The Story of a Prizewinner


Duo Duo (pastel, 14 x 20 in.) by TaiMeng Lim

“Kerosene lamps have always fascinated me due to their representation of the cycle of life — birth, death, and rebirth,” says TaiMeng Lim. “When lit, they symbolize life and warmth; when extinguished, they represent death. And when relit, they signify continuity and rebirth. In my work “Duo Duo,” I explore the concept of duality, where the lamp represents light and life, and the shadow represents vagueness and illusion. They are two halves of a whole, maintaining balance in our lives. The piece also includes a pair of sparrows resting on the home stowage, reminding us to appreciate the little things in life and find contentment in simplicity. Understanding and appreciating life and nature requires recognizing the synergy between opposing forces, and this piece encourages us to delve into our emotions to gain a greater understanding of the meaning of our lives.

“Before I begin a painting like this one, I usually create a value study with sketches to avoid unnecessary adjustments later on. I draw meticulously on sanded pastel paper and establish the value relationship with a comprehensive monotone underpainting using burnt umber acrylic paint. For this piece, I preferred using both soft and hard pastel sticks and pencils. Soft pastels give an opaque finish and are more pliable, while hard pastels are more stable and better for fine lines and details. All of these factors contribute to the desired outcome in my realistic works. I start by applying a thin layer of pastel and gradually build up to thicker layers, adding more opaque layers. In the final stages, I add intricate details and highlights. Throughout this process, I continuously adjust the form and shape until I am satisfied, allowing me to fully appreciate the beauty of each element in the artwork.”

“Duo Duo” was named Best Still Life in the September Plein Air Salon art competition.


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