I was born in the last year of three years of Great Chinese Famine, and when I was still a child, just starting to understand the meaning of a life, my family was impacted by the Great Chinese Culture Revolution, which probably the reason why I was so thin and weak and grew up very sensitive.
My mother often said with tears that I was born in a wrong time when she recalled the past.
I was the oldest son, my father was a principal of a high school, either under Chinese traditional culture influence or from his professional responsibility, my father valued my education very seriously when I was a child.
But in that time of China, students didn’t pay much attention to studies in school because they would not go to colleges after they graduated from high schools, and they would go to countrysides to do labor works, which called “reeducation.”
My father always thought I was weak and worried me not able to compete with others when I grew up. So he thought I should start to learn a personal skill at a very young age so that I could survive easier when I grew up.
My father liked art, so he hoped me to be an artist when I grew up. He taught me how to draw and paint, and made many rules for me. Every day I had to draw or paint. My father only believed hard working, in his mind, as long as working hard, everyone could be successful.
But the problem was that my father didn’t have any formal training of art, and the ways he taught me how to draw and paint were wrong.
For example, how do you draw a circle? If you don’t have any knowledge, naturally you would think, you should do it by curve lines, but the correct way, you should do it by short straight lines.
After teaching me a few years, my father didn’t realize problems until one day one of my long distance relatives, who was an artist, visited my family, saw my artworks, pointed out problems and told my father that I needed formal training.
Never thought of this, after a few years of drawing and painting, a few years of hard working, everything I did was wrong, and I had to start over again.
But at that time, there was no formal training of art available in public; there were no tutors to teach children because people were not allowed to do that for money.
So my father was trying every way he could get for my art training, and looking for other people’s help.
My father took me to visit one of his old co-workers, a lady, who was an artist. But she didn’t have formal training either, just like my father, not able to teach me, so she introduced one of her co-workers with an art college degree to be my art tutor — as I said before, we didn’t pay him, and tutoring was free.
My father also took me to visit a student, who was a student in my father’s school, very good at drawing and a little famous in our city, and went to his home. So I started to learn drawing in this student’s house, and he was not just my other art tutor, but also my art buddy.
It didn’t take long for me to start to draw correctly, which made my tutor a little surprised. My tutor told my father, it was not easy for me, and someone would never be able to correct it once the wrong way became his habit. He praised me that I was fearless when I was drawing.
It is the first lesson I learned from my life at a very young age. When you start to work something, the first thing you should consider is how to work it right, not how to work it hard; if you work it not right, a hard working only makes things worse, not better.