Mother / Mother

Roselina Hung, Madonna of the Lilies, 36x36 in, Oil & linen on wood panel, 2016

Mother – Part 1

Sandro Botticelli, Madonna and Child with Eight Angels, Tempera on panel, 135 cm diameter, c.1478

2016 was a quiet art year for me with lots going on in life. The first half of the year started out normally, working on different paintings and exploring new themes, but things changed in late spring. I found myself thinking a lot about motherhood, and what it meant as an artist to also be a mother. It’s something that I’ve been thinking a lot about these past few years. I asked myself how I could explore this in my art, where I’ve often looked at female roles. Going back to my interest in themes and images repeated throughout art history, I was drawn to representations of the Madonna. Identifying her as the Virgin Mary was dependent on her being a mother or else her virginity would be of no importance. So who was this woman that was depicted in countless paintings with her baby if the baby was taken out of the picture.

Roselina Hung, Madonna of the Lilies (work in progress)
Roselina Hung, Madonna of the Lilies (work in progress)

And so I began playing with images of the Madonna with child, deleting everything except her face and shroud. I rearranged the separate parts to create a new composition. I played with textures where her halo should be and colour gradients and lines replaced golden rays of light.

While I was working on this painting and my brain was obsessed with these ideas, I learned that I was pregnant. And then it all made sense why this overwhelming feeling to work on this painting seemed to take over my mind. But it also meant that while I was planning a series of these paintings, my time in the studio changed. I had to reacquaint myself with the basics of oil painting, as I used techniques that were reliant on solvents, which were now forbidden to use. And my paintings took longer, and I had much less energy. This was also when I was preparing to leave for Salzburg. So my Madonna painting was only finished upon my return, later in the fall, once I was feeling better and able to spend more hours in the studio again. I’ve only created the one from a planned series, but I hope to revisit this in the future.

Roselina Hung, Madonna of the Lilies, 36x36 in, Oil & linen on wood panel, 2016
Roselina Hung, Madonna of the Lilies, Oil & linen on wood panel, 36 x 36 in, 2016


Mother – Part 2

Rosy at 6 Months (work in progress)
Rosy at 6 Months (work in progress)

In the past, I’ve tried to create one self-portrait annually. There’s something very cathartic about painting these self-portraits. They are challenging, as who else’s likeness am I most familiar with? With any feature a millimetre off, it can change the complete look of a face. But I also really enjoy creating self-portraits, as I feel like they are just for me without worrying about what the painting means, if someone would want to buy it, or where does it fit within my practice. Many times, these paintings have marked important events in my life, however small or large they may seem to the outside world. There is a significance there for me. Sometimes they are more about feelings I was having, or my psychological state during that year. And other times they mark actual events. But more often than not, they are a mix of all these things, and also a way for me to work out new ideas and themes for future works in the backgrounds or style that I’ve chosen for each specific painting.

With my growing belly, I realized that I did not have many photos of myself pregnant, and it was something that I wanted to remember. As a child, I remember looking at photos of my mom when she was pregnant with me and how bewildering it was to think that I was once inside her. And I hope to be able to share this painting with my child someday.

Roselina Hung, Rosy at 6 Months, Oil on wood panel, 6.5 x 12 in, 2016
Roselina Hung, Rosy at 6 Months, Oil on wood panel, 6.5 x 12 in, 2016

I knew I wanted to work with an odd sized wood panel, one that I could use to emphasize the feeling of constraint. As I was physically growing in size, I imagined the tight quarters of my belly, but I also felt like I was being physically, mentally and emotionally stretched to extremes that I had never known. As with all my paintings, I think a lot about composition and space within the frame of the painting. A lot can be conveyed through the intentional use of space.

I also wanted this painting to be a celebration, hence the brightly coloured background and exploding flowers for my spring baby. This was the first time that I worked on a self-portrait with the flat, graphic patterns of my other paintings.

Roselina Hung, Rosy at 6 Months (detail), Oil on wood panel, 6.5 x 12 in, 2016
Roselina Hung, Rosy at 6 Months (detail), Oil on wood panel, 6.5 x 12 in, 2016

I finished this painting just in time, before I take a few months off once my baby is born. So things may be a little quiet on the art front for a little while, but I’m hoping to get back into things by summer and be back in the studio and also working from home on some new projects. In the meantime, I will be exhibiting a couple of drawings from my pretty boys kill me series and a wallpaper installation in superyoung, a group exhibition curated by Zoë Chan at the Kamloops Art Gallery. The exhibition will run from April until July.


This summer I had the pleasure of creating a portrait of my friend Heather. The painting was commissioned by her mother-in-law, who has been a great friend and supporter of my art since my early days in London. We had been planning this painting for quite some time now, and ideas had been exchanged over the past couple of years. When we finally settled on an idea, there was only one condition – the painting must include the newest addition to their family, Zippy the dog. I was more than happy to paint Zippy, especially as I’ve been including many animals in my paintings as of late. Also in keeping with my previous portrait commissions, I wanted to include a bit of art history in the work and once I knew the painting would be of both Heather and Zippy, my mind immediately went to Leonardo da Vinci’s The Lady with an Ermine.

