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…..
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.