A whole new world opens up for a talented artist from Taiwan

Go! Magazine Monterey Country Herald | August 21, 2003 | By Lisa Crawford Watson

Po Pin Lin wakes early. Slips past his sleeping wife and into the nascent light of a city just beginning to stir. Mere blocks from Union Square, he wanders down to the closest Starbuck’s, where he orders a regular coffee with sugar and half and half, remember a soy latté for his bride, Ariel, and returns home to read the newspaper. Well, the sports page. Well, anything he can find about the Giants.

By 10 a.m., he’s ready to paint. Having climbed certain streets and braces his way down the other side, having noticed that every corner, every scene, every moment presents a subject to paint, he is inspired by the city he loves and the opportunity it has brought him to paint award-winning landscapes in a now familiar land.

Lin paints with a mastery of composition and form, a keen sense of color and light, and a genuine fascination for his subject, conveyed not only in what he chooses to paint but how he decides to present it. His perspective is conscious, is considered, is an indication not only of what he sees but how he feels. He is grateful. Had he remained in Taiwan where he was born 33 years ago, Lin is certain his life would have yielded a painter. Simple a different one with a different perspective, a different landscape, a different kind of opportunity than those he encountered in San Francisco, there was, he said, no second choice.

Upon graduation with a bachelor of fine art degree in painting from the prestigious Academy of Art College in San Francisco, Lin was determined to continue his education to the achievement of a master of fine art degree. His father, however, who had sponsored his education, admitted he was out of resources.

“Every student, upon graduation,” said Lin, “held an one-man art exhibit at the Academy. I sent a postcard to the Portnoy Galleries to invite Howard and Trish Portnoy to my show. They called me immediately and said, “We love your work; when your show is done, bring your work to us.” I have since made the tuition for my master’s degree through this gallery.”

This weekend, Lin will attend the opening of his exhibition of new paintings at Portnoy Galleries in Carmel, where he has been represented for the past four years.

“There is no greater pleasure for the gallery owner,” said Trish Portnoy, “than bring a young artist along from obscurity to success. Watching Po pin Lin row, both as an artist and as a man, has been a reward in itself; but seeing clients drawn to collecting his work has been very special to both of us.”

“Now, he is gaining national recognition, and we couldn’t be more proud,” added Howard Portnoy.

Lin recognized his own proclivity and, perhaps more important, his passion for art at a very early age, during elementary school in Taiwan.
Watercolor was very fashionable at the time,” said Lin. “I grew up on the countryside, so I had no chance to experience the range of media I might have seen in the art museums. But I did discover Van Gogh’s masterpieces in my textbook. I was in second grade, and I copied his work merely because I thought I could. I didn’t care who he was at the time, I just like what I saw.”

Lin’s practice yielded first-place results elementary and junior high school. Recognizing his abilities and his interest, his parents paid for after-school painting classes, including a Saturday session, which required an hour bus ride each way and return the young artist to his home around midnight. He was 13.

“After middle school,” he said, “I took a test to get into Fu Shin Art School in Taipei, a very famous and important art school for exceptional students. My chance was very small and I was the only one in my high school to be accepted. I knew if I wanted to be an artist, I had to begin my serious study at early age.

Lin continued to submit his watercolor landscape to various competitions, not only among fellow student, but also at the national, professional level. He won these, as well.
Upon graduation from high school, Lin completed to years of required service in the army, most of which, owing to his prestigious alma mater, was spent in artistic activities.

“When I returned from the army, I wanted to go to college,” he said, “but I didn’t want to take the five-month preparatory classes. My father suggested I open a tea shop to support my family’s tea framing. Even thought my father was president of the elementary school, he would get up at 4 a.m., farm for three hours, then changes his clothes and go to work. After school, he would returned to farm until 10 p.m. Most presidents play golf after school. My father kept his schedule day after day for 30 years. It was my responsibility endured for one year until he realized he owned it to himself to pursue his art. Two friends from Fu Shin, who study at the Academy of Art College, convinced their colleague to join them.

“When I came to the Academy,” he said, “I discovered oils. No one was painting in watercolor. I didn’t understand the medium, but masterful teachers opened my eyes to what I could do with it. Oils can make more spontaneity, can demonstrate the brush stroke or palette knife to show the textural qualities of a subject. It is a powerful medium that allows for a lot of different techniques and expressions.”
Lin also discovered fellow Academy student Ariel, his wife of seven months, who is now a Web designer and her husband’s most ardent admirer.

“We have been such good opportunities for his art in California,” she said. “In Taiwan, the art market is it as open as it is here; it’s hard for artists to get noticed, to succeed. And yet, wherever he is, whether in the State or Taiwan, his paintings show his personality and life experiences. Of course, his subjects change, but his style does not. You still see Po Pi n Lin.”

Lin has won the award of Excellence in the Oil Painters of America’s national and regional exhibitions in 2001 and 2002 and in now a signature member of the OPA. He was named “one of the 21 finest American artists under 31” by Southwest Art magazine.

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