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It’s the middle of the day, and the city streets of Sham Shui Po are bustling with energy. Pedestrians vie for space between a medley of older tong lau traditional tenement buildings of Hong Kong below the creaking sign boards and drying laundry. Propped up on an easel, Elaine Chiu’s latest watercolor captures the building blocks of the neighborhood — a jumble of awnings and lights — with a delicate hand.

Check out the video to see Chiu in action!

The light and shadows of Elaine Chiu’s watercolor work suggest some of the transience of the city streets she loves to explore in her hometown Hong Kong. Having only graduated this year with a Bachelor’s degree in Art History at Hong Kong University, Chiu has already made a name for herself as a cityscape painter and ’emerging artist’; delivering workshops, receiving 23 awards, collaborating on commissioned projects, and exhibiting around the world in both group and solo shows.


Chiu always found painting to be an inseparable part of life, with a mother who painted and art classes always forming the best part of the day since kindergarten. She didn’t start taking art seriously as a career choice until Chiu started at Hong Kong University. Chiu began with a style called ‘urban sketching’, where sketchers go out to locations and portray what they see around them.

There have been moments when Chiu has found herself in trouble with authorities for her painting. One day she took a group out with her to paint around the city, but they were told off by wardens for painting without a license from the Leisure Culture Services Department. On the spot, the neighborhood rallied around in support for Chiu and came to her defense, as people can see she brings something special to the Hong Kong local art scene.

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