Ong Ai Koon
Finance Director, Singaporean, early 40s
“Art to me requires a different form of commitment that is required from work. In a way, I feel that it requires a lot more than just plain hard work and determination to get an excellent painting.”
Can you tell us about your background (name, job nature, nationality)
My name is Ai Koon, and in my early 40s. I was born and raised here in Singapore. I am a certified chartered accountant and currently the finance director at a large mechanical and electrical contracting company.
How does art enrich your life?
I chuckle to myself every time I think about it. I think I am usually perceived as boring accountant until I start talking about art. As I am a very private person, art is able to provide an outlet for me to release my work stress. Art to me requires a different form of commitment that is required from work. In a way, I feel that it requires a lot more than just plain hard work and determination to get an excellent painting.
Art has always been a part of my life since young; starting from doodling in my school textbooks since young. It was an escape outlet when I was bored in classes. I would have slept in class otherwise.
My first real involvement in “serious” art was during Junior College. My classmate spotted my textbook doodles and instead of ratting on me, she encouraged me to take up art as a “A” levels subject. I have such a wonderful teacher who is willing to teach me and guide me all the way. I must have done alright as I got an “A” for that subject. She could still remember me after all these years and we managed to re-connect just last year when she retired.
In addition, art has provided me with an opportunity to give back to society. Every year, I would sponsor a student care center with a piece of painting as an auction piece for its annual fund raising exercise. The auction proceeds would go to the needy at the student care center. All these paintings were done during my classes at My Art Space under the guidance by the instructors. As such, I would like to thank all the very patient instructors for their good and kind guidance.
Please share on your learning experience and what you like about My Art Space.
The real reason I joined My Art Space is due to my sister's “encouragement” in the year 2014. She shared her lots of unused sessions that were going to about to expire with me. The accountant side of me tell me not to waste them since I don’t need to pay for them. The artist side of me rejoiced! It was nice of My Art Space to allow this one-off exceptional arrangement. As a result, they have gotten a loyal new member (i.e. me) through this. Great move!
The lessons are fun but stressful at the same time. While the instructors are very encouraging, non-judgmental nor critical but they would not allow my impatience and deadline driven mentality to take control of my painting completion. For that, I am grateful.
Usually, I felt more confident about my paintings when the instructors gave their stamp of approval. Such endorsement would motivate me to take up challenges and paint in different styles.
I also enjoy participating in the charity events organized by My Art Space. I like organisations who know how to give back to society and it is wonderful that My Art Space would involve their members in such meaningful events.
The cafe is a plus point as well. I would usually take a break and have some food and drinks if I hit a rough patch during my lessons. I think I have spent quite a bit of money at the cafe. Hahaha!
What's your favourite artwork?
I have 3 paintings that are my favourites.
(i) My children
This is the first painting that I have done on them and my first portrait painting. It was a real struggle as I realised that I am not able to let go and paint as freely as my non-portrait painting. Nevertheless, I love the subject matter and that’s why it is one of my favourite paintings.
(ii) The tree in starry night
It was a small painting that I have recently completed for the Renci charity event organised by My Art Space. I love this painting, which was sold at $400. All proceeds from the sale went to the charity.
(iii) The bright night
This painting inspires me. Everything was going right since the start of the painting and I don’t know why, this painting evokes good feelings in me every time I look at it.
What are you trying to communicate with your art?
I love to paint pictures with strong level of contrast of brightness and darkness. I feel that one would only appreciate light when there are darkness, and there is always a silver lining in situations, no matter how bleak they look. That is how I view life, i.e. to try to look at the positive side of things.
Tell us what plans you have for your art future?
I plan to continue my lessons here at My Art Space and improve as much as I can. I would also like to continue using my paintings to support charities or any fund raising efforts.
Will I do an exhibition some day? Maybe, maybe not. Unless it is for some charity causes, I would be quite reluctant to do after weighing the costs and benefits, as I am not too sure how well they would sell commercially and the purpose of doing an exhibition for myself. “Someday. when we both are ready,” says the accountant to the artist.
All rights reserved by the artist for all images of artwork, please do not duplicate or replicate without permission.