the chinese zodiac series

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.

the rat,  mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), $290 + GST,  2019

the rat, mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), $290 + GST, 2019

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.

the ox,  mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in),  SOLD ,  2019

the ox, mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), SOLD, 2019

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.

the tiger,  mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in),  SOLD ,  2019

the tiger, mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), SOLD, 2019

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.

the rabbit,  mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), $290 + GST,  2019

the rabbit, mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), $290 + GST, 2019

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.

the (komodo) dragon,  mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), $290 + GST,  2019

the (komodo) dragon, mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), $290 + GST, 2019

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.

the snake,  mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), $290 + GST,  2019

the snake, mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), $290 + GST, 2019

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.

the horse,  mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in),  SOLD ,  2019

the horse, mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), SOLD, 2019

Years born: 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026

Horses are very free-spirited and need space.

the goat,  mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), $290 + GST,  2019

the goat, mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), $290 + GST, 2019

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.

the monkey,  mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in),  SOLD ,  2019

the monkey, mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), SOLD, 2019

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.

the rooster,  mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), $290 + GST,  2019

the rooster, mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), $290 + GST, 2019

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.

the dog,  mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in),  SOLD ,  2019

the dog, mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), SOLD, 2019

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.

the pig,  mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in),  SOLD ,  2019

the pig, mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), SOLD, 2019

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.