• September 16, 2019

Professional watercolorist shares his art with students - The Trail Blazer: Life & Arts

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Professional watercolorist shares his art with students

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Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2019 12:14 pm | Updated: 1:25 pm, Thu Sep 12, 2019.

An online job search brought a professional watercolorist to Morehead State University, after honing his art in secret.

After moving to America from China in 1992, Dongfeng Li had a different outlook on art. He had years to practice his drawing and painting through the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s which not only censored some types of art, but gave Li more time to practice what he enjoyed.

“Only thing that it really gave me a good time to practice my art because at that time the school was shut down and I just had a lot of time to paint and draw,” said Li. “That’s what attracted me to the art area.”

Dongfeng Li
Dongfeng Li paints a landscape while teaching his watercolor class Tuesday, September 10, 2019 in Morehead, Ky. Photo by Hunter Boggs. Hunter Boggs

While in elementary and middle school, his main subject was drawing, then worked on posters for propaganda before painting portraits through high school. He then attended a fine arts academy.

The online search in 2007 brought him to the faculty at Morehead State.

While he has focused on landscapes in recent years, due to an internal grant from MSU that centers around Appalachian lands, his real passion lies in portraiture.

“I like to share my experience and views with all the peoples,” he said. “Not only my students, but I like to talk and communicate with the people. I want to see the different people, and that’s part of my inspiration from.”

Li had an internal grant in 2010 titled “Cat’s Cradle,” which focused on the differences between people in eastern Kentucky and China. He chose to paint coal miners from both locations to show a comparison between the cultures.

Outside of MSU, Li is very proud of his success in competition. He is a three-time gold medalist in the Kentucky National Watercolor Competition and has won first place in their national or international watercolor competition. He is a member of the American Watercolor Society, which he said is a very prestigious opportunity for American watercolor artists.

Li has been working on a new media called Yupo, which he gets an immense amount of inspiration from. He said he is one of the few watercolor artists who use this medium to paint the human figure, which makes his art unique.

Follow the link to view the video on Dongfeng Li: