Artist Celine Chia Hui Xuan first discovered her passion for the arts when she was three. Her mum was the one who discovered this particular interest through signing her up for art classes. Under Art Vision Enterprise, she built the foundations of drawing, colouring, and painting techniques. She made cards and doodled outside of class as a hobby.
The purpose of the class was to utilise materials to expand her creativity, 3D pop out cards for instance. Through this simple interaction, she grasped the concept of learning outside of class, to explore and expand her creativity. This lifelong cycle of learning beyond the classroom aided her greatly in transitioning her ideas into reality.“My mum bought me my first starter kit – oil pastels and poster colours!” she recounted vividly.
The art classes were on every Saturday morning, and she undertook the routine art classes followed by opting up for ballet lessons when she turned four. Celine Chia was initially scared to go for classes, but her passion gradually outworn her fear. She warmed up to her teacher and her classmates and enjoyed the lessons as the weeks passed.
During her Saturday classes, her teacher gave everyone a blank slate, to allow every student to let their ideas flow. There were occasional ‘free and easy’ themes to allow their imagination and ideas to flow, as well as multiple creative ways of teaching art every week. Examples include lantern making using recycled bottles and photo frames from cardboard. Even till date, Celine still inculcates this practice and let her own students have the freedom to expand their creativity.
Through her art teacher, Celine got to know about art exhibitions and visited them with her parents. The events and happenings were usually relayed by her teacher to them, who then spread the news to their parents. There were about 8 to 10 students per class, and most of her classmates come and go. She was the only one who stayed on due to her unyielding passion and interest.
In fact, this happened all the way till she was in secondary 3. (12 years of learning)To add on to her considerable achievement, Celine was also recommended to continue taking art as a 9th subject even though her other schoolmates were not given that option. Unfortunately, she had to decline the offer due to overwhelming workload.
By age 15, she had already mastered various art forms and techniques. It was up to her to continue exploring and finding her own style.
YouTube was starting off back then, so she used it as a platform to educate herself. Gathering some ideas from Pinterest posts, she would try to recreate them with her own unique twists. Whenever she was stressed from schoolwork, she would doodle to release everything that was pent up. With whatever discretionary time that she had, she would continue to upgrade and brush up her skills. She never felt that she was perfect and always sought self-improvement. In fact, there were many at times she had to learn and practice the hard way.
Initially, she was not really good at realism sketches. A lot of observation skills is required to enhance the drawings (e.g., the highlights) to make the sketches more legitimate. She had received negative feedback initially, that the subject did not look real. She took the feedback and sought self-improvement.
“My eyes are like a scanner, and my hands are like a printer” – you draw what you see.
Realism Sketching, Celine Chia, 2021.
That quote was how she viewed her beliefs. By placing a lot of emphasis on observation and making amendments, she continued to perfect this technique. On YouTube, she may not be able to differentiate the final art piece with it looking so realistic. As such, she watches the YouTuber’s highlights to learn the techniques.
From the videos, she realised that her drawings may not be as realistic as she wanted. Some observations include the highlights, and that the white (colour) needed to be very opaque to stand out. She tried and error in order to find out which of these different materials help to enhance her works.
Celine Chia’s parents have been very supportive of her passion towards the arts.
One of Celine Chia’s biggest masterpieces till date was when she was 12 years old. It was a semi-extract and cartoon drawing of a Disney Princesses, whereby she combines different aspects of different princesses together. It was used as a display piece for over a decade at the studio in Clementi. (Under her previous teacher) This delightful piece of work still hangs there, the last time I checked.
How did she manage such a feat you may wonder? Well, she took about a whole year to complete the oil painting on canvas. “Once a day every weekend while I was still schooling. I struggled with the edits, but after pushing through the masterpiece over numerous weeks, I finally felt a sense of achievement and self-fulfilment.” Celine recounts as she heaved a sigh of relief.
To quote from her teacher “she was the youngest student to ever attempt such a feat”.
Throughout this arduous process, she had to do the painting outside the studio. (Smell from Oil Painting does not sit well with most people) This was followed by the use of turpentine to wash the brushes. It is of no surprise that there was usually a big crowd of onlookers spectating this feat.
Even though she was continually under pressure (from onlookers), it helped to build up her endurance and mental fortitude which were the key factors to train her for future competitions.
In fact, her art teacher was the one that signed her up in the art competitions to increase her exposure.
Back when she was in primary school, she usually could not finish paintings in class. This was detrimental and led to her losing competitions initially. She was really discouraged and tried to find out her mistakes. Her weakness was that she was a perfectionist and was too focused on details. During competitions, time was a major deciding factor.
By learning the techniques – making her artwork more aesthetically appealing and pleasing to the eye, as well as efficient time management, Celine Chia finally cracked the code.
