We were recently brainstorming ideas for our next Artist Interview. My boss, Linda Wehrli mentioned it has been awhile since Pastimes for a Lifetime had hosted master artist, Zin Lim‘s Charcoal Demo and Workshop at our lovely Valley Glen studio back in 2018. She thought it might be good to reconnect and catch up with him. For those that don’t know, Zin is a talented portrait and figurative artist that teaches master classes world wide. We reached out to Zin for an interview and he graciously obliged. So grab a refreshing bev, sit back, and enjoy our June Artist Interview with this inspiring artist and teacher!

Pastimes Blog Interview with Zin Lim

JLS. What is your style of painting referred to? For our art students, would you please describe what this style means or represents? How has your work changed over the years?

ZL. My style of painting can be referred to as a fusion of expressionism, realism, and impressionism. This style combines the emotional intensity and subjective expression of expressionism, the attention to detail and accurate depiction of realism, and the loose brushwork and light emphasis of impressionism. Over the years, my work has evolved to integrate more dynamic compositions and a greater focus on capturing the essence and spirit of my subjects, rather than just their physical appearance.

JLS. Your work is such a brilliant combo of the 3 styles. Much of your recent paintings feature portraits and figurative works. What draws you to that subject matter? No pun intended! 🙂 Do you create the paintings off the top of your head or work from a live model or photograph?

ZL. The reason most of my recent work is focused on portraits in figurative style is that this approach facilitates various forms of communication with workshop participants who are interested in representational art and a loose quality in portraiture. However, my personal works still lean significantly toward an expressive style, which is a hybrid of realism and abstraction. I often use a combination of live models, photographs, and my own imagination to create my paintings, allowing me to capture the accuracy of the subject while also infusing my personal artistic interpretation.

Pastimes Blog Interview with Zin Lim

JLS. Very cool! Our students are interested in the latest tools of the trade. May I please inquire, what is your preference for paints and brushes? Do you use oils or acrylics? Do you paint on canvas board, panels, or…? Do you finish with a varnish or leave as is?

ZL. I primarily use oil paints because of their rich texture and versatility. I mostly use synthetic flat long hair brushes because the shape and tension provide the quality I need to make the desired brush strokes. I usually paint on canvas or linen, depending on the desired texture and durability of the piece. Once completed, I typically finish my paintings with a varnish to protect the surface and enhance the colors.

JLS. That makes sense – oils are perfect for creating that thick texture. Are you represented by any art galleries or do you work solo?

ZL. I work with art galleries, but I also maintain a solo practice to keep a balance between artistic freedom and commercial representation. This allows me to reach a wider audience while retaining control over my creative process.

Pastimes Blog Interview with Zin Lim

JLS. Smart. Thanks for sharing. For our students, what do you believe are the pros and cons of gallery representation?

ZL. Gallery representation can offer significant advantages, such as increased exposure, professional promotion, and the opportunity to connect with collectors. However, it can also come with challenges like commission fees and potential pressure to produce work that fits a specific market demand. Balancing these pros and cons is key to maintaining both artistic integrity and commercial success.

JLS. Well said! At what age did you realize you wanted to be a professional artist?

ZL. I realized I wanted to be a professional artist during my college years at age 27. I found immense joy and fulfillment in creating and expressing myself through charcoal and oil mediums.

Pastimes Blog Interview with Zin Lim

JLS. Nice. Did anyone try to talk you out of venturing into an art profession? If so, how did you handle it?

ZL. Yes, there were people who questioned the practicality of pursuing art as a profession. However, I handled it by staying true to my passion and continually improving my skills. I surrounded myself with supportive individuals and sought mentors who believed in my potential, which helped me stay motivated and focused on my goals.

JLS. Very inspiring. Staying true to your passion is the way to go. We had a blast hosting your Charcoal Drawing Workshop [link] back in 2018! Do you have any upcoming workshops, either in-studio or on Zoom that you’d like our reader to know about?

ZL. Since 2017, I have traveled to approximately 70 global cities, teaching workshops and masterclasses. I plan to continue offering both in-studio and Zoom sessions to accommodate artists locally and internationally. You can find the list of upcoming workshop cities on my website and stay updated through my Instagram.

JLS. Wow! That’s so impressive. We hope to catch one of your workshops soon! Did you study art in college, attend masterclasses or are you self-taught? What are the pros and cons of studying at a university vs. self-taught? Were any masterclasses memorable? With whom did you study?

ZL. I attended the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Taking workshops or masterclasses helps students learn not just the instructor’s painting techniques but also their ideas, experiences, and spiritual attributes, which can be incorporated into their own practice. Formal education provides a structured environment and access to a wide range of resources, while being self-taught allows for more creative freedom and personalized learning. Both paths have their merits, and I believe a combination of formal education and self-directed learning can be most beneficial. Memorable masterclasses included sessions with esteemed artists who profoundly influenced my approach to art.

Pastimes Blog Interview with Zin Lim

JLS. Sounds like a good balance of the two. What is some advice you can give the young artists studying at Pastimes?

ZL. My advice to young artists is to stay curious and persistent. Experiment with different styles and techniques to find your unique voice. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, as they are an essential part of the learning process. Surround yourself with supportive peers and mentors, and always seek constructive feedback to improve your work. And most importantly, draw or paint every day.

JLS. Sound advise! Thank you for sharing. Art can touch people’s lives, bringing happiness and hope. For example, my boss Linda Wehrli, partners with CoachArt to provide free art classes for families impacted by childhood chronic illness. Is there a charity you are fond of or support, that you might like our readers to learn more about?

ZL. I am a strong supporter of charities that promote art education and therapy, such as Free Arts NYC. These organizations provide valuable resources and support to individuals who can benefit from the healing power of art. I encourage readers to learn more about these charities and consider supporting their missions.

JLS. Sounds like a lovely organization. We’ll check them out. Do you have a favorite quote or mantra you turn to for inspiration?

ZL. One of my favorite quotes is by Pablo Picasso: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” This reminds me to always nurture my creative spirit and stay true to my artistic vision, no matter the challenges. At workshop, I try pull the forgotten experiences from the workshop participants.

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. - Pablo Picasso Share on X

Thank you again to Zin for an insightful interview! Want to learn more about this brilliant artist? Check out on his website, YouTube channel, and Instagram!

. . . . . . . . . .
If you enjoyed this Artist Interview, please feel free to share on your favorite social media to get the word out about this great artist! Thank you for your support.

Want first notice on more upcoming student art and cultural events? Subscribe now!

Pastimes For a Lifetime Art and Piano School is located in Valley Glen, California. 818-766-0614. School is open Tuesday – Saturday year round, except major holidays.

You can learn more about Pastimes for a Lifetime’s Art Curriculum and founder/instructor Linda Wehrli by clicking the links or feel free to explore our new and improved website.

Ready to learn to draw or paint? Set up a free consultation with founder/instructor Linda Wehrli or book a Trial Art Class.

Join the fun: Follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

Jessica Lee Sanders on Instagram and Facebook.

Don't miss out on deals and the latest news!

Receive first notice of special offer and new blog posts.

You have Successfully Subscribed!