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My Art

Chinese lion dances inspired my first childhood drawings.  The giant head lifting and bobbing, each menacing crouch and thrilling leap, and the colors--billowing, ruffling, swirling, and diving waves of color.  The lions shattered the blinding light of the sun into a pulsating and energizing spectrum, and opened my eyes to different worlds, both beyond and within me.

I drew my first lion dance in the third grade, and won my first award.  The sight of it posted on the bulletin board stirred feelings in me I never had before.  My family showed no interest in my childish works, so drawing became my refuge.  It provided me with a kind of emotional privacy in the crowded confines of our home and village.

Only when I started learning to paint water colors during my first high school art class did I finally begin to understand the power of art, and of the artist.  My teacher taught me how to recognize art, and how to appreciate it.  He told me about amazing places called art galleries.  I persuaded my indifferent friend to come with me on long bike rides through the maze of Kuala Lumpur's back streets searching for these treasures.   

As soon as I finished high school, I went to work to help support my family; and  as soon as I could save enough extra money, I started taking art classes to help support myself.  My teacher taught traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy, with its pale pastel shapes, and bold black lines.  In my years with him, I learned to make the brush a part of my body, to respect the natural ways of the water, and how to coax the pigment and the paper to cooperate in its midst.  I learned how to control, and how to acquiesce as I painted.  

By the time I immigrated to the United States, I had produced dozens of paintings that mostly sat rolled and stacked in my closet.  Decades of new and unexpected challenges and opportunities passed in my adopted country before I felt ready and able to return to painting.  When I went searching for a teacher, I looked with the eyes of the boy watching the lion dance.   I have had the good fortune to find a family of artists who loved watercolor and embraced me.

Chinese watercolor and calligraphy taught me to be a disciplined technician.  Western watercolor has freed me to indulge my love affair with color.  When east and west come together in me, and I become an artist.       

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In Chinese 
Culture, the
Tree Peony 
is the 
King of 
Riches & Honor