Zimou tan - San Francisco portrait artist
Zimou Tan was once asked by his student, “what is the difference between photography and painting?” His answer: photography is meant to capture a moment, and painting is meant to create a moment. They are different, but yet have the same purpose.
The desire to create a moment drives the most passionate of artists. There are many types of artwork, each allowing different ranges and flexibility to truly create. Zimou Tan decided to specialize in portraiture not because it is the most popular or the most lucrative of artistic fields, but because it is the most difficult, yet it is the most interesting, because each new portrait represents its own unique set of challenges, which can only be met by the most masterful and patient of artists.
Among these challenges, the most difficult aspect of portraiture is capturing the soul of the subject. If a photograph captures the superficial appearance of the subject in a given state, the portrait must go much deeper and reveal something that a mere photograph cannot. In the way that a building must rise in stages, from foundation, to frame, to finishing, a portrait arises in the same way. The artist must ideally meet the subject, speak to the subject, and if the artist has a relationship and an understanding of the subject’s personality, then this can be felt through the portrait.
There are many factors that must be considered for the successful portrayal of the subject. The artist must consider the subject’s gestures, the expressions, the personalities, the moods, and all of this must be effectively distilled by the artist onto a canvas that may be no larger than a hardback book.
Zimou has committed tens of thousands of hours to perfect his skills, yet, he continues to seek refinements to his technique that will improve his ability to communicate the personality and soul of his subjects through portraiture.
Zimou has been recognized extensively for his abilities in art. Zimou was featured on the front page of the Marin Independent Journal in 2013. He was chosen as one of 50 artists who impacted China in 2009. Zimou was also featured in “Strokes of Genius 4 – The Best of Drawing”, a book by Rachel Rubin Wolf, in 2012.
Zimou graduated from the Academy of Art College in San Francisco in 2001 with degrees in both Fine Arts and Traditional Illustration. He served there as a professor of Fine Arts upon his graduation until the beginning of 2014, when he left to focus on his portraiture commissions.
Zimou’s paintings have been exhibited in the New York Portrait Society Gallery in New York City, at the American Artists Professional League in New York City, at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, at the Asia Society of Arts of America in San Francisco, at the Pasadena Fine Art museum in Pasadena, and at many others.
- 2014 Art Renewal Center Finalist
- 2013 Awards of Excellence, The National Oil and Acrylic Painters' Society
- 2008 Named “Chinese Master Artist” by Chinese Government
- 2006 Morro Bay Art Association, Best of Show award
- 2006 Artist Magazine, honorable award
- 2003 The Southern California American Society of Portrait Artist and the city of Laguna Hills, Second Prize Winner
- 2003 PAS SF Portrait Competition Grand Prize Winner
- 2002 North Valley Art League National show, Best of Show Gold Medal winner
- 2002 The Flowers and Gardens Finalists of International Artist Magazine
PRESS / BIBLIOGRAPHY
- 2013 Featured in Marin Independent Journal
- 2012 Featured in "Strokes of Genius 4 - The Best of Drawing" by Rachel Rubin Wolf
- 2009 Published in "50 Artist who Impacted China" by China's Art and Culture ministry
- 2008 Chinese Master Artist" by China¹s Art and Culture department
- 2007 California Art Club 96 Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibition publication
- 2006 Morro Bay Art Association
- 2006 Artist's Magazine Annual competition
- 2004 Artist's Magazine, 20th Anniversary Issue
- 2002 International Artist Magazine2002 Art of the West Magazine
- 2002 D.A.T.E. cover
- 2001 Named Artist of the Month by Artist¹s Magazine
- 2001 The Portrait Signature, volume 1
- 2000 Arts for the parks
- 2000 "25 years Get Hooked On Art", October 5- October 29
- 2000 "International Arts Exhibition" Special Edition
- 1996 "International Arts Exhibition" Special Edition
- 2012 ArtMurMur, Oakland, CA
- 2006 California Art Club solo exhibition
- 2005 American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, San Francisco, CA
- 2003 Loanna Clark Gallery, Petaluma, CA
- 2006 California Art Club solo exhibition
- 1999 Academy of Art College, San Francisco, CA
- 2013 Marin Open Studio, Marin county, CA
- 2013 RH gallery, New York, NY
- 2012 Aurora Art Gallery, San Rafael, CA
- 2011 Renditions Art Gallery, Walnut Creek, CA
- 2007 96th Annual Gold Metal Juried exhibition, Pasadena, CA
- 2006 Morro Bay Art Association
- 2006 Portrait Society of America, annual competition exhibition
- 2006 The National Oil & Acrylic paintings Society Annual competition
- 2006 AAU alumni show at San Francisco City Hall, Mayor¹s office
- 2006 Connecticut Society of Portrait Artists, Faces of Winter Exhibition
- 2005 Hudson Valley Art Association 74th Annual Exhibition, Newington-Cropsey Foundation, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY
- 2004 California Art Club, Rising Young Stars Exhibition at the Old Mill, San Marina, CA
- 2003 The Southern California American Society of Portrait Artist and the city of Laguna Hills, First Annual Portrait Competition Exhibition
- 2003 Portrait Art Society, Second Annual Portrait Competition Exhibition
- 2003 California Art Club Plein Air Landscape Painting Exhibition
- 2003 Sonoma Plein Air Landscape Painting Exhibition
- 2002 Laney College, Oakland, CA
- 2002 North Valley Art League, 1126 Parkview Ave, Redding, CA
- 2002 The Hilton Head Art League¹s 2002 National Juried Art Exhibition, Hilton Head Island, SC
- 2002 New York Portrait Society, 47 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York
- 2002 The Nude 2002, Lexington Art League, Lexington, KY
- 2002 National Art Exhibit, Charlotte County Art Guild, Inc, Visual Arts Center, Punta Gorda, FL
- 2001 73rd Grand National Exhibition, American Artists Professional League, 47 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York
- 2001 The 39th Regional Juried Art Show, Fairfield Visual Arts Association, 1035 W. Texas, Fairfield, CA
- 2001 Academy of Art University, San Francisco
- 2000 Arts for the Parks, National Park Academy of the Arts, Jackson Hole, WY
- 2000 “Untitled”, Academy of Art University, SF, CA
- 2000 De Young Museum, San Francisco, CA
- 2000 Academy of Art University, San Francisco, CA
- 1999 Yakety Yak Cafe, San Francisco, CA
- 1995-2000 Asia Society of Arts of America, San Francisco, CA
A portrait can tell a story that will be cherished by your family for generations to come.
