WE ARE OUR OWN GHOST - JuneLi Live Painting Performance at Pier 70

On this wall, I am performing a 20 ft x 9 ft Live Painting with Chinese Calligraphy “We are our own Ghost” during the GHOST SHIP VIII: ANNIHILATION.

We are our own ghost of our goals and dreams. To deal with this enemy, we forgive, accept, and be with it. Join me for this adventurous encounter to experience the darkness and the deepest fear of our ghost.

Look forward to going on this journey with you!

Oct 30 at 11:55pm to Oct 31 at 12:30am

70 Pier, San Francisco, California 94107


INNER GARDENS Oil Painting Solo Exhibition

Enter the inner world and reconnect with our magical inner and outer earth - a mystic garden full of wisdom and truth, there in the rich soil that nourishes all possibilities. I created these oil paintings in a quest to come closer to the roots of instinct, in search of a wild and deep power within.

August 6th - November 6th at District

Art Opening: Thursday, August 6th at 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Address: 216 Townsend St, San Francisco, California 94107

THE BALANCE Series - Oil on Canvas

We all live in a busy life. Work, family, friends, social network... Are we making enough space to rest our soul? Are we too busy to live with our surrounding but living within ourselves? This new body of work is about blocking our daily busy schedule and bringing the stillness to our mind. It's the visual balance of colors and shapes on the canvas. It's the balance of life.  

2015-04-16 12.48.49

SEE THE WORLD - Traveled With Art Exchange Project

Visual Installation at Sports Basement Bryant St, SF

“Travel. As much as you can. As far as you can. As long as you can. Life is not meant to be lived in one place.”

---- 2015

3 months backpacking through South America, Asia and Europe, I learned that knowledge, awareness and flexibility are the most important elements on the road.  I created an interactive project in which I exchanged art for food, transportation and shelter. I set the budget at $50 per day, taking all the photos for this show on my phone.  I want to prove that we don’t need a lot of money to travel.  All we need is desire.

I hope to encourage others to step out of the system and their security, to experience the world anew and to bring a different consciousness to light.  Traveling resets our minds and changes our perspectives. Traveling is not optional, it’s the prerequisite for a life worth living.


Concerned with the growing consumerism of today's world, I decided to create a travel with art experiment.  Could I circumnavigate the globe eschewing the need for a large budget?  Could I replace cash as currency with skills, could I create a more human and connected experience?  There are many projects that I created on the road.  I exchanged my art skills for food, home stay and museum tickets.  There are countless rejections, I took these challenges to grow stronger.  However, the ones who accepted me were so loving and became a part of this unforgettable experience.

Project Highlight 1 - A couple traveling with their 3 children in an RV for 7 years

Punta Arenas, a small town in Patagonia on the edge of the Strait of Magellan.  I met this friendly couple who have been traveling around South America in their RV for 7 years. They travel and work from place to place with their 6, 10 and 12 year old children, the youngest of whom was born in their RV.  They are in school anywhere that has internet. They don’t have to sit in a classroom to learn, their children passed all the educational requirements for their age and they are happy, the couple told me.

I was deeply impressed and offered their children a week of art lessons at the hostel they are working at.  For exchange, they offered their comfortable couch.  There aren’t many online art programs for their age. Therefore, the kids were very happy to have me on board as their art teacher.  We can’t communicate between my English and their Spanish at all but their curious eyes are wide open and desperate to learn.  I taught them to draw the sunset of the ocean, make cartoon models with the clay on the muddy street and fold origami crane.

The day I left, all of them lined up, gave me a postcard they made and big hugs.  I will never forget their wide curious eyes that sent me on the road when they waved goodbye.

Project Highlight 2 - A family who gave me more then a ride in Punta Natunas. South America.

I started my first hitchhike in South America.  Some of those “dangers” were as I expected.  Such as when I got in a Van with three big guys on Easter Island.  They had been drinking and lost their respect, but I took control of the situation and arrived at my destination safely.  I’ve learn that reading a situation and understanding your own abilities will help you deal with any circumstance.  Your mind is the most powerful weapon.  However,  the ones who give me rides on the road are the most precious souls who put helping others as their priority.

I was cold and starving in the middle of nowhere.  I’d been walking for 4 hours and was lost. It was like a spark in the darkness when this sweet family stopped their 4x4 on the shoulder of the road.  I was surprised when I saw an old man, old lady and a crying little girl in the car.  “Why would they stop a car for a stranger at night?” That was my classical immediate thought.  I gratefully expressed my thankfulness with a smile and showed them the town where I was headed on the map.  They nod, signaled me into the car, the old lady handed me a blanket and we resumed the journey together.  I turned the map into paper animals giving them to the little girl.  Soon she stop crying and smiled to us.  They invited me to their home, fed me a hot homemade meal and sent me on my way the next morning. The entire time we couldn’t communicate with words other than “Hola” and “Gracias”.  Trust and an open heart is the universal language.

Back to San Francisco, I offered a disabled young man a ride from Petaluma to San Francisco.  He hesitated to get in to my car and was full of concerned questions.  I told him this story and he finally felt relief.  I thought you would take me somewhere and rob me, He laughed to himself.  All you need is good intuition and trust, I answered.  When I dropped him off, he asked me how can he pay me back, I said, please trust people and help others when you can. The human mind always tends to take you the dangerous place but if we are open to help others with consciousness the world will be a better place to live.

There are many stories like these on the road.  We can easily pay for anything by cash. However, we won’t experience these beautiful human connections and we won’t