In the studio with Thao Nguyen

Wonder what goes on in an artist’s studio, what they do to find inspiration for their work, and how they choose their materials? We interviewed dot-art artist Thao Nguyen about her daily practice and how she got into painting landscapes.

thao nguyen in the studio

Which medium do you work with and what do you like about it specifically?

I work mainly with beeswax, acrylic and oil. Beeswax is very special to me. My father started his beekeeping career and honey business in Vietnam when I was 2 years old. Growing up with bees, I learned so much about beeswax and played with it. To create paintings with beeswax, I had to melt it and paint when the wax is hot which make these paintings more special. Besides, the texture created by beeswax is very unique that stimulates my imagination. I never have enough of it. Sit down and paint, I lost track of the time.

Describe your style of art

Abstract. I love landscape. Working with a palette knife, I am currently trying to create landscapes in a more abstract style.

Can you take us through your process? Do you sketch a plan or dive straight in on a blank canvas? How long do you spend on one piece? When do you put the brush down?

Once I’ve got a concept, I normally take a few days to form the painting in my head. Ideas normally come to me in my morning shower! Sometimes, I find some photos for references. Then, I sketch its composition directly on a canvas. It can take me 3 months to do a painting, but mostly it take from 1 to 3 days for a piece. I know it is finished when I feel very satisfied with it. If I am not happy when I finish, I normally leave the studio and come back the next day to change it. After a good night sleep and meditation, I normally feel fresh and can see clearly which parts of the painting I need to change. I repeat this until I am really satisfied with it.

When did you begin your artistic career?

I grew up in an artistic family and so I have drawn and painted a lot since I was a kid. However, only when I went to Switzerland to complete my MBA in Hotel Management, I took art classes and have painted since. I started to take painting seriously when my painting was chosen to be hung at the main hall of the university and 3 other art projects were displayed in the hall ways. I started selling my paintings in 2013.


Who or what inspires your art?

Beautiful English and Vietnamese countryside at sunset.

What is one of your favourite pieces that you have done and why?

My favourite piece is ‘Lover’s Path II’. The piece might not be the same as how I paint nowadays, however, it was the first time I used palette knives to create the piece which really inspired me and it has led me to my current painting style.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on a series of landscape which is a combination of beeswax and acrylic. I have discovered that the options I have to play with beeswax are limitless.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

1. Practice makes it perfect. Does not matter you are a self-taught artist or you have professional qualifications in fine art, creating the actual artwork and learning from it is the best teacher.

2. If you are serious about your art, treat it as a serious business/ career which means you need to be disciplined in creating the artwork whether or not you feel inspired. Most of the time, you will get the job satisfaction and feel inspired after you finish the work.

What’s your most unusual artistic habit/strangest technique which you have learned?

When I get an idea, I do not paint it straight away but leave it for a few days, so that my unconscious mind can work on it as well. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night or jump out of a shower when I am still full of shampoo, just to sketch the idea before I forget.

What are your favourite things to listen to whilst painting? If anything!

Classical music (E.g. Frederic Chopin), Opera, Jazz or audible books for personal development.

View more of Thao’s portfolio here, or sign up to our mailing list to keep up to date with new art collections.