Meicheng Chi’s dreamy pencil drawings help her to connect with her emotions

New York-based artist, illustrator, and designer Meicheng Chi creates beautiful coloured pencil pictures that capture the images of her dreams. These artworks also help her to navigate difficult feelings in a way that feels genuine.

For Meicheng Chi, drawing feels as natural as talking. Having been raised by artistic parents who encouraged her to get creative with everything, from paper to books and walls, drawing now feels like the most natural and intuitive way for Meicheng to express herself.

This outlook was only honed during her time at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she studied Industrial Design. Here, Meicheng was exposed to new tools and workrooms that allowed her to get messy and experiment. It was while studying drawing courses that she found a new way to connect with herself and communicate with others through her artwork.

“Drawing lets me navigate and connect with my emotions,” she tells Creative Boom. “I became more fearless facing negative emotions because I know that through drawing, they will melt into the air and become colour and pencil strokes that I can hug and keep.”

Originally from China, Meicheng credits her parents with being the biggest artistic inspirations in her life. Her mother bought Meicheng many painting books featuring great artists such as Egon Schiele, Henri Matisse, and Henry Darger, as well as many DVDs of seminal animated movies.

“I still remember watching Spirited Away when I was a kid, and I got so scared, but I think the exposure to these amazing works became an inspiration for me deep inside,” Meicheng adds. “My dad always shares great films and designs with me and shows so much love and passion for my work.”

At the heart of Meicheng’s drawings are dreams. Created meticulously by scribbling with coloured pencils, these artworks were inspired by a dream she had about her great-grandfather’s house. In it, she was standing in his kitchen when she saw birds flying by. But when she turned around to look back at them, they had become flat patterns on the window.”

“I was half-awake, but the images were so vivid, soft and touching,” she says. “I wanted to record the lines, colours and burst of emotions I felt in that dream, so I turned to colour pencils.” The rest, as they say, is history.

Sleep, it seems, is a huge influence on Meicheng’s work. Besides dreams, she also compares the act of drawing to sleep talking, as both are moments where half-awake memories are their most vivid. “In dreams, I can fly over water and land in just a few minutes, with various thoughts overlapping with my imagination,” she says. “Emotions and memories can melt onto paper and fly out of the window…”

She adds that the romantic images of her dreams are gentle and fresh with the smell of grass. “Sleeping is like a bridge that carries my unconsciousness into unknown images and stories or lets those images reach my consciousness,” she adds. “When I draw, it feels the same way. I fold and unfold my memories, keeping and hugging every little folded line, moments in my life or imagination.”

Colour pencils suit Meicheng’s work style because she can quickly capture stories and images from her unconscious memories before they slip away. “Colour pencils are like a translator who speaks my language to the paper,” she reveals. I love the softness created by the media and the little gaps between each stroke.”

As for the memories that Meicheng wants to capture, these include things she’s afraid to lose, such as rooms or people or boring, mundane details from everyday life. ” I want to remember the feelings and emotions that burst out when I encounter or touch these things,” she explains, “or the temperature and texture of certain people in coloured light.”

Besides dreams, Meicheng also has a curious passion for chairs, which frequently appear in her work. “Once I passed a workroom in my college, I saw a chair through the small window, and I felt an electric shock; it felt like it was alive,” she says. I like how chairs seem to be talking but never talk too much.”

This interest in chairs forms the basis of one of her favourite projects, a zine titled A Love Letter to My Chairs. In it, Meicheng has assembled romantic letters, poems, and diary entries written about her beloved furniture items, complete with accompanying artwork.

“I also love any project where I collaborate with different artists or designers,” she concludes. “They’re always bursting exciting and inspiring sparkles that are precious to me.”

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