"I've found that I couldn't go back to another job that doesn't include art in my life. It is my breath and always will be from now on."
I was born in Southern Thailand where I grew up. My grandfather and father are artistic bricklayers who work decorating the temple, so I've experienced and been acquainted with the arts for a long time. However, I never learned or studied it seriously because it's not a field for a woman.
"I grew up in a broken family and didn't have the chance to get any education. I've had to work since I was very young by traveling around to live with relatives who have beauty salons. So I practiced creating hairstyles and doing make up. This was a career that earned money for the family and many of my relatives did it, so I also did it.
"Then I met my husband who was an art student at college. He spent his free time drawing portraits in many places. I really liked his work but didn't have money for him to draw me. So I asked him to teach me how to draw. After that we were constantly in contact with each other until he graduated and moved to Chiang Mai.
"We decided to get married and I started to practice my art intently. I also opened my hair salon for our main source of revenue. My husband is the best art teacher for me. He has made it possible for me to create my art independently and let me find my real identity.
"My inspiration comes from my children and husband. I had practiced for many years until my husband got his stable job. He then let me close my hair salon and do art full time. I became confident in myself – even more so when my husband entered one of my paintings in a contest and it won a prize. I had earned more encouragement!
"My husband has a small gallery at home. There I showed my works without signing them. I had a very good response, with admiration, and support from the customers, especially when they found out it is my work.
"My husband and I always help people who have suffered. For example, we took our drawings to an auction and donated all the income to help flood victims. Although we are not rich, we always help others with pleasure whenever we have the chance.
"I've found that I couldn't go back to another job that doesn't include art in my life. It is my breath and always will be from now on. Thank you to my family who provides my real identity and happiness.
"My work takes its themes from my family and from myself. I have experienced many emotions and feelings, I have experienced many stories involving my family, and I release them onto my canvases. I believe that many families have also felt happiness, sadness, exhaustion, discouragement and hopelessness, but we can overcome the negative feelings with someone who is our family. I have released all my feelings into my paintings for you who have the same emotions to spread this work to people around the world. You can bring my experience and go traveling independently. If you feel it, it's my soul.
"I think working with art has to do with freedom of thought and thinking outside the frame. In 2009, I sent a drawing to a contest and it won the prize in the King Bhumibol Adulyadej Composed Song celebration. However, I think we should not expect any prizes from art competitions because the most important thing is the work itself. If it comes from your inspiration, this is the success, the prize that you can feel and touch yourself."
Nattaleya Paidan has exhibited her paintings in a number of Thai venues.
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