Anny Ku’s paintings are inspired by her daily life in Qatar—meeting people, discovering places, admiring architecture, and appreciating the local culture.
For her, art is a gentle therapy and can be regarded as a form of meditation. She believes art can even heal mental or emotional wounds without one being aware of it.
“Art is the spokesperson for different eras, spaces, and emotions. I see art everywhere. It is side by side with me like a shadow, like part of my being,” she said.
Besides spending most of her time at home with canvas, brushes, and paints, Anny also works as a part-time art teacher. And with the latter, she’s glad that she’s able to bring her experiences and technical skills to inspire and help the younger generation of budding artists.
Read on to see some of Anny’s amazing work and to know a little more about her!
Anny: I grew up in Taiwan. I always enjoyed painting since I was a little girl. I remember every time I won any painting competition, my parents would treat me to my favourite restaurant. And even though they preferred that I pursue either pharmacy or nursing as a career, nonetheless they supported my choice to take art as my college major.
Due to my husband’s career, we moved to Doha 18 years ago from Canada. Qatar has become my second home ever since.
Anny: I must say I was artistically inclined growing up, but what really helped me in developing and enhancing my skills was the formal art training I received during my college days in Taiwan and the courses I completed subsequently at Lakehead University in Ontario, Canada.
It’s been said that an artist should have a signature or recognisable style. I don’t necessarily agree with this personally, because I do not wish to be bound by a narrow style or focus. To me, an artist should be able to manage or create a variety of artwork reflecting the time, the emotions, and the background stories with a broad professional approach or perspective.
I use acrylic for most of my artworks, but I also use watercolour, charcoal, pencil, pastels, and even oil. I like the effects of different mediums. I find it fun and interesting to mix and match them.
Anny: I find inspiration when a particular scene touches me, or when I feel a connection through colours, with images that start occupying my mind. I will spend 30% of the time thinking and constructing how to express the story, deciding which techniques to use to bring to life the emotion and movement.
When something inspires me to launch a new series of paintings, I plan the new and different techniques to be used, then and there.
Anny: I have always enjoyed sketching and painting. Truly, I feel that everything is relevant to art. Initially, I didn’t think of becoming an artist, it was more like a lovely and relaxing activity when I worked in the field of business while living in Canada.
When we first arrived in Doha, the new and exciting sceneries, architecture, landscape and culture really began to stir something up in me. I found it extremely fascinating. So, I picked up a paintbrush and began painting regularly. This was the beginning of my artistic journey.
I wished to capture those moments that I saw and felt through the paintbrush. From there, gradually I transformed my expression into more of a mixture between realism and impressionism. I love experimenting with these genres when creating a new series of paintings. It’s very challenging, but so much fun.
Anny: Being an expatriate living in Qatar for several years, I’ve witnessed the country's rapid development and changes to its architecture along the Corniche, Souq Waqif, the transition from roundabouts to modern light-controlled intersections, the rise of spectacular museums, The Pearl, Lusail City, etc.
All of these transformations, along with the rich Qatari culture were eventually captured on canvas through a series of paintings to record and cherish memories of this beautiful nation and to tell my stories and appreciation of the country. There’s just so much daily inspiration from and within Qatar!
Anny: In the art world, I feel extremely free. I love the unlimited freedom of my imagination and the expression of my surroundings.
Anny: I have had several solo art exhibitions here in Qatar – twice at the Katara Art Center, one at the Sheraton Hotel and another at Qatar Foundation Education City Golf Club. I was also invited to join a group exhibition with local artists at Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum in 2019.
I have also done some work for Mandarin Oriental, Doha. I did dates watercolour painting series, which they turned into small cards. Along with fresh dates, they used them as welcome gifts for their guests.
Also, I have been featured in various local newspapers. This support and exposure has been very encouraging and always gives me a renewed boost of energy to keep creating.
Anny: As a long-time resident of Qatar, I am promoting the beauty of this country through my art. I have applied my paintings of the local culture and cityscapes onto fridge magnets and keychains, and I have developed over 40 greeting card designs as well. This way, people who visit Qatar for the upcoming World Cup can bring a piece of memory of Qatar back home and share it with family and friends.
In the past, I had helped children with autism through art activities. In the future, I hope I can help the community and particularly assist animal shelters through donations from sales of my artwork.
Anny: Recently, I worked on a couple of paintings that were inspired by the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Qatar. But now my time is mainly spent on painting a new series on canvas room dividers. This series combines eastern and western imagery and techniques, and is entitled “When West meets the East”.
I am incorporating Asian ink effects with Mandarin calligraphy writing (the East), but using acrylic on canvas (the West). It’s quite a large project, each room divider consists of three large panels, and each panel is double-sided. It is going to occupy me for quite some time. Next, I might consider a project that involves painting on furniture.
Anny: Dare to try, dare to dream, but remember it’s based on your hard work and devotion. Your hardworking attitude will eventually pay off. And the “go with the flow” philosophy will take the pressure off. Everything becomes more enjoyable!
Anny: Thank you for reading my story. I will be thrilled if I have inspired anyone through this article. It will be my pleasure if any of you would be interested in viewing my work, or simply wish to share ideas.
Cover image credit: Geraldine Menezes
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