art-by-pla.com

Pla Keawchoho’s blog about being a Thai artist a long way from home

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Mr. Poy – The Sweet Artist

October 12th, 2009 · No Comments

Originally from Korat, Mr. Poy has spent the last ten years living in Khon Kaen in the Northeast of Thailand.  Having grown up in a family of artists, he misses the support and mutual creativity that he shared with his brothers and sisters.  Today he works alone and he is the only artist in his village.

Mr. Poy’s art is his passion as well as his employment.  He is constantly creating and often finds inspiration in the needs and wishes of his fellow villagers.  One of his greatest enjoyments is hearing their thoughts (good and bad) about his creations.

Mr. Poy has struggled throughout his life.  As the eldest child of a large family, he was sent away to school at a young age, missing his parents and the support of his siblings.  As a teenager he became an alcoholic and suffered for many years.  Now though, he is sober and has turned his addiction towards his art, towards music and towards sweets.  In fact, he’s used his creativity to create a new sweet drink that his village has fallen in love with – thus the name ‘The Sweet Artist’.

Feel free to send him a note: poy_2010@hotmail.com

→ No CommentsTags: Sculpture

Back Creating Art. Almost.

October 18th, 2008 · 5 Comments

It’s been a very long summer and I want to thank those of you who have reached out and said hello.  I am now back in California though and just about ready to get back into doing some art and expanding the site again.

I know the site has been idle for a little while and it is for a good reason.  My son and I went back to Thailand early in the summer to visit family and I had every intention to do a lot of art and research to help improve the site.  Unfortunately however my son became quite sick and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

This was very scary for me and since that time I’ve spent most waking hours learning all about the disease and helping to manage my son.  He’s doing fantastic now and the whole family is getting back into our normal life routine.

As both my husband and I learn about parenting a child with Type 1 diabetes we found that there is not a lot of information for parents and how to explain things to children.  Because of this, we’ve set up another website to help with parenting children with Type 1 diabetes.  Check it out.

I promise though that I’ll be back to creating new things and talking about them here soon.

→ 5 CommentsTags: General

Hello World

August 21st, 2008 · No Comments

Welcome to my new blog. The goal here is to have fun and let you all know what’s going on in this life of a Thai artist living abroad in America.

Life is very good and with my son back in school and my family moved into a new house, I’m ready to get back to doing some painting. I’ve also gotten very interested in photography, after having just spent a week in Italy (that’ll be another post) and taking some 700 pictures while I was there.

I’d certainly love to hear from you all, so feel free to post responses.

I’ve got to get some good Thai food ready for some guests tonight, but I’ll write again soon.

Bye

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Painting Portraits. Aargh!

August 21st, 2008 · 3 Comments

Portrait painting is just so difficult. I really struggle with these. Whereas I can spend 15 minutes on a landscape and get the essence of the subject, I often find myself spending days and weeks to figure out a portrait.

How do you really get the character of the person onto the canvas?

A portrait is meant to not just visually describe the person but is meant to make them live. To do that you have to find some small aspect of their identity and make it come through. It is very, very hard and I have so much respect for those that can do it well.

My favorite portrait artist? Well, it’s actually Leonardo Da Vinci. He really was a master and I was so thrilled to have visited Florence this last year to at least be in the same place that he once walked.

For me, I’ve got a long way to go.

But I wanted to share with you one of my more successful portraits. Successful in the sense that I think I captured Yu Ying’s confidence in this one.

Portrait of YuYing

Enjoy it as I’m not sure I could do it again. :)

→ 3 CommentsTags: Paintings

Elizabeth Stern

August 21st, 2008 · 1 Comment

I wanted to let everyone know about an amazing artist who happens to be my sister-in-law.

It’s funny but when I got married I didn’t realize the artistic talent of my husband’s family. Growing up in my family in Thailand and in Korat I was surrounded by artists. It was a very pleasant surprise to come to America and be surrounded by another family of artists.

Elizabeth has just launched her own website (www.elizabethstern.net)and it features a series of paintings that are just remarkable.

She paints the human body at a level no one else has ever attempted and with an artistic eye that is just beautiful. Take the time to go, visit, and send her congratulations.

→ 1 CommentTags: Paintings

Spring Onion Garnishes

August 21st, 2008 · 8 Comments

Thai food, unlike Japanese, isn’t really known for fantastic presentation. Sure the ingredients alone often provide a lot of color and contrast, but usually it consists of a mound of rice, some spicy meat and if you’re ordering special maybe a fried egg.

Being someone who loves to have things look good though I pride myself on creating attractive presentations for my food. Today I’ll try to explain how I create one of my favorite garnishes – a spring onion.

Carving a spring onion for a garnish

The process is quite simple if you’ve ever taken a ribbon for a present and made it curl. It’s the same concept.

First, take a spring onion and cut down the center of it’s stalk, making the outside layers split. Just take it down half way or so.

