Seventy kilometers from the centre of Hanoi lies the quiet village of Co Do in Ba Vi District. It is special, not because of its tranquility, but because of its farmers devoted to the fine art f painting. After finishing their farm work, they down their farm tools and take up the paint brush. Farmers consider painting an everyday hobby that helps them relax. They do not only paint what they see in their own village but often travel in their search for inspiration. In summer children rows, painting on paper, walls or the ground. Easels are can be found next to ploughs in the fields as farmers have the habit of whenever they have a beak or when some sudden inspiration strikes them. In the old days, the village was famous for weaving silks and marking rice vermicelli. Today it is known as a painting village because increasing numbers of villages known how to paint and it has become famous for painters such as Ngyen Sy Tot and the current generations of painters Tran Hoa, Giang Khich, La Vuong, Ngo Binh Khiem, and Sao Mai. Tran Hoa, a member of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association, say "I’ve been painting for nearly 50 years. I paint many kinds of pictures using oils, lacquer, water-colors and other mediums. The subjects of my paintings mainly are about country life or soldiers, floating villages, bamboo rows, buffalos or chickens and the landscape of villages faraway." Hoa’s work can now be found at the Ho Chi Minh Museum, Fine Arts Museum, and Vietnam Military History Museum. He says" Sometimes I can finish a painting in just a few days, but sometimes it can take some months-it depends on my inspiration." " Many years ago, most of my customers were from Japan, France, Italy and Canada. They visited my house and gallery and bought my pictures. However, today, rich Vietnamese have become interested in my work and buy my pictures." " I can’t remember how many pictures I’ve painted and sold. The most valuable picture I sold was for 34 million VND ($ 2,000)." Besides Si Tot and Tran Hoa, there are younger generations painters from Co Do who are well know in the Vietnamese art world, not to mention amateur painters of all ages. The village, home to over 800 households, also has professional painters’ club with 30 members of mixed ages, professions and backgrounds. Painter and teacher Hoang Tuan Viet, who is Tran Hoa’s student, is now training a group of 56 young children in the painting class he holds for free in his small garden in order to preserve the traditional craft of the village. Viet says" I’m trying to pass my love of painting on to the younger generation. I teach them every summer after the end of their schools term. The youngest pupil is only eight years old." At first the children are taught to use a piece of coal, brick or chalk to draw on the brick courtyard in front of their house, or use a stick of dry wood to draw on sand or the ground, then when their technique has improved, they can be trained to paint on paper. "Gradually, they’re trained in the more difficult skills such as how to recognize the nicest feature of a picture. I introduce them to matching the colors of a picture and advise them that they should paint subjects following their own inspiration and soul" say Viet. Main topics of drawings are about betel-nut groves, pigs, the banks of the Red River and flowers. From there rustic "home-made" classes, many kids have grown up to become art teachers, and many more are studying at art colleges and universities throughout the country. The youngsters do not only know the basic skills of painting, they also take naturally to graphic design , which help them to find work. "We’re trying to establish a village painting workshop that will provide useful skills. I hope that the youngsters of the village will always retain their love of painting" Viet says.
A member of Vietnam Travel Promotion Group (VTP Group)
Head Office: Room 509, 15T2 Building, 20 Tam Trinh Street, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi,
Telephone: +84.4.62768855 Fax: +84.4.62768866