It’s time for another Grantee Highlight! As many of you know, our “Grantee Highlight” series is our way to get to know our current Individual Arts Partnership and Jade Presents Arts Partnership grantees. This month’s featured grantee is master painter Zhimin Guan!
Born in China, Zhimin Guan blends Chinese influences and academic training with modern expressionism. He is known for his landscapes and portraiture, sometimes created in non-traditional “canvases” like wood or metal. Guan’s work is found in museum, corporate and private collections in the U.S. and China and has been featured in numerous publications and art catalogs.
Guan is a long-time resident of the Fargo-Moorhead area and has been a professor of art at Minnesota State University Moorhead since 2003. Among other honors and distinctions, he is a previous recipient of a McKnight Fellowship and a previous grant from The Arts Partnership. A series of Guan’s spectacular paintings that he created with his first grant from us are currently on display in the baggage claim area of the Fargo Hector Airport through our ArtWORKS program:
This year, Guan received a $2,500 Individual Arts Partnership grant to create a series of semi-abstract portraits of North Dakota dreamers.
Here are some questions we asked Zhimin Guan about his creative process:
1. Beyond other painters, what sources inspire your work?
Almost all masters in the history of painting have impact on my work, specially Rodin, Rembrandt, Dali, and John Sargent. Modern philosophy and Chinese Daoism has been my other source for painting.
2. What is your daily creative work schedule?
Try to paint everyday. The morning from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. is my best time to create paintings.
3. How do you approach the beginning of a project?
I like to paint a series of 10-20 paintings in one long period of time to explore the conceptual depth and compositional strategies. I spend a long time to think about my theme and subject matter that related to my personal life life experiences. Then I start to search related images from my photo album or going out to take pictures and edit those into a composition of color choices. Finally I work use techniques to realize these projects. Also sometimes I paint small paintings for practice and use this small work to lit my bigger painting possibilities.
4. What is your greatest fear/challenge when facing a new project?
Every project is a challenge so I get used to it, and just do it. It’s always exciting to start a new project.
5. What do you do when you get stuck?
Looking at art books or visit museums has helped me a lot. I also play pingpong to help me to relax my mind and rejuvenate my muscles.
6. How does having a community of artists benefit your work?
It has benefited me very much. Hard working artists and their fresh imaginations always inspire me.
7. What advice would you give to someone starting out in the field?
Paint everyday. Paint everything you can see. Visit museums and artists’ studios.
8. If you had a chance to do it all over again, how would you do things differently?
I would work more, paint everyday and paint everything in front of me and visit more museums.
9. What was the most discouraging feedback you ever got?
“You should paint more and talk less.”
10. What was the most encouraging feedback you ever got?
“You have a good eye and hand. You have nice talent.”
11. What would you be if you couldn’t be an artist?
Writer, professor, philosophy and professional pingpong player.
Thanks for your insight, Zhimin! We’re excited to see your portrait series on North Dakota dreamers!
For more information on Zhimin Guan, click here.