Si-Chen Yuan was born in Hangchou, China, in the year 1911. In high school, he began basic training in black and white drawing, which eventually led to his receiving a teaching credential from the Academy of Fine Arts in Nanking. Here, beside a broad academic training, he studied under Professor Peon Ju who was one of the great Chinese painters of his time. Ju was a leading light in the Paris art world and was well familiar with the exciting developments in European art at the turn of the century.
In 1949, Yuan (as he was called by his friends) came to the U.S. as a visitor. Drawn by what he saw he decided to become a United States citizen and moved to the Monterey Peninsula in 1951. In 1953 he became re-aquainted with and married longtime friend Jen-Chi Lou. The following year his daughter Rae was born. It was during that time he tried working many jobs. His passion to paint soon overtook his necessity to earn money and Jen-Chi took on a full time job as a dietician to support the family. She is still his greatest fan and supporter in what he was trying to achieve.
Yuan was an artist who was blessed with the ability to paint both what he saw and what he felt. He was a man of great vitality and explosive temperament. Never satisfied with himself, he was constantly experimenting to find new ways to achieve freedom of expression and a definite individuality. An oriental influence is delightfully traceable in almost everything he painted. Often, the viewer, the subject, and the painter can become as one entity through the medium of his work.
From 1963 to 1974, Yuan made several trips to Europe and Mexico. He was inspired by the Mexican landscapes and the warmth of the people, which is often reflected in his paintings. His constant seeking and discovering brought a strength and maturity to his work, which resulted in his becoming an "artists artist".
Although he was mostly known in the small 'art mecca' of Carmel, California, he was honored with numerous one man shows throughout the United States. He kept no records and believed that 'the work should speak for itself'. In fact the characters of the stone seal chop with which he sometimes signed his work translate as 'there is no name'... a subtle, simultaneous expression of modesty and achievement. - Patty Compton
Photo by Steve Crouch