1979 年我再度來美，先拜訪幾位曾在台北與我學過油畫的洋學生，並積極地尋找適合居住和發展的城市，最後還是選擇了紐約巿。1982 年夏季，在親友的祝福和期許下，我帶著妻子兒女飛來紐約定居，因此才有機會學習到修復古畫的技能，且接觸到價值非凡的名畫。來美定居的機緣，而使我愛上粉彩藝術，在繪畫的種類中，它已成為我的最愛。
做了兩年多的舊畫修復工作，使我厭倦了那些濃烈的化學淸潔劑味道。我還是一直雄心勃勃的想在紐約畫壇創出一片天地，既然有了一點積蓄，我便毫不猶豫的辭去那份得來不易的工作。我一方面在紐約進修充實自己，先在視覺藝術學院（School of Visual Arts）學習現代美術，後進紐洛雪學院（College of New Rochelle）攻讀藝術碩士學位。另一方面專心學習粉彩畫，曾在國家藝術中心/粉彩藝術研究所（School of Pastel / NationalArts Club）與粉彩大師理查皮旺克（Richard Pionk）習畫，我才學到正確的技法，和得到有關粉彩的資訊與知識。意料不到的事, 五年後（1997 年）我竟然應聘在此任教，我的教室經常暴滿，我教了＋年，直至退休。
1992 起，我開始以粉彩作品叄加美國國內所舉辦的重要繪畫競賽，其中包括美國粉彩協會（Pastel Society of America）、美國藝術家聯合會（Allied Artists of America），美國專業藝術家聯盟（American Artists Professional League），很意外地從此獲得入圍且曾獲首獎、金牌、銀牌等四十多個獎項，順利的踏進美國主要的藝術團體，成為理事、擔任評審、或技法示範貴賓。作品還在台、意、俄、法、中等國展出，獲得多個美術館的珍藏。2006 年獲頒美國粉彩大師証書（Master Pastelist of PSA），2009年赴法任法國粉彩協會（Art Du Pastel En France）國際公開賽評獎貴賓，2011年美國粉彩協會頒給我< 粉彩之友以榮譽獎（Friend of Pastel Honoree）>。
1993 年三月，我應東之畫廊台中分館的邀請，首次將粉彩畫介紹到台灣。闊別十餘年的畫友，都表示喜見我找到新的畫材，又建立了獨特的風格，曾引起一連串的迥響與讚賞。首次在台賣出粉彩畫，我當時確實很開心。1993 年十一月，台灣的瞐華書局藝文館正在籌備中，董事長黃先生偏愛粉彩，希望在國內舉辦一檔有水準的粉彩畫展， 於是我便與美國粉彩協會合作，為配合該館翌年的開幕盛典，我們約定提供名家作品六十幅，即徵召了十七位較具代表性的菁英會員，各提供五幅作品，由我代表攜帶返台主持畫展。一九九四年五月，眾所曯目的「美國當代傑出粉彩畫家（Contemporary Master Pastelists Exhibition of America）」盛大聯展於晶華藝文館舉行。這次展出的作品皆為一時之選，參展的畫家中，不乏當今著名的油畫兼粉彩畫家，如凱利（Ramon Kelly）、格林（Daniel E. Green）、金史勒（Evorett R. kinsller）、皮旺克（Richard Pionk）等人，很高興我能與這些名家同時在台展出。
1994 年間，中國粉（彩）畫協會籌備委員會之會長丁正獻教授，他給我冩信，期望能建立中美之粉畫交流、互訪關係，藉以幫助中國振興粉畫藝術，以便與國際畫壇接軌。當時我任職於美國粉彩協會理事會，在丁教授的安排之下，1995 年我便應邀前往中國舉辦畫展，先後辦展于上海美術館、中國美術館（北京）、江蘇省美術館（南京）、陜西省美術館（西安）、中國美術學院（杭州）、蘇州藝術館、廣州美術學院、西安美術學院等舉行畫展與講座。1997 年，應邀在中國舉辦「美國當代傑出粉彩畫家聯展（Contemporary Master Pastelists Exhibition）」，隨團赴中巡迴展出的，除了我之外，還有美國粉協會會長克麗絲丁娜• 蒂維利( Christina Debarry )、藝評家奧頓•貝克( Alden Baker )、著名風景畫家法蘭克• 積卡力( Frank Zuccarelli )。在我九次赴中舉辦畫展期間，除了會見丁正獻教授外，也見過連逸卿前輩粉彩畫家，是經由連老師任職於上海美術館的門生所安排的。又三次會見了中國粉畫大師杭鳴時教授，我和杭教授由此建立了友誼，曾四次把他作品介紹來美叄加國際比賽，三次獲得獎項，相當的不容易。
1997 年我與門生、好友在紐約成立了北美粉彩畫家協會（North America Pastel Artists Association ）。除了在紐約亞裔社區推廣粉彩藝術外，在2005 年及2006 年，曾與金鷹學院（Golden Eagle Institute）、紐約台灣會館（Taiwan Center）合辦兩次「國際粉彩畫公開賽（International Pastel Open Juried Exhibition），此一國際比賽獲得美國粉彩協會的大力支持，曾是粉彩畫壇的一大盛事。李清澤博士時任金鷹學院院長，叄與策劃國際競賽，功不可沒。
