Studio Visit Book Vol. 1

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How Contemporary Artist Chilu’s colorful canvases are reminding us to enjoy little things in life

Chilu, a talented Sydney artist, shares her story of creativity and growth with us. In this interview, we’ll explore how Chilu went from baking delicious treats to painting beautiful artworks and how her life experiences have shaped her unique path. Let’s learn more about her passion for art, family, and following her dreams.

Chilu

Chilu is an emerging artist based in Sydney, in Cammeraygal Country. She has always followed a creative path. Visual Arts was her most vital subject at school. She holds a Bachelor of Creative Arts/Law and has worked as a web designer, graphic designer, and illustrator. She also founded her boutique bakery, Miss Lulu’s Dessert Parlour. Following a lifelong dream, in 2022, She started painting and entered her first art prize. Becoming a finalist motivated her; she has won several accolades since then and held her first solo show – My Mind’s Eye. Driven by emotion and always searching for silver linings, She has built an art practice around family life. Her goal is to allow her work to tell stories that reflect her personal experiences and to make an authentic connection with art lovers.

1. Chilu, your journey from the web and graphic design to the emerging artist is intriguing. How do you find these different creative disciplines influence each other in your work today?

This is such an interesting question, as I’ve never considered it! Honestly, with worried parents hovering over my shoulder in my last school year, being an artist would never be an easy or viable way to immediately support myself financially. To reassure them, I studied Creative Arts/Law at university and fell into web design and later graphic design. It was a way of being creative AND getting paid. But 15 years into it, I realized I was always servicing someone else’s vision, not mine. I was hungry to create something on my terms. With that perspective in mind – I don’t think I’m necessarily influenced by it – as I was always thinking about how I could please the client, and I didn’t get a chance to develop my style. Perhaps it helps me now in composition on a subliminal level.

2.  “My Mind’s Eye” seems to have been a profoundly personal solo show. What is the emotional journey behind bringing these pieces together?

Oh, that’s such a lovely observation – I appreciate it. The first piece I painted of deflated balloons was called “Stay Afloat,” and I immediately came up with the idea. The balloons I bought would be a study to see if I could do it, but as the balloons deflated and I played with my son, I realized how much I felt like them – exhausted and fragile but still trying to be positive. The deflated balloons aren’t easy to paint with all their crinkles and folds – but life isn’t easy either. So, the solo show took all those emotions and used the symbolism of the balloons to process specific themes, such as grief, holding onto hope in moments when there seems to be none, and being true to yourself.

“Chilu ” Swimming in Dappled Sunlight, 2023, Acrylic on Canvas

3. Chilu, balancing family life with a burgeoning art career is no small feat. How do you find inspiration and creativity amidst the busyness of everyday life?

Oh, that is the kindest thing to say. Most of the time, I feel like I’m only JUST holding on for dear life! Right now, managing my art career is a case of prioritizing what’s important and trying not to say yes too much. I’m constantly yearning to be at my easel, so inspiration and creativity are bottled up! I usually paint when everyone is asleep and the kids are at school, so those moments allow me to have an outlet.

“Chilu ” All I Need is Us, 2023, 60cm x 90cm, Acrylic on Canvas

4. We’re curious about your transition from founding a dessert parlor to pursuing painting. Did your experiences with Miss Lulu’s Dessert Parlour influence your art structure or approach in any unexpected ways?

I can’t believe how thoughtful these questions are! Before launching Miss Lulu’s Dessert Parlour, I was trying to figure out what I could do that would be my creation. It was a fun little bakery for people with allergies; at the time, few people were doing it. Everyone always talks about how important it is to find a niche – so I pursued it. The reaction was swift and very enthusiastic – but within months, I found myself baking into the early morning hours, getting only a few hours of sleep, and then waking up to deliver to my customers personally. It reached the point where I had to decide whether to expand or try to have children. For me, it was children. And with children – I knew that I wanted to give them my time. Being an artist affords me that flexibility. But Miss Lulu gave me confidence in my vision because I created something completely my own without any outside influence, and my reaction was positive. Once I tasted that, I never wanted anything else but to follow my heart. It gave me the strength to follow my instincts regardless of what people might say about how I should do things.

The initial spark of an idea is a fluid one. Sparks come everywhere, from daydreaming, interaction, silence, and noise. Whatever brings me a bit of discomfort – art helps me to process all of it. With each spark, I consciously think about it more deeply to try and really explore it and how it makes me feel, and then I try to think of how to interpret those thoughts into a comprehensive story visually. Because I paint realistically, I will typically find the object that best represents the story, take my reference photos, and then start to paint. I often don’t realize what’s happening; I’m just lost in the doing, and the painting is suddenly in front of me.

Through her art, Chilu shares her feelings and stories, touching the hearts of everyone who sees her work. As she keeps growing and changing as an artist, one thing stays the same: her commitment to being real and making art that means something. Chilu reminds us to chase our dreams and find beauty in everything we do. To learn more about Chilu, click the links below to visit her profile.

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