Xizhou Xie has excelled at the art of the pour
Xizhou Xie started with acrylic pour art as a hobby, but she soon became overloaded with canvases.
Becoming an artist wasn’t at the top of Xizhou Xie’s mind when she first picked up acrylic painting and pouring — it was just a way to fill her free time after she finished school at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and started working a full-time job.
Acrylic pouring is a method in which an individual pours paint on a canvas and tilts it (or uses another method) so the paint spreads and leaves designs. Because different mediums and techniques are used, the art turns out differently each time.
Since picking up painting in 2016, Xie has expanded her growing gallery of paint-covered canvases, leading her to start selling pieces in 2018. Xie is not a full-time artist; she works at CUNA Mutual Group doing data analysis. She studied math and statistics, and before working at CUNA, she was a bias researcher.
Xie primarily creates abstract paintings on canvases, but she also paints on tiles, wood panels, plastic planters and magnets. For her, abstract art allows her customers to imagine what’s inside a painting as opposed to being told what to see. She loves blues and beach tones, and the majority of her pieces incorporate those colors or a related theme.
“When there is no summer or beaches outside, I can create my own,” Xie says. “I’m usually surrounded by my painted beaches. Some of my best memories are on beaches whenever my family and I go on vacation, and so that’s what I kind of want to capture.”
Xie grew up in Shanghai, China, before immigrating to the United States for college nine years ago. She says the rest of her family still lives in China. One of her clients reached out to purchase a painting, stating it was reminiscent of a place in Shanghai without knowing that’s exactly what Xie had in mind when creating it.
While she’ll think about what may sell and will take on custom projects, Xie primarily creates for herself. She says she worries or gets anxious sometimes, but she can express herself differently through her art.
“For me, the most important part is I’m doing it for joy,” Xie says. “I hope you can see that. I love what I do. I love when other people love it, too.”
Some of her favorite pieces are large — her preference is painting large-scale pieces that could accent 20-foot-tall, cathedral-style ceilings. She turned one large room into a studio, but she also transformed the front room into a dedicated gallery space for people to stop by and view the artwork. “When I create for myself, I don’t have to worry about what’s going to happen to this if it doesn’t sell, because I can always stick it on a wall somewhere,” Xie says.
Before the pandemic, Xie did a fair number of art shows, galleries and other events where she sold her artwork. She won an award at the Wisconsin Women’s Network’s 2019 Artful Women Exhibit. She’s become more active on social media in order to make up for the lack of face-to-face meetings.
One of her biggest challenges at first was creating her own niche and signature style, since many people can pour paint (she learned from YouTube). It’s actually something she encourages people to try and mentioned that local places offer classes — Wine & Design hosts monthly acrylic pour classes. “Everyone can pour paint; it’s not difficult, so I always try to put a little more intention and purpose behind what artwork I’m trying to create and usually I can achieve the vision that’s in my head,” Xie says.
She combines different textures and plays with different mediums to create her own style. For example, she uses magnets to layer on paints in order to create varying consistencies and echo colorful landscapes.
One of the most rewarding things, she says, is when people see a piece and can easily identify that it was created by her. It’s a sign that she’s doing something right.
In addition to finding all her pieces for sale online, you can find a public art piece by Xie on a utility box at the corner of Fish Hatchery Road and Park Street.
“The only reason I am even an artist right now is because of the support of people in Madison,” Xie says. “If they didn’t accept me, they wouldn’t be supporting me. It’s not that they accept me as a person living with them, it’s that they also want to support me for who I am.”
Maija Inveiss is an associate editor of Madison Magazine.
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