Two of my old paintings in frames
(painted over 10 years ago).
When I was a child, I liked to draw just like any other kids did. My parents both were teachers (or "professors", as we call it in this country) in a well known art college in China. I started to draw quite "formally" when I was in about 6 or 7 grade, but still mostly just for fun. Then suddenly, at age of 12, my parents made a big decision to me, that instead of going to normal high school, I should go to art high school (the one that was attached to the art college they worked). I obeyed them without any thinking, just like I had been hitherto doing due to their absolute authority. In school I was a bright kid and excelled in almost every course, if I could've waited later, until I graduated from normal high school, I could have much more choices, but at the age of 12, I had no ideas about the seriousness of career choice. It was until years later that I realized that was such a fatal mistake of my life path, and if I could have a chance to go back to redo it myself, I would be willing to sacrifice anything just for that chance. I still remember one of teachers in middle school said to me during class, personally, with a low but clear voice: "we all think it's a mistake that if you go to art high school." (How I wished he was my father!) Nonetheless, after finishing middle school, I passed exams and enrolled in that special art high school. Thus my art career began.
Two oil paintings I made over 20 years
In art college. I was the only girl in the
photo. (Of ocourse, if you can figure
out which one is a girl. :-))
I did not "hate" art back then. As matter of fact, I had my fun time with art. Also because I was young, I was totally confident about my future, believed that I was fully capable of correcting the mistake my parents made to me. It was not until 20 years later that I realized I totally overestimated my ability to fight against fate.
Career change is not a super difficult thing to do, but it could be somehow different if you were majored in special field such as art at an early age. And if later your life had to start from scratch as a immigrant without any supports, things can be a little "tough". Even though I made my primary goal to change my career when I came to USA, after fighting battles after battles, years later, I found I still had to make living by doing art professionally, either computer artist, or portrait artist. And another giant obstacle which I never foresaw was, after I entered middle age, at the time I finally settled in new country, ready to prepare for some "real" changes, my health slid straight down to a never-ending chronic condition, which made a simple daily routine tasks like a mammoth achievement. Little by little, I found my "dream" vanished away beyond my reach, I fell into despair and tasted a complete failure of life.
It was during this period of time, both my "hatred" toward art and my resentment to my parents were intensified. Though I probably smile to show gratitude, but inside my heart, I almost took every compliment given to me for my art as a justification of my parents' "wrong doing", and a denial of my other talents, intelligence, or the "true" value of my life.
However, as many people usually did at the "dead end", the turning point also came to me during my most desperate moment. One day in the mall, standing in front of my portrait business location, after receiving one of endless compliments to my works, I suddenly realized, that the compliments meant to give to me, not my parents. I realized, the reason I did so well in art had almost nothing to do with my parents' choice, but everything to do with my own talent. Since then, I learned to give credit to myself, and by doing so, I felt easier to face the reality. Even though later I still had lots of homework to do, but it was specifically since that moment, I made peace with art.
Dear Frida, oil on canvas, 22x28
painted over 10 years ago.
As I mentioned earlier, I believe that art should not be a profession. So fundamentally, no matter my parents did or not, I would never choose to be a professional artist. I think that from the first day when art was born in human history, it did not meat to be a "profession". For me, art is nothing more than a natural expression of personal feeling. It is inspirational, refreshing and unrepeatable. Unfortunately in human society, "professional art" became something else, something technically reproducible, something can be valued by money, something in demand in market business. Art market has been commercialized beyond reasonable (especially in current China). It is a place not only dealing with art and money, but hypocrisy, vanity and greed. It is a place where.passion can be, or has to be pretentious and priced. Art, the most intimate and friendly activity of life, was alienated, "sanctified" as something far above life. Certainly, from the beginning of my "art career", I found I was a total stranger to this "professional art" world.
Looking back, I am proud that I had fought so hard to free myself from the "manacle" of "art profession". I have no slight regret of what I did. Also by choosing art education (I had not other choices anyway), I learned to accept fate, my fate, so I no longer feel miserable for "what I could do if..". But I would still say this, if I had freedom to choose my own path, if my profession was not "art", my life would be 10 times, or 100 times easier. It is true that I learned a lot through the difficulty journey of my life, but this doesn't mean that I could not learn the same thing in a different path. As I don't believe misery is necessary for compassion, I also don't believe adversity is necessary for wisdom. And this difficulty, this ordeal I went through was unnecessarily "man-made", due to my parents' sheer ignorance to human nature.
|Early Fall, acrylic, 12x16. Newly painted|