An Original Painting from DaFen Oil Painting Village in Shenzhen China

Back in November, my family and I took a trip to Shenzhen’s Dafen Oil Painting Village. Dafen is famous for its 800+ art and art supply stores, as well as a haven for thousands of artists. The entire village was set up as a center for creating replicas of originals from artists who died more than 70 years ago, thus avoiding copyright issues. I’m not sure if that is still the case, but the original concept from the 1990s turned out to be wildly successful.

It was my birthday and I was ready for some original art. I must admit, most of the paintings that were already painted were not what I was looking for.  It was fun to look at them and stroll around the mostly-empty-at-lunchtime streets.   So we started looking for an artist who would paint from a picture we provided.  This is a very common thing to do in Shenzhen, especially for portraits.  The image I had in mind wasn’t quite a portrait so we were looking for a special artist.

But first, we wandered around…..

The streets in the Dafen village were lined with oil paintings - mostly copies, some originals.

The streets in the Dafen village were lined with oil paintings – mostly copies, some originals.

There were many "onsite" framing shops.

There were many “onsite” framing shops.

Painting supplies abound in DaFen, Shenzhen.

Painting supplies abound in DaFen, Shenzhen (and they are very cheap).

Fun searching for just the right artist to help us with our project.

Fun searching for just the right artist to help us with our project.

We wandered into many stores to check out their paintings....

We wandered into many stores to check out their paintings….

Prices ranged from $10 US into the thousands.  It all depended on size, quality, originality, etc.

Prices ranged from $10 US into the thousands. It all depended on size, quality, originality, etc.

Several of the smaller shops displayed original works that were copied from portraits.  Lots of western children were the subject.  it's a popular thing to do here.

Several of the smaller shops displayed original works that were copied from portraits. Lots of western children were the subject. it’s a popular thing to do here.

We came across this artist off the main drag and began to chat with him (well, my fluent-in-Chinese husband, that is).  He seemed like the right guy (and the right price!) for us.

We came across this artist off the main drag and began to chat with him (well, my fluent-in-Chinese husband, that is). He seemed like the right guy (and the right price!) for us.

The sign outside his studio showed he was a member of the artist guild.

The sign outside his studio showed he was a member of the artist guild.

And he let us hire him. :)  Here he is with a print out of the picture I wanted reproduced in oil.  We later emailed him the high resolution image that he used for the painting.

And he let us hire him. :) Here he is with a print out of the picture I wanted reproduced in oil. We later emailed him the high resolution image that he used for the painting.

So, we hired Mr. Jiang and began communicating via email.  We sent him the image, as well as a closer up version.  It’s actually more of a landscape than a portrait, and he seemed eager to have something a little out of the ordinary to create.

I have always loved this image for lots of reasons – one big one is because its subjects are my two amazing children. :)  And, the location has a special place in my heart…my husband was partially raised in Jacksonville, Florida, and on a 2012 return trip to the States, the kids and I  went to the Cummer Museum there (their grandparents would have joined us but had an important appointment to keep elsewhere).

Anyways, outside of the museum, along the banks of the St. John River, the garden is incredible – in fact, it’s on the National Register of Historic places. There I fell in love with this 100+ year old live oak tree that surrounds statues! The children sat at the table and chairs in front of it and began to paint with the supplies provided by the museum.   Not long after, there was a summer storm that relieved us from the humidity.

It was a nice moment where everyone was getting along, doing something creative and in a peaceful place. (I mean, of course, this is a daily occurrence for us!  Ha!!) And then it was followed by that unique wave of relief of a summer shower.   That moment is crystalized in time for me, and so I thought a painting of the image I snapped would be something I would cherish.

We agreed to a price with the artist….about $200 US…..and an expectation of a three-week turn around time.  While the money part stayed the same, it eventually arrived at our home after about 10 weeks. It was fine with us – no need to rush an artist. :)

First we sent him digital images.  Then, he sent us two progress images. And finally, the finished product is in my dining room!  We had it framed here in Guangzhou – there’s a framing district here that gave us great, next day service.

At the Cummer Museum Garden in Jacksonville, Florida.

At the Cummer Museum Garden in Jacksonville, Florida.

Detail shot for the painter.

Detail shot for the painter.

Dafen progress

This is the first image he sent us. I am not familiar with the painting process, so I was a little worried about my floating children and the neon green layer – whew – it was just an undercoat!!

This image came a couple of weeks later....still floating children! :)

This image came a couple of weeks later….still floating children! :)

This is the final painting! We are thrilled with it and so happy with the framing, too. Our apartment manager came right away to hang it for us. Life is good.

This is the final painting! We are thrilled with it and so happy with the framing, too. Our apartment manager came right away to hang it for us. Life is good.

You can see just how large it is while hanging above our keyboard.  It's fortunate we had a large blank wall handy.  This is what happens when I give the size requirements to a Chinese man using hand gestures. :)

You can see just how large it is while hanging above our keyboard. It’s fortunate we had a large blank wall handy. This is what happens when I give the size requirements to a Chinese man using hand gestures. :)

 

About 

Currently, I’m globetrotting with my family as my husband is a Vice Consul with the United States Foreign Service.

Our first post was Recife, PE, Brazil, and we arrived in August 2010. Upon arrival, our daughter had just turned four and our superbaby son had just turned three months.

During the summer of 2013, our family of four moved to Guangzhou, China, for a two-year post. Our daughter is seven and our son is three.

10 thoughts on “An Original Painting from DaFen Oil Painting Village in Shenzhen China

  1. Robin Ives

    Love this! Not only the beautiful picture but the way you brought the story to life. What memories you are making!

  2. admin Post author

    Oh Hi Robin! Thanks so much for reading and commenting! We do try to enjoy every moment. I hope you had a great Mother’s Day! :)

  3. Wendy

    The painting is beautiful! I love reading about your adventures in China. It seems exciting. Hope you all are well!

  4. admin Post author

    Thanks! Let me know if you want to put this place on your “must do” list when you visit. :)

  5. admin Post author

    I’m not sure if he works with people outside of China, but you can certainly check. Google Translate is your friend! edwin_jiang@yeah.net
    Let me know if you need any help.

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