Interview with Cheng Khee-Chee

Greetings, and welcome to Cheap Joe's Workshop. I'm Joe, and this is my brother and wonderful friend Cheng-Khee Chee. We are so honored to have him here to teach and help students. Now he will tell you he's not a teacher but he's a wonderful teacher.

Joe Miller (JM): Welcome!

Cheng-Khee Chee (CKC): Thank you, brother Joe. Well you say I am a teacher but I've never considered myself a teacher. I'm just a fellow artist sharing my experience with fellow artists.

JM: Well you have wonderful experience and are a wonderful artist, and my favorite friend in the whole world - Cheng-Khee Chee and his wife, Sing Bee and he does a fabulous workshop. I'll let him tell you alittle bit about what he does in the workshop.

CKC: I usually do 5 day workshops and on each day I share a different concept.

The first day of course will deal with the traditional academic approach that everyone is familiar with.

The second day will deal with the saturated wet process that we use for painting things like fish, flowers and all different types of things for easy lifting. When you work on wet paper - keep it wet all the time. Then you can wipe up paint at will.

The third day we will work with smooth illustration board. We treat it with gel medium to get the textural effect effortlessly. You don't hardly have to do anything - just let the medium work for you! I use that for painting rock formations and mountains - that type of thing.

The fourth day involves me introducing the Eastern way of painting - using rice paper crumpled up to get texture. I used that for painting tree forms.

The fifth day will be Marbleizing Technique. It's a very dreamy type of technique, abstract, but highly spiritual. It's to express a ritualistic, visionary type of feeling.

The idea is that if you ask me what the title of my workshop is I would say Watercolors : Synthesizing East and West - that's the main idea behind it.

I was born in China and grew up in Southeast Asia, familiar with the eastern style of painting, then of course I came to the Americas and I picked up the western style.

So my idea is to combine both east and west - Eastern ideas and process with the Western ideas and process.

So we use materials from both sides - we use regular watercolor paper like Kilimanjaro and of course American Journey. At the same time we use rice paper, India ink, and brushes to try and combine those two.

I hope that people enjoy it!

JM: People love Cheng-Khee, we love Cheng-Khee and it's a spiritual experience being here with him in his presence. If you ever have the opportunity to be with him don't miss it - it's wonderful.

Cheng-Khee and I have been friends for many years and we met at a workshop called Kanuga and I instantly became -- how do I say it?

CKC: you were in the workshop!

JM: I was in his workshop and just had the most wonderful experience, then we really did become brothers and friends and have remained friends and will throughout our lives.

CKC: At first of course it was all make-believe but now all my biological brothers are gone so this is the only brother I can lean on so the feelings became real.

JM: And you can see the resemblance with our hair - see?

CKC: Coming to Boone is just like homecoming to me, coming home to my brother's house and this is the best facility that I have ever encountered. I do only 6 workshops a year and I cannot find any other place to match this.

The Chinese have a saying "Good things happen when 3 things are complete: the environment, the human element, and the timing." This is the best facility and it's built for the purpose of art.

Good lighting, very generous space- everything is here. Better yet you don't have to bring your supplies! It's all free - you just go in there, pick out whatever you like, and just CHARGE IT hahaha.

Talking about the human element - who can match our brother Joe? He's the most caring, generous person that I know. He gives everybody free lunch and occassionally free dinner - where else can you find things like that?

JM: See I learned this from my brother Cheng-Khee!

CKC: I predict that Boone and Cheap Joe's Watercolor Workshop will become the mecca of watercolor media!

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