Artist Interview - Jess Chung

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Jess Chung and I’m a gouache artist that loves to paint landscapes.

Why do you do what you do?

Growing up I never actually considered doing art as a career. I didn’t think I’d be anywhere near good enough, so I just went down the stable path of studying accounting and finance in university. I went on to work as an auditor, but I was really miserable in the job and after a year I quit. I went abroad to study for a few months, and after I returned that’s when the pandemic hit. Because I still hadn’t worked out what I wanted to do next, I started painting every day as a way to be productive while waiting for things to return to normal. I posted my paintings to Instagram and somehow things just took off from there. A year ago I wouldn’t have thought a career in art would have been possible for me, but now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I feel so blessed to be able to share my art and painting tutorials with an audience and reach people from all over the world.  


What inspires your art?

The beauty of nature and the world around us. Since getting back into painting, I’ve been more observant of my environment and when I see something interesting, I think to myself ‘I want to paint that!’


How and when did you get into art?

As a child, I loved drawing and always wanted to learn how to draw. In high school, I attended weekly drawing classes for about four years. But after high school, I rarely spent time on art and it wasn’t until after I quit my corporate job that I returned to painting again. I started to fall in love with painting and since then I haven’t been able to stop.


How has your practice changed over time?

After high school, I didn’t draw or paint consistently at all. I now realise that is what stopped me from seeing improvement. Now I paint much more consistently, almost on a daily basis and that helps me improve slowly but surely over time.


What’s your favorite piece of art that you’ve created? Why?

Most paintings I do are difficult and challenging to me. There are ones that make me want to give up, but I still somehow manage to make it through, and they become some of my favourite pieces. I love this piece because it reminds me of how I overcame thoughts of wanting to give up and kept on pushing through until the end.


What’s the best piece of art advice you’ve been given?

There are two quotes from the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth which I think about often and use as motivation to keep on working on my craft.  

“Talent without effort is nothing more than your unmet potential. Without effort, your skill is nothing more than what you could have done but didn’t. With effort, talent becomes skill and, at the very same time, effort makes skill productive”

“Consistency of effort over the long run is everything”


What’s one art tip/technique you can share with us that you find really helpful?

Squint lots! It helps you to look past all the small details and just focus on the large shapes and values.  


Do you have any secret tips or techniques you use to salvage a piece when you make a mistake?

When it comes to gouache the best thing to do when you feel like you’ve made a mistake is just to let it dry and carefully go over it again. I sometimes repeat this step multiple times in order to rework an area.


What is your favorite Strathmore paper? Why?

I’ve only tried the Visual Journal and the 400 Series Watercolor Journal and love both of them!

What art materials could you not live without?

My gouache paints as I absolutely love painting with gouache.


What types of colors are you drawn to for your art and why?

I try to use a somewhat limited palette of only cools and warms of each of the primaries and mix the natural colours I see in landscapes from those.

Who are your biggest influences (or who were when you started doing art)?

I started learning painting through YouTube and followed my first acrylic painting tutorial over 10 years ago by Tim Gagnon. Then I discovered Ben Saber and learned from him too. There were not nearly as many painting tutorials on YouTube then as there are now, so I still remember very clearly the first few artists who taught me how to paint on YouTube.


What’s the most common art-related question you get from your followers?

“What brush is that?!”


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