Spotlight on Albert Chan

A Scattering of Pencils & the all-important Eraser!

In school, Albert Chan, although quite a prankster, was also noted for his proficiency in art. He migrated to Canada in the 80's but still keeps close touch with his school cohort and continues to keep up his interest in art. When he was approached for a contribution to our website, Albert sent this life-like drawing. It depicts 2 lions and as Albert puts it " I chose the pair of lions as they are symbolic of Singapore, the Lion City."

Albert took an interest in art during school days, and was, and still is proficient only with the pencil...hence he calls his work 'drawings'. He remarks that he has neither the patience nor skill to do well in watercolour or oils. When he came to Canada, he had lots of time on his hands and decided to revive his pencil drawing interest. To create some meaningful regular activity, he contacted the West Vancouver Recreation Centre to offer teaching pencil drawing. The co-coordinator was delighted as they're always keen to be able to offer new programmes. Albert was prepared to conduct free classes, but the Centre's policy insists on paying their instructors (Municipal rules) and he accepted the minimum of $28 per hour, teaching one and a half hours per week.

Albert ChanHe recalls that the initial response was very encouraging, but since he could only handle 10 students (who ranged from high school kids to working moms to grandparents) there was a long waiting list. Some dropped off, tired of waiting! He did this for 6 years, and decided to call it a day this year (an emotional occasion for him) as it was getting weary, setting out one evening every week in spring, autumn and winter in the rain and the snow and cold. There are no classes in summer as everyone disappears to do their summer outings/camping.

Albert admits though that he thoroughly enjoyed the sessions, meeting some wonderful people over the 6 years, many of whom still contact each other and yak over a range of subjects...just like what good friends do.

Contrary to normal artistic execution, Albert does not work on an easel. He uses the humble dining table, a scattering of pencils and the all-important eraser to correct mistakes. Over the years since the 1950s, he has always had a lasting interest in pencil drawing and has had requests for commissions. But he turned them down even though the $$ would have been useful, the reason being that he just cannot part with his work.. it's like they were his offsprings! Over the years he has done in excess of 200 pieces, framing every one of them to preserve the paper and the drawings on them. Storage is a problem! Albert classifies his subjects in themes: Africa.. to commemorate the safari he took his family on. North American wild life, Western topics like the Calgary Stampede (cowboy stuff). And of course Singapore.

Quite co-incidentally since our contact, Albert is now "warming up" to starting on a new drawing due to commence soon. Perhaps we can persuade him to share this new work with us.


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