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Painting all day long is Chalermakhwan ‘Kwan’ Buadam’s idea of perfection. “I could work all day at the easel. I’m happiest when I’m working and thankful I have the ability to work,” Buadam says. A native of Thailand, Buadam had artistic ambitions as a young girl, even painting the walls of her home, much to her mother’s chagrin. Eventually, her parents recognized her true artistic talent and sent her to art school.
After schooling, Kwan’s career began to take shape in Thailand. She spent two years working with a group of artists restoring the frescoes and murals in a temple. She opened her own gallery, which included a restaurant, in Krabi, Thailand. When the tsunami of 2004 hit Thailand, it destroyed the village and everything Buadam had built. It was a devastating experience.

“From that, I learned so much. I realized life is really short and you don’t know what’s going to happen, so every moment, I want to be happy,” Buadam says.

Four years ago, she made the move to Nantucket and quickly found a home in the island’s vibrant art community. She went to work right away—“working with my hands,” as she describes it—as a mural artist, jewelry maker, chef, and painter. She started selling her artwork at a local farmers’ market and is now a member of the Artists Association of Nantucket.

At first, it was hard to get used to life on the “Grey Lady” and Buadam missed the very different appeal of Thailand. “It took me two years before I started to see the beauty of the land,” she says. Now, she loves the island’s quiet aura. She often paints the harbor and Brant Light, or Madaket and Sconset.

Her chosen medium is acrylic on canvas and with each piece, Buadam brings together traditional Thai techniques brought to colorful life with her own flair. Her pieces are rich with imagery and feeling. An intriguing component of Buadam’s art is its reliance on layered texture. “I want there to be a sense of everything moving around,” she explains, “whether it’s the wind outside, or one’s breathing within.” When she paints, the medium reflects her emotions. “I paint what I feel. When painting, I have to get down my mood on canvas.”

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For Buadam, painting is also an exercise in gratitude, “I’m so thankful I have the ability to do this. When I work, it gives me back that energy and I get power from it,” the artist says. “Art is good for everyone. It’s a meditation; it makes me calm.”

Buadam’s work may be seen at three locations on Nantucket: Old Spouter Gallery, 118 Orange Street; the Artists Association of Nantucket gallery, 19 Washington Street; or at her own studio Black Lotus Studio, 69 Fairgrounds Road (by appointment) or visit blacklotusstudio.net.