台北著名的畫廊「99 度藝術中心」總監許芳智先生、董事長張瀞文女士，對粉彩畫的藝術價值相當的肯定和支持，自2006 年起多次為我及張美華（北美粉彩畫家協會副會長）舉辦個展，並在2010 年舉辦辦了「美國粉彩畫家十人聯展」，喜見收藏家已把粉彩畫列爲其珍藏的收購對象。
2007 年起，時任國立台灣藝術教育館館長的吳祖勝先生，將推廣粉彩藝術教育列為重要的研發項目；先是舉辦粉彩教師研習會，隨後籌辦兩屆國際粉彩畫家邀請展（International Pastel Artists Invitational Exhibition）。由我參與籌劃，便和各國粉彩協會不斷的聯繫，經過甄選及邀請，終於將全球粉彩菁英畫家的作品介紹來台，讓國人欣賞到各國粉彩畫家不同的畫風、與不同民族內涵特色的畫作，同時也使歐美畫壇來認識我國政府對藝術活動的重視。2010 年在吳館長的期許之下，成立了「台灣粉彩教師協會」，我受眾多教師的垂愛而當選為理事長，藝術教育家李依娟老師當選為副理長，一年後聘請具企業背景的粉彩畫家謝夢龍任秘書長，為協會營造了新的景象。短期內，即有國內百餘位美術教師及粉彩畫家，相繼加入這個新創設的協會。2011 年二月，吳館長突然通知我，他將調往國立中正紀念堂管理處擔任處長新職，並告知將來仍有合作的機會，可繼續為推廣粉彩藝術而努力。2011 年四月中正紀念堂開辦了「粉彩菁英研習會」，從此以後每年春秋兩季，皆舉辦粉彩研習教學課程。
2012 年四月，經國立台灣藝術教育館新任館長鄭乃文先生的大力支持下，續辦了第三屆國際粉彩畫家邀請展。參展的國際粉彩畫家人數由上屆的四十九，增至今年的七十七位，此項國際粉彩聯展，已成為全球粉彩畫家所關注的盛。2012 年五月，由國立中正紀念堂管理處主辦之「2012 年粉彩飛揚• 全 國粉彩畫比賽」，在該管理處展出之所有入圍及得獎作品五十餘件；因係國內首次舉辦的粉彩單項競賽，頗受畫壇的注目和熱烈敀歡迎，讓粉彩畫家在國內有了叄賽 的機會。此一競賽活動的協辦單位是台灣粉彩教師協會，贊助廠商是雄獅美術公司。雄獅公司為配合推廣粉彩藝術，已研發粉彩色料在台問世，這是台灣畫家的大好 消息。
2012 年十月，台灣粉彩教師協會與日本淡（水）彩畫協會，聯合舉辦了首屆「台日繪畫交流展」在台北舉行，這是台灣粉彩畫家與日本畫家建立交流互訪的良好開始，預期未來能將粉彩優異的特性、及蓬勃發展的氣勢，也能在日本掀起粉彩創作的風氣。近幾年以來, 我曾有兩次病痛和意外受傷，並未因此阻攔我推廣粉彩的決心：先是2008 年前的聖誕夜，我在紐約於毫無預警之下，得了顏面神經痳痺症，頓時左臉的眼、嘴突然變成歪斜，左眼無法緊閉，喝水時會由左嘴角流出來。翌年我依然前往台北任教、舉辦畫展。 2010年十一月我在台北因雨天地滑，在捷運站跌斷了髖骨，經手術換裝了陶骨，隔年的四月，我又再度回到台灣，依照約定的日期及時間，在台北、高雄兩大城市教授粉彩課程，並出席台灣粉彩教師協會的展覽活動和講座。
Twenty Years working with Pastel
I came to visit America for the first time back in 1978. The initial tour started in Hawaii, North Carolina, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York which was the last place that I stayed for a month. The objective of this trip is to explore the work environment and well-being of the American artists. I met up with Taiwanese artists who lived in NY such as Mau C Lee, Chin Chang Yao and Mau S Lin. During my conversations with them, I learned about the realistc hard life of NewYork artists’ work environment. You see, unless your artwork stands out in a particular field or you are one of the top ones, otherwise you might have to live like a starving artist. Nonetheless, New York is still the international mecca that everyone sought after. Struggling artists still continue to dream big and hope that they make it someday.
