For better or for worse, we live in an era where any idea we have of anything and anyone is likely to come from our social media feed. And more often than not, the idea is to put one’s best face forward. Square after square, post after post, we are confronted, day in, day out, with the “ideals” and “perfect lives” of others who seem to have it all. And honestly, their “all” does nothing for your self-esteem.
Now more than ever, as we venture into a brand new year, the onus is on us to start turning inwards more, and to stop comparing our insides with other people’s outsides; to reclaim control of our lives, of our sense of self, our idea of what makes us beautiful and unique; to question what is truly important to us; to regroup and reassess what our reality is. In essence, what makes you, you?
I am all for the whole “aim for the moon and land on a star” philosophy of working and living life. Because how else will we ever exceed our own expectations and limitations and make our dreams come true? But perfection, my dear readers, is a beautiful lie, a ghost destination. Perfection is the proverbial moon. What we can do is strive to be the best version of ourselves. It starts from within. Look inside. Dig deep. Once you know (and like) who you are, then there will be no need to hide behind filters. No need to hide behind make-up. Just, no need to hide. Now isn’t that a liberating thought?
With that thought, I was inspired to start a new project for the new year to celebrate the beauty of realness. So here I am, together with our friends at Porcelain, unveiling the first story in a new series entitled #BareWithMe. Over the next few months, I will be chatting with women who have found their place in the world, who make their own rules and live on their own terms, who are comfortable in their own skin (most days), who find strength in vulnerability and power in their own right, and women who dare to bare — what they have learned, what they’ve overcome, what they really think, and who they are underneath it all.
I must confess that until my photo shoot with Lucinda at a suitably verdant Lloyd’s Inn, we had never before met. I discovered her a while ago by way of Instagram (what did I tell you?), and I have been a fan since. Hers is an inspired, earnest and foliaceous feed that would draw you in deeper and deeper like an enchanted forest. Some snooping and a little thing called instinct told me there’s something special about this woman. Just like that, I took a chance and made a cold call. As she varooms into the hotel on her Vespa, as she removes her helmet to reveal a bare face with nary a trace of make-up on her caramel-coloured skin and walks towards me, everything feels exactly right.
The Law of nature has spoken.
In collaboration with
I thought, how very lovely if I could paint orchids and plants for a living when I grew up.
To get to know you, I think we should start with the topic of your passion and work — art. When did you first discover your love for it?
Lucinda Law: I have always loved playing with flowers and plants as subjects when I was young. I loved using my sister’s colour pencils (as I never had my own). I would colour wildly — never within the lines; a monkey would be coloured blue, a human pink. I was being a normal kid, I suppose.
Did you always know you were going to be an artist?
LL: I never thought I was going to make art for a living because of the conditions in which I grew up. Being an artist seemed like a luxury when I was younger because I had to work two jobs during my university days. I just knew that I had always enjoyed conjuring and making connections between different narratives and images, and solving what may seem like problems. So instead I studied my first love — books and literature. I majored in English Literature and became a writer and a travel editor, while also teaching.
Why botanical art?
LL: I’ve always followed my instincts to be surrounded by what I love to do and those impulses to create. I taught myself to paint in watercolour when a book called Magic and Medicine of Plants by Reader’s Digest arrived in my house when I was 18. I looked at the botanical illustrations of the plants and had a thought that maybe I can paint them in watercolour — which I had learned in secondary school— without knowing that there is a rich history and heritage in botanical illustrations. Internet was something very new at the time. And I remembered thinking that I would be very happy if I could create botanical illustrations one day. So I became a bedroom painter for about two years, during which time I thought, how very lovely if I could paint orchids and plants for a living when I grew up.
Can you tell me about getting there — the journey to becoming an artist as a career?
LL: I am self-taught when it comes to watercolour painting. I was lecturing in arts and design field for about 13 years — that was my education. I’m lucky to be surrounded by art practices and disciplines, and being constantly exposed to new ideas and problems, and finding ways to solve them, while creating a beautiful outcome.
While I was lecturing, I took on a Masters of Fine Arts degree, majoring in installation and the relationship between image and text. I was beginning to explore people’s relationships with plants and nature for a potential doctorate during a sabbatical. In the end, the impulse to paint was stronger, and one thing lead to another, now I find myself where I’m supposed to be.
Did you get the support you needed at home to pursue your passion?
LL: My parents’ biggest show of support was to leave me alone to pursue my interests unadulterated. They could not understand what I was doing, but they never interfered. For this, I’m grateful.
Were there ever any hurdles between you and your life as an artist?
LL: Making that commitment to acknowledge that spending most of my life depicting and talking about the beauty of nature will truly make me happy, and then letting go of the outcomes.
Being an artist seemed like a luxury when I was young because I had to work two jobs during my university days.
What has been the biggest challenge or setback, if any?
LL: Currently, my paintings and writing are solitary activities, so I spend less time with my friends and family.
In life and in art, who inspire(s) you?
LL: Women and men who want to live their truest lives, especially if the circumstances are stacked against them. The indomitable human spirit and sheer diligence are admirable.
