Search This Blog

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ong Kim Seng. Interview

Ong Kim Seng BBM. A.W.S. DF. N.W.S. was born in Singapore and has been a full-time artist since 1985. He has won six awards from the AMERICAN WATERCOLOR SOCIETY; the Paul B. Remmy Memorial Award in 1983, the Lucy B. Moore Award in 1988, the Clara Stroud Memorial Award in 1989 and the Barse Miller Memorial Award in 1992, Winsor & Newton Award in 2000 and the Ida Wells Memorial Award in 2001. He has been an active member of theAMERICAN WATERCOLOR SOCIETY since 1990 and was the first Asian outside the U.S.A. to be awarded membership. He was President of the SINGAPORE WATERCOLOR SOCIETY from 1991 to 2001 when he became Honorary President, in which that capacity, he interacts with other watercolor organizations in the other parts of the world. In 1993 his work, 'Bhaktaphur' was the first Singapore watercolour painting to be auctioned by Sotheby's in Hong Kong. In March 1994, his work, 'Bali' was auctioned by Christie's in Singapore. Ong Kim Seng was the Organizing Chairman of ASIAN WATERCOLORS 97 SINGAPORE, the first international watercolor exhibition to be held in Singapore. He was Founding Editor-South East Asia forInternational Artist and an article on his works appeared in the first issue of the magazine.

Ong Kim Seng. Everest the North Face.1988

You represent watercolor of Singapore in the world. Are there any specific features in Singapore watercolor? Does it belong to a certain bigger region watercolor society?
I represented SIngapore in many occasions in International art exhibitions .  Whether other art critics and artists would agree with me about the  Singapore form of watercolor is the tropical light source  in particular in its  presentation . It is actually a mix of traditional British and Californian watercolors . In my case I prefer to apply fresh primary  colors  creating a luminous  finish on my painting . 

Ong Kim Seng. As The Night Falls

Could you tell how you become a watercolor artist?
Since young I dreamt to be good at drawing and painting although to be  a full -time painter never comes into my mind . This is because my mum  was strongly against my childhood aspirations .As a result I went through the normal education   and did a number of jobs before I turn full time artist in 1985.

Ong Kim Seng. Beding Rawaling Himalaya.1989. 42x28

Who or what the most influenced you as an artist?
The British artist Sir  William Russell Flint was my greatest influence as well John Singer Sargent . It is the unpredictability of this medium that attracted me  and to keep me  painting till today .
When did you become a full-time artist?
I became a full time artist in 1983 after I left my last job as a audio visual specialist with multi -lateral organisation.

Ong Kim Seng. Mighty Annapurna.

What is your attitude to critique of art? What is proper: to enjoy the good sides or to find defects of the painting?
The words of critique of art is subjective and it cannot be taken seriously , for example they called " watercolors as a  stepchild of art  or as a preparation for a large scale oil painting " !  It is human nature to look for faults then to appreciate  just on the good sides when it comes to art. Or else people may think that you are not educated enough to admire a painting !

Ong Kim Seng.  Veliko Bulgaria

You travel a lot. Do you always paint on a spot? How do you organize the process?
Most of the time I paint on the spot although I do paint at home or in my studio.  I usually pick a spot  i like and select the most interesting part of scene to start painting .

Ong Kim Seng. Morning Light Tongli. 22x31''

Can you find difference in painting made in studio with a reference photo and the same subject painted on a spot?
There is a great difference between painting in the studio and on the spot of course . When you are painting "plein air" whatever you see is clear and sharp whereas with a photograph even with very high density there are bound to be areas which are not clear  and details blurred or even black!  I agree that it is comfortable and safe  to paint  in a studio  but there are limitations to the feelings of the environment and to attain first hand reference of the place you are painting .  In the studio you are confined to the four walls!

Ong Kim Seng. Xitang Bridge. 53x38cm

Do you have certain colors in your palette those you can`t do without?
Yes French Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna   the two most important colors  I cant do without !
Do you use masking or white opaque color in your painting?
No .

Ong Kim Seng. Morning.

Can you formulate most important rules of watercolor for yourselves?
Achieve  what watercolors was when they were  painted by British Masters  that is to stay transparent and clean !

Ong Kim Seng. Bali

What brushes do you use?
Winsor and Newton size 12 and and the most useful  size 10.
Do you follow what is happening in watercolor media?
I read magazines from many countries in particular the United States and China .

Ong Kim Seng. Western Himalaya. 2005. 22x30''

What are the tendencies in watercolor media in the world in your opinion?
Watercolor had been regarded by even critiques that they are a "step-child" of art !  Many collectors are skeptical  about the medium itself . They always think they fade ,and the paper is less durable than canvas .  However watercolor was the oldest medium since the dawn of civilization   . Many of the paintings in the water medium were kept in museum last till today in its original form. 

Ong Kim Seng

Some “do” and “don`t” for the young watercolor artists?
Watercolor is to keep painting and never give up . It is the most challenging of all mediums . Do not paint it the way you paint oils !  This is a different approach . 


  1. Thank you, Konstantin. This was a most wonderful posting! I have seen Ong Kim Seng's work before, and admire it, as well as so many artists of the Singapore Art Society.

  2. Thanks ,Konstantin for this wonderful post. Ong Kim Seng is one of my favourite artist.

  3. Hello Everybody,
    My name is Mrs Sharon Sim. I live in Singapore and i am a happy woman today? and i told my self that any lender that rescue my family from our poor situation, i will refer any person that is looking for loan to him, he gave me happiness to me and my family, i was in need of a loan of S$250,000.00 to start my life all over as i am a single mother with 3 kids I met this honest and GOD fearing man loan lender that help me with a loan of S$250,000.00 SG. Dollar, he is a GOD fearing man, if you are in need of loan and you will pay back the loan please contact him tell him that is Mrs Sharon, that refer you to him. contact Dr Purva Pius,via email:( Thank you.


    1. Name Of Applicant in Full:……..
    2. Telephone Numbers:……….
    3. Address and Location:…….
    4. Amount in request………..
    5. Repayment Period:………..
    6. Purpose Of Loan………….
    7. country…………………
    8. phone…………………..
    9. occupation………………
    11.Monthly Income…………..

    Email Kindly Contact:


  4. My name is.Mrs.Anna Daniel. I live in Ukraine i am a happy woman today? i need to use this time to tell all people how i got my loan from this honest and God fearing man loan lender that help me with a loan of $84,000 please contact him. if you also need a loan without any problem he name is Dr Purva Pius email {} tell him that is Mrs.Anna Daniel that refer you to he contact Email {}

  5. I’m Charles David by name, i want to use this medium to alert all loan seekers to be very careful because there are scam everywhere, Few months ago I was financially strained, and due to my desperation I was scammed by several online lenders. I had almost lost hope until a friend of mine referred me to a very reliable lender called Dr Purva Pius ( A God fearing man) who lend me a loan of $237,000 under 72 working hours without any stress. I explain to the company by mail and all they told me was to cry no more because i will get my loan from this company and also i have made the right choice of contacting them i filled the loan application form and proceeded with all that was requested of me and to my shock I was given the loan, If you are in need of any kind of loan just contact him now via: {}

    I‘m using this medium to alert all loan seekers because of the hell I passed through in the hands of those fraudulent lenders.

    Thanks you Dr Purva Pius Loan service for your help.