Yi Lin Pei

Yi Lin Pei is an emerging artist living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She specializes in surrealist watercolor paintings inspired by her fond and sometimes poignant memories of the diverse places she has lived, including Zambia, China, and the United States. She uses classical watercolor techniques to reveal the enchantment and charm hidden within each of her subjects, infusing them with energy and her own sense of magic. Her primary focus is on portraiture and figure painting, which highlights the spirits and energy of the human form. 

Yi Lin was drawn to art from an early age, having taken up art lessons from kindergarten all through high school. Even though her artistic skills were recognized through the winning of several international art competitions in her youth, she pursued a career in engineering and business, after earning her degrees from renowned U.S. educational institutions including UC Berkeley. In 2017, she decided to fulfill her childhood passion and challenged herself to create a piece of original artwork every day. The responses to her art was overwhelming and she decided to pursue art professionally. She has studied under several artists, including Glenn Hirsh who taught at San Francisco Art Institute. Since turning professional, she has already been selected to exhibit in several Bay Area art shows.

Yi Lin is passionate about the environment and social equality.  She recently collaborated with Castro St Merchants to celebrate the legacy of Harvey Milk, and will be partnering with Downtown Streets Team to bring awareness to homelessness in San Francisco.  She also exhibited at the UC Berkeley Climate Art Show, where she donated all sales proceeds to climate change action.

2018 Portraiture Series

A central theme running through my portraiture series is heros and sheros who affected me growing up. As a child, I have always been drawn to science and art equally, admiring the likes of Einstein, Madam Curie and Frida Kahlo. As an artist, I feel my role is not to merely copy my subjects on paper, but to transform each portrait with their own personality that mirrors that of my subject, whether it be humor, strength or courage.

Using classic watercolor techniques, I start each portrait with a limited palette, choosing to emphasize the natural balance between light and shadow. I then add elements of the unexpected to create a juxtaposition that combines the real with the surreal. Each element is chosen after careful consideration of its literal and hidden meanings that allows a deeper level of interpretation.