Annie Chen is a 22-year-old self-taught painter from Toronto, Ontario. She is a full-time artist, with a part-time job teaching art to children in the Toronto public school system. Chen took the time to share her creative process and inspiration behind her surrealist art with LIB Magazine.
LIB: What’s the inspiration behind your surrealist art?
Chen: As an artist who primarily specializes in hyperrealism, I always felt like my artwork was never “creative.” I was simply always recreating a photograph, which I felt lacked any essence of myself as a creator. I recently began exploring surrealism as a way to incorporate my personality into my work. A good friend of mine suggested I look into my dreams for inspiration, kind of like Salvador Dali. I’ve been writing down my dreams since 2016 so I had a lot of raw, subconscious data to access from. From there, I knew I wanted my work to represent my inner psyche and what goes on in my head.
LIB: What’s your creative process for creating your art?
Chen: Composition has always been my best skill when creating any form of art; whether that be my photography or paintings. When creating my paintings, I simply look through my camera roll and find pieces to compose together. My camera roll primarily consists of photos “noticing life.” Anytime I spot a moment in life or a pocket of reality that inspires me, I snap a photo of it. I actually have a whole Instagram page for my Noticing of Life photos: @riseuplightz. I use my intuition and appreciation of beauty in the mundane to make art. I believe this serves as a great method of incorporating myself as the artist into the artwork; it is a direct extension of my subconscious and thought process.
LIB: What’s involved with artwork’s underpainting process?
An underpainting is simply like the pencil sketch of a drawing before adding on ink and erasing the pencil underneath. It is typically done in one color, and its purpose is to establish form and value within the objects. Therefore, when it comes to rendering the painting’s true colors, the artist does not have to use as much brainpower to determine where to blend the shadows and highlights. Most artists typically skip the underpainting process altogether as it is quite time consuming. However, I thoroughly enjoy this process as it allows for more ideas to surface. Once the underpainting is complete, I then go ahead and render in the actual colors.
LIB: What are your favorite types of objects/images to paint?
Chen: Based on the paintings I’ve done so far; my favorite object would have to be dahlia flowers. I enjoy blending each petal and watching the flower unfold on the canvas.
LIB: What’s next for Annie Chen Art?
Chen: My plans going forward include producing more surrealistic artwork, enough to host a gallery show in Toronto and perhaps in other cities. I also plan on utilizing my interest in psychology to create more paintings that explore the human condition. In the future, I would love to explore my creativity through other genres of art outside of hyperrealism and surrealism.
Chen’s paintings and prints will be available on her website which will be launching soon at www.anniechenart.ca.