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  • Writer's pictureKirk

The Thai Artist

As I mentioned in a previous post, when I buy gifts while traveling, I like for them to be unique. hopefully unique to the area where they are bought.

During the Covid pandemic I was doing a quarantine stay in a hotel in Thailand. I was captive to the hotel for 10 days, but allowed to move within the confines of the hotel.

In the lobby of the hotel was a local Thai artist. He had his works on display in the lobby and actually had his work desk set up there as well, so you could watch him at work. Mostly he was doing portrait sketches.

Interested in his work I approached him to ask if he needed the subject before him or if he could work from a photo. He said he could easily use a photo. Since I had many phone photos of my grandkids I considered a portrait of them. It was late in the year so I was considering this as a Christmas gift to my daughter and son-in-law.

I asked his price and although I don't clearly recall it, I believe it was in the $150 -$200 area. Now that's a lot in Thailand. Although a bargain in the USA I thought it excessive there. I remember trying to negotiate the price, after all, everyone tries to take advantage of the foreigners and will bargain. But he would not. He stood firm on his price.

I told him I would think it over, but I already knew I wanted a portrait from this talented artist. I had used the ploy before to walk away, only to hear them plead for my return for further negotiations. My walk this time was met with silence. I knew he was good then!

The next day I came to him and agreed on the price he asked, and over the next 3 days I watched his work unfold in the lobby of the hotel (yes, it took him 3 days!). Below is the unfolding of his work over those days:

I really don't think the artist enjoyed me looking over his shoulders.

Since I was in quarantine, I didn't have much to do, so I would often walk down to the lobby to snap a picture of his progress. I'm not sure he appreciated it, so I tried to be discreet as I could.

Now this guy looks like an artist doesn't he?:

And now for the finished product:

It was really quite amazing how close the finished product was to the picture I gave him. It was also quite astounding how much time he invested in the project, having worked on and off for three days to complete.

After having it professionally framed in protective glass, I realized what a bargain the painting was. The framing cost about the same as the artwork! Now, that shocked me.

These are the type things I buy when I'm traveling. I sometimes actively seek gift buying opportunities if I'm in an area where certain items are famous. Other times I just stumble on a great gift buying opportunity.

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