The simple brightness of a hand-painted silk scarf might be just the springboard to happiness people are looking for these days, according to local artist Haiying Yang. In fact, she wears her own artwork around her neck or over her hair, hoping it will have an uplifting effect on the people around her in these troubled economic times.
With so many people on the job hunt now, Yang realized that what is most important to her is "to be independent and follow your heart," she said. So, she began to pursue art full time.
Yang is not a classically trained artist, but was inspired by her mother, who was. Her mother died 15 years ago and left her art supplies to Yang. "When I went to pick up her things, I felt compelled to start painting," she said.
Most of her works are inspired by nature, but reveal her personality with their striking, near-fluorescent colors on fabrics and canvases. "Everything has a life," she says. "I try to imitate it, but it's not about how accurate it is. There are cameras for that."
Although she also practices traditional art forms like Chinese calligraphy, she is a fully modernized artist, adept at sharing her work on the Internet. As of this writing, Yang had posted 1,655 videos and counting on YouTube. (They can be found at www.youtube.com/yanghaiying.)
With the videos, "I'm just trying to bring good energy. I'm not trying to sell anything," Yang says.
One of her earlier instructional videos received negative comments from people who said her work was not "real art." She thinks this might be due to how quickly she can finish a piece -- as little as five minutes sometimes. In response, Yang made another video of herself chopping off her own hair into a little bob that she still wears today. The intended message is, "Don't take yourself too seriously," she said.
Now her videos include everything from the self-administered haircut to Chinese cooking demonstrations.
Yang was born in China, but met her husband in France. Due to her husband's job in high-tech marketing, they have traveled the world, living in India, Brazil and Australia.
The couple landed in Silicon Valley 10 years ago, and they love it. Yang's two sons, ages 6 and 9, attend Yew Chung International School in Mountain View, and she volunteers there to teach the students art.
Yang is a collaborative artist as well -- currently, for example, she is working on cross-promotional projects with a jazz musician -- and she encourages everyone to express themselves through art in one way or another.
"Sometimes words are too weak. Art is beyond vocabulary. You can put all your wildness and all your freedom into it."
Yang's work will be on display starting May 1 in the upstairs coffee shop at Books Inc., 301 Castro St., Mountain View. For more, visit www.yanghaiying.com.