Bay Area, CA
11.000 x 14.000 inches
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Painting - Oil On Canvas Panel
� Xueling Zou
This was the boy I captured and planned to paint in 2009 during my first visit to Argentina without speaking a single Spanish word.
After landing in the beautiful old, colonial architecture and the natural scenery of the valleys westward city - Salta in northwestern Argentina, we were exhausted and starving, could not wait for most of the restaurants opened at 7PM.
When travelling, we love to follow local people to try their really traditional food. Walking around the city, we found this small Empanadas Restaurant was full of local people in the very center of the downtown. Quickly we decided to give a try. We just learned how to order water, hadn't had learnt to count in Spanish yet.
Most of families were sitting together eating there on this late of a Saturday afternoon. A young boy - about eight or nine years old immediately ran in front of us take our order when we just sat down. I pointed at the other table's food, and showed my fingers one by one. We wanted to order seven empanadas - 3 meat ones, and 4 vegetarian ones. He was friendly and repeated with his fingers exactly the number seven. "OK!" he said in an accent and ran inside.
Very soon, he brought the right food to us with the right changes. I started eye-following him, while we enjoyed our meal. He worked hard and fast, doing his job seriously. The expression on his young cute freckled face was honesty and loyal. He didn't make any wrong orders during the time we were there, every customer left with decent amount tips for him (I hoped that he could really get tips for himself).
Of course, I had no idea what kind of relationship was between him and the restaurant owner. But his appearance just made me imagine that he was the little orphan in the novel of Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist", I read in Chinese long time ago when I was just about this young boy's age.
I just finished this painting of him, and captured the moment when he was counting his figures for the empandas. I name it as "Oliver Twist", I did wish he had a rich grand-pa would have found him sooner, loved him and provided him a better life for his future, so he didn't have to do such a child labor.
March 28th, 2012
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