very unique and liberating space to be creating in.
What's your favourite artwork?
Hard to say. Every piece of my painting has a bit of my heart and soul in it... whilst I recognise that I improve with every new painting, I also appreciate the past ones. I cannot say that I have a favourite piece of artwork - it would be like asking me which child I favour... they are all unique and special in their own way. :)
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about creating art?
"There is no right or wrong in art. Go forth and create what feels right to you."
Tell us what plans you have for your art future?
I am currently working on a couple of pieces for the Affordable Art Fair SG in November. This would be, by far, the biggest milestone for a budding artist like me. My grand plan is to have my own solo exhibition in New York one day. I like to dream big. ;)
To see works by Mishell Leong click here.
All rights reserved by the artist for all images of artwork, please do not duplicate or replicate without permission.