Pattrararee “Fai” Nonparnkul was born and raised upcountry. A native of Chainat with a BA in Product and Package Design from Naresuan University in Phitsanulok, the affable young graphic designer moved to Bangkok two years ago in search of better career opportunities. During the day, she plies her trade in Thong Lo. She devotes her free time, however, to her sweet and playful watercolour paintings. Created under the nom de guerre Raree, her delicate portraits celebrate the lighter side of life in Thailand.
Like most artists in the modern world, Fai admits to surfing Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook to find inspiration. One day, she came across a page named “Palim” and was so impressed by her watercolourr paintings that she decided to give it a shot with her own art. “I started drawing from Adobe Illustrator,” she says, “but it wasn’t giving me the textures, shadows, and emotions that I wanted. Watercolour is more relaxing, or cosy, especially when there aren’t any hard edges; then the colours flow naturally.”
While social media and art galleries provide nearly endless sources of inspiration, for Fai, a packaging design graduate, beauty is found in the most amazing places. Somewhat unusual everyday objects often pique her interest. “The perk of living in Bangkok is you have morechoices of supermarkets and malls than you do in other provinces. I used to spend hours in MaxValu just exploring the different products on the shelves, observing the various styles of packaging,” she says between bouts of laughter.
In a short period of time, Fai transformed her work from grayscale portraits to colour paintings depicting a variety of scenes. She adopted techniques that defined her style — softer edges, more emotive poses, distinctive blushes. Now, she often paints pictures of friends or family from memory and gives them as gifts. “I want everyone to receive an original gift and know that I made it exclusively for them,” she says.
Growing up and studying upcountry has given Fai’s style an element of independence, which she attributes to being close to nature. “In Bangkok, with the clock always ticking, and people powerwalking all the time, we hardly notice our surroundings. But, in the countryside, we can slow down and indulge in the natural beauty and diversity of the ecosystem,” she says, while noting that urban life has its advantages, too. “Sometimes, the city lifestyle ignites my artistic soul. For example, when I’m on my way to work, I might look at the long-tail boat motoring fiercely alongside my ferry and get inspired to paint.”
While she has often been asked about her aspirations, such as having her paintings on display in a dedicated exhibition, for the time being Fai is content to simply spread joy. “It doesn’t matter if my paintings turn into commercial products — as long as they put a smile on someone’s face, I’m happy.”
This month’s cover was specially created forBangkok 101 by Raree. To learn more about Fai’s work as Raree, or to inquire about having a watercolour painting made for you or someone you love, visit her Instagram page @rareemade or contact her on LINE at rareez.