Zhou Li likes to draw and paint animals, plants, people and beautiful scenes of nature, such as the sun, moon, stars, sky and ocean. Her paintings make spectators feel the warm power of light and love. She hopes spectators will not feel lonely after they look at her works.
Zhou Li enjoys the process of creating engraved paintings. She has tried to create such paintings on various kinds of materials. "I have made engraved paintings on paper, plasterboard, wood, silk-made screens, copperplates and other materials. I adopt some approaches to create engraved paintings when I draw and paint with pencils, pigments, watercolor and ink. So many of my works look like engraved paintings," she notes.
In the early years after Zhou moved to Beijing, in 2007, she often used charcoal when she painted on xuan paper or thick paperboard. Particles, big or small, were left on the paper to form clear lines. At that time, she liked to depict animals, the shapes of which were huge.
Zhou said those animals represented a "language" she used when she was painting. She sometimes compared herself to a certain kind of animal. For example, she imagined herself becoming a bear, with strong and sharp claws, when she was in danger; she imagined herself becoming a lazy cat, when she was falling asleep; and, she imagined herself becoming a horse, which ran fast, when she coped with challenges. "So many years have passed, yet the focus of my works is still about animals, nature and human beings. The animals I have drawn and painted reflect various sides of my character. I believe every person has some characteristics that resemble certain traits of a type of animal. The 'animal' hidden in ourselves is constantly changing," she says.
Zhou gave birth to her daughter, nicknamed Jiu Jiu, in 2011. The little girl brought about great changes to Zhou's life and work. "My heart became soft and tender when I looked at my daughter's lovely and naïve smile. I felt as if I were growing up again, with my daughter," Zhou recalled.
Now, as a mother of two, Zhou tends to use colors, such as blue and green, to depict a fresh, romantic and wonderful world. You Are In My Forest, a children's picture book drawn by Zhou, was published in 2015. She held an exhibition that coincided with the book launch. Her drawings in that book highlighted the themes of love, harmony, joy and peace. In Zhou's opinion, the world consists of various kinds of "forests." "The sky contains a 'forest' of stars; the earth contains a real forest of trees and plants; and, a city, full of concrete buildings, contains a 'forest' of residents." She believes the best way of getting along with nature is to feel the love given by nature.
Zhou tells Women of China she hopes You Are In My Forest will grab the interest of all family members. "I hope the father, mother and child/children of a family enjoy reading that book together. The key concept I want to convey in my book is 'family.' I hope works of art will become a part of someone's home. Be they placed in the living room, bedroom or kitchen, I hope people can think of those works when they feel lonely or depressed. I hope children will smile happily when they look at my works," she says.
(Source: Women of China English Monthly September 2018 issue)
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