Thursday, November 11, 2010

An Accidental Artist -- My Beginning

Despite my apparent aptitude for fine art since childhood, I didn't plan to become a fine artist.  My parents didn't encourage me to wade into any fields relating to human conditions; considering I grew up in totalitarian China, one can easily understand their attitudes.  Even so, I did a lot of drawings when I was young till middle school, at which time I felt more excited by science and mathematics, and turned away completely from fine art and literature and that attitude carried me through high school.

When in college, the aim to come to the US to study become ever clearer and I devoted most my time to English, when I didn't have to struggle with my engineering study.  I remembered an instance when I casually did a drawing for a friend and how he was amazed by my ease, which contrasted with my hard labor with my courses.  That moment, though not watershed, was a moment hard to ignore.

After graduating with a bachelor degree on Engineering Mechanics (almost Applied Mathematics), I managed to come to the US for a master degree on Civil and Environmental Engineering.  While working on my master degree thesis, I nurtured a hope of becoming a writer and worked on an ambitious family saga.  Once my thesis on mathematical model simulating pollutants movements in groundwater and the manuscript were completed, I found myself had too many time handy, particularly after a short but intense relationship, and when I was not hanging out with a British friend, who was my partner on tennis court as well as commiserating over the shallowness of Americans.  The problem was solved when I noticed an advertisement for art class.

The class didn't go too well because the teacher tried to impose his chosen style, however, it did reignite my love for visual art and I started to explore painting with acrylics and oil.  After those classes, I enrolled with Cincinnati Art Academy for several classes, such as landscape painting, portrait painting in old master way, etc.  I also met several established artists during monthly gallery tours, and I got more instructions and encouragements to continue.

A few years later, I decided to move out of Midwest -- five years was long enough.  After I left my professional field and arrived in San Francisco, I soon befriended with someone with some connections to publishing world.  Incredibly, that friend of mine was impressed by my writing and offered to edit my work, on the condition that I'll use only part of the novel, and turn it into a memoir.  I took his advice and he soon secured a literary agent for me, a couple months before the agent quitted the field.  When my friend failed to find another agent, he persuaded me to turn it back to novel.  But he by then was in a personal financial trouble and had no time to read my revisions and I started to devote more of my time to painting.

By then, I started to show in galleries, albeit small ones, and in competitions.  I also was invited to teach painting and had works published by several art review magazines.  Thus my fate was sealed, though time to time, I was really attempted to write again, particularly when my painting could not convey the underlining full context of a complex narrative.  Fortunately, I took this as a challenge and the direction of my artistic growth and strive to enrich the iconography of my paintings and drawings.

Unexpected but hardly surprising to people who had known me long.  Therefore, an artist, I am.

Awakening / 喚醒 / Wecken
Oil on Canvas
18" x 24"
Completed in 2009
© Matthew Felix Sun

>> My Path, Part II: Growing Up in Cultural Desert

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