THE MCDONALDS OF THE ART WORLD: A Peek Inside a Chinese Oil Painting Factory

Southern China is the world's leading center for mass-produced works of art.


Dafen Village is the biggest oil painting base in the world. There are over 10,000 artists who toil in their factories. 

Dafen is now the center of the world's reproduction-art market, with factories of artists churning out tens of thousands of fake Picassos, Rembrandts, Van Goghs and Da Vincis each year .

One village of artists exports about five million paintings every year - most of them copies of famous masterpieces.

The fastest workers can paint up to 30 paintings a day.

Each painter specializes in just one thing.

These Chinese factories account for 60% of the world's oil-painting market.

PHOTOSHOP: How I Enlarge a Small Reference Photo

So you want to make a large painting~ and all you have is a little a tiny little reference photo? 

In the old days, artists often enlarged a small photo using an "artograph" or a projector. But unfortunately the lens distorted the image near the edges. And for a portrait ~ this is a no-no.

Using Photoshop makes it easy to resize a photo. 

To illustrate I have taken a small photo of Granny that measures approximately 4" x 7" and I want to make a painting that is 20" x 30"

Here's how I do it:

I enlarge the photo to 16" wide. This will fit nicely onto a  20" x 30" canvas and give the figure some "breathing room" (and make a nicer composition).

I select the narrow line and make a contrasting vertical line at the 8" mark.

I created a grid of 8"x10" rectangles.

I use a brush tool to add "lineup" marks.

I crop each section and print it with my inkjet printer. Each 8"x10" section will fit on one piece of 8.5"x11" printer paper paper.

I cut out each piece and then tape all the pieces together using those "lineup" marks as necessary.

I position the enlarged photo on my canvas and add or subtract as necessary.

NOTE: when you have a photograph, there is nothing wrong with cropping it close to the top of the head (as in this original photograph). However, when you make a painting, it somehow becomes "claustrophobic" if you don't leave enough room at the top.

Next steps: