Foo Chee San apportioned a considerable part of his life nurturing the next generation of artists and is fondly remembered as a teacher to numerous younger artists. Foo was born in Hainan and later trained in Western painting and Chinese ink at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts from 1953 to 1956. Inspired by his teachers, pioneer artists Cheong Soo Pieng, Chen Chong Swee, Chen Wen Hsi, Georgette Chen and See Hiang To, Foo eventually became an art educator for over 50 years. To fulfil his other passions in life, Foo created a body of work consisting of woodblock prints, Chinese ink paintings and oil on canvas throughout his artistic career.
Inspired by pristine landscapes and the simplicity of everyday life, Foo had a penchant for capturing kampung scenes and fishing villages of Singapore and Malaysia in his early works. He used inks in various gradations to capture multiple layers in this natural landscape. He also successfully used negative space in creating the effect of mist and fog–a practice integral to Chinese painting traditions.