COURTESY PHOTO - Yong Hong Zhong's Umpqua River painting is one of several in his show at the Walters Cultural Arts Center.Yong Hong Zhong, a former artist with Disney Animation Studios, will display his plein air paintings in a new show, "Experience Nature," during Hillsboro's next First Tuesday Art Walk gallery reception.

Slated for Feb. 6, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Walters Cultural Arts Center, 527 E. Main St, Zhong explores the restlessness and beauty of nature as painted from direct observation.

Zhong will discuss his journey as an artist and personal perspectives on the exhibit at 6 p.m. during the reception. Mandolin duo Olivia and René will perform throughout the evening.COURTESY PHOTO - Zhong's Rowena Crest oil painting captures the restlessness and beauty of nature.

A former digital layout artist at Disney, Zhong now prefers to paint landscapes in watercolor and oils, citing his childhood in the countryside of Canton, China as fond inspiration for his compositions.

Ten years later, Zhong parallels his current artwork to his experience at Disney Animation Studios where he worked on such films as "Mulan", "Pocahontas," " The Fox and The Hound 2" and "The Princess and the Frog." 

"I believe the years I spent working in the film industry had a very strong influence in my fine art pursuits," Zhong said.

Since moving to Oregon, Zhong works mostly with watercolor and oil. He realizes there is value in exploring creativity though experimentation with different media.COURTESY PHOTO - Lily pads will be featured as part of Zhong's Experience Nature show.

"It is very easy for an artist to get too comfortable with a specific medium," he said. "I believe as artists we need to be constantly reinventing ourselves and pushing the envelope." 

These days, Zhong paints around Hillsboro, throughout the Portland area and the coast. He often finds somewhat precarious places to perch his easel — the edge of a waterway, in the middle of a city street at daybreak or on a rock lapped by ocean waves.Zhong's Jackson Bottom Wetlands depicts a local Hillsboro landmark.

A second reception scheduled for Tuesday, March 6, from 5 to 6:30 p.m., will have Zhong demonstrating his painting style and techniques.

Stan Cassell will perform live music during the second reception.

Zhong's paintings will be on display through March 23. The receptions are free and open to the public and his paintings will be available for viewing during the Walters' regular business hours.

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