The following year in 1979, I came to the States again. I started out with visiting some of my American students who studied Oil Painting under me in Taiwan. I was also actively looking for a suitable residency in a city with the potential of cultivating my art skills. At last, I picked New York as my final destination.
In the summer of 1982, with the blessing of my relatives and friends, I moved my whole family from Taiwan and settled down in New York. Living and working in New York has provided me the opportunity to learn art restoration techniques and worked on some of the most valuable famous paintings in the world. The opportunity of living in the states made me fall in love with Pastel art. Among all the different art mediums, Pastel had become my favorite one.
When I was just new to New York, I didn’t know how to join any art associations, participate in any art activities or exhibitions. In order to support my family, my first job was working in a well-known art restoration company. After I have started working there for a little while, I realized my position was to fill Chinese Painting artist Yi Fey Chen’s vacancy. He came to the States earlier than me and had worked for the same company for two years but decided to quit. Apparently, he had signed a contract with art gallery to concerntrate on producing artwork for them. Working very carefully on the legendary paintings had made me become an art restoration specialist. Having this job certainly taught me the knowledge to understand the value of art collection and restoration.
Ordinary people assume oil painting the easiet to preserve and the rationale is because it is painted on a canvas. The coloring is like paint. Once it dries, it’s immue to be destroyed by touching. In reality, after thirty or fifty years, the surface of oil painting completely dries up. It will crack, peel and fade. Especially in the early days of oil painting, the canvas was not well made. The colors were easily fallen off from the painting. The different brands of oil paint back then couldn’t be mixed or used together. There were also occasions where if you waited to long to repeat the same oil painting color, it might cause the color of the painting to separate or peel. In the art restoration studio, I also had the opportunity to work with pastel paintings. The reasons why they were sent to be stored were due to torn canvas, wrinkly, moldy, and spotty on the painting. However, the vibrancy of the colors still remains intact.
Pastel pigments were taken from natural elements such as plants, minerals, animals and metals. These natural colors will never fade, you can repeat the coloring at any time and it will still look just as crisp. I especially like the dream like, soft focus and elgant qualities of pastel. Unlike Oil Painting, there is no need for color mixing and you do not need to wait for drying time in order to put on another layer. The effect is immediate. When pastel pigments are loosely applied on the drawing paper, it creates a dreamy and romantic tone. A perfect example of pastel’s long lasting quality is displayed through a nineteen century Impressionist Dagas’ pastel artwork. Centuries later, his pastel painting still looks as new. On the other hand, the oil paintings that he did during the same era have lost the color luster and vibrancy and they have been restored numerous times.
After working as an art restoration specialist for two plus years, I finally got tired of the pungent chemical detergent smell. At that point, I was still ambitious and determined to prove myself in New York’s art field. Since I had some savings, I made an indisputable decision and quit my peachy job at the art restoration company. Afterwards, I moved on to study Modern Art in School of Visual Arts and completed my master’s degree in Studio Art from College of New Rochelle. Also, I studied Pastel in School of Pastel/National Arts Club under Master Pastelist Richard Poink. Under his wings, I learned the accurate techniques and acquired the essential pastel knowledge. Unexpectedly, five years later, I was hired as an art instructor for School of Pastel/National Arts Club. My classes are always full and I continued to teach for ten years until I retired.
Before immigrated to the States, I had gotten together with some of my Taiwanese artist friends to paint using small boxes of pastel colors. We all played with pastel, but we have only used it for color sketching. We didn’t really fully utilized pastel to its fullest extent. Pastel has not been advocated at all in Taiwan and the main cause is due to lack of professional expertise in this medium. Imported pastel art supplies were scarcely sold in Taiwan and there was rarely any pastel exhibition available, not to mention pastel competition was non-existent. On the contrary, pastel was already marketed in China in the 1930’s. Artists such as Yuan Wen Liang and Li Chau Shi both studied pastel in France went back home to promoted pastel. Shui Bei Fong and Pang Yu Liang also passed down their pastel artwork. Japan also has some excellent pastlists. Koiso Liohe is one of the best pastelists in Japan.