Leonardo da Vinci - Lady with an Ermine, 1489–90
Leonardo da Vinci – The Lady with an Ermine, 1489–90

While I wanted to borrow from the past, I still wanted to keep the painting contemporary. There is something about the pose of the sitter in the original painting, Cecilia Gallerani, as well as the grace and poise that da Vinci painted her with. I saw something similar in the photos that Heather sent me to work from, and I wanted to have that transfer into my painting of her. And so I present to you, Heather and Zippy.

Roselina Hung - Heather & Zippy, Oil on linen on board, 2013
Roselina Hung – Heather & Zippy, Oil on linen on board, 8 x 10 in, 2013

For an interesting infographic about the secret symbols in the Leonardo painting, head to the Daily Mail website, which featured the painting in an article when it was exhibited in the National Gallery in London in 2011.

Have we met before? You look familiar.

Piero di Cosimo – Venus, Mars & Cupid (detail), c. 1486-1510

Pretty boys have been around for a long time, and I’ll be the first to say that I’m not the only artist out there working on this subject. I would like to think that I’m doing something different and unique with the idea, but I’m also just one in a long succession of artists that have chosen the pretty boy as a muse. Like I’ve mentioned in the past about my project, pretty boys kill me, I’m interested in the pretty boy in popular culture – and there is certainly no shortage of them in the media today – especially in the fashion and entertainment industries.

Raphael – Self-Portrait, 1506

A lot of my artwork is influenced by art history, and this project is no different.  Throughout art history, the pretty boy was a muse, depicted by mainly male artists, as angels, saints and gods, across all cultures.  Here is just a small selection of some of the artists and paintings that I’ve been influenced by over the years:

Left: Sandro Botticelli – Saint Sebastian, 1474; Right: Albrecht Durer – Adam, 1507
Caravaggio – Bacchus, 1595
Francois Gerard – Cupid & Psyche, 1798
John Singer Sargent – Study of a Young Man (detail)

One of the more contemporary artists that I’ve looked at, whose work I follow, is Elizabeth Peyton:

Elizabeth Peyton – Tony (Savoy), 1999
Elizabeth Peyton – Spencer (1999)


There are still 27 days left on my Indiegogo campaign, and again I’d like to thank everyone for their support. I’m more than half way to reaching my goal! If you haven’t had a chance to, please check out my campaign and read about my project and residency in Reykjavik, Iceland this September.

I could be yours for $200…

Pretty Boys Can Only Say So Much

Leftover letters from my stencil

Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone who has been so supportive of my Indiegogo campaign. Thank you for the contributions, sharing the link and spreading the word. I’ve still got just over 30 days to go!

So the idea for this series of drawings, pretty boys kill me, came to me while I was on my residency at Ox-Bow last fall. It was a bit of a light bulb over the head moment. I had been working on these patterned fabric scans and digitally overlaying text and I wanted to somehow do the same thing but carry it into my own practice of portraiture. But not just any portraits – I wanted to do portraits of pretty boys as a female artist, as they have mostly been subjects of male artists in the past. At first I thought about doing small paintings and creating a digital pattern from scans of the paintings, but that wasn’t enough. It didn’t have enough of an impact and wasn’t getting my idea across. And then, in my head, I thought to myself, “pretty boys kill me”, and that was that. I knew where this project was going. And like my past works, I mined my personal experiences for inspiration, combined with my interest in pop culture media.

Now this work wouldn’t be very me without my own personal spin on things, so the images from this series will be overlaid with subtle text taken from e-mails, chats and texts from past long distance relationships, examining how words are used in communicating desire, wavering between lovingly sentimental and overtly sexual. The gender of the speaker will not always be clear. The text is actually erased from the drawing, created through the negative space left over.

Touching up the text after removing the stencil

With the two different types of texts being exchanged, I envision the works being read in pairs – going back and forth between the loving and sexual. Both types are somewhat cliché words that we are taught communicate love/sex/desire through popular media, especially in songs and movies. The contrasting forms on the one hand compliment each other, but on the other hand, read almost as a lack of communication. The exchange of this type of text, in short bursts, is representative of the digital age. Letter writing gave way to e-mails and internet chat, which happened to coincide with my teenage years and is perhaps why I understand the communicating of desire through text in this way.  Desire conveyed in just a few words – short enough to send in a quick text message.

So that’s a little bit more information about the concept behind this series, which I will be working on during my residency in Reykjavik.  That and oh, pretty boys do kill me.

In my next blog post, I’ll talk a bit more about who these pretty boys are and show you some of my inspirations.

To read more about the SIM Residency and my project, please visit my Indiegogo campaign page.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...