As far as I could remember, drawing has always brought inexplicable comfort, peace and joy to me. Even as a child living among members of 2 extended families, ours and my Eldest Uncle’s whom my 5 elder sisters and I ( I had been the youngest) call “Dai Bak”, brought with it quite a bit of angst for me. Family intrigues, bullying from one of the boys, jousting for favors from our very correct Grandmother from Hong Kong, had been part of growing up.
Drawing with my dad very early on equipped me a lot on dealing with my young pressures. Even though we did not know the name for it then, Art (Therapy) gave me inexplicable strength and tenacity to move forward, ignoring the distractions (even when that young) to enjoy and excel in drawing with my Dad….alright it started with doodling, with my dad holding my chubby little hand! Dad believed so much in me and my budding inclinations. I could doodle my yellow pupper with (odd shaped anatomy) long before I could memorize my A,B,C’s and I also remembered that I still couldn’t count then. So I drew small banana bunches for “fingers”! And in my Primary (Elementary) 2, I was already drawing pictures of princesses with tiaras and poufy gowns studded with diamonds and gemstones for my eager little girly classmates. The popularity I got made up a great part for the loneliness in my childhood days.
Also the other turning point in my young life was when a little yellow puppy was introduced. I named him, “Bobby”. I practically grew up with Bobby. He was my “muse”, my companion, the one to go to when I needed a safe warm retreat. Animal Art actually began for me at that spot in my life. I think I was between 6-7 years old.
Through all my young life otherwise, doing art has given me the therapy of cultivating a better self-awareness, reliable emotional well-being, safer comfort zones where I could face my emotional conflicts, raise my confidence, protected my self-esteem, and helped me cope and focus on my schooling and family life. The latter, as a result, I could summarily say, had been quite a happy one!
As I grew older, I researched on how life can turn out for those who relied on art as a coping mechanism in the often difficult process of growing up. That was when I realize that those friends who got to have their pet dogs drawn, had received much delight and comfort from those portraits.
It took me another few years after having embarked on a professional architectural profession and 20 years as a Fashion Illustrator before I decided to fully involve myself in a new career as a Pet Portrait Artist.
I started my new business, “Char Coal Tofu”, a pet portrait business, at a ripe age of 68 and it has been functioning for the last 2 years.
I turned 70 this March. I daresay I have benefitted much from the deep-dived passion that I have given to Illustration. This altruistic “giving” back to my dog loving clients has brought me much joy and satisfaction. Maybe it is because of that, my 70 years is not a hindrance to my active continual enjoyment of my craft.
I have contributed to collabs with dog shelters (right now mainly in the US) to help them in their funding. I have interest in and donated to non-profit dog and their homeless owner welfares. Like the Feed the Pets of the Homeless, NV. I am active in interest-groups like the LIGHTBULB UK, a meeting place for the media and entrepreneurs like myself and also am a full member of the Dog Writers of America Association_ US (DWAA_US). I am a faith-driven individual who hopes to change this world we live in, one untiring brush-stroke at a time.
Conclusion: My work has often given my customers double takes, made them teary-eyed or have the corners of their mouths turn up, when they see my work of them, even though half-done. I find that my art has a blessed gift of mending broken hearts, imbued with the chic -ness allowing my dogmoms to aspire to be as savvy as they appear to be in their portraits. They try, and that is quite sufficient for me and my objective. The most recent response came for a retired Military Personnel: “I’m in tears…….your work is breath-taking…..!”
I know that every time my customers get to gaze on their trendy portraits, they will be glad they have something positive to look up to, possibly with a renewed desire for positive change in their lives. In doing so I do hope to draw them back into the loving arms of our divine Creator, who is the unending, inexhaustible source of all comfort, love, acceptance, forgiveness hope and joy.
Excerpt from my Guest Blog published 10 July 2021 for Sarah-Jane White
Animal Behaviourist & Enrichment Expert. Advice, games & DIY Ideas – Top UK Pet Blog 2021- Editor@rufflesnuffle.co.uk
My Website for my Pet Portrait Gallery: Https://CharCoalTofu-DogArt.com/