Ng Huifong at Atelier Huifong NG, Kiarong. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

To flatten the curve, education institutions around the sultanate have suspended their services including schools, workshops and private tutoring centres.

In light of this, lessons have been moved online including fine art learning centre, Atelier Huifong Ng.

Founder of the academy, Ng Hui Fong had to adapt to the changes and introduce hands-on teaching of studio-based art online as part of its safe-distancing measures amid the virus outbreak.

Her student’s paintings. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

Since the cancellation of the “Our Abode of Peace, Brunei Darussalam” Children’s Art exhibition scheduled for March 15, the local artist had to figure out ways to sustain her business.

Going online was the most feasible method where Ng illustrates her lessons through telecommunications application, Skype.

“Six to nine students participate in each session which takes three hours,” said Ng who ensured that her students make the most out of the online classes.

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

During the virtual lessons, she would help each student individually in mastering their brush strokes and painting techniques.

Although Ng prefers face-to-face teaching which allows her to have immediate interaction with her students, she found that the online lessons have helped her students boost their confidence.

As her students complete their assignments from home, one of them, a 14-year-old made a beautiful portrait of Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah Pengiran Haji Salleh Ab Rahaman in soft pastels.

Ng Huifong showcasing some of her art pieces at Atelier Huifong NG, Kiarong. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

To date, 11 out of 40 registered students have joined the Skype lessons every weekend where Ng would share their progress and drawings via the Atelier’s Instagram account @atelierhuifongng.

“It’s my first time teaching online,” she said adding, “a few parents and students did some test runs with me before starting the first lesson.”

“For most of the students, our first virtual lesson was a continuation of where we left off before social distancing began.”

Ng Huifong showcasing some of her students’ art pieces at Atelier Huifong NG, Kiarong. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

According to the local artist, each of the student’s virtual lessons are different from one another.

“The atelier always focuses on lessons based on individuality and that sets our virtual sessions apart from other online art classes,” she said.

“We run the online tutorials just like how we would at the atelier. Only now it’s through a screen. We describe instructions in words and numbers, like the numbers of each individual paint and paintbrush and I use papers to show the reflection of light and shadow,” she explained.

Ng Huifong and some of her students during an online class. Image: Courtesy of Ng Hui Fong.

However, the founder said switching from first-hand experience classes to remote instruction is not without its challenges.

Ng explained that the Atelier would not offer online lessons to novice students as they require close instruction and physical guidance.

“For beginners, I have to guide their hands to assert different strengths to produce different results with various brushstrokes. So for now, we will have to postpone their sessions until further notice,” she said.

“These virtual lessons are only provided to regular patrons. As our art lessons have always been focused on students to be independent, it has helped greatly now that we are taking our lessons online,” she added.

Ng Huifong showcasing some of her students’ art pieces at Atelier Huifong NG, Kiarong. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

Initially, parents whom Ng spoke to had mixed reactions towards the online classes. While some parents have been persuaded to give it a try.

However, the take-up of these online lessons has been positive so far, she said.

“It isn’t the norm to run virtual art lessons here, (apparent from) the mixed reactions from parents who expressed that this is the first time they heard of art lessons conducted virtually.”

“While some were skeptical of the quality of teaching through virtual lessons, a number of parents voiced their support to try in the hope that it would empower their children to adapt to the changing situation,” she added.

Ng Huifong showcasing some of her art pieces at Atelier Huifong NG, Kiarong. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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