Z.L. Feng Growing up in Shanghai, began painting at age seven and never stopped, experimenting with different mediums, including pastel, oil, and egg tempera, before choosing his favorite, watercolor.
“With watercolor you cannot cover your mistakes, so you must know what you are doing,” he says.
He finds inspiration for his lovely landscapes in the countryside of the New River Valley: “Usually I go around – to the river, the forest, the lake – to try and find interesting compositions.”
Those familiar with Feng’s art are also captivated by his portraits of the people of Tibet, Native Americans of New Mexico, Southern farmers, and others. “Capturing the personality and character is very important, and painting eyes is the most difficult aspect of portraiture,” he says. “I concentrate on serious portraits expressing my subject’s character, their life struggle and their vision. I am still learning and experimenting. My goal is to develop empathy between the viewer and my subject.”
Before coming to the U.S. in 1986, Feng received his BFA degree from Shanghai Teacher’s University and taught in its art department for four years. He completed the MFA degree at Radford University in 1989 where he is currently a Professor of Art.
In his homeland of China, Feng exhibited his portraits, landscapes, and illustrations in juried exhibitions. Since coming to the U.S., his work has received acclaim throughout the country, garnering more than 300 state, regional, national, and international awards with many “Best in Show” awards and Gold Medal honors in major U.S. watercolor competitions.