Hoa Sypolt’s paintings are more than human figures and images of nature. They’re swirls of color, contrasts of dark and light, and musical in their movement.
“When I’m painting a human figure, for example, I don’t look at the perfect lines of the human body or the face,” she explained. “I look at the light and dark that are bouncing off the lines and the positive and negative space.”
It shows through in works that are both representational and expressionist. Light and color create emotion.
“There’s a sort of rhythm in my painting. Like songs, some paintings are softer and other paintings have a quicker energy. That’s where the light and dark strokes come in. It creates different types of energy in each piece.”
Hoa was born in Vietnam. Her family fled the country when she was 6 years old. They washed ashore in Thailand and lived for three years in a refugee camp.
Her family finally made it to the United States when Hoa was 9 years old. And that’s how her long journey with art began.
“I couldn’t understand English but I understood my art classes,” she said. “I remember the first print that I made and a ceramic piece.”
The day to day of family life strengthened her interest.
“My dad back in the day was a tailor, so he would pick me up and I would go to his shop. I was bored to tears, so I just doodled a lot.”
Hoa said she took art classes every year after that, but her first memorable experience with painting was in high school.
“I started to really understand paints and the freedom that comes with the paintbrush.”
Studying fine art in Tennessee and at the University of South Carolina, Hoa started working with oils because her coursework demanded it. But she is more drawn to acrylic paint now.
“I like the speed of acrylics. When I’m feeling something, I like to get it on the canvas while I’m still feeling it. I like to paint very quickly,” she said. “It’s methodical but organic at the same time.”
Hoa expects her next few works to focus on “spiritual discovery and growth” and how “nature and I have this connection that makes me feel at one with the universe.”
She pointed to Buddhist philosophy as an inspiration.
“Clouds are fleeting and impermanent and that reflects our lives,” she said.
Hoa’s work is on display at Art Mecca of Charleston, you can catch her doing a live painting session in the King Street gallery on Saturday, Sep. 8.