As the Christmas season approaches, I reflect on my first Christmas in the United States. After the Vietnam War, my brothers and I were refugees and were sponsored by a church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When I described to the congregation that I was an artist, I used the French word for artist: un peintre (painter), so the church gave me my first job – a job to paint houses! That was my first job when I first came to the United States - to make money any way possible.
During Christmas season, I hand painted and sold Christmas cards at the church to make some money. I sold many so quickly, because each card was an original painting. The church members formed a long line waiting to get hold of those miniature artworks, and I couldn’t stop stuffing all the dollars in my pockets, in my jacket, and in my shirt. Imagine the excitement of my first experience of life as an artist in this new country. Looking back though, it took me about 15-30 minutes to paint an original card, and I only sold them for $4 for a dozen, included the envelope, so effectively, I was only making $1-2 and hour! But it was a big deal to me back then. I was thankful to have a second chance and a new opportunity in a new land, and helping me to train a better skill.
I remember the first snow I experienced – I fell in love with the pure white snow, the snow flake pattern structure, and the lonely trees without any leaves under the dark grey sky. Then at night, you can see the reflection of light from the church and the people walking to church to worship. You can feel the magic of the “Silent Night” song. I tried to capture all of this in a quick draw expression.
Featuring paintings from my Christmas collection: