SEVERAL years ago a music critic wrote that Delia Chien's performance in what was a lacklustre concert, was its only wonderful moment. She pitched her rich soprano voice, he wrote, just right. This week, art critics will have their turn. What they write about her work that is reminiscent of the French Impressionists, a group she admires, will have little influence on her creativity or output. ''Painting is my hobby,'' says the Shanghai-born artist and singer, who turns hobbies into successful careers. The stage fright she experienced over the years as a Chinese opera singer will return Friday afternoon but in a slightly different version. Beauty of Nature and Harmony, her show of 30 oil paintings, opens in the Cultural Centre Foyer. ''It's easier being a painter than an actress. Painting is more passive. Acting is immediate and more direct. ''On the day of a performance the singer has a lot to worry about. You can't catch a cold. You have to eat right, so you don't hurt your throat. You have to get enough sleep. You have to know the material. ''But when a painter has a show, his work is finished. You can't change anything. The paintings do the work for you. All I have to do is sit there and watch the expressions on the faces.'' She began her study of classical Chinese opera at 14. Though she doesn't perform any more, she has never lost the instincts of a skilled actress. She can roll her magnetic dark eyes as if on cue. Equally captivating is the way her fingers and wrists dance on command, the way Balinese dancers do. There are few traces around the living room of her spacious flat on Kennedy Road of her professional biography. The works on the walls are by her teacher, the Malaysian artist Bei Mu Chung. Any photos of her in opera make-up and costumes are stored at her mother's. Of her first painting exhibition, there is a trace of disbelief in her voice. ''I still can't believe it's happening. Seems like a dream.'' But for her husband, the accumulation of un-framed paintings that took up too much space was more like a nightmare. He urged her repeatedly to do something, anything, with them. She decided to toss them out. But when she learned the city rubbish collectors would charge $1,000 for the service, she cancelled the idea and picked up the telephone. She invited her artist friends over and sought their professional opinion. To show or not to show? Their response buoyed her. She has been able to balance her love of music with painting. Studying voice - Taiwan, Rome and Los Angeles - has always given her an opportunity to work on her painting. ''But sometimes when I'm travelling, there's no time. So I bring my sketchbook, do some quick things. And finish them when I get home. You can always make time.'' The Beauty of Nature and Harmony presented by the Fringe Club runs from April 23 to 27 in the Hongkong Cultural Centre Foyer.