When I was studying for my master’s degree in College of New Rochelle, I was required to hand in ten plus paintings every semester consistently. Majority of my submission were pastel plus some oil paintings. When the art instructor saw my artwork, he could barely hold in his excitement. He openly praised my pastel paintings in front of class. He believed using pastel to create my artwork was a wise choice. He also emphasized that when you place pastel and oil painting side by side, you can see the vibrant colors and luster of pastel surpass oil painting. With the encouragement from my teacher, I began submitting my pastel artwork to participate in various art competitions. In the beginning, whenever my artwork has been selected for exhibitions, I would be in high spirit walking on cloud nine. Later on, my artwork was constantly getting rewarded. Often during many of the “Teacher and Student” exhibitions, my artwork was often used for poster ad and promotion. I was also pleasantly surprised when College of New Rochelle invited me to teach after graduation.
Starting from 1992, I began submitting my pastel paintings to participate in nationwide competitions sponsored by various art organizations. Included were Pastel Society of America, Allied Artists of America, American Artists Professional League, Audubon Artists and etc. Through these competitions, my artwork was selected and I have won first prizes, gold medals, silver medals in total of forty plus awards. This led me to join part of the main stream American and overseas organizations. I had held my positions as board member, juror, live demonstration VIP guest and etc in US and overseas. My paintings were exhibited in Taiwan, Italy, Russia, France and China. Some of them were exhibited in museums as private collections as well. In 2006, I was elected to be a Master Pastelist of Pastel Society of America. In 2009, I was a VIP juror in France for Art Du Pastel En France exhibition. In 2011, I was awarded as Friend of Pastel Honoree from Pastel Society of America.
In March of 1993, I was invited by Tong Chi Gallery in Taichong Taiwan to introduce pastel in Taiwan by having my solo show. My artist friends that I have not seen for a decade were all eager to see my artwork in new medium. Mastering in pastel art really opened up my horizon and led me to received endless praises and respect. I was thrilled when I first sold my pastel paintings in Taiwan. In November of 1993, President Huang of Galeire Luminous in Taiwan expressed his love for pastel. While in the process of executing an “up and coming” exhibition, he decided that he wants to co-sponsor with Pastel Society of America for a remarkable pastel exhibtion. I liaised with PSA and vowed to provide approximately 60 pastel paintings for the grand opening ceremony. In coordination to obtain the artwork that is needed, I contacted and requested the top seventeen PSA members to provide me with five pastel paintings from each artist. In May 1994, the spectacular exhibition of Contemporary Master Pastlist of America took place in Galerie Luminous in Taiwan. Participation from some of the prominent artists in both Oil Painting and Pastel were Ramon Kelly, Daniel E. Green, Evorett R. Kinsller, Richard Poink, Rhoda Yanow, Christina Debarry and etc. I was honored and delighted to have my artwork exhibited with them in Taiwan.
During 1994, Professor Ding who is on the Planning Committee from China Pastel Association wrote to me, and expressed that they are interested to develop a mutual relationship that can lead into establishing a pastel communication channel between China and America. By doing so will help China to promote pastel art nationwide and get international exposure as well in its due time. At that point, I was a board member of Pastel Society of America. Through the arrangements from Professor Ding, I was invited to participate in various exhibitions in China in 1995. The solo shows and workshops that I had contributed were Shanghai Art Museum, China Art Museum (Peijing), Jiang Su Art Museum, Xian Xi Art Museum, China Arts College Su Zhou Art Museum, Guang Zhou Art College and Xi An Art College. In 1997, Chinese government was sponsoring Contemporary Master Pastelists Exhibition in China, and I was invited to participate. The other participating artists were President of Pastel Society of America Christina Debarry, art critic Alden Baker and famous landscape artist Frank Zuccarelli. During the 9 trips in and out of China, while planning the exhibtion, besides meeting with Professor Ding, I also met Teacher/Master Pastelist Lien Yi Ching. It was through the planning of his students from Shanghai Art Museum. I similarly met up with Professor Hang Ming Shi who is also a pastel artist in China three times. We later became friends, and I even brought over his artwork from overseas 4 times to participate in various international exhibition competitions. His marvelous artwork was awarded 3 times and he was elected as a Master Pasterlist of Pastel Society of America.
