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Calvin Lai

Art Explosion Studios
2425 17th St, SF, CA
Studio number: 23
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Artist Statement:

I remember painting my first figurative piece. It was a self-portrait I made when I was in kindergarten. I painted myself standing, arms to the side, with no real background, but I made sure to include a fairly accurate portrayal of what I was wearing that day (a striped long-sleeved shirt with black pants). I especially remember painting the shoelaces. While rendering the laces a feeling came over me. It is the same feeling I get even now when I am fully immersed within a painting. I can only best describe that feeling as love. In that very moment I fell in love with art, especially figurative art. Since then I've been studying figures and faces in order to capture what I see, hoping that the end result will jump off the canvas, lifelike and evocative. Realism is a key element of my work, but realism alone cannot create the engagement that I strive for. An artist must use something more than correct dimensions and proportions in order to really make a viewer feel something from a figurative painting. They must emulate the subject's spirit, arrest their presence, and capture what lies behind the surface features. From the moment of finding a subject, to preparing the canvas, mixing the paints, and making the first to the last brushstroke, I strive to paint beyond realism and render my subject's actual personality.