Ling Lu: A Traveler with Watercolor
December 8, 2023–January 26, 2024
Online Artist Talk
Friday, January 19 at 11a.m. Central/12p.m. Eastern
By Krishna Adams, Director of Visual Arts, Craft, Media, and Design –
Lu, a watercolor artist based in Knoxville, TN, has been an artist for over 20 years. At an early age, Lu was exposed to art and artists. Her art instruction began when she was five and continued through high school. While a student, she created cartoons for newspapers, storyboards for an advertising agency and sold paintings through a local gallery in her hometown.
Lu explained that she learned to draw with a pencil as a child and tried oil and acrylic painting. Through experimentation, she finally found her medium of choice in watercolor paint. Lu finds watercolors easily portable for her travels and finds the medium incredibly versatile as a dry, wet, or wash. She is also attracted to the various textures available within paper that can enhance her painting. View the online exhibition here.
In 1997, Lu received her B.A. in Graphic Design from Qilu University in China. After graduating, she worked as a graphic artist before moving to Knoxville, TN, in 2019. Her artistic journey has led her work to be exhibited in the Knoxville Arts in the Airport exhibitions (2020, 2021, and 2022), Arts and Culture Alliance’s No Bigger Than a Bread Box exhibition (2021), The District Gallery’s Big Tiny Show (2022), and most recently, Arts and Culture Alliance’s No Bigger Than a Bread Box show (2023).
When Lu first moved to Knoxville, she would visit with her father-in-law and noticed he had an outdoor visitor who would frequently come to his door. Inspiration hit! The Raccoon Visit (2019) painting featured a raccoon peeping through the door while her father-in-law watched TV. From then on, she began integrating raccoons into her paintings. Lu began to combine raccoons and her love of works by famous painters into interesting and often humorous paintings. As a child, her parents would often remind her to behave. However, when she created art, her parents encouraged her to do whatever she wanted. She took that permission and allowed herself to be as mischievous as she wished in her paintings. Lu imagines that just as that first raccoon would walk into her father-in-law’s backyard, her illustrated raccoons would symbolically walk into her paintings. Once they are in Lu’s representation of an old master painting, the raccoons take over with curiosity and playfulness.
As with many artists, Lu is attracted to the use of light in her paintings. When she was younger, her work only focused on representing objects. It wasn’t until her late 30’s that she looked at light, not just objects. As her painting skills evolved, she began experimenting by centering on the light and shadow and the feeling the light would cast upon bricks in urban settings. The object was no longer the focus.
Future plans include a project in which she will complete 70 paintings in 70 days using the painting method attributed to Vincent Van Gogh. She is also gearing up to complete 365 self-portraits in one year to practice painting without hesitation and with less control. Always planning ahead, Lu is also working on a children’s illustrated book of the stories behind great paintings. Find out more about Lu’s work here.