In 1997, together with my friends and students, we founded North America Pastel Artists Association. Besides promoting pastel art in New York City Asian communities, NAPAA along with Golden Eagle Institute and New York Taiwan Center also sponsored International Pastel Open Juried Exhibition in 2005 and 2006 respectively. The annual International Pastel Open Juried Exhibition had been greatly supported by American Pastel Society of America. It has been a grand event in New York City pastel field for those two consective years. Dr. Lee who is the President of Golden Eagle Institute had also fervorly assisted in planning the exhibition as well.
From 1998 to 2007, I have taught in School of Pastel/National Arts Club and Golden Eagle Institute until retirement. I was often invited by many American art orgainzations to be their juror and live deomonstration VIP guest for their competitions. In 2006, Jason Chang’s Pastel Art Center was established in New York. The purpose of this facility is to promote pastel teaching on a long term basis.
Director Fonda Hsu and President Sandy Chang from the renowned 99 Degree Art Center Gallery in Taipei are both into pastel. They highly affirmed the value of pastel art. Since 2006, they have arranged individual solo shows for Jenny Chang (Vice President of North America Pastel Artists Association) and me quite a few times. In 2010, they sponsored “Ten American Pastelists Group Show” and were happy to see that pastel artwork has become one of collectors’ art mediums as well.
Starting 2007, Director Tsu-Sheng Wu of National Taiwan Arts Education Center had prioritized in promoting pastel art education as an important mission. First, he sponsored the annual Pastel Art Teacher’s Workshop and International Pastel Artists Invitational Exhibtions for two consective years. Since I have been communicating continously with various international pastel organizations, through selection process and by invitations, I was able to introduce Taiwan to the influential pastel artists all over the world to come and exhibit their artwork. It was a privilage for Taiwanese citizens to be able to see the elite international artists’ distinctive style and cultural variations in their pastel artwork. Simultaneously, it also brought special attention to the American and European art field. Through all these art activities, Americans and European pastel artists now recognized the importance of pastel art to the Taiwanese government and its citizens. In 2010, with Director Wu’s expectation, “Taiwan Teachers Pastel Society” was founded. Through many teachers’ recommendation and fondness for me, I was selected to be the President. Art Education teacher Yi Chuen Lee became the Vice President and pastel artist Meng Lung Hsieh who also has business background as the Secretary. He is the one that actually handles and maintains all the activities for the organization. In a short time, there are over hundred art teachers and pastel artists who joined this new established association. In February of 2011, Director Wu contacted me out of the blue. He told me that he was being transferred to be the new Commissioner of National Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, and he assured me that by changing his job does not end our promoting pastel vision. Therefore, we should still continue to promote pastel art diligently. In April of 2011, National Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall Learning Center started offering “Advanced Pastel Workshop” curriculum. Since then, there were spring and fall classes offered annually in the same facility.
In April of 2012, through the support of Director Nai Yuen Cheng of National Taiwan art Education, the third annual International Pastel Artists Invitational Exhibtion was held. There were forty four participating artists from prior year and it was increased to seventy seven in 2012. The International Pastel Artist Invitational Exhibition became a grand event that attracts pastel artists from all over the world.
In May 2012, “2012 Extensive Nationwide Competition” was conducted by National Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. It displayed about 50 of the selected artists who won prizes from the competition. Since this was the very first pastel competition, it drew desirable attention in the art field and was favorably welcomed by many. It provided a great opportunity for national pastel artists to participate in competition. The competition was sponsored by Taiwan Teachers Pastel Society and new pastel products were given by Lion Art Supply Company. With the purpose of promoting pastel art, Lion Art Supply Company also started selling pastel art supplies in Taiwan. This was great news for all the pastel artists in Taiwan.
Since the establishement of Taiwan Teachers Pastel Society, artists from southern part of Taiwan also joined in. They have appointed Kao Shong city to be the promoting center. I was glad to find out that within the vincity of Kao Shong, the number of excellent pastel artists has grown tremendously over the past 3 years. Hence when I go to Taiwan to conduct teaching workshop twice a year, I teach in Kao Shong as well. I will continue to teach in Kao Shong and make sure that southern part of Taiwan is not neglected.
In October of 2012, Taiwan Teachers Pastel Society along with Japanese Pastel Association sponsored “Taiwan Japan Art Communication Exhibition” in Taipei. This is the beginning of a splendid relationship brought together by pastel art and established by Taiwanese and Japanese pastel artists. I predict that the outstanding and unique characteristics of pastel will flourish and create a new trend in Japan as well.