Suthamma (Ta) Thimkaeo is an exciting Thai painter whose works have gained international recognition and who is one of Singulart’s bestsellers. Working in a representational style, she boasts a versatile body of work that includes soft colors and shapes, inventive subjects, and influences of the cubist and surrealist movements. Her paintings are quirky, featuring figures with eggs for faces and curious characters playing jazz. Get to know Ta and her passion for painting through a typical day in her studio in Thailand.
Hello Ta! What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
These days it’s a case of sitting down with my husband and going through the emails that have come in during the night. In the last couple of years, my life has changed, now it’s a much bigger business with lots of administration, but I’m fortunate that I have good people to help so I can concentrate on my work.
I’ve said many times I don’t live in Amsterdam, Berlin, Cairo, Copenhagen, Dubai, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hamburg, Hong Kong, London, Monaco, Monte Carlo, Malibu Beach, New York, Nice, Paris, Rome, Oslo, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Zurich, or Taiwan. But I’ve sent my work there. I’ve now sent my work to 50 countries I’ve even sent my work to Kazakhstan (I had to look that up on a map). I know I’m fortunate, but I also work very hard, and I have a motto, don’t be scared to be different.
What inspires you to create every day?
I once said it would be easier for me to walk on the moon than become an artist. Now I’m on the moon and looking down, but it wasn’t always so.
My Dad had a significant influence on my work ethics he was extremely hard working, we had a farm, but the water was scarce, so it was tough to grow crops and easy to lose it all through a drought (the north of Thailand is very dry).
At twelve, I left school to work in the rice fields, at thirteen worked in a sweat factory in Bangkok making shirts. At fourteen, my Dad taught me to drive so that I could start driving a pick-up truck seven days a week 14 hours a day selling vegetables; which I did until my early twenties.
I knew from a very early age that I wanted more than the rural farming life, I have always been imaginative and creative, sketching whenever I had the chance, and it was all thanks to a cheeky little sketch I did back in 2011, that drawing changed my life. I was given a fantastic opportunity and grabbed it with both hands. That opportunity was art.
Every day I want to paint because the more I paint and send my work around the world, the more my life changes. People have written and said things about my work that has bought tears of joy to my eyes, you don’t need more inspiration than that.
What does your workspace look like?
I recently moved to a larger house mainly because it has a huge room that I use as my studio and it’s open on two sides and brilliant for me to work in, but most of all it’s quiet when I’m in there it’s my world, my space. I do everything in there painting and packing everything is to hand and in its place, and I love it, and I love it, when I’m in there no one disturbs me, I do not get interruptions all the time.
Describe the core of your technique or style.
My style is Figurative with a touch of Surrealism and Expressionism thrown in for good measure. My work is unique, drawing on many influences such as Picasso and Lowry are my heroes, but also made up of impulses and elements in my own personal and emotional life; including from my childhood.
But my real passion is in color and how the arrangement of color can produce a different emotional experience of art. I want to create paintings that draw the viewer in, which makes them stop and then see more than the initial work form and color.
What are your top 3 studio essentials?
My imagination, my brushes, and my oils.
How do you know or decide when an artwork is finished?
I always have an idea of what I want to paint; it’s like a photo in my head. I know what it looks like and when the canvas is the same as the image in my head, it’s finished.
However sometimes, but not often, I find it challenging to paint. If I can’t get the painting the way I imagined it for some reason, I’ve learned to leave it, take a break or start another piece and come back to it later.
What do you like to do to unwind after a day’s work?
I love watching art documentaries one of my favorites is Fake or Fortune on the BBC it’s fascinating, and you can learn so much. I also spent probably too much time on my iPad looking at art, and what’s happening in the art world, I also love art history.
We often go out for an early dinner, and when I come back home I’ll go to my studio to work on a painting or sketch out a new idea on a canvas I find this time very valuable and for me relaxing.
What’s your overall favorite aspect of the creative process?
To have an idea, sketch it onto a canvas watch it comes alive with colors and then hanging on a wall in someone’s home who loves it as much as I do.