- July 31, 2021 6:00 PM
- June 27, 2021 5:03 PM
- May 20, 2020 11:56 AM
PHNOM PENH – New art graduate Phann Sovathana, 22, has set her sights on a career as a painter and is convinced there are abundant opportunities for those with skill.
Sovathana has just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in painting from the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA). She was the only female student in the class of six.
Sovathana, from Phnom Penh, took the four-year course because of the freedom and the choices she could have as a painter.
She grew up without an interest in art but gradually gained an interest in drawing and painting, pushing her to pursue her degree after high school in 2018.
Sovathana is the oldest child in a family of five. Her parents have strong bonds with the arts and supported her interest. Her mother is a flower arranger and chants Buddhist prayers and her father is a graphic designer,
Sovathana, who teaches part-time to support herself, was concerned at first about the lack of a market and whether she could survive as a painter in Cambodia. However, as she becomes more involved with painting and sees herself excelling, she sees plenty of openings in the industry.
“If we have a clear and specific skill, we don’t have to be worried about the market," she said. "The important thing is that are we good enough? Or are we hard working enough?”
Her core artwork is a painting about “Parents.” She chose great hornbills to present the love of the parents toward their children. Photo provided
Project for graduation
Sovathana was required to devise two projects to graduate – core artwork and free artwork. Her core artwork is a painting about “Parents.” She chose great hornbills to present the love of the parents toward their children. In the painting, the hornbills seek shelter and feed their baby.
For the free artwork, she chose to paint the tongue to represent the powerful forces of each word articulated.
“The words are good or bad and affect those who listen,” Sovathana said. “But whether the words can affect us or not, it depends on the thoughts of individuals.”
She spent a week on the free artwork and a month on her core project. She defended her projects on Oct. 20 and she graduated.
However, she said the real journey has just started. She will devote her time to painting as much as she can so that she can excel in her skill. She also plans to take part in any competitions to build up her recognition and aims to have her artworks exhibited.
“When you keep trying, success will find you. No one is born and knows everything, so you have to endeavor and practice,” she said.
“Do not be afraid that after studying painting, there is unemployment. Ask yourself instead what you know and what can do for that job. As long as we possess the real skill, we will survive.”
Paintings lack support
Chan Sophorn, a painting teacher at RUFA, said the number of students had dropped in the last decade. In some school years, only two enroll in the class. For the class of 2022, there were eight students with one dropping their studies and one suspending.
What put students off becoming a painter was a lack of galleries for them to showcase their works and the lack of support for painters, Sophorn said.
She grew up without an interest in art but gradually gained an interest in drawing and painting, pushing her to pursue her degree after high school in 2018. Photo provided.
“The industry can stand to this day due to those who truly support, love, and devote themselves to the field,” the teacher said.
Not many students want to be painters after they completed their studies due to the limited market. Those who do not have real skill found it hard to get their work recognized and survive as painters.
Sophorn encouraged those who think they have talent or want to learn painting to develop their skills before being concerned about the market.
“The future is unpredictable. Who knows whether, in the near future, the Cambodian people will begin to value and support local artists?”
He said as long as the students possess true skills, there was always hope, requesting for galleries for local artists to show their work.
“If we do not help ourselves, no one will help us. But whatever talent we have, we should fulfill it. I still encourage young people to study painting if they know for sure that they are interested in the field.”