Menifee resident Soon K. Chung, 68, always had the talent and ambition to be an artist, but got sidetracked from her dream career for decades due to events in her life.
Born in South Korea, Chung came to America when she was 30. She settled in Champagne, Illinois, where she worked at an Asian grocery store and later owned one. She didn’t have time to pursue art because she was a single mother and business owner. She had to work constantly to support herself and her son and oversee her business.
“All my life I wanted to paint,” said Chung, who oil painted and pencil sketched as a young woman in South Korea.
When she retired to Menifee four years ago, she finally had time for art and started painting again. Three years ago she wanted to learn how to watercolor so she enrolled in a class for it taught at the Sun Meadows Retirement Home in Sun City. Chung has since mastered the medium of watercolor by practicing it diligently.
Chung’s done so well with her artwork that she had her first solo showing at the Sun City Library on July 27. The Sunday afternoon showing lasted over three hours and attracted a large crowd of Chung’s family, friends, fellow students and lots of art loving library patrons.
“I think she’s got so much passion for painting,” said Kathy Pickett, president of the Sun City Art Guild and Chung’s watercolor instructor. “She’s at her prime.”
Chung had 32 pieces of her older and newer artwork on display in the library’s Community Room. Everyone viewing her artwork marveled at it, especially her oil paintings on silk. She had a large portrait on silk of actor Charlton Heston as Moses. Chung said she did it because she loved the emotion shown on Heston’s face. She had other celebrity portraits of Sandra Dee, Gary Cooper, Charles Bronson, Patrick Swayze, Audrey Hepburn, Kim Novak, Albert Einstein and Grace Kelly. There were also animal portraits of cats, dogs, birds and fish. Chung did all of the portraits, still lifes and landscapes from photographs.
“It’s amazing,” said Rosemary Seiger of Sun City. Her daughter Kathi Green knows Chung. “She said, ‘You have to come and see her work’.”
“Soon is very dedicated and inspired,” said Sun City resident Diane Dunaway. She studies with Pickett, too. “You can see the feeling of warmth in all of her paintings. I also like how she uses many different techniques. It’s just incredible.”
Chung’s niece Mihee Kim of San Gabriel Valley said her aunt is extremely humble about her abilities. Kim is a high school art teacher and believes that her aunt is “more than ready to sell her work.” In fact, she’s encouraging her to do that by starting out with commissioned animal portraits
“I have confidence to start with animals,” Chung said. She had flyers about doing pet portraits on a table for the public to take. The flyers showed three of her pet portraits and stated that she specializes in “bringing your pet’s personality to life in the arts.”
For more information on Chung’s artwork, contact her at email@example.com or (951) 723-4035.
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