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Interview: We Talk To Rainb.w

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

We talked to Rainb.w (aka Rainbow Tse) about her watercolours, digital art and painting in the city.


The Hong Kong Arts Collective. We talk to Rainb.w. Hello! I’m Rainbow, I am an artist - I mainly work with watercolours, painting cityscapes of Hong Kong. But you may have also seen my work in different mediums such as large scale murals or digital paintings. I believe art is storytelling, images have a unique power in bringing light to the unseen and life to the mundane. The use of light and colour are central to my practice. I hope that through the painted works, others can relate and see their own stories within those images.

Photograph: Courtesy of Rainb.w


Tell us a little bit about yourself and your art?


Hello! I’m Rainbow, I am an artist - I mainly work with watercolours, painting cityscapes of Hong Kong. But you may have also seen my work in different mediums such as large scale murals or digital paintings. I believe art is storytelling, images have a unique power in bringing light to the unseen and life to the mundane. The use of light and colour are central to my practice. I hope that through the painted works, others can relate and see their own stories within those images.


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How did you choose watercolours as your medium?


I started with watercolours quite early on. I loved the challenge and unique combination of using a medium that is so transparent and soft onto painting subjects like nightscapes and cityscapes, which are often quite dark and bold. The way water moves and flows also creates quite an ideal aesthetic when painting light, it blends seamlessly the brightest spots and darker areas of the street scene.


Rainb.w aka Rainbow Tse. I started with watercolours quite early on. I loved the challenge and unique combination of using a medium that is so transparent and soft onto painting subjects like nightscapes and cityscapes, which are often quite dark and bold. The way water moves and flows also creates quite an ideal aesthetic when painting light, it blends seamlessly the brightest spots and darker areas of the street scene.

Photograph: Courtesy of Rainb.w


How do you go about creating one of your pieces? Do you work from photographs, plein-air, or imagination?


A bit of both. I usually go out to take photographs and references first, sometimes I might do small sketches and plein-air if the landscape allows (definitely much harder to do plein-air for night scenes or in crowded streets). Afterwards, I would sometimes do small digital thumbnail sketches, or go straight into painting a small watercolour piece. This process is mainly for experimenting with colour, lighting, and composition. I would ask myself - What is the feeling of this place? What would be the focus? What colours work best? Then I go on to paint larger pieces. It is important to have an idea of how I would like my painting to be before I start, especially with watercolour. This is because the white or bright areas of a watercolour painting are created by the white of the paper underneath, rather than adding white paint on top. If I neglect to leave out the white part from the beginning, then I would have to start over…!



"A Familiar Place" by Rainb.w. Find more work at the Hong Kong Arts Collective.

"A Familiar Place" by Rainb.w


We’ve seen in the last few months that you’ve been working in digital. Is this the direction you see your work going? Do you think digital art is the future of the art world?


I have always loved the digital medium and it has been a great source of inspiration for me in my work as well. In my own practice, I think working digitally definitely gives more freedom and flexibility to how I create. I get to try and experiment more before landing on a final composition, this largely contrasts to the process of watercolour where some aspects have to be decided first or painted first. The colours in digital mediums are also much more saturated when compared to the selection of paints and pigments physically available, so that's also a plus when working digitally. I would say both have their strengths, the uniqueness of the texture and hand-painted quality in watercolour is still something I love. I see that both traditional and digital art would have their place in the future art world.


The Hong Kong Arts Collective. Rainb.w. I have always loved the digital medium and it has been a great source of inspiration for me in my work as well. In my own practice, I think working digitally definitely gives more freedom and flexibility to how I create. I get to try and experiment more before landing on a final composition, this largely contrasts to the process of watercolour where some aspects have to be decided first or painted first. The colours in digital mediums are also much more saturated when compared to the selection of paints and pigments physically available, so that's also a plus when working digitally. I would say both have their strengths, the uniqueness of the texture and hand-painted quality in watercolour is still something I love. I see that both traditional and digital art would have their place in the future art world.

"New Year" by Rainb.w


As a tech savvy artist with a following on YouTube and Skillshare are there any platforms you would recommend to other artists?


I think Instagram is always a great one in terms of connecting with other artists as well as a wider audience since it is one that most people have. Perhaps a little unrelated but…I think google maps is great for artists who want to brush up on their cityscape or landscape painting skills. Sometimes I would pick a random place and do a ‘virtual plein-air’, it's a great way to experiment with colours, perspective, and composition.


Do you have advice for young artists?


Just start creating. Have a balance in developing traditional skills, learning from the masters, with simply doing the art that you envision. Having the foundational skills early on will help you in executing the ideas you have for your art while exercising your creativity and experimentation is how you will develop your style and find out your unique qualities as an artist.



Read more about Rainb.w and view her work over on her profile page.

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