IN PRAISE OF LITTLE
She is slow in a fast world, unhurried in a hurried world, contented in a demanding world. That is her Lyttle Space, a space she has imagined in her heart and made it an extension of herself. Independent artist, Ly Yeow, is in praise of the little things in life.
February 24, 2020
Curtains out, back slightly arched, color materials displayed. The little space is a creative download, a space that lies in the realm of a children’s mind and replete with instrumental music in the background.
The saying goes that when you are a child, you cannot wait to become an adult. Now that you are an adult, you cannot wait to become a child. Ly’s life is a reflection of this quote.
Ly Yeow, independent artist and adjunct lecturer, is in praise and pursuit of the little, ordinary things. She runs Lyttle Space out of her home studio, and teaches children to express themselves through art.
‘I even had to consider my purchase for a teh-ping. That was when I realized how entitled we can be in Singapore.’
Home studio of independent artist, Ly Yeow — Lyttle Space.
In Ly’s pursuit of her passion, she has learnt the secret of being content in any and every situation. She recounts a period of immense self-control and humility when she drew a salary of $500 after quitting her full-time job as a graphic designer to take on freelance projects. For a good six months, she was stretched to her limits. ‘I even had to consider my purchase for a teh-ping. That was when I realized how entitled we can be in Singapore.’
Having been out of that phase, she now brings a heart full of gratitude with her. Thankfully, she says the low-maintenance lifestyle has become a habit, and she is now a lot more able to save up. These days, when lattes become very reasonable a purchase, she still remembers the time when life was harder.
Embracing imperfection is another lesson born out of contentment. She knows by heart, and learns from practice, that the state of perfection is an unattainable goal. Learning to accept that oneself and art is imperfect is necessary, which is also why she imparts such knowledge to her students. In her classes, students are not allowed to use an eraser. Over time, she sees her children growing not just in the aspect of contentment, but imagination too. For her polytechnic classes, she tells her students not to strive for perfection down to the most minute details. Handing in submissions and getting adequate rest has to be mutually co-existing, so she often rather her students not burn the midnight oil for project submissions.
In her world, Ly believes that to call art a passion, one needs to be practicing it for ten years and doing it even when circumstances do not allow. It is contentment when she sees art as her ‘refuge’ — the solitary place of comfort from ten years ago till this day.
Founder of Lyttle Space, Ly Yeow.
The interior of Ly's home studio, where she conducts her classes.
One of the most interesting insight about her life is about stability. In her chase for creativity and possibilities, Ly has moved to an island, survived on a few hundred in city-life Singapore, and pursued the freelance career. This artistic life is a volatile place, an environment that demands for change in every thought flow drawn onto paper.
In this space, nothing is constant. In this space, everything changes. And in this space, an artist is craving the stability of little things. Little things like home, like her husband, like her three cats. Constants and stability are now her refuge for the passion she is drawn to. ‘I don’t have a constant in my work. Everyday is about change, so I am desiring more stability now.’
Life is quite a tension of opposites, some say, but she has found a balance between the volatility of it all and the calmness of it all. It is at this crossroad that she sees how stability is essential for her.
As she turns 32 in the coming year, she is looking forward to more stable things. ‘This is something I’ve learnt from my husband, who has always looked forward to the small, stable things like a home and a person.’
And for all the highs and lows that art brings her, Ly is still positive that art is her constant emotional outlet.
‘To be honest, it wasn’t a conscious choice to dabble with arts. We just found each other, and I see art as my best friend who has been there in my darkest and did not abandon me.’
Constants and stability are now her refuge for the passion she is drawn to. ‘I don’t have a constant in my work. Everyday is about change, so I am desiring more stability now.’
Ly enjoys teaching children aged 1 to 12 the most, and doesn't allow erasers to be used during classes.
When asked what the end goal of her artistic venture is, she calmly replies: ‘There is no end goal.’ Behind this belief is a resoundingly clear message that she is here wholly for passion.
She takes it one step further by questioning those to whom there is an end goal.
‘It depends on what you’re looking for in art ultimately. I am happy where I am now,’ she says. A pause later, she adds grinning, ‘Just be happy’.
‘When you ask children to draw about the bush fires, they just imagine things and draw it. Adults, on the other hand, immediately Google it up and draw from their phones.’
Having taught students across various ages, she concludes that children aged 1 to 12 are her favorites. They bring with them a certain innocence and curiosity that Ly enjoys connecting to. She fondly recounts her one-month stint to Lanyu, Taiwan, on an island that has yet been developed. It was there that her worldview and outlook in life cleared up, and she was positive that simple living is something she will live by.
‘When you ask children to draw about the bush fires, they just imagine things and draw it. Adults, on the other hand, immediately Google it up and draw from their phones.’ On this example, she notes how clear-headed children are.
‘Creativity is something you cannot lose even as you grow older,’ Ly notes.
Some say the greatest distance lies from the head to the heart. For Ly, she has walked that journey and found herself a sweet spot of contentment, stability and simplicity.
She is slow in a fast world, unhurried in a hurried world, contented in a demanding world. That is her Lyttle Space, a space she has imagined in her heart and made it an extension of herself.
‘Creativity is something you cannot lose even as you grow older.'
Her students' artworks with regards to the Australian bush fires. Ly notes that children have with them an unbridled imagination.