Saved by Art: In the Midst of Lockdown Despair, Rosenthal Tee turned to Painting for Creative Expression and Mental Health - Lifestyle Asia

“I suppose that painting really paved the way for me to find my center.”

Last year, Rosenthal Tee felt says she was at the peak of her despair. Feeling limited by the constrictions suddenly forced on everyone because of the pandemic, she yearned for an outlet for her creative energies and realized an opportunity to work on her other passion: art.

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“I suppose that painting really paved the way for me to find my center and appreciate the privilege of having space to express my art and be surrounded by nature’s beauty,” she says.  

This led to Tee’s first art collection, a series of works that she started working on around May of last year.

“We had all just spent what felt like an eternity in suspended reality due to the extreme lockdown rules and the overwhelming sense of constriction really took a toll on my mental health,” she shares.

With no one going out and needing to dress up, she says she was unable to express herself, which is painful for any creative.

“I had to find a way to purge all my ideas in another format,” the designer says. “Painting was the natural choice because I was also sharing snippets of my work on social media, I would have pieces that would immediately get sold.”

Tee admits that she was only really painting to use the downtime productively, and build a body of work that she would eventually put together in an exhibit. “But as I was running out of the number of works due to the fact that it would get sold, I realized that I might as well share it to the public now and use my platform to debut this facet of myself as a creative,” she says. 

Consistent themes

Before she started working in fashion, Tee says that art was her entry into anything creative. “I think that what the pandemic has done for me is just to bring that to full circle and give me the confidence to share this creative expression,” she says.

The Instituto Marangoni graduate would attend weekend workshops or summer short courses at the UP Fine Arts for Painting in Acrylic and Oil Mediums as a young woman. She also trained under the likes of Beth Morris and Fernando Sena.

“I dabbled in pastel, watercolor, oil and acrylic formats in the subject matter of still life’s and nudes,” Tee says. “Funnily enough I think the exposure to drawing figures in nude informed my interest in the body and the creation of clothing.”

She believes that both of her artistic expressions inform one another. “As a creative I believe that there are themes that run consistently in our expression, and I think that mine has fairly been consistent for my penchant to work with foliage motifs,” she shares. “A lot of my evening and bridal pieces carry that theme and so when I began painting I only really just carried that on to the canvas.”

Intertwined mediums

The techniques she explores and know how to do as a designer, Tee continues, will definitely always influence her art.

“In the same way I’ve maintained the lessons I’ve learned as a painter, use of color and texture has definitely informed my designs,” she says. “I’m currently studying mixed medium formats by way of fabric and fibers to combine with my primary medium, which is acrylic.”

Her pieces in her debut collection are described as “a visual narrative around the phenomenology of nature,” an attempt to “display a consciousness in our surrounding environment, and how the viewer constitutes their place in the world of nature.”

What’s next for the reenergized artist? She’s working with the Art Circle Gallery on a new body work as well as a solo show perhaps in the near future.

“As of this current set, the plan was to debut with a gallery,” Tee says, “however and happily, a lot of my pieces were immediately sold privately so I’ve actually run out of the number of pieces to properly exhibit!” 

Photos courtesy of Rosenthal Tee

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