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Cambridge-based artist Ho-Young Reynolds enjoying life as a full-time painter



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Cambridge-based artist Ho-Young Reynolds paints on a variety of subjects, including still-life, landscape, figures and portraits.

Artist Ho-Young Reynolds who has kept busy in lockdown by painting portraits of her husband, Christopher, seen here. Picture: Keith Heppell
Artist Ho-Young Reynolds who has kept busy in lockdown by painting portraits of her husband, Christopher, seen here. Picture: Keith Heppell

As well as oil paintings, this self-taught artist – originally from South Korea – also dabbles in watercolour and pencil/charcoal drawings.

Moving to Cambridge with her husband, Christopher, for their retirement, having lived all over the world, Ho-Young has spent much of the most recent lockdown painting portraits of Christopher.

“This lockdown has been something of an advantage, I suppose,” she says. “My husband played golf and he would disappear all the time, but during this lockdown he’s been so kind to model for me.

“It’s been really good fun and it’s been nice for him, in a way. He’s been very patient and we’ve done about 20 sessions.”

Ho-Young met Birmingham-born Christopher when he was working in Tokyo.

The Singapore Kampung by Ho-Young Reynolds
The Singapore Kampung by Ho-Young Reynolds

“We retired here about six years ago,” recalls Ho-Young. “Our son started studying at Cambridge and we visited him here. We really fell in love with it so decided to retire here.”

Ho-Young, who has loved participating in Cambridge Open Studios – although she didn’t take part in the online version last year – has enjoyed painting ever since she was a child.

“I was waiting and waiting for my time to be a full-time painter,” she explains, “but I didn’t really get into it and call myself a painter until six years ago.

“But I was never a leisure painter; I was always serious about it but I didn’t really get into it full time because of life and circumstances...”

Ho-Young Reynolds artwork
Ho-Young Reynolds artwork

Ho-Young, who describes herself as a “classical person” when it comes to music and art, studied French literature at university and then went to New York to do a master’s. “I was training myself to be a librarian,” she says, “and after the master’s, I was working in a publishing house in New York for a couple of years.

“Then I went back to Korea for a while and I was writing and translating a book, but wanting to be a painter. I thought I was better at drawing and painting, rather than trying to express myself in words. So I decided to give up the book. Painting was much more me, I thought.”

Artist Ho-Young Reynolds who has kept busy in lockdown by painting portraits of her husband, Christopher, seen here. Picture: Keith Heppell
Artist Ho-Young Reynolds who has kept busy in lockdown by painting portraits of her husband, Christopher, seen here. Picture: Keith Heppell

The fact that Ho-Young was living in small apartments in cities around the world – such as Singapore, Melbourne, Manila, Hong Kong, Detroit and London – meant that her options when it came to painting were limited.

“I didn’t have the space so all I could do was still-lifes or people,” she says. “I’d go out occasionally and do some landscapes.”

Dusk over the Fens by Ho-Young Reynolds
Dusk over the Fens by Ho-Young Reynolds

Ho-Young adds: “Still-lifes were still very interesting. I love flowers and I love inanimate objects. They were really patient for me – they don’t mind how long you take! Human models are very interesting but there are also difficulties, in that they often don’t sit still for me and I have to pay for them!”

Another reason Ho-Young put her art ‘on hold’ was to raise her son. “My duty as a mother and a wife was more important and more urgent than my desire to paint,” she notes, adding that she did get more of a chance to paint when she was living in Hong Kong.

Summer Bouquet by Ho-Young Reynolds
Summer Bouquet by Ho-Young Reynolds

“I was lucky to have a house helper,” says Ho-Young, “so I was able to join with other artists in Hong Kong. I started really living when I came to Cambridge six years ago.”

A very optimistic person, Ho-Young – who is also a member of Cambridge Drawing Society – loves living in Cambridge and admires the Cambridgeshire landscapes, particularly the Fens.

Visit Ho-Young’s Instagram page at instagram.com/hoyoungreynolds/.

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