Blue Fish Bauble
Blue Fish Bauble: In this painting, a fish symbol can be seen in a bauble. Nancy said that the Bible has many significant references to fish. Jesus commissioned His 12 disciples saying, ‘I will make you fishers of men’.

True beauty cannot be possible without some form of imperfection. Too often today, many people get caught up in their physical appearances that they forget how beautiful they really are, made in the image of God. No amount of perceived flaws can take away that beauty.

For Nancy Loh, a former journalist turned freelance painter-writer, in life – as in painting – the idea of imperfection can mean different things to different people. “To me, in many senses, imperfection is perfectly okay. It can even be intensely moving and beautiful,” she said.

Nancy took up oil-painting seriously in her 50s as she was drawn to the beauty she saw around her. “I’m passionate about translating such scenes onto canvas.”

Now 65, the mother of four children continues to gain insights and inspiration from artists whose work she admires when she attends their classes in Singapore and overseas.

As a way to practise keen observation and “loose” brushwork, Nancy, whose paintings are mostly oil-based, regularly joins her art friends outdoors where they paint objects and scenes of interest. “The idea is to capture and simplify our subjects within three hours or so; then we head off to share a meal,” she said.
Pay Dirt
Pay Dirt: Lowly-paid migrants toil into the wee hours.

One particular subject of interest for her is painting construction works-in-progress due to her concern about the plight of migrant workers. “I feel it’s a small way to bring awareness and give tribute to their hard work in a foreign land,” she said. Nancy added that she would like her work-in-progress pieces to one day benefit migrant workers in some tangible way.

Besides the final product of her work, Nancy shared the often overlooked preparation that is needed even before one starts to paint. These include checking out paintable sites, taking photographs for reference and arranging still-life setups.
The time she takes to complete a piece of oil painting varies according to its canvas size and the subject’s complexities, she said.

Nancy Loh. Photo JOSHUA SIOW
Nancy Loh. Photo: JOSHUA SIOW

When asked about the satisfaction she derives after completing a painting, Nancy, who previously helped to edit materials produced by the Catholic Spirituality Centre and sang in the choir at the Church of Divine Mercy, said that “besides the satisfaction of completion, I relish the process.”

Looking back at her time as a journalist and now as an artist, which role has given her more satisfaction?

“It’s hard to say. The challenge of putting together words to make a cohesive whole offers immense pleasure and satisfaction, as those who work with words know ... I like to say that I’m inspired by the beauty around me in the passage of light, the colours of shapes, even in things deemed mundane. These I do know how to convey more effectively using paints, hopefully to arouse in people a sense of connection to moments in time and space. It’s highly challenging and satisfying too, in the same way and in different ways. Both can be rather contemplative pursuits.”

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Christmas Saga
Christmas Saga: The overarching theme of God’s love and human longing is represented by heart-shaped saga seeds.

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