Princeton Blog

by Kaitlyn Bonack

  • Artist Spotlight

Yao Cheng

Watercolor artist and designer Yao Cheng hails from Columbus Ohio.  While she has been painting and drawing since the age of five, her introduction to watercolor really began years ago while trying to explore new mediums and . She fell in love with using watercolor almost immediately and it has since become her signature painting medium! Watercolor provided a visual voice for her creative ideas and inspired her to take the leap and start her own design studio in 2012. We are happy to share her work with you today!


Preferred Medium: Watercolor

Favorite Tools? Arches cold press watercolor block, my Princeton Art brushes, Winsor & Newton watercolor pigments, a palette and a handy bone folder!

What would you call your ‘style’? Bright, colorful, simple, and expressive. I like to simplify my imagery, so that it’s approachable but also just about the essential motifs.

What are you currently working on? a collection of napkins! also new art prints, and hopefully some new tea towels. I’m also working on wedding invitations and some client work for greeting cards and plates.

What is a favorite piece of art you created? This is a hard one to choose as I go through different phases. I think my current favorite print is the Floral Movement in Orange. It’s so simple, yet lyrical and just abstract enough to keep you interested throughout the composition. I also love the color palette I chose, it’s a good balance of warms and cools!

How do you choose your subject matter? It really depends on my mood. Sometimes I just want to experience colors and watch them play and blend with each other, in which case I’ll paint more abstract shapes. Other times, I want to depict my version of a landscape, so I’ll look at beautiful, dramatic images of nature and use that as a reference. And, this happens most often, I just want to paint beautiful, colorful flowers. Especially in the winter, I really crave all of the freshness of spring, so painting florals then is really fun.


What qualities make your art distinctively you? It’s hard to pinpoint, but maybe it’s the combination of bright colors and simple, yet complex motifs that makes my work distinct. My background training is in textiles, so my sensibility in patterns really comes through as well.


Where do you create? In my home studio

When do you create? Usually I will block out days so that I have consecutive days to just paint and not do anything else. But other times, if I only have a few hours, I like to paint in the afternoons.

What do you do when you hit a creative block? I usually hit creative blocks when I have not painted for a while, and during that first day of getting back into it, I’ll usually hit a block. It’s weird but that seems to be the pattern! I will usually try to figure out why I hit a creative block, is it because I’m overwhelmed with ideas? Or just not sure what to paint next? Either way, I’ll start with simpler shapes, like painting colorful hexagons or triangles, until I feel more excited about what I’m doing again. I’ll also try and browse through my Pinterest library of images for inspirations and ideas!

Do you have any special techniques your would like to share? For watercolor, I like to always start with a really big round tip brush, like a size 24. It helps free up my brush strokes and movement, and helps me get into a rhythm before I start painting. Other than that, it’s also helpful to create a color palette beforehand, so you have that figured out before moving in the painting. I also love to use liquid resist with watercolor, it adds a really interesting layer and complexity to my work.

Do you teach? Yes, right now I have a series of watercolor classes that are being released on Creativebug! I’ve also done some in-person workshops at West Elm here in Columbus and in boutique shops.

What do you listen to when you create? I love to listen to upbeat music when I paint as music can also inform my work and it’s rhythm. Right now I listen to a lot of Small Black, Whistly Peak and Dana Buoy

You use Princeton Artist Brushes. What qualities do you like about them? I love the Princeton Art & Brush Summit series. My current favorite one is the Summit 6150R 24 Round. It’s got the right amount of buoyancy and size. But really, all of their round tips are really great!





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