Astrid Dahl – Artist with Grit

Looking at Astrid’s work, it’s hard to imagine the challenges she’s had to overcome to get to where she is today. I met Astrid when she was living in Singapore at an Art Class. Unlike other art classes I have ever been to, I found it introspective instead of instructional. I came out of her class learning more about myself and others.

I’ve always been interested to learn more about her and grabbed the opportunity to speak to Astrid when I was on a visit in Bali. She has made Bali her home for many years now after Singapore.

Astrid’s interest in art started when she was 5 years old. She remembered seeing the bright colours of bougainvillea and wanted to replicate the colours of the flowers. The desire to paint and draw continued throughout her childhood and won her first prize at primary school.

When she got to high school, she met an art teacher who recognized the talent in her. Her high school teacher motivated and inspired her through encouragement and exposure to other materials. Astrid has always felt an affinity towards art and she continued this passion at the School of Fine Arts despite her mother’s insistence that she learnt to be a typist.

While at the School of Fine Arts, Astrid was learning to be an illustrator as her mother felt that it would give her the best opportunity for employment instead of fine arts. The training as an illustrator designed for adverts was both a challenge and a gift. Astrid felt that it gave her immediate perspective but at the same time she had to be conscious that it didn’t confine her.

Living the life as a full-fledged artist did not come easy. She had her first art exhibition when she was just starting a young family.  A buyer chose one of the painting during the exhibition and Astrid was over the moon, however he ended up changing his mind and did not pay for the painting as promised. This was a big blow to Astrid’s confidence and this setback pushed her to question whether she would continue to pursue her passion or to give up and live a conventional life that she has been told repeatedly throughout her life. She decided to keep on going and took up a teaching job at a school. This gave her stability of a livelihood, time with her young family and extra time to pursue her passion.

It wasn’t until many years later when her children were grown up that Astrid could live her life as an artist full time. During that time, she worked on her style and texture that’s very recognizable in her work today.

Her advice to budding artists:

  • Take your time to find your expression.
  • There’s no short cut. The more work you put into your art, the more you get out of it.
  • Keeping a balance of commercial work and self-expression. It’s essential to have some sort of cash flow but equally important/
  • Keep on learning, she’s still learning every day.
  • Enjoy the process of every moment from cleaning the brushes, to mixing the paints, to painting. Each step is a meditative process for her and the moments to be in touch fully.

Astrid can be found:


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