People’s Choice only latest in long list of art awards

“Myshree’s needle painting is absolutely incredible,” Corinne James, executive director of The Old Schoolhouse Gallery, said in a March interview with the Parksville-Qualicum Beach News.

MYSHREE TSAI has brought her 'incredible' needle painting skills to the Comox Valley.

MYSHREE TSAI has brought her 'incredible' needle painting skills to the Comox Valley.

“Myshree’s needle painting is absolutely incredible,” Corinne James, executive director of The Old Schoolhouse Gallery, said in a March interview with the Parksville-Qualicum Beach News.

“Her work shows a lot of movement and dynamic colour because of the way the threads go with the light, it’s always changing.”

A few months after that compliment, Tsai received the People’s Choice Award at the Pearl Ellis Gallery of Fine Art in Comox for her needle painting Farm Woman.

“I was thrilled,” says Tsai. “There were so many great artists at the gallery. I think my work was chosen because it is different.”

Despite Tsai’s modesty, awards are nothing new to this artist. Her award-winning watercolors have been exhibited in Taiwan, Canada, China, Japan and Korea. And her needle paintings – often combined with watercolour, pastel and acrylic paints — garner attention wherever they’re shown.

“A silk thread painting is built up stitch by stitch, layer by layer,” explains Tsai. “From a distance people might think it’s an oil or acrylic painting but when they get closer they can see the stitches. Contemporary needle painting brings Western style painting together with traditional Chinese embroidery to create fine art.”

It’s the silk threads that give the work its three dimensional form and the range of colour is amazing. A tree might contain 300 shades of green thread, each catching and reflecting the light in different ways.

This meticulous attention to detail means it often takes Tsai more than 60 hours to complete a needle painting.

Although she drew and painted with watercolours from a young age, Tsai didn’t begin needle painting until she was 40.

“When my mother was 70 I felt it was my duty to learn needle painting from her so her skills wouldn’t be lost when she was gone. I was never interested in it before – you need to be patient to be a needle painter — I think that comes as you mature.”

Tsai is the third generation of artists in her family. Her mother, Madam Chen Si-Xue, now 88, has won many awards for her needle painting. And Tsai’s grandfather, Chen Zhi-Fo, was a well-known painter; the Chen Zhi-Fo Art Memorial Hall in the Nan-Jing National Palace Museum was named in his honour.

Tsai’s skill in needle painting is particularly impressive when depicting animals.

“After my dog Doudou died, I missed him so much that I made a needle painting of him,” she says. “The texture of the silk threads and the way they reflect the light make the fur look very realistic. I create needle paintings of pets for many people.”

As a watercolourist, Tsai’s work is noticeable for its vibrant colors and imaginative compositions.

“I try to capture the spirit or feeling of an object rather than portray a realistic version,” she says. “The secret to a good watercolour is that it must show light and be full of water.”

One of her watercolour paintings was selected as the background for an Old Schoolhouse Gallery poster.

Born in 1958 and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, Tsai obtained a fine arts degree from the National Taiwan Normal University. For many years she worked as a copywriter and graphic designer for magazines and hosted a broadcasting program for arts and music.

She also taught art in Taiwan high schools and adult education courses in community colleges. A major accomplishment was designing and organizing a large piece of public art for the Taipei subway. The two-year project involved 60 volunteers.

Four years ago, Tsai emigrated to Canada with her husband. She was invited to exhibit her work in Toronto and Vancouver.

“The Canadian government welcomed me as the first Chinese needle painter and said they want to encourage the art of different cultures in this country,” says Tsai.

She’s a member of the Taiwan International Watercolor Association — and founded and was chairman of the Taiwan Needle Painting Association. Since moving to Canada, she’s become a member of the Federation of Canadian Artists.

One year ago she moved to the Comox Valley.

“It is paradise here,” she says. “I love the richness of the art community; everyone is so kind. And I can see the glacier from my window.”

Next year, Tsai hopes to teach needle painting locally.

“I’d like to share this art experience with others,” she says. “It’s a lot of fun and so rewarding for people to create something beautiful.”

The next exhibit of Tsai’s work will be at the Originals Only show in Comox’s Marina Park on Aug. 6 and 7.


Just Posted

Artist's drawing of the proposed 52-unit affordable seniors housing project in Comox. File photo
Comox Valley Affordable Housing Society receives federal grant money

The Comox Valley Affordable Housing Society (CVAHS) has received $25,000 in grant… Continue reading

Mark Henderson’s exhibit, “Bikes and Barbies,” is now showing at Artful : The Gallery on Cumberland Road in Courtenay. Photo supplied.
New exhibit at Courtenay art gallery

Artful : The Gallery is showing art by Mark Henderson until Saturday,… Continue reading

Charles Hawkswell, Commander, of the Cape Lazo Power and Sail Squadron, presents a $1,000 cheque to the Comox Valley Marine Rescue Society. File photo
Comox removing moorage fees, hydro for Comox Valley Marine Rescue Society

Last year, the unit and society responded to more than 50 rescue missions in the past year

A Saanich man received almost 10 years in Supreme Court in Courtenay for a shooting incident from 2018. Record file photo
Shooting incident north of Courtenay nets almost 10-year sentence

Richard Daniel Vigneault was arrested without incident and faced 16 counts

Dr. Aref Tabarsi, a general pathologist at the North Island Hospital Campbell River Hospital Medical Laboratory, spoke about the issue of service in the region at a meeting in February 2020. Black Press file photo
Comox Strathcona hospital board wants pathology service back

UPDATED: Board supports move for chair, vice-chair to engage with Island Health on issue

While the route to get there is a little different, downtown Courtenay is open and accessible right now. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Bridge — and downtown Courtenay — are open, say businesses

Incoming BIA president Sean Ferguson says parking is available

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Most Read