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Seattle Times photographers offer a glimpse into what inspires their best visual reporting.

April 7, 2014 at 4:45 AM

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Northwest Wanderings: Abstract artist Alan Lau


ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Alan Lau says his art "is not for people who like precision." He wants "mystery and depth" and works in a 76 1/2 square foot studio.

It's a short walk from work to his small studio near the Chinatown Gate for painter and poet Alan Lau.

For $125 a month he rents a 9-foot by 8 ½-foot former receiving clerk's office in a warehouse.

It's cramped even if he weren't working on a 25-foot square watercolor-on-rice-paper.

Still dressed in his white shirt and black pants he drops inks to "flood the area with purples and blues and see what happens."

It inevitably splatters on his clothes. Lau says that won't show on the black pants.

He works in the produce area at Uwajimaya market and is visualizing eggplant and its colors as he paints.

Lau says his art "is not for people who like precision."

"I want mystery and depth. I want the viewer to see something different every time they look at the painting."

He grew up in one of the only ethnic-minority families in Paradise, Calif.

Upstairs in his grandma's kitchen (the Chinatown in Paradise) he learned calligraphy as she guided his hands across paper.

More challenging were the Chinese lessons, "but I always loved the art time she gave us after lessons." His facility with words has led to five books of poetry.

His art and poetry fills the spirit while his job pays the bills. But, the produce work leaves an indelible mark on his art.

Lau says, "one can see the influence of rotting bitter melon, moldy grapes, the shape of an eggplant or the dance of bean sprouts."

ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Alan Lau layers his paintings and wants the viewer will see something different every time. With this five-foot by five-foot watercolor-on-rice paper, he works on the floor.

ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Alan Lau layers his paintings and wants the viewer will see something different every time.

For more photos, visit the gallery.

-Alan Berner: 206-464-8133 or aberner@seattletimes.com

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