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About William Lum

My search to find my biological family was the genesis of my journey into the world of art. When I finally found my birth family, at the age of 40, I was plunged into a new and very different family. On one occasion while talking with the father I had never known, I discovered that my great uncle was the renowned watercolorist Dong Kingman. Fatefully discovering a cheap watercolor paint set, and intrigued by my relationship with Kingman, I wondered if I had inherited any of his talent.

This lingering question spurred me into trying to paint. My first challenge was deciding what subjects I would paint. As a fan of Van Gogh, and knowing that he painted images from his day to day life: houses, fields, people working, I decided to do the same.

Thus my neighborhood street corner in Sunnyvale, California became the subject of my first painting attempt in December 1993, which I titled Suburbia #1. Much to my surprise, my friends and family were impressed with my work and their positive reaction encouraged me to continue to paint. I painted images of what I encountered in my life. Things I enjoyed looking at, represented my region, or that I experienced became my painting subjects. I strove to keep my subjects broad because life is a vast array of subjects just waiting to be painted.

In 1994 I joined the Sunnyvale Art Club and the Santa Clara County Watercolor Society. I enjoyed seeing other painting styles and the positive energy of the other artists was contagious. This energy, and the continued interest in my art from the public, encouraged me to become a participating artist in the Santa Clara County Open Studio tour for a number of years to follow.

I eventually did get a chance to meet and spend time with my great uncle, Dong Kingman before he passed away in 2000. I had a chance to I asked him, “How does one become a good artist, should I take classes?” He looked at me and said, “No one can really teach you art, you just have to go and figure it out for yourself.” Thus all of my paintings are just me “figuring it out for myself”.

On April 7th, 1996 I was the featured artist in the San Jose Mercury News Art Section in an article about Open Studios. The article was very encouraging but at the same time I was raising my two daughters while working long hours in my chosen career of public service. In April 1998, I made the painful decision to quit art entirely so that I could devote more time to my family and career. That month was my last Open Studio Tour.

After seventeen long years of not painting, my life had changed significantly and I now found myself in a position where I could once again pursue my love of art. So in 2015, now retired, kids gone, and newly moved into Placer County I began painting again.

Thus I have started watercolor painting again with much of the same intention of capturing images from my day to day life experiences, this time throughout Placer County. In some of my recent paintings I have been experimenting with the use of both ink and watercolor. Although the majority of my paintings are done in transparent watercolor style, I have been enjoying the diversity of mixed media. During this second incarnation of my painting experience I have come to realize how important it is for me to leave a legacy of positive images for people to appreciate and enjoy. I know that there is a finite number of paintings an artist can produce during their lifetime and as of today I have painted a total of 238 paintings. However, my goal is to reach at least 1,000 before I am finished.

In the world today people are bombarded by images of negativity from politics, media, war, and poverty. As a counter to this, I hope my paintings will enable people to see what is beautiful around them and to realize there is much joy in many simple things that are there to see if only you look for them.