Opium, Tea, Lemon and Chili
October 14, 2013 § 18 Comments
Opium, Tea, Lemon and Chili, Mae Salong (2013) is the seventh still life painting in an ongoing series called Objects and Oddities from the Thai-Burma Border. For me this piece is about a lot of things, but particularly it is about being in the right place at the right time, and incorporating more of the serendipity and chance encounters from life into my artwork.
About the Painting
The painting includes a lemon, a spicy Thai chili from my summer garden, a tea cup, and a photograph. The day I found the small tea cup featured in this painting I was in what was to become one of my favorite places in Thailand, a remote mountain town called Doi Mae Salong, also known as Santikhiri, Thailand. That same day while on a hike on a high mountain road outside of Mae Salong, I took the featured photograph of a valley and a Buddhist temple with the mountains of Burma rising behind it.
History of Mae Salong, Thailand
Doi Mae Salong has a fascinating history. It was founded by China’s “Lost Army”. The Lost Army was made of Nationalist soldiers of the Republic of China Army, who along with their families fled Yunnan, China in 1949 rather than surrender to the Communist Army. They first fought their way into the jungles of Burma, but eventually found themselves up in the remote mountains of Thailand, where they became heavily involved in the opium trade. These days, the opium has been replaced with tea plantations.
Often, I start a painting with a pencil drawing to get the composition roughed in, and then add a first thin glaze, or ground, which will be painted over in layers of oil paint to come. This initial ground informs the rest of the painting and affects the overall hue of the piece. It was a lot of fun to paint this one– honestly, I could spend all day every day painting smoky little landscapes.
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