VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) – He sits on a red stool with his right hand dexterously painting the figures of two women dressed in traditional costume.
Santhana Sisomphone (pic below) can complete four simple pieces like this every day but it will take him one or two weeks to finish a more difficult painting.
Painting is his livelihood and he sells his work at both retail and wholesale prices.
He regularly sells paintings to vendors at the Talat Sao Mall in Vientiane and to handicraft shops along the Mekong River. He also provides paintings to merchants in Luang Prabang province.
Santhana also produces custom-made paintings for clients, usually depicting typical Lao landscapes, cultural scenes, and historic places.
He says his regular customers are important as they inspire him to produce new types of artwork.
“I am especially pleased when old customers who have confidence in my work continue to buy paintings from me,” he added.
The price of a painting depends on the complexity or simplicity of the work, and the size and detail of the picture.
Custom-made paintings are more expensive than those he turns out on a day-to-day basis.
The time taken depends on the intricacy which also affects the price.
“I can produce new paintings all the time. If someone likes my work I will discuss and agree on a price with the customer,” he said.
“This is an intellectual and creative job.”
The price of his paintings is negotiable.
But Santhana said that before his work became popular he found it hard to sell his paintings. This was in the 2000s when he first began painting to earn an income.
To begin with, he did not have many personal connections and had to look for shops in Vientiane where he could display his work.