Truthful Art

By Lucy Arnold, Art Editor

head shot
Artist Mai Yap

At 5 years old, Mai Yap knew she wanted to be an artist. Being born in Panama to Chinese parents, she developed a style of art that blends the balance and perfection of Chinese millennial traditions with the vibrant colors and energy of the tropics.

Her work began with realistic florals, then evolved to landscapes and abstracts. All embody her commitment to the preservation of nature and the world.

As Yap’s concern for the environment deepened, she questioned how to convey authenticity and meaning while creating genuine, truthful art. After exploring many ideas, she realized that, for her, the only way to express complex feelings and deep concerns was through abstraction.

Palette knife painting by Mai Yap, “Summer Act 19” (36 x 48)

“By means of abstractions, I try to explain the emotions that man’s disdain toward our society and the environment make me feel,” says Yap, who’s a member of the Coral Gables Branch, Florida. “Color and movement mimic our planet’s cycles in all their wonderful glory. As if weaving a tapestry with paint, the images are built using a cornucopia of vibrant colors painstakingly applied, stroke-by-stroke, layer-by-layer.”

When Yap discovered palette knife painting a few years ago, she dove right in, even though she couldn’t find any classes. She used this innovative technique in the manner of van Gogh’s impressionistic pointillism style — done entirely with palette knives.

“There is a point, after I have laid down all the main colors, that I freeze. Then I breathe and patiently wait for a message on how to continue,” she says. “The whole process is scary and exhilarating at the same time, especially if you are painting with only palette knives.”

Yap’s positive personality shines through even those abstracts that begin with difficult emotions. She believes they contain the voice of hope and gratitude, and that with love, we can change the outcome of our lives and our planet for future generations.

“The Tea Party,” palette knife painting (36×24) by Mai Yap