Xu Libo, a welder and painter

By Zhu Shengnan| (chinadaily.com.cn)| Updated : 2022-06-23

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Xu Libo, 53 years old, is a welder at Shandong Baolong Automobile Component Co Ltd in Zibo, Shandong province.

In the conference room at Baolong Automobile, a giant oil painting of a train can be seen on the wall. It was painted by Xu. The incredibly lifelike 2x4-meter painting took him about two months to finish.


Xu Libo works on his train painting. [Photo/Zibo News]

Xu has never received any formal art education, but the trains that he paints are so realistic that people often mistake them for the real thing. They are even more stunned to learn that Xu is simply a hobbyist.

Xu's family lived next to a railway when he was a kid. "I lived about 100 meters away from the rail track and could see trains almost every day. The steam locomotive ran very fast, roaring and howling with overwhelming force, which is how I became interested in painting them," said Xu.

In order to better familiarize himself with the trains, Xu would visit Boshan Train Station, where the locomotive stopped on weekends.

In the beginning, Xu has difficulty with color collocation. Luckily, he had the chance to train for half a year under an art teacher at his junior high school. He then continued to increase his skills.

In 1987, he found a welding job at Baolong Automobile, but he continued to paint in his spare time. He taught himself by reading books. His paintings are usually very large, focusing on trains and scenery, and began to become popular in 2006.

Xu was obsessed with drawing railway bridges. In 2009, he painted a railway bridge with watercolor, but he felt it didn't quite express the magnificence of the bridge, and the color was a murky grey. In 2011, he tried to paint the railway bridge with oils, which he still thought was not good enough, though it was better than his previous attempt.

In 2013, he spent three months working on his third attempt, and finally succeeded. "I learned from my first two experiences, and finally did it," Xu said. To create this painting, Xu had to draw on his 26 years of experience. The giant painting now hangs in the lobby of a local hotel.

Xu's paintings of trains are famous in Zibo, attracting many buyers. He has created about 400 giant paintings in recent years, all of which have sold out. His paintings can be seen in many scenic spots, enterprises, and hotels.