Watercolor and Pastel Artists at CHAW
Chinese lion dances inspired my first childhood drawings. 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, giving me a kind of emotional privacy in the crowded confines of our home and village.
In my first high school art class I started learning to paint watercolors. My teacher taught me how to recognize and appreciate art and told me about amazing places called art galleries. I persuaded a friend to come with me on long bike rides through the maze of Kuala Lumpur’s back streets to find these places.
When I finished high school I went to work to help support my family. As soon as I could save enough extra money, I started taking art classes. My teacher taught traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy, with its pale pastel shapes and bold black lines. I learned to make the brush a part of my body and to respect the natural ways of the water.
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 passed 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 love watercolor and have 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, I became an artist.