From Romania to Macedonia: Sabrina Lu ’17 Displays Watercolors Around the World

Showcasing vibrant paintings of European architecture, Chinese dancers and imaginary landscapes, Sabrina Lu’s ’17 first solo exhibit, “My Beautiful World,” occupied a storefront in the Landmark Building, a mall in Hong Kong, for two months while she was in eighth grade.

“[The solo exhibit] actually turned things around for me. There was a period in my life where I felt like I wasn’t improving, where I was doubting my artistic abilities,” said Lu. “[My solo exhibit] was the proudest I’ve been because I received validation on all of my hard work. I also sold a few paintings in that exhibition, and it was just really cool that people from the outside world were interested in my work.”

Although Lu’s first solo show was in eighth grade, she had been painting for years before, having been introduced to the art form as a young girl by her mother, who is also a painter. At the age of six, Lu entered and won her first art competition, prompting her to enter other international contests in places such as Macedonia, Romania, Japan and Greece. The competitions varied in sizes and centered around particular themes such as culture or identity.

“I never really entered [contests] for the sake of entering them,” said Lu. “A lot of [contests] were competitions, but they were also exhibitions. So if you won, some of the prizes were that your artwork would be exhibited, and I thought it would be really cool to have my artwork in different areas of the world and to be a part of something that people from all over the world could be a part of, too, and enjoy.”

Lu initially began painting with watercolors out of necessity. Some contests required participants to paint two paintings in one day, so watercolor, a fast drying medium, was an ideal choice for Lu.

“I personally like watercolor more than oil or acrylic because it just flows better on the page, and I just feel more comfortable using it. [With] oil and acrylic, you have to go over and over and over [the paint with a paintbrush] to make it smooth, but with watercolor, it’s just one brush stroke. And you can blend colors in a lot better,” said Lu.

Lu said she is most inspired by architecture, landscapes and her personal experiences. She conveys these subjects in either creative or realistic styles. In her creative works, Lu starts with an initial theme and pieces together components that she feels pertain to it. While creating her realistic works, Lu focuses on refining her painting techniques and skills.

“With my creative works, I always thought it was really cool how you could put stuff from your imagination and almost make it come alive on paper. And [by painting realistic paintings] I learned how to make my paintings three-dimensional like. So instead of using lines, I use colors to bring everything out, because in a good painting, you don’t see any lines. You see colors that show the different surfaces and dimensions,” said Lu.

In both styles, Lu said she prefers to paint cheerful settings and subjects using bright colors.

“I feel like art should be something that shows something happy, because art should be a happy thing. Yes, [art] should make you self-reflect as well, but if it can bring other people happiness, why not?” said Lu.

Since coming to Andover, Lu said she believes that her artwork has become more mature and meaningful.
“I grew up [since coming to] Andover, and I think it shows a lot in my paintings, since initially, especially with my creative works, I was like, ‘I’m just going to put these two things together, because I think they look so cool together,’” said Lu. “Now, I gained a different outlook on the world and a much deeper understanding of what’s going on in the world, since Andover really opens your eyes.”