“Time to Reflect” group of works

Hai-Ou Hou oil artwork

Time to Reflect 18″ x 20″ oil

I got a lot of e-mails and questions about the pieces I painted in Plein Air Easton. So I would like to explain what I was attempting to do in this post, as I promised. This way I don’t have to answer every individual Facebook message or e-mail.
Like everyone else, I enjoy being in nature and painting what is before me; I enjoy landscape and all the rest. But I really do think that it is repetitive for me, and frankly, after a while, I just feel I want more… I think that plein air painting can grow in a number of directions, including incorporating conceptual elements, personal psychological states of mind, symbolism, metaphor, etc. So I used techniques that I developed in some of my earlier work before I started painting plein air. I have a body of work called “Passports” which first showed in year 2000. This group of work includes oil paintings, mixed media collages, ceramic sculpture and installations. Most works are on paper about 8-10 feet tall and 5-6 feet wide, and all are about my imigration to America. They express my inner state of mind when I first came here through superimposing images of past and present and of potential futures. This technique is effective in creating metaphor and storyline. I used just a touch of these techniques in the two Easton pieces “Time to Reflect; In or Out?” and “Reflection” .
In the case of “Reflection”, you know that painting commercial windows naturally superimpose the reflections in the glass over the objects in the window. For example, I am reflected in the window while painting it. Also, the posters and lettering in the window were actually present, but I altered the images to express a frame of mind and my personal way of seeing. its no diffrends to a plein air artist put a sheep in the farm even the sheep awsn’t there…It is still plein air because it was painted in open air outside of a jewelers display window in St. Michaels. I carried forth the technique of superimposing lettering in this piece from “Passports”.
In “Time to Reflect”, my image is reflected in the mirror (and in infinite regress) but it is not totally stuck in the reflected reality, as is seen by my name tag that dangles outside the mirror surface. This plein air piece in is really more about my state of mind than objective physical reflection. It is about “reflecting” upon oneself and posing the question of which reality is one’s own; am I”in or out?” Just as the titles of these paintings are double-meaning, the paintings themselves are both plein air and conceptual.
Some people think that the paintings are a commercial, advertising my school… it’s totally not about that. Even as I was painting these pieces, I was fielding calls from students and teachers, and attending to school business. The central metaphor in these pieces is the tension between my personal desires for painting and the heavy demands of the school. In “ Time to Reflect”, I change my reflection from holding a brush into holding a school brochure instead; this symbolizes the tension and intrusion of the school into my life as an artist.
Painting landscapes is certainly worthwhile and enjoyable, but painting the inner psychological landscape through plein air is a more interesting challenge to me. I am really excited about this new group of plein air work and am looking forward to see where it leads me.
I am posting some old Passport works to help you to understand where this come from. I got many e mails and messages asking what this is all about. I got a lot encouragement and also some cold shoulders about this from some artists… to tell you all the truth, I really don’t care if anyone accepts this or not…I have to walk my own path. ( But, I do appreciate all the positive support from many, many of you)… Here am I again… Hate me or Love me, I welcome you all. ‪#‎pae2016‬ ‪#‎pleinairmasters‬

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I did this quick oil sketch in Baltimore’s Fells Point …I already had the reflection idea in my head. I love to paint Fells Point, but I could no longer put off this Reflecting idea, so I did this first reflection painting on the street though a window of a solon…it was a lot fun to do. But mean time, I laugh myself about that I am in Fells Point with so much great stuff I want to paint for years. And now I am here doing what??????? its OKEY….







This one is a two panel painting. This is only half; I sold the left panel a long time ago…it is mixed media, with charcoal and oil, highly textured on very a heavy duty canvas. It’s about my being so torn apart, my heart in pieces, because I left my infant baby girl in China when I came to the U.S. I couldn’t take her over here, because I don’t know how to even feed myself …









This one of the Passport sculptures I made in 1999, in my MFA program. It’s about he same idea about me and my baby girl and been tore apart …about all the hard times and all the time in between.







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This one is a 30 x 30 oil, an earlier Passport painting. It is really a rebellion against one of my teachers in MFA program. He wanted me to do only what he wanted me to do, so I made fun of his painting called “I am not Elizabeth…, you are….” I did this painting to tell him that I am not him, I am me..that was in 1999. He was so mad about this, but it was so much fun to do this ….








This one is one of the Passport commissions that I did for a family…it is digital on paper, it is his passport, not mine. A lot of fun to do. I did many passport commissions in 2000-2002









This is about money…Money became a big issue..back then…food and work…










This is 40×60 oil is first passport painting, it nothing on the face just yet, only Scars on the face…










This one is me being torn apart between work, love of art, no time and no money to do art…money, art, child…just dealing with about everything…










reflecting 24×18 oil my new plein air work









resizing, yes but keeping the stamp.8×6 oil my new plein air work that has a truth story to it….









My new plein air…time to reflect: in or out? 24×18 oil

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