In a continual effort to keep things interesting within my painting practice and to challenge myself with new subject matter, I like to compile lists of things I haven’t painted yet. When we went to Vancouver back in April, we visited the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. On the ground just before the gate to get into the public (admission free) part of the garden, there was a wonderful circular mosaic of the Chinese zodiac. I don’t know a ton about the Chinese zodiac. The little bit of knowledge I’ve gleaned has been from the write-ups on paper place mats that adorn the tables of various western Chinese food establishments that speckle the province. I looked up a few sources on line and I liked how it listed personality traits, lucky colors and numbers and compatible zodiac signs for romance and friendship. It kind of sounded like a dating profile of sorts, or a resume… something you’d post online to help source some additional community in your life. And when I saw the list of the animals represented in the Chinese zodiac I thought it was just the kind of thing that would be fun to turn into a series of animal portraits.
According to myth, the Jade Emperor threw a party a while ago and as the animals arrived, their order of arrival determined their order in the zodiac. I’ve posted them in their order with the years of birth and a few of their positive personality traits. The background colors were determined by their list of lucky colors, and I based what they were wearing on the first job or activity that popped into my mind after reading about their character traits.
These pieces are available in my Etsy shop.
Years born: 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
Rats are clever and can think on-the-fly. They are very successful but are content with a quiet life.
Years born: 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
Oxen are the hardworking folk behind the scenes. They are smart and dependable and don’t fish for praise.
Years born: 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
Tigers are plucky and love a good challenge. They also tend to be very busy.
Years born: 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023
Rabbits are kind and very serious. Their quiet personality doesn’t widely advertise their confidence. They treat others as they would like to be treated.
Years born: 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024
Dragons are independent but they do need to feel and be shown love and support from their community.
Years born: 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025
Snakes live very much inside their own head, but when they love, the love with their head and heart.
Years born: 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026
Horses are very free-spirited and need space.
Years born: 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027
Goats are very loving and put others first, even if it’s not in their best interest to do so.
Years born: 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028
Monkeys are carefree but driven. They will work hard to make their desires a reality.
Years born: 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029
Roosters project fierce independence and strength but need the acceptance and validation from their community.
Years born: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030
Dogs are reliable, honest and loyal. They make the most dependable friend and partner.
Years born: 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031
Pigs have a lovely personality and have a knack for living a ‘blessed’ life.