During a Dragon Boat Art Competition in Clarke Quay, she was first runner-up. To be honest, she was definitely not expecting her name to be called and was in a state of frenzy. Shock, excitement, happiness and other conflicting feelings overwhelmed her. In fact, the only thing she could vaguely remember was her parents there by her side to take photos of their pride and joy.
Once she had a taste of victory, she doubled her efforts to perfecting her newly acquired skills. Ever since her win in primary 3, she went on a winning streak and had won prizes in every competition that she participated in. This streak lasted all the way till secondary 3, where her plans were put on hold due to schoolwork.
In spite of her various achievements, Celine Chia was rather quiet, shy and reserved back in Jurong Primary. Due to her school environment, she always blended in with the crowd and the teachers do not seem to find fault with her. Most of her achievements were through competitions outside of school. In spite of that, her school still recognised her contributions to the school – in the form of art pieces used as display to showcase students’ works of art.
There was constant appreciation for the works that Celine put out, throughout different stages in her life.
Due to the fact that she appealed to enter Fuhua Secondary School, she wanted to prove to everyone that she deserved to be here. It was a source of motivation for her, to work even harder to get ahead of her peers.
In Secondary school, she wanted to change herself. The need to make more friends arose and she strove to be more open regarding her thoughts and expressions.“Change is within. It is a matter of personal mindset.”
Her classmates saw the change in her mindset and attitude and were pleasantly surprised. Through opening up, she started making more friends.
In Secondary 2, Celine participated in a Chinese Calligraphy competition, and won first place. Ever since then, she was nominated to do up the drawings for school events, such as the classroom design competition. Her classmates recognized her talent and sought her design expertise for their class tees as well. Outside of school, she continued participating in external competitions like the water festival and lantern festival and won prizes there as well.
In addition, she was nominated to help design and paint souvenirs for the Youth Olympic games participants. Her works of art were eventually showcased at the event booths and kept by the participants.
To add on to these achievements, she was also nominated as a prefect trainee in Secondary 2. She served her duties exceptionally and was even promoted to head prefect from Secondary 3 to Secondary 4. As a head prefect, she was in charge of leading the school, from the daily flag raising ceremony to planning of logistical matters for camps and other school events. Another of her outstanding achievements includes representing the school in the National Day Rally in 2013.
Through her hard work and dedication, she finally made it as one of the top students to graduate from the school.
In Anglo-Chinese Junior College, she started her Instagram account @ccmonstersart (previously known as the cookie monster art). This was a platform for her to post her doodles, especially when she feels stressed. Art continued to be her solace and saving grace whenever she was overwhelmed. Celine is an achiever and was even nominated as the captain of the school table tennis team. She never gave up on art and continues to use it as a platform to relieve her stress.
In National University of Singapore (NUS), she started to diversify and worked part time at a few art centres. She truly enjoyed the experience of teaching and educating her students at Global Art and Art Vision. She also collaborated with craft workshops to broaden her experience and perspectives. Even after all these years, she came to the realisation that her passion was still in the arts scene. In addition to that, she also partake in corporate workshops, and has prior experience in coaching adults for team building. This was not only through a virtual platform (Zoom), but also in real life as well.
Covid-19 was the determinant factor for her decision to go into this field. Due to the fact that they did not have a graduation ceremony, she made custom explosion boxes for graduation gifts. With the encouragement from her friends, she got into a small business selling custom crafts – Instagram @c_line_crafts.
It was there and then that Celine Chia realised that there was a demand for her works. She started teaching art to students and did the explosion boxes as a side income. Starting from her friends, she conducted a trial class to test the feasibility of such an endeavour. From there, she gained more traction and even conducted quite a few art workshops thus far.
During the lockdown, she helped Artify Art Studio (with Touch Community) to conduct numerous virtual zoom classes for the elderly. It was a truly enlightening experience for her as she got to explore her niche industry and got to help the elderly along the way. The elderly really enjoyed those online sessions and were comforted by her guidance and patience.
After the lockdown, she met up with the elderly and checked up on them. To her, it was overall a really fruitful learning experience. It was really inspiring to see the elderly take up a new hobby to enjoy their life. Around the same time period, her previous art teacher also reached out and asked her if she wanted a space to conduct her classes. It was right then that her art studio came into fruition.
Celine envisioned how her studio was going to look like. She wanted a place for her to showcase her artworks, and a place for imagination to take flight. Having been to the studio personally, and participated in an art jamming workshop, here’s my two cents.
“The studio takes you into a new dimension, where you can be calm and connect with your inner self.
It is a place of freedom, of expression, of calmness. It is a safe haven where all is welcome to stay.”
Her studio also has a photo booth and photo shoots with relevant lighting and equipment in place. Visitors can utilise them to take nice images for their social media posts.When she initially started, there were many things in the industry that she was not too familiar with. She had to step out of her comfort zone to research and keep upgrading and be in the know. She continues to do that till date and continues to learn about the newer trends in the arts industry.
