The Story Behind the Painting - Xanadu

The Story Behind the Painting - Xanadu

Today I present you my new creation - a set of three paintings created for the house of my dear friend, Mrs Dalton. She wants these fine art paintings to be made into art wallpaper. She will be surrounded by beautiful peonies throughout the whole year and my team have suggested some very special peony fragrance candles to complete the experience.

The Inspiration

What inspired me to create this set of fine art paintings, was a poem by the Chinese classical poet Tao Yuanming titled “The Peach Blossom Spring”. It’s a story of a fisherman who stumbled upon a peach tree grove, behind which was hidden an ideal world, a utopia. People in that place lead comfortable, peaceful lives in accordance with nature. Those who lived there were friendly and generous, and completely unaware of what was going on in the other world. 

Tao Yuanming wrote this poem when his country was in turmoil - it was divided and torn by rebellions and uprisings. Through his words, he painted a vision of the world he was wishing for himself - peaceful, prosperous, and stable. What he most desired, he expressed in his poem. In times of doubt and struggle, his thoughts  went towards his idyllic peach grove. It was his ideal place…  

The Name Given

...Which brings me to the title of the set of paintings - “Xanadu”. Why did I choose such a title? Historically, Xanadu was the city chosen as the summer capital during the reign of Khublai Khan, a ruler of the Mongolian Empire who also started a new dynasty in China and became its first emperor. He was the grandson of Ghengis Khan - famous and ruthless conqueror of many states and territories.

The city, Xanadu, boasted a mix of Chinese and Mongolian architecture and art, and hosted various cultural events such as banquets, hunting parties, but also religious celebrations. It was also a host to many travellers from other countries who wanted to see with their own eyes the magnificent city they had heard about - the famous explorer Marco Polo among them.  The city was famous for its beauty, high quality of life, and mystery; it served as an escape from the summer heat and busy court life.

Nowadays, the name “Xanadu” means a beautiful, idyllic place. It might be a place to which we want to escape from our worries and the everyday hustle and bustle, that can give us peace and solace.

For me, a place filled with peonies, my favourite flowers, might create this kind of peaceful impression. When a walk among them is not possible, one look at the painting can bring that feeling back to me.

The Peony Girl painting - Xanadu - peony on blue

This is why I created this artwork that I’m sharing with you today - I wanted Mrs Dalton to have that kind of feeling too. Art, especially paintings, can take our thoughts away from our sometimes dull and imperfect environment. Just like nature, fine art has healing powers and can serve as an escape from daily troubles. With everything that is going on right now, it can give us some relief and comfort.

The Painting

Xanadu - an ideal place

Peonies in the painting could be in the garden, or they could be on a riverbank, where willow branches gently brush against them in greeting. On the left, butterflies are dancing around the peonies, attracted by their bright, vivid colours and rich fragrance. 

The Peony Girl painting - Xanadu - Butterflies

On the right, a pair of swallows are flying above the flowers. In Chinese art, the swallow is a lucky bird - a symbol of love, transition, and, as in the West, it also signifies the beginning of spring and a new beginning in general. 

The Peony Girl painting - Xanadu - Swallows

I wish that just as the swallows bring hope and good fortune, my art will bring you comfort that better times are coming. If you are a lover of fine arts and like this set of three paintings, perhaps you'd like to have it in your home. That way you can be surrounded by the elegant peonies that can hopefully take your mind off troubles... The original paintings are available in my store, among my other creations. 

This painting was created in Chinese gongbi technique - a technique using ink and pigments on rice paper. This technique is a bit different from applying acrylic paint on an oil painting and it requires detailed and careful brush strokes, combined with meticulous, layered colouring. The process of creating paintings in this style requires a lot of care, focus, and attention to detail - which can be calming and meditative for an overwhelmed mind. 

The Peony Girl painting - Xanadu - pink peony

If you’d like to try it yourself, join me at one of my next workshops. It’s ok if you don’t have any prior experience - I will be there to walk you through the process of creating a beautiful painting. Right now, when we’re spending so much time at home, it’s important to create our own places of peace and solace, our own peach or peony gardens… Our own “Xanadu's”. 

1 comment

  • Patrick Horwood

    I love this story! Having followed you painting this on your Instagram its so nice to finally discover your inspiration for it. Lovely content and positively thought provoking. Thanks for brightening my day! (as usual!)

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published