Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
PETALING JAYA, Selangor: A Malaysian girl gained a serendipitous fame overnight after uploading a video showing her unique artwork.
Twenty-six-year-old Sabah-born Hong Yi, who loves to pain with special tools, completed a canvass painting of Chinese basketball celebrity Yao Ming in a street in Shanghai, using only a basketball as her brush.
Hong, who has just celebrated her birthday last month, recently moved to Shanghai after staying in Australia for eight years for working purposes.
She told the Sin Chew Daily that she had the most unforgettable birthday this year and she was looking forward to holding an exhibition, so that more people could see her artwork.
Hong, nicknamed Red, was surprised when she received a call from a leading US public relations agency on her birthday, asking her to help promote a singer of the company.
She said that she has been bombarded with calls from media companies after she shared her YouTube link on her Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ohiseeRED) on 10 January 2012. The two-and-half-minute time-lapse video received over 300,000 hits within two weeks.
She was grateful over the attention and appreciation given.
In the video, Hong used only a basketball and red paint to complete the portrait of Yao Ming in a post of shooting. Despite it was less proficient, she also showed a little dribbling skills in the process of painting.
US site thedailyrival.com has greatly praised her painting skills, saying that it was very difficult to impress viewers even to paint with brushes, let alone with a basketball, which is difficult to control.
She also received a call from the ABC's Good Morning America, asking for an interview and the permission to broadcast her video.
Releasing date of Bruno Mars portrait delayed
For the sake of perfection, Hong decided to delay the release of her artwork of Grammy Award winner Bruno Mars, which was originally scheduled for 1 February.
Hong said the pressure was doubled since the portrait of Yao Ming gained her unexpected fame last month. To maintain a high standard of quality, she decided to delay the release of her latest artwork of Bruno Mars.
She apologised for her last-minute decision and said she never expected the popularity and it actually increased the pressure on her in completing the next painting.
"Bruno Mars is just one of my artworks for fun. Although I think I have done pretty good, it is not perfect. The video clip is still in the final stage of editing," she explained.
She said that as an artist, she refuses to show artworks that she thinks unsatisfying or ordinary.
She said that in addition to Yao Ming and controversial Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei, she has also started to conceive the idea of painting more portraits of Chinese figures, including Chinese singers, authors and actors.
Hong, being hailed by netizens as a talented painter, said that she must now race against time to pay attention in work and think of new ideas for her artworks, in addition to receiving interviews from the media.
The video showing her unique artwork of Yao Ming has so far been reported by media from the US, the UK, Sweden, Serbia, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
She said that in addition to being requested for interviews and permission to upload her video, she also received an invitation from the US for a seminar to share her experience.
Her father, Wedge Hong, said that Hong Yi has received great pressure after the video of her painting a portrait of Yao Ming using a basketball went viral.
The fifty-five-year-old local developer said: "I hope that she will not put too much pressure on herself, but take the opportunity to inspire more young people. This is more important than gaining fame."
He said that he wants her daughter to do things she likes to do as she is very talented in arts.
He said that Hong Yi has been kind since she was a little girl. She pays great respect to elders and is very focused in everything she does. She has a high spirit and is not afraid of setback and hardship.
He said that although her unexpected fame has affected the family, he is still proud of her.
Meanwhile, Hong Yi's mother Terry Ng Kin Wan described Hong Yi as a very outstanding and kind daughter.
She said that Hong Yi has shown her great interest in arts since she was young and she gained a greater confidence after winning a painting competition.
She said that Hong Yi used to be a "tomboy" who was not good at dressing up until she was 18.
She also disclosed that Hong Yi, who loves outdoor activities, had been forced to learn ballet. However, she choked them up once when she was found squatting beside a drain in the alley behind the dancing classroom, in her ballet clothes.
In addition to using sunflower seeds and a basketball as her tool, Hong Yi also use Korean chilli paste to paint!
Before she used 100,000 sunflower seeds to paint a portrait of Ai Weiwei and a basketball to paint a portrait of Yao Ming, Hong Yi also used Korean chilli paste to draw a portrait of Canadian hearthrob Justin Bieber.
Hong Yi said that during a university holiday in 2010, she had nothing to do at home and was suddenly inspired. She then took out a jar of Korean chilli paste from the refrigerator and started to draw.
"I suddenly wanted to draw when I was in a daze on the sofa. Initially, I wanted to draw with tomato paste but found none in the refrigerator. Then I saw the Korean chilli paste!"
In addition to a white plate and a jar of Korean chilli paste, she also used chopsticks and toothpicks to complete the portrait of Justin Bieber.
She said that she came out with the idea of drawing the portrait of Justin as his song Baby was very popular at that time.
She admitted that she had used computer to edit the photo but it was actually not much different from the actual artwork.