About My Art
East Meets West - Expressive Happiness Driven Contemporary Art
When I was very young, around five years old, according to my mother's memory, I started to draw. As a child, I was particularly fascinated by the traditional Chinese brush painting. Especially there is one kind of those called Gong Bi , which focus on painting details precisely in very small painting brush.
Influenced by the beautiful costumes of characters of many well-known traditional Chinese novels, I was deeply in love with painting characters and scenes in novels based on available resources, images from small story books and calendars were my common references. That was my early childhood self-taught stage.
Character Daiyu from Famous Chinese Novel Dream of Red Chamber
In my memory the first A-Ha moment happened around 8 years old, I was able to finish a female character in ancient tradition dress in ball pen and color pencils. During teen age time around 12-15 year's old I did many traditional Gongbi female characters’ brush paintings.
Dress Up created on July 30th, 1985 in Traditional Chinese Brush Painting Gongbi
In 1980s, Japanese Cartoon was very popular on TV in China, I started to paint Japanese comic style drawing. A few years later, in earlier 90s, my interests moved again to western fashion painting. I started painting fashion in Chinese brush painting way and I really enjoyed it. I like challenging sometimes I think it is fun and each time you push self outside the comfortable zone you are either learning something new or solve some real problems.
In middle 90s, I was curious about the world art and western art, a stage from eastern 2D art to western 3D art. I got a few western fine art drawing books and learned concept of shading, color basics and western art basics.
Fashion painting in Chinese brush painting
Graduated from college after worked five years in research science institute in Shanghai, I was very curious about my art skill level. Art has always been in my life, most of my spare time were in art museums or galleries, however by then, I was mainly self-taught. To satisfy my curiosity I applied fashion design MFA program from one of the best art and design schools in Shanghai (now Dong Hua University). I thought if I could get in it was the recognition from professional world. And I was luckily accepted. My first art dream accomplished! So I went back to school again and became a full time graduate art student. During that time I learned more western academic art basics and also studied art history and fashion art history. It was so amazing to be able to learn history from how people dress especially all the historic figure oil paintings were my resources to understand world art history.
My study interest at that time was focus on Chinese Minority Costume. China has 5000 years history and 56 minorities with each one has its own culture and culture costume. I think it is very cool for my art inspiration. This is just such exciting project to study! During that time I had painted figures with Chinese minority culture dress with a lot of beautiful details. “Chinese Minority Women with Ocean Blue Background” was the work during that time in 1997.
Chinese Minority Women with Ocean Blue Background 1997
In art school, I also discovered watercolor is a very interesting art form which shared similarities with my Chinese brush painting skills but from different angle. Although they are all water-based art, they are still different animals. They use different pigman system (with different opacity) and paint in different way. Eastern art is more focus on decorative two dimension conceptual emotional spiritual driven while western one is more logical three dimension and realistic focus in general.
To practice and improve my art skill I painted still live both indoor and outdoor, I also liked to repaint some interesting oil paintings in watercolor. “Stone Hedge” was one of those explorations during that stage. In addition, I explored western fashion painting in Chinese way, mixed with Chinese brush painting technique. “Best Me 1996” and “Lady in Purple” were the works from that time.
Lady In Purple Dress Fashion Watercolor 1996
I came to US in late 1990s with family while internet and digital art were first booming in US. As I am a curious person, I always like to stay on top on things I like. So I learned to use popular graphic software and some web publish tools. I worked as digital artist / graphic artist for a few small businesses, including custom digital photo business, antique shop online action and promotional product / screen printing business. During that time I shift my traditional art to digital design. It is also good experience to interactive with clients directly to see how design can help them to improve their businesses and learn people’s behavior, what people need from art and design.
In 2001, with the curiosity of internet and how it works I went back school again, two years later I graduated with MS in software engineering with focus on web front. I love the way how internet deliver it’s content and how effective it can reach so many people. After worked a few years at tech company, I started own consulting business, my graphic / web / marketing and other creative skills help business go live. I also paint watercolor in my spare time. Fashion, nature and travel scene are my favorite subjects in painting.
In 2017 I did a family trip to Shanghai and my mother showed to me all my teenage and earlier stage paintings she saved for me. I was very touching moment when I saw my past "lost art" again. Time flies, I came to US for 20 years. Many paintings I didn’t even remember and they are so beautiful with memories and hometown stories. After come back to US I was so excited to share my art to my friends and later people I don’t know. Because I like to see the how different culture people react the feedback of my art. I love to see the excitements and smiling faces. That was one of the best moments in life if I can bring happiness to them. People love the art. The power of art is it is like magic! Behind each painting there is story i still remember each painting how I created it. When we open first (via art) the world connected. Art is a universal language!
I remembered one time when I shared my art to a lady while we met during lunch at café she started to share her story with tears. How much she got lost in daily life while forgot beautiful things like art and her dream and things like to do. Through my art she saw the hope. I encouraged her and she was so happy. She told me I should share my art to more people because they need it. She even said I cannot be that “selfish” to keep good things just for myself. I think she is right. We are running out of time as we grew older, and these paintings were hidden for 20+ years. Do I need to hide them for another 20 years? What’s the purpose of Art then?
Stonehedge 1997 Watercolor
I continued sharing my art to more and more people. In 2018, after I came to the states for 20 years, I made a decision to have my own art show. So I submitted my art to a few well known local art events and galleries and I got accepted. I also joined artist association. Since then my life have been changed. I found my art home in my second hometown. I am much happier now because I live a life with purpose! My American (Art) Dream come true!
It took me 20 years from east to west to find my path my purpose in life. Those art are like sleeping beauty to wake me up. They are also the secret gem to keep my mind happy to survive everywhere every time when I feel stuck. I would like to share them with you. I wrote my story hopefully you can discover self earlier than me because we all looking for the same thing at the end – happiness!
My current painting style is more expressive and I call them "contemporary watercolor" and "Happiness Driven Art". We all went through the traditional stage to learn skills however in my humble opinion, we cannot limit our imaginations by skills or traditional “professional views”. I’d like to continue exploring, to solve more interesting problems. Current subjects include:
- Mix eastern and western art tech in one painting while still feel harmony
- Create “watercolor feeling” (wet on wet) on canvas "Watercolor on Canvas" fashion series are currently displayed at Bishop Ranch City Center 2nd floor On the EDGE
- Use relatively less paint more environment friendly paint to create art, that is one of my reasons to I like paint more water-based art, however I respect other artists’ choices in expressing their art thoughts
- Mixed contemporary with history traditional vintage subject
- And more... as art or life is a process of discovery!