Commissioning a portrait is a serious endeavor, not only for the commissioner, but for the artist is as well. The largest oil portraits can take over 400 hours to complete, and even the smallest portraits will require 40-50 hours of the artist's undivided attention. For the portrait artist, this medium is a fickle mistress. It is not possible to work as a photographer does, snapping dozens of photos in a matter of seconds. Rather, the artist must pour out his heart and sweat into each piece, continually interrupted as he waits for his paint to dry. Natural and true light is necessary, so work must also stop when the sun sets. Following a creative struggle that will take weeks to complete, there stands before him a single piece of art. If the photograph captures the superficial appearance of the individual, then the portrait captures the personality, the humanity, and the depth of that person. It is as if the toil of the artist serves to emulate the pain of child-birth, the difficulty of child-rearing, in order to better portray the story of how this particular individual came to be.
Once the decision to commission a portrait has been made, the selection of artist is essential. A determination must be made as to whether the artist should be primarily inexpensive or primarily masterful in his craft. To commission a portrait that is inexpensive is in our opinion something of a waste. Even for one without any artistic background, it is easy to determine when a portrait lacks accuracy and a visceral appeal. If the effort is not expended by the artist to truly capture the individual, then the money may be better off spent on a talented photographer. If an artist is sought who is masterful, who has been awarded for his exhibitions of artwork, who has been lauded by contemporaries as a true artist - one who is diligent in his craft, and lives seeking to attain the heights of artistry - then we humbly ask that you consider Zimou Tan for your artist selection.
Once Zimou Tan has been hired, he will first set up a telephone consultation to identify the needs of the commissioner, and to set expectations for the creation of the artwork. The second step is ideally a face-to-face meeting with the individual who will be portrayed in the portrait. It is now that Zimou Tan will try to understand the individual better, and he will take photographs to use as reference for his portrait. This session should last no more than 1-2 hours, but is essential for providing context of the individual who is to be painted. If the individual desires, Zimou Tan can also perform a study of the individual in drawing form, which will be gifted without any additional charge. This study typically takes around an hour to complete. In the case that Zimou Tan is unable to meet with the individual, such as in the case of a portrait given as a present, Zimou Tan will do his best to work off reference photographs provided by the commissioner.
Following the initial face-to-face meeting, a reference photograph must be selected for the main oil portrait. This will serve as the basis for the portrait, although inspiration will also be drawn from the other photographs available. Zimou Tan will purchase a new oil painting canvas and will only use high-quality paints for his portraits. He will begin work and notify the commissioner when the in-progress portrait is ready for review. The review will occur when the portrait is approximately 50% completed. Once comments are made, Zimou Tan will continue work until the portrait is at 90% completion. Final comments should be made at this point, and Zimou Tan will attempt to complete the portrait incorporating all of the feedback provided. When the portrait is 100% completed, it will be delivered to the commissioner. At this stage, touch-ups are still possible, but the portrait can be considered in a final state.
Upon delivery of the final portrait, Zimou Tan is available to help educate the commissioner on how to care for the new oil painting. We hope that you will be completely satisfied with your portrait, and that it will be a cherished heirloom in your family for generations to come. Zimou Tan may choose to incorporate a copy of your portrait in his online gallery. If you prefer to keep your portrait private, please notify him at this time.
- 14’’ x 18’’
- 16’’ x 20’’
- 18’’ x 24’’
- 24’’ x 36’’
- 30’’ x 40’’
Zimou Tan can also create other styles of art, including Hyper Realism and Drawings. Please contact us to receive a consultation and quote regarding your portratiture commission. Zimou Tan requires a 40% deposit to begin work, with the balance due upon final delivery of the artwork. Zimou Tan is located in San Francisco, California, he is available to travel worldwide, but expenses must be reimbursed by the commissioner.
If you are interested in contacting Zimou Tan regarding his portraiture services, or if you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact him at the phone number or email address below.
Zimou Tan's art studio is located in San Francisco, California.