Wednesday, March 25, 2015

New Project: Stories on Silk--China

This bridge was at a park in Huzhou
When I visited China, it was as a family member, not as a tourist. My brother Steve Watkins, fluent in Mandarin and with an extensive knowledge of Chinese culture, married Xiao Ning, a delightful Chinese woman who lived through the Cultural Revolution and spent her working life as a television journalist in Jinghong, Yunnan Province, China. Steve has spent most of his working life in China.
letting me know what I missed in my sketch of the bridge

With Steve and Xiao Ning as my guides, I got a deeper understanding of China than I would have as a tourist visiting mostly the tourist spots. I collected folk tales and family stories, sketched daily life and places of beauty, talked with locals, and took over 1000 photos.

When I returned to the U.S., I wanted to share some of this adventure. I painted illustrations of some of the stories on silk and created a slide show I shared with my friends.

But that isn't enough. Several of you have mentioned that you would love a book of the stories behind the paintings. At last I have started on it! I'm calling it Stories on Silk--China from the Studio of Suzanna Leigh.

Some times it takes awhile for an idea to season before it can burst forth in the form it needs to take. In my case, it may take years. When it does blossom, it takes form with a depth and understanding that would have been impossible sooner.

Stories on Silk--China will feature paintings on silk with the stories that inspired them and the context from which they emerged. Each painting is associated with a city I got to know. There will be sketches, photos, and anecdotes to give you a fuller picture of the China I experienced.

I expect to have a limited first edition ready by May 1st. I plan to keep you informed with Wednesday blog posts.

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