Artist of the Week: Ying Guo, Seagulls, Seaweed, and Other Forms of Graceful Poetry

Everywhere that Ying Guo looks, she sees something – or rather, senses something.   

Everything moves around her – seagulls, seaweed, clouds, crowds, individuals, ink, paint –transmitting signals or frequencies in waves of inspiration like hushed meaning crouched on the threshold of visual spectrum.

 “I am a good observer,” she says, “I love to watch how people behave in situations and then try to figure out why they act that way in my mind.”


Song of the Phoenix # 6 (22″ x 15″), mixed media artwork

Each parcel of observed meaning becomes the raw material for her abstract art.

She works on a wool blanket, which she spreads out across the floor of her living room – a habit she inherited from her childhood.

As a young girl growing up in China, it was like it is now, but it is also not.

She would sprawl out on the floor, on a wool blanket and practice the art of ink painting. She would fill the large expanses of blank space with the dark ink, unaware of the profound, lifelong impact that this practice would have. 

In ways less obvious than her wool blankets, her artwork is full of relics from her childhood – such as the skillfully expressive linework that underscores her composition show an ink painter’s penmanship.  


Entanglement 1 (22″ x 15″), mixed media artwork

These calligraphic lines do not demonstrate shapes in a heavily formal way, rather, they softly invoke the shapes as subtle intimation. These hinted forms gives the viewer the open framework to interpret and extrapolate.  

“As an abstract painter, I tend to leave the space for the audience to explore and experience rather than constraining their interpretation by my own description and definition,” says the artist. 

She often draws inspiration from nature’s graceful and poetic elements – the shape and curve of a pond, the line and rhythm of a river, the edge and texture of stones. And while the inspiration that she extracts from the natural world initially guide her composition, she eventually gives control to the natural flow of her creativity.


She calls the process “very flexible,” and describes her painting as “casually adding water and colors, letting the color naturally flow and inspire me forward.”

Her art, which is fluid in process, inspiration, and material, floats perfectly along Ying’s aqueous language and water metaphors.

 In her spare time, she surrounds herself with nature.


Signal Hill, St. John’s Harbour

“I love to walk outdoors, go hiking, or even just stand for a few minutes in front of the St. John’s harbor,” she says.  

But in these moments, when she is just standing, she has such a reactive openness to the whispering frequencies of nature. She describes all the things she observes all the things she senses on one outing:

“I see the seagulls, the seaweed and the clouds all moving, [inspiring] me and my art.”


Flatrock Cove, Newfoundland

To compare the microcosmic suspension of seaweed to the microcosmic cruise of the cloud, this ability to interrelate energies projected on such different scales shows an extraordinary sensitivity to the natural world.  

When she comes back, full from these moments of profound sensitivity, she returns to her wool blanket and blank page.


A Happy Excursion 5 (22″ x 15″), mixed media artwork 

She transcribes nature’s whispering frequencies, the graceful poems, her abstract art.  

See Ying Guo’s full portfolio on UGallery.