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  • Writer's pictureStacey Chiew

Suzi Chua: Sharing Love Through Art

Love can only grow more when shared. - Suzi Chua

Suzi Chua.

A well-known Malaysian wildlife artist, Suzi Chua started her art career late. After her children were grown, she decided to enrol herself in a local art school to pursue her passion, something she enjoyed doing ever since she was a little girl - painting and drawing. However, the young administrative assistant rejected her application. Suzi was told that the school preferred younger students and she was "too old" to learn drawing and be an artist. Fortunately, the then 40-year-old mother of three disagreed.

“There was a voice inside my head that kept whispering to me to follow my heart regardless of what others said. I knew it was my life’s true calling, something I would like to do for the rest of my life. I was not discouraged despite the hurtful words. I had dedicated the first half of my life taking care of my family; I wanted to make the second half as beautiful and as meaningful as I can. I wanted to touch a life and make a difference.” Says Suzi.

Helmeted hornbill painted by Suzi Chua

By chance, Suzi met an artist who specialised in rock painting. They became friends. Good support from the right kind of people helped her kick start her art career in just a few short months. During her early career, Suzi got most of the stones and rocks from her garden as her husband was building a rock garden for their new home.

Suzi found inspirations by looking at the shape of a rock. Her favourite subjects are animals. With a few paint brushes, she transformed ordinary looking rocks into adorable animals one brush stroke at a time, breathing life into each of them. She shared her beautiful one of a kind rock paintings on social media with the hope of connecting with like-minded artists and getting feedback from them. The exposure on Facebook helped her attract fans from around the world. Their comments, "Likes" and words of encouragement continued to motivate and inspire her to create better artworks. She began selling her rocks a few months later and published two e-books titled Artistry Set On Stones and Let's Get Catty to spread her love for animals.

"My biggest motivation comes from those who support my work, and the compliments I received from my buyers. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a happy smile on my customers' faces. They keep me going. I am grateful and thankful for their support.” Says Suzi.

The success of rock painting has prompted Suzi to explore other mediums such as canvas painting and resin art. Throughout the years, she accepted commissions for pet portraits but her heart has never forgotten the animals that reside in the rainforests of Malaysia that are now endangered.

Suzi has been an avid animal lover her entire life. When she decided to dedicate her life to a creative career, she knew very well that her work was not just about painting beautiful animals but to use her gift to advocate for the protection of threatened wildlife and endangered species. Suzi’s large-scale painting of animals touches on the problems of Malaysia disappearing wildlife.

"Everyone loves a beautiful painting, but a good painting is supposed to make you feel something. The rainforests are home to many types of animals large or small. Due to deforestation, natural habitats are shrinking fast, many wild animals lost their home. I now see it as my mission to be the voice for them, addressing this alarming issue to our society. Hopefully, their voices can be heard through my paintings, protecting them from becoming extinct.” Explains Suzi.

Suzi paints animals in acrylic and enjoys capturing the expressions of the animals she adores. She has spent years fine-tuning her techniques to portray the animals she cares about in the style of realism.

White rhinoceros.

In 2018, the Maybank Foundation invited Suzi to exhibit two of her masterpieces, the Malayan tigers at the Maybank gallery in Kuala Lumpur. She was featured in The Better World in 2017, as one of the six women chosen for a global online community from Singapore to celebrate International Women's day. The better World is a website that shares real-life stories from all walks of life. it's purpose is to give hope and inspire others o take positive actions and make things happen.

Suzi has long admired a complex technique developed and perfected by the famous Japanese artist Riusuke Fukahori - the three-dimensional lifelike goldfish painting in resin. The amazing details of his work fascinated her. However, the complex and painstaking process of painting goldfish between the layers and layers of dried resin that look like water almost put her off. Fortunately, the words of encouragement from her youngest son prompted her to convince herself to experiment and work with these new materials and techniques that were totally out of her comfort zone.

With months of practice and sheer determination, Suzi finally mastered the technique of creating these hyper-realistic swimming goldfish. Feeling excited, she shared her newfound knowledge with those who wanted to learn this unusual form of art.

“The act of sharing is important. I believe in the healing power of art. Sharing brings happiness.” She explains, smiling.

Just like her rock painting, her impressive goldfish painting in resin attracted worldwide buyers. The good reviews inspired Suzi to create other three-dimensional real-life artworks of sea creatures such as turtles, sharks and octopus.

Suzi donates a portion of the sales to her favourite animal rescue groups from each art piece sold. She believes in giving back to society and wish to see others do the same.

Gentle giant.

Despite Suzi enjoyed sharing her art skills with others, however, she decided to stop teaching art in 2018. Today, she focuses solely on creating realistic animal portraits to raise awareness about animal welfare.

Suzi’s work was featured local newspapers such as The Star, New Straits Times and local and international art magazines.

For the past twenty years, she invited her viewers to enjoy her art with bigger purposes in mind: to help pet owners preserve the memories of their furry friends and get the public think about the wild animals that are disappearing on a massive scale in the rainforests.

“Deforestation is a serious problem. I see animals as gifts from the creator. It is our responsibility to protect endangered species and not to harm them. After all, we are the smartest creatures on planet earth. If we can’t take care of our planet, who will? This is where my art can make a difference.” Her eyes sparkle as she speaks.

You can find Suzi’s painting for Art In The City campaign, titled “Gentle Giant”, on a side of a building at the KL Citywalk in Kuala Lumpur. She is also a strong advocate for Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC). She has created custom-made promotional items and souvenirs to raise money for the founder of BSBCC, Mr Wong Siew Te.

Suzi’s courage to pursue her dreams has allowed her to make a real and lasting contribution to the lives of animals. To Suzi, the best is yet to come.

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