Joyce Mo is an artist that by using paper and watercolour aims to construct a virtual three-dimensional world.
We asked Joyce a few questions about her work...
How long did it take you to find your style of art? Why do you enjoy using watercolour?
I think it’s probably an accumulation of all the sights I’ve seen throughout my life. Growing up in the countryside, I lived in an area taken up mostly by farmland. I think that rural upbringing has always been the foundation of my creative work and the way I observe and feel about things. Growing up like that certainly played a role in the development of my own artistic style.
Watercolours are fascinating – it's like the water and the colours are courting each other, like a chemical reaction or a kind of magic. It’s a difficult medium to control, but I find that sort of uncertainty romantic. It provides space for the piece to form little details. I really like adding extra touches to my creations, so aside from the primary colour, I like to spruce up the piece with a variety of other colours and just let them develop on the page, vividly and organically. It’s like I’ve blown air over the piece and brought it to life, and animated the character.
Your art work often features animals - What is your favourite animal to paint?
Without a doubt polar bears! Ever since I was a child, I’ve known that if I could choose to be any animal at all, I’d definitely choose to be a polar bear! They’re tough-looking – a bit boorish – yet somewhat tender. They might not be so attentive, but we find them therapeutic in a silly sort of way. I think I’m like that as an artist – I don’t pay so much attention to the details, but there’s something therapeutic about the finished piece.
I also really like working with different kinds of white – white with a little blue, white with a little grey, white with a little yellow, etc. You can be subtle and do a lot with the details. That’s enough freedom for me – I like that kind of freedom.
Some of your animal paintings feature human like characteristics and wear clothes, how do you decide what clothes they should wear?
In fact, I imagine the personality of each character before I go ahead and add the colour. Take a turtle, for example. Perhaps he’s a cool, old bloke who has retained a youthful spirit and is really into hip-hop. A polar bear, on the other hand, might be a chef who’s a bit laid-back and doesn’t exactly cook according to the recipe! Then there is the camel. Maybe she’s a woman already into her golden years, but still as dignified as ever and doing herself up every single day.
What piece of artwork of yours are you most proud of? Why?
Probably the work I did when I was a student – I had a period where I worked with whites because I didn’t have enough money to buy proper pigments or painting supplies. I started simple, with an oil-based fineliner pen and a box cutter, and used these to fashion my first three-dimensional world, which then led to a series of similar pieces. Even though I didn’t have any experience at that point, and despite the numerous blemishes, that first world is still my favourite piece.
Who are your biggest influences?
I happened to find out about Jean-Michel Folon a couple of years ago when I was in Belgium. I saw a video from when he was still alive and found it really moving. When he spoke about watercolours, he also said it’s like the water and colours are courting each other – at that moment I got goosebumps. We were at completely different points in time and space, and speaking different languages, yet understood watercolours in the same way – even the wording was the same! That feeling will stay with me forever. I even thought to myself, “this must be fate.” At that moment I was in his museum in Cyprus, sitting on a bench and just watching this video over and over again. It was less than 10 minutes long, yet filled me with energy and passion. His pieces are liked painted poetry – they have a soft, gentle atmosphere. After returning to Taiwan, I found myself often thinking of him when painting with watercolours myself.