One of the things I love to find out about people is what really goes on in their day. Can you tell me what yours is like? For example, what time does it typically start, and do you have a morning ritual that helps you set the tone for the rest of the day?
LL: Sure. Although my alarm is set at 8.30am, I usually wake up on my own by 7.30am. I like these liminal moments just before I sleep or when I wake up very slowly. I always get ideas and a feeling about what I should do. I do my morning meditation and affirmations. A drink of water with lemon, light stretches, and a small bowl of my own concoction of oat porridge with fruits are key. My day is tightly packed with meetings, operations of the business, research, creating art and design work, and painting/illustrating. At night, dinner is a time for me to socialise for three hours, before I start painting and researching again until 1am to 2am.
What are you most excited about when you wake up in the morning?
LL: What kind of artworks I will be creating through my self-driven projects and collaborative projects with clients. Most of all, the people I’ll meet and connections/friendships fostered through creative retreats, workshops and daily interactions.
I can’t help but notice that you arrived this morning without a trace of make-up, and your skin looks great. What is your morning skincare and beauty routine like?
LL: After a shower, a tonal mist is a must. That is followed with a day face moisturiser, then lots of body moisturiser, sunblock, some light make-up, and as a finishing touch, a spritz of Chanel’s Misia EDP. It takes me about 30 minutes.
What about night time?
LL: I pad on my night serums and eye creams, which I might change every few months. A high-grade hyaluronic acid is a must. Then, a generous lather of my own concoction of scented body oil — made with a base of apricot kernel, pure organic essential oils of lavender, ylang ylang, rose geranium and vetiver.
Is there a skincare/beauty item you always have with you on the go?
LL: Yes, a tinted lip balm, concealer and an eyebrow pencil.
SELF-CARE IS … ACCEPTING IMPERFECTIONS
AND MOVING ON.
As an artist, you must seek beauty everywhere you go. But what is your idea of beauty?
LL: True beauty, for me, is an experience. It is personal and touching, and rather romantic because it’s an intimacy that takes time to deepen. It reveals feelings of awe, love and purpose. I tend to find beauty in nature and through botanical subjects. They rule in key theories of evolutionary biology. They are sublime and communicative at the same time. They certainly are able to make artists, musicians or poets sit for a long period of time to create a version of beauty they want to share with others.
What would you consider to be the most beautiful thing about you?
Another thing I’m always curious about is how people have such varied ideas of success. What is your definition of it?
LL: Success is setting out a task or goal for yourself, and achieving it through hard work, and consistent effort.
And what do you think of when you hear the word “failure”?
LL: I think, pause and rest. Do something else first, then determine what is the best way forward from any point you like.
(At night) I pad on my night serums and eye creams. A high-grade hyaluronic acid is a must. Then, a generous lather of my own concoction of scented body oil.
When was the last time you thought you failed at something? How did you recover from that?
LL: There is just so much work for me to look into which I enjoy doing, so I have to remind myself that there are only so many hours in a day to complete tasks or to investigate a dream further. Lots of things take time to develop. There will be times when I don’t see something to fruition sooner than I expect, but I’ve learned to develop a keener sense of rigour and discipline both as a business owner and artist, and I’ve expanded my reservoir of patience.
What’s the best thing about what you do?
LL: I get to conceptualise and create interesting, botanical-related art/design projects and paintings for my clients. I love the creative process of going out there, travelling, finding inspiration and stories, and bringing them back to my “studio” or any suitable property that will host me to paint the collection.
What’s your proudest moment so far?
LL: Living a busy and happy life.
What are you most grateful for right now?
LL: People I’ve met and known for ages, whom I care about and love.
What has been the biggest life lesson for you?
LL: If you change your mind, you can change your life.
What makes you happy these days?
LL: Travelling for inspiration, painting at my desk which overlooks my courtyard of plants, listening to my latest playlists on Spotify.
What’s your idea of (a) fun, (b) self-care, and (c) a life well lived?
LL: (a) Exploring and hunting down botanical subjects to paint in beautiful nature spots. Staying a little wild is good. (b) Surrounding myself with friends and family, caring for others, laughter, healthy food, accepting imperfections and moving on, self-dependence with good financial
planning, having a fulfilling vocation, being creative, achieving peace through spiritual practices, connectedness to nature and caring for the environment. (c) It’s whatever that draws out the magic within.
What book would you recommend that every girl should read?
LL: Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman. I love all her words. Read this, and afterwards, Deep Play.
What’s your favourite quote?
LL: “Within every woman there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing.” — Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Finally, before you go, what’s your ultimate beauty secret?
LL: I want to say sleep, but lately I’ve not been getting enough of it.
PHOTOGRAPHY & ART DIRECTION // KARMAN TSE
FACE & HAIR // VERA LIM
JEWELLERY // ALEXANDRA ALBERTA
LOCATION // LLOYD’S INN
ASSISTANCE // CHARLENE MONAGHAN
SHOP THE STORY
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