Entering Laguna Beach’s Floating Cloud Gallery or artist Wai-Sin Tong-Darbonne’s summer location, at Booth #42 at this year’s Festival of Arts, might change one’s life view, according to the artist.
Viewers recognize the artist’s loving nature and her passion for life while gazing at her paintings, which many describe as a visual meditation.
Some have wondered how she imbues her work with a calm and joyful presence. An art professor at Nanjing University, where she studied, marveled her capacity to apply her technical skill to a diverse range of subjects. Upon first seeing her paintings, the revered artist, Leonid Steele, considered one of Russia’s “living treasures,” remarked, “She came to me to study but I have nothing to teach her, she is already a master artist.” A former curator for the Moscow Museum of Art agreed as well.
Carmel collectors Gary and Kathy Bang said “there is an ethereal feel to Wai-Sin’s art, and we connect to it on a spiritual level. It is a wonderful feeling in our home.”
Wai-Sin has completed many commissions to enhance a space with this flow and feeling of “feng shui” for both homes and offices.
Whether at the Festival or her gallery, the artist welcomes sharing with patrons and artists about her approach to painting, philosophy and way of life. “I want to connect with people through my art to inspire their connections to their own beauty, peace and hope.”
Wai-Sin is internationally renowned for her superb talent in watercolor paintings and calligraphy, utilizing special rice paper from China, bamboo brushes, natural mineral and high permanence color, and as she says, “heart & soul.” She has invented her own technique, called “Deep Saturation Watercolor” where she paints on both sides of the wet rice paper to imbue the colors deeply into the fiber, for greater depth, color and permanence. Her artworks include Asian Landscapes, animals, floral still lives, western landscapes, women and children calligraphy and contemporary watercolor paintings. Her work is represented in collections in Taiwan, Japan, China, Korea, Canada and here in the United States.
Wai-Sin’s passion about her artwork and life in general are largely a result of her upbringing. She grew up in the time of revolution towards the People’s Republic, a time of poverty and starvation for many. Wai-Sin’s family had no rice or milk for her as an infant. On day, fearing the marauding army would hear her cry, as they ran, her mother left her on the side of the road, hoping that another family would take her in and raise her. A day or more later, she was still there, surprisingly alive, so her mother took her home. Before long the family moved to Hong Kong, but the food was still limited. Relatives, who treated her more like a servant, adopted Wai-Sin.
Her talents with art began to show early, but her foster parents forbade her to draw. She continued to draw in hiding, without lessons, spending stolen countless hours in the museum, studying on her own the work of the masters. Through art and through the wonder and beauty she found in nature, she decided it was pointless to dwell on the negatives of life, and better to embrace the love and beauty instead. She eventually won top honors on the high school matriculation exam, which would have allowed her to study art at the university. Forbidden again, she became a teacher, where eventually her students consistently won top awards in art in China. After a number of years, she was able to take time to study with master painters and calligraphers in China. Eventually, she opened her own Floating Cloud Studio for teaching and painting.
When Hong Kong was transferring under The People’s Republic, Wai-Sin decided to move to North America. She more recently moved to Laguna Beach with her clinical Psychologist husband, Dr. Allen Darbonne.
In Laguna Beach she opened anew, The Floating Cloud Gallery and Creative Growth Center. Here she creates and sells her art, as well as, along with her husband, helps children and adults, professional and amateur athletes, executives and wounded warriors to optimize their potential in creativity, life and emotional health. In addition to art and counseling, they utilize neurofeedback and some of the latest brain technology to support creative growth and healing.
Wai-Sin is also an artist participant at the Festival of the Arts, where she is graciously sharing her story and artwork to the viewing pubic. Any patron who visits booth #41 will get to experience the eye-catching and soul-resonating beauty of her artwork. There, you will be able to meet Wai-Sin herself and listen to her talk about the art in detail. Her wish is that the whole experience will offer happiness and peace, and an even greater self-appreciation to each person.