The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Zara Dijcks

Christine Ong-Dijcks works on her new piece.

Christine Ong-Dijcks, independent artist

Christine Ong-Dijcks, a Belmont resident, is an independent artist who began her own company five years ago. She paints a variety of subjects, ranging from people and places to more whimsical designs. 

“I knew I wanted to go into arts when I was in middle school and high school. At that time, I was already participating in a lot of art contests, and I really enjoyed it,” Ong-Dijcks said.  

Although art brings her joy, she realized at a young age that it wasn’t the most financially stable career. 

“My family’s in the retail business, and so it was more of a practical view that if you want to pursue something, it was something that could support you financially so you will not starve,” Ong-Dijcks said. “I never heard my parents say ‘No, don’t pursue art,’ but more like, ‘Okay, that’s a good hobby,’ and it was never encouraged.”

Ironically, it was a family member who inspired her to pursue art as a career when her daughter started middle school.

“My cousin, who is an artist back home in the Philippines, is the one who actually inspired me because his dad would discourage him from being an artist,” Ong-Dijcks said. “But after 40 years, my cousin is now doing very well with his work.”

When she was younger, she had dreamed of working as an animator.

“At that time, I was really fascinated with Disney,” Ong-Dijcks said. 

But there was something attractive about the tactical nature of traditional art forms that couldn’t be done on a computer.

“I enjoyed coloring, the smell of crayons, all of that made that whole sensory experience very fulfilling for me.” 

— Ong-Dijcks

Now five years in, her website showcases a variety of her paintings and sketches, some for sale, and her work has been displayed at different venues in the Bay Area. 

At first, Ong-Dijcks was worried about how hard it would be to part with her creations.

“It was hard, but as I started producing more, it got easier. Your mindset starts changing, and you actually want people to enjoy your work, so it makes it easier to part with it,” Ong-Dijcks said.

Having people value her art enough to pay for it helped her be more comfortable giving away her pieces. 

“When I started my first painting, I showed it to my friend, and she was the first person who actually bought my work. To this day, she buys some of my works,” Ong-Dijcks said. “That first sale that you make gives you that idea and that first feeling that ‘Oh, I could actually make money out of my work.’”

Part of being an independent artist is finding venues to show your art, so Ong-Dijcks joined the Society of West Coast Artists. She claims the application fees are well worth it because the organization helps her regularly exhibit her works. 

Besides her usual oil paintings, she’s tried out many types of art, including pottery and sculpture. 

“I have a bear sitting on the corner of my studio right now that I made,” Ong-Dijcks said. 

She’s also been trying out watercolor, appreciating that it’s easy to travel with. Ong-Dijcks brings her sketchbook whenever she goes out.

“I enjoy using a pencil to just sketch and shade. Now I’m trying to see if I could experiment with multimedia, which is two kinds of artwork that I put together,” Ong-Dijcks said. 

According to Ong-Dijcks, being an independent artist takes a lot of perseverance.

“It’s not smooth sailing. It is definitely a process. There’s a lot of internal thinking that one goes through,” Ong-Dijcks said. “So far, I would say it’s a very slow process, but it’s getting there. You just have to be really patient.”

She loves that she can do what she is passionate about and earn money for it.

“My favorite thing is just having a quiet time in my studio listening to music while I’m painting,” Ong-Dijcks said. “I’ve come full circle and am finally fulfilling my dream as an artist.”

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