Celine Chia takes her feedback from her clients into consideration and makes improvements based on those feedbacks. She continues to improve on various aspects, from the source of her materials to the quality of her art classes.
Awards and Achievements
– Culture By the Bay Art Competition 2007 (1st Prize)
– Contributed in The Charity Art Exhibition 2007
– SG River Raft Art Contest 2007 (2nd Prize)
– Singapore International Water Festival On the Spot Art Contest 2010 (1st Prize)
– Singapore International Water Festival On the Spot Art Contest 2011 (3rd Prize)
– Fuhua Secondary School Chinese Calligraphy Competition 2011 (1st Prize)
– Singapore International Water Festival On the Spot Art Contest 2012 (3rd Prize)
– Chinatown Mid-Autumn Lantern Painting Art Competition 2012 (2nd Prize)
– Contributed in Pameran Poskad 2020 (Sale of artworks)
Summary of Art Experiences
Celine Chia is an NUS graduate with over 20 years of practice in Art and 5 years’ worth of teaching experience. She specialises in acrylic paintings, realism sketching, water colours, oil painting and pastels. She has prior experience in collaborations with other artists and corporate workshops as well.
Recently, Celine submitted 10 artworks for Pameran Poskad 2020, a charity event where some of the proceeds goes to charity. Of these, more than half of them were purchased by art enthusiasts. Some of her unsold works can be found in her art studio and on the website shop.
Celine Chia also does digital portraits as well as other commissions and work of art outside of her classes. She has many portraits and art pieces (realistic drawings) lined up in the coming months. Through visualisation of the client’s requirements, and drawing from their perspectives, she is able to continuously deliver. By putting herself in their shoes, she understands the story and portrayal of the art pieces. Even before submitting for approval, she will continue to critique her artwork throughout the process. Her clients are pleased with her work thus far, as evident from the numerous positive reviews on Facebook and Carousell.
Celine’s work of art was made into a sculpture, being displayed along the banks of the Singapore River. The structure was a combination of all of the winners’ art pieces, with Celine’s winning piece as the main focus. The painting depicts a dragon boat and showcased a vibrant and colourful Singapore River. It managed to capture the judges’ attention and definitely worthy of winning first place. Her subsequent winning pieces each reflect a different perception and view of the Singapore River.
Celine Chia definitely knew what she wanted, alongside having the passion and commitment to strive against all odds. She would do whatever it takes to make her career bloom. Even from a young age, she was always inquisitive and ready to learn.
At the moment, she is working on sending her students’ artworks for art competitions in the coming months. There were of course, many eager parents supporting her decision.
Celine Chia’s Art style
The following is a short summary during our interview, where she blew me away with her knowledge of the techniques.
“Realism sketches require a lot of observation skills, both from a micro and macro perspective. In the micro view, you will need to have a keen eye and keep track of the itty bitty detail. For macro, you will need to look at the subject from a wider view. Proportion matters a lot in terms of macro view. Realistic drawings will require a lot of focus on the highlights, the shadow as well as the contrast. On top of that, I want my students to observe the ‘invisible’ line. The artist needs to have a good visualisation of where the light falls upon the object, especially the reflection of light on the object. Mixed media is usually required to get the different tones, for instance a more opaque white colour. Even the materials used for the canvas are important towards the end result. Examples includes drawing block versus graphite paper.”
Generally, acrylic is more of a multipurpose tool. It can be used for an abstract style, bold, pour painting, or minimalistic art style. Acrylic is mainly used in her art jamming sessions as its more beginner friendly and amateurs can express themselves freely without worry of damaging or ruining their end product. The effects that you derive from acrylic is more bright and vibrant. Thus, it can be used on many materials, like leather and plastic and even wood (hard body).
For artist Celine Chia, she does not want to confine her students to whatever she proposes. Hence, she will allow them to freely express and explore their creativity instead. For instance, instead of flowers and fruits, she can use recycled materials to make crafts instead. This also helps to do a small part to save the environment in the process. i.e. no need for a fanciful mug, one can add value through other means and personalise things.
Her class style will go according to the trends and seasons. For example, an artwork related to ‘Among Us’, a game that’s trending right now. For Chinese New Year, her classes include pop out lion dance cards and masks related to the theme. The students are able to use these crafts for more fun and interaction after the classes. For some students who are more hands-on, she will teach them clay art. These students were able to express their creativity much better through this art form as compared to other art styles.
In this regard, Celine Chia continues to upgrade herself to learn new art styles to better cater to her students. Although Celine has her specialty art styles, she continues to seek self-improvement and strives to be the best that she can for her students.
Support Celine Chia by signing up for her workshops or trial class today!