Then, take the back end of the knife and run it up the inside of the cut layer, from the bottom to the top. You’re going to be rubbing the stalk with a finger on the outside and the knife edge on the inside. Move steadily and gently.

As you let go, coming up off the top of the onion, it should curl up. Practice and you’ll get it.

Then, take your creation and let it sit in a bowl of cold water. Place a few ice cubes in the water. This will keep the onion fresh until you’re ready to place it on your plate.

When you are ready, take the time to arrange the food and allow the garnish to frame or support the great tasting meal you’ve created. I swear good looking food always tastes better.

Garnishing an apetizer with spring onions

→ 8 CommentsTags: Fruit & Vegetable Carving

Carving Fruits & Vegetables

August 21st, 2008 · 5 Comments

Carving fruits and vegetables is distinctly Thai. It has been a part of our culinary culture for centuries and it’s something that I love to do. The food doesn’t even have to taste that good, but when it is presented with a bit of art, people immediately applaud.

A great site to learn more about fruit and vegetable carving is www.simply-thai.com. They talk about a lot of the traditional ways to carve, but I enjoy creating as I go.

Many people will think that carving fruit takes a ton of time, but that really is not the case. Don’t carve every single piece because then no one will be willing to eat it. Instead carve just a handful of decorative pieces and cut the rest as you would in any case.

Here I show how you can take an onion, which was an ingredient in the curry I was serving, and turn it into a flower. Sure, the first couple of times you attempt to do this it will take a while. But pretty soon, it’ll only add a couple of minutes to your preparation time and it’ll be a world of difference in your presentation.

Carved Onion Ready For Thai Curry

Art can be anywhere. Even in an onion.

Yum.

→ 5 CommentsTags: Fruit & Vegetable Carving

Fun With Fingers

August 21st, 2008 · 1 Comment

Finger painting isn’t just for kids. I was helping (read: doing) a school project with my son the other day and we decided to get a little dirty and do some hand prints and finger painting.

It got me inspired and so I found a little time the next day and made a small and quick painting about the ocean. Though I hate the water as I’m quite afraid of it, my husband loves it so I made this piece for him.

Ocean Gift

The technique is relatively simple. It is really the same as with a brush, but finger painting forces you to move fast, not think, and just really feel your painting.

Working on this piece reminded me of a story I saw about Esref Armagan, who is a blind painter from Turkey. He literally “feels” his paintings and they are absolutely amazing. If you ever get a chance to see the documentary on him, do it.

Enjoy

→ 1 CommentTags: Paintings

Designing Table Tops

August 21st, 2008 · No Comments

I was recently asked to help some friends who own the great LA Thai restaurant Chan Dara. They wanted to turn their table tops into works of art. Because they really liked the way I use colors in a lot of my work they asked me if I could paint a few of their tables.

Furniture is always great to paint. Depending on the space you can go subtle to bold, but I always think that people are too reserved when it comes to painting furniture. They either tend to use neutral colors or they simply use the outline of the furniture to decide when one color ends and another starts.

Instead, I like to paint furniture in the same way I would paint a canvas. The chair or table’s design is important, but sometimes ignoring it can also add character to the piece. Like with the backgrounds of my canvas paintings, I really enjoy blending my colors. And with furniture, even moreso than maybe painting the background for a picture, I don’t think you should be too afraid to go bold.

Enjoy.

→ No CommentsTags: Design

Pineapple Carving

August 15th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Ok. Time for some more fun with food carving. This time I’d like to walk through the individual steps for carving a pineapple.

Pineapples are already one of the most beautiful fruits out there. With their crazy skins and rich deep yellow centers, there is nothing like a pineapple. But carving pineapples can not only help to make them even more interesting on a plate, but they also can be a lot more inviting to eat with a little preparation.

Step 1: Cut the pineapple in half the long way.

Step 1: Cut in Half

Step 2: Cut away the bottom and top of the pineapple. Don’t be afraid to cut a little way in because both the base and the top of pineapples have pretty hard cores so they’re not really good to eat anyways. Also, cut out the core that runs down the center of each of your halves. I like to cut this core out with two cuts so that you end up with a triangle shape.

Step 2: Decore the pineapple

Step 3: Cut each of your halves in half again. You now have four long pieces of pineapple. Then skin the pineapple and cut away the “eyes” of the pineapple. This is a little difficult and will take some practice. When doing this, work on a bit of a diagonal down the pineapple.

Step 3: Skin the pineapple

Step 4: Make some decorative cuts lengthwise down the pineapple. In the picture below one slice uses one larger cut down the middle and the other slice has a couple of cuts, adding a little more decoration.

Step 4:  Cut center of pineapple

Step 5: Cut up each of your lengths of pineapple into nice bite size pieces and arrange them decoratively on a nice plate.

Step 5:  Displaying carved pineapple

Step 6: Hold off from eating too many before you can serve them to your guests.

Let me know what you think. Don’t they taste better this way?

Sapparot Aroy.

→ 1 CommentTags: Fruit & Vegetable Carving