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The “post-85s” who paints on stones and turns every stone into an “elf”

"Every stone has its personality, and I enjoy giving each stone a different life." Every day, Ma Rumei uses her brush to turn each stone with different shapes into a beautiful "elf", and she has maintained this habit for nearly four years.

Ma Rumei, a 37-year-old stone painting enthusiast, runs a restaurant with her husband Wang Jianghong in Bole City, northwest China’s Xinjiang. To her, engaging in the art of stone painting was an accident. Ma Rumei, who had been fond of painting since childhood, had a whim one day and tried to paint on stones, and the result was surprisingly good. Since then, Ma Rumei has opened the door to a new world and could not stop painting.

Photo shows Ma Rumei is painting.

"The art of stone painting evolved from the cliff painting of Hominin expressed in realistic or abstract artistic techniques. The stone painting records many aspects of ancient society. I like this artistic expression very much, and I hope to use my stone painting to portray our happy life today." Ma Rumei kept the brush in her hand and introduced the source of the stone paintings to reporters.

Photo shows cartoon characters painted on various stones.

When she was in school, Ma Rumei was the art representative in the class, and every time after doing her homework, she liked to draw all kinds of her favorites on paper. At that time, the source of her paintings was the beautiful illustrations in the textbook and various plants planted by her mother, as well as the birds that occasionally fly into the yard, insects in the grass and so on. Just like that, Ma Rumei recorded the beauty of life with her brush.

Autumnal equinox

In addition to painting on paper, Ma Rumei also likes to collect stones with different patterns. "Different stones can enrich my imagination. Some are like elegant fairies, some are like lively bunnies, but some are not so interesting. So, I pick up a paintbrush and create the stone painting, making the patterns and shapes of the stones closer to the picture in my mind," Ma Rumei said.

Ma Rumei started to get involved in stone painting in 2019. That year, she began to focus on the research and creation of stone paintings. Even in the interval between serving customers at her restaurant, she would pick up brushes and paint on stones. Occasionally, she would select some works to exhibit, which also won some recognition and encouragement in the local area.

Koi fishes

In the past few days, Ma Rumei has had a new idea. She uses her spare time to select 24 stones with different patterns and shapes, and prepares to draw the 24 solar terms in her mind with a brush. In her opinion, every stone represents her unique language, every stone painting is the true reflection of her happy life, and she will always stick to it.

"The carrier of stone painting is different from that of traditional painting. When painting on the stones, it is necessary to create vivid images based on their texture, shape and pattern so that the painting can merge with the stone. Each stone is unique, as is my life where every day is colorful," Ma Rumei said. (Correspondents: Chen Yiwen, Luo Hao)