There is something exquisitely calming about artist Zhao Haitien's home. It's more than the result of escaping the clamour of Hong Kong's streets, or the pale decor of the relatively modest Mid-Levels apartment; it is something subtle that Haitien brings personally, something you only understand after meeting her. About 10 years ago, the Shanghainese-born artist began practising the ancient meditative tradition of qigong; it not only transformed her art, it harmonised the environment in which she lives and works. After meeting a qigong shifu (master) in Hong Kong, Haitien began meditating privately in her home, sometimes with the shifu. 'It has completely affected my way of looking at the world, my work and my way of living,' says Haitien. 'I am still very much in the process of learning and trying to understand but I am much more relaxed, healthier and I have more energy.' Practitioners of qigong learn to use their qi (inner energy) to clear the mind and strengthen both physical and mental well-being. You only have to look at the paintings on the walls throughout the apartment which she shares with her Australian-born husband, advertising creative director Russell Jones, to see how much qigong has affected Haitien and her work. 'Some people think the paintings are done by different people, which I suppose in some ways they are,' Haitien says. Her latest work, in the understated, simple hallway, is a giant, bright multi-media piece with collage, reflecting a boldness in the artist. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Buddhas are scattered throughout the apartment both in paintings and as reclining, standing and sitting ornaments. 'I have always found the huge Buddha monuments in China and throughout Asia very inspiring,' says Haitien, who recently returned from Shanghai, her first exhibition in China. 'It is not so much the meaning as the aesthetics of a Buddha. They all have such wonderful expressions and postures; they are very calming.' A series of airbrushed mystical depictions of Buddha proved very popular for the artist, but about the same time Haitien began qigong she grew fed up with airbrushed paintings. 'I was sitting looking at the white canvas one day. I find the emptiness of whiteness very inspiring. But I just couldn't start. 'Suddenly I picked up the airbrush and started smashing it across the canvas. It turned out to be a very interesting painting.' The Joneses, who have lived in the apartment for eight years, changed the layout of the rooms by opening up the dining room, which was originally closed off, and creating a space that could be shut off for privacy by sliding louvred doors. Situated next to the lounge, the area has a shrine-like feel to it, enhanced by one of Haitien's Buddha images, but, more especially, by the altar-like feel created by a painting from Thailand, also depicting Buddha. It hangs above an ornate inlaid chest with a blue offertory-looking bowl on it and two small Chinese lions placed either side. Neutral calligraphy scrolls hang either side of the louvred doors, creating a calming symmetry. The mix of decor and mood in the Joneses' home reflects both Western and Asian influences. While Haitien has spent much time in the United States, she remains Chinese, she says. 'I studied Western painting while I was in America but I cannot embrace it completely. I have to be natural and true to myself in every aspect of my life, including my work.' Indeed, natural, almost organic, and unpretentious is how you would describe Haitien's home. Her generosity and warmth are obvious in the bowls of cherries and grapes laid out for guests and the selection of three different brands of cigarettes on the glass-topped carved coffee table from Thailand in the centre of the living room. Haitien undoubtedly has a sense of humour, too, with a giant yellow glass fish ornament watching over guests. Three is a number she seems to feel at home with. Silver-framed photographs of the couple and their 19-year-old daughter, who is studying design in Rhode Island, are scattered throughout the flat. As are three little pigs, three mice and three cups on a plate. The Western and Chinese influences are present in the furniture. A huge red Chinese screen greets visitors at the entrance and acts as a room divider between hall and living room. A leather-backed and seated wooden chair is painted in the same red but is a reproduction of an English design. The pair were hand-painted in a workshop formerly on Hollywood Road. Many of the wooden objects reflect years of travel. Most have been brought back by Jones from Southeast Asian countries such as Burma and Indonesia. A Thai stone sculpture of a kneeling woman sitting on an inlaid chest from Bali is one of a pair that is more than 300 years old; blue and white vases and lamps come from China. This flat is a home and not a showcase for Haitien's art; the natural feel extends to the balcony crammed full of plants; an old green glass-backed dresser at one end covered in objets d'art creates the feel of a conservatory. In the study, a large Chinese wooden desk and ornaments, including a wooden sculpture by Haitien's daughter, create a serene feel for a place of work. The strength and tranquillity that qigong has given Haitien, along with the symbolic images that the couple have chosen to decorate their home, appear to have permeated more than mind and body, but the very fabric of the apartment. 'Most people who visit comment on the atmosphere in this apartment. My shifu has meditated here. He is considered a living Buddha and I think it has something to do with that,' she says modestly.