My name is Siyuan. It’s pronounced as “see-you-anne”. It’s a Chinese name, but I am international. I spent half of my life in China, and the other half in Europe, including the Netherlands and Britain.
I’m fanatic about peony (paeonia) flowers. I grow them in my little English cottage garden, study them and paint them. They are regarded as the queen of flowers, the national flower of China, and a popular wedding flower choice across the globe.
Despite being so chic, I’m particularly fascinated to paint semi-doble, bomb and double peonies because of their multiple complicated petal structures. It’s like a challenge for me to explore the conglomerate of petals and I often find myself lost in them with my fine brushes.
Painting peonies is meditative and stressful at the same time.
It’s meditative because it keeps me calm and focused and is a test of my patience and spiritual equilibrium. The process of painting peonies is also a constant struggle - I always explore and experiment different techniques and mixing multiple materials to achieve my desired elegance and romance in my paintings - often fail in the middle of the creation, but then reinvent myself which time after time brings pleasant surprises.
I am a self-taught artist, influenced by many oriental and western artists. I admire botanical illustrators who creates beautiful plant illustrations with scientific precision. However, I like to add something special creating unique peony paintings.
My favourite Chinese artist is Guanzhong Wu. He is from my hometown of Suzhou, an ancient and quintessential garden city close to Shanghai, China. His work is true to the Chinese spirit but injected with Western brushstrokes to create paintings that appeal across cultures.
My favourite Western artists are amongst those Masters of Impressionism: Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh. In particular, I find their use of colours and brushstrokes to express light and emotions very impactful.
I love those Dutch Golden Age still-life paintings from the Masters such as Willem van Aelst. They seem so real and capture an age of elegance and refinement, but also signify the rise and fall of an empire.