With the sun shining through the trees, I walked in Daisy Schenone’s garden. 

There were more than 100 pots of succulents growing on her balcony. Looking down, I could see clematis, hydrangeas and roses … close to 400 plants were thriving and smiling to people who walked past. 

At the end of the garden, there was a small house, which was Daisy’s art studio.

Daisy Schenone is a self-taught artist and a Chinese American who immigrated to the U.S. in 1989. 

She likes to use bold color and brushstrokes to portray landscapes and flowers. The abstract form has also become appealing to her in recent years. 

It was quite an accident for Daisy to start painting. In 2014, to prevent her 11-year-old daughter from spending too much time on her phone, Daisy suggested they could do some painting as a fun, family activity. At first, they painted on some cheap wood panels and ceramics, but surprisingly, interested buyers approached her after she posted the first few works on social media. This opened a path for a new career she had never thought of.

As she gradually began her career as an artist, she started trying acrylic and oil painting. Being completely self-taught, Daisy learned her techniques from YouTube videos. She started with some master copies, and then painted landscapes from life. 

Now she finds she can just spill her ideas and landscapes from her mind onto a blank canvas without having to look at any reference. However, she doesn’t like to focus too much on the tangible. 

“I am not painting an object. I am expressing a sentiment, an emotion,” she said. “A love story never fades, a waiting never withdraws. I hope my artwork brings my viewers back to even just a small piece of their past, connects them to one breathtaking moment or leads them to a dreaming second of tomorrow’s romance.”

Many contemporary artists create artworks to express anger and rebel, but the purpose behind Daisy’s works is to love. Almost every work of hers is connected to her personal experience and love story. According to her, every single artwork she creates is a short story, a small presentation of romance.

Talking about romance, Daisy has a lot to say. In 2013, She wrote an autobiographical novel that can be translated to “Mrs Daisy’s Lovers.” While writing, she immersed herself into her memories of romantic relationships.  

“I will never ever write again,” she said. “It was too painful.”

Indeed, the recreation of the past using words is like cutting one’s heart using a sharp blade, digging out the most personal experiences and delicate emotions, showing them to the world, letting love and regret flow and spread. This is a very painful journey for sensitive people. 

At the time of writing this novel, Daisy was nearly 50, but she still had courage and energy to illustrate such a story. People with a heart of youth never age.

Daisy likes to use her love of landscapes not only as a subject to paint, but also in her other profession as a landscape designer. 

The house she lives in is small but perfect for her because it has a big backyard. She loves to spend time outdoors, breathing fresh air and doing gardening work. 

“Good furniture and a big house can’t make me half as happy as nature does,” she said. 

It doesn’t matter if there is sun or drizzle, Daisy prefers to linger outside and carve the scenery in her mind. With her artistic talent, observation of landscapes and professional understanding of flowers, she has found herself in love with landscape design, a way that she can combine her creativity and her passion for nature. 

She and her husband just finished a landscaping project for a home slightly under 20,000 square feet after failure of three different landscaping companies. The homeowners were so happy and requested them to take care of their office buildings. 

Daisy loves to tell her clients: “I am an artist. I love to design your yard in an unique and artistic way.”

Of course, some homeowners prefer a plain easy-care yard. 

“I always respect their opinions. But I believe that color brings things to life and there’s a better option than a plain yard,” she said. “Our hard-work and sincerity always gain clients’ trust and it ended up we were allowed to add color to the yard instead of just boxwood and nandina.”

As her confidence grew, she attended some art festivals here in North Carolina and made friends with many other artists. 

“I always feel very grateful and lucky to have so many people who inspire me, help me, appreciate and collect my arts,” she said.  

Within a few years of painting, she already sold over 80 art pieces internationally. Her work has been exhibited in some prestigious galleries including Coffey & Thompson Art Gallery in Myers Park. 

She sold almost half of her paintings at the recent Festival in the Park. 

Daisy posts her works on the internet under the title “Unchained Color.” When people see her art, they are often amazed by the vivid and vibrant use of her palette. She doesn’t know why she likes strong color.

“Maybe it’s because of my intensifying desire and straightforward personality,” she said. 

Since college, Daisy has developed a personality that translates to “individualist and persisting one’s own way” in Chinese, but she  likes to translate it to “me walk me tofu,” which is the very literal meaning of the four Chinese characters. 

Her love of nature and passion for life bursts out from her heart with strong color as the medium. You can see her red excitement, pink romance, yellow optimism and blue grief all in one place in her paintings. 

“When I see the canvas, I just want the whole thing to be covered in color and contents,” she said. “I don’t like white spaces like many other Asian artists do. I like expression. I like the simple feeling of letting go with my intuition.”

In the Chinese community in the U.S., Daisy always refers to herself as “Garden Girl” or “Greenhouse Girl,” not only because she loves gardening, but the more important reason is the song of the same name by the Chinese rock and roll godfather, songwriter and singer Cui Jian. 

This song is forever a classic to people who were born in the 1960s and 1970s in China. It conveys a mixture of the rough and tender, the wild and the sad, expressing the inner entanglements and impulses of people who fall in love with each other mildly and directly. The main reason she loves the song so much is that she identifies with the lyrics: “You say I’m the strongest, I say you are the kindest.” She wants to become a strong and kind woman.

Daisy Schenone, the Garden Girl, the artist. To her, kindness and strength are the superior quality to experience, appreciate and create life. And art is a very big part of her life. She paints flowers with strong color, feels nature with a burning heart, illustrates landscapes with deep emotions and builds gardens with warmth and passion. 

She loves to bring people happiness and beauty using her arts.

“I don’t like people to call me a great artist. I am not. There is so much I need to improve,” Daisy said, “All that is certain about me is that I am romantic and humorous. Because I am romantic, I love life and treat others with kindness. Because I’m humorous, I face every moment and challenge with laughter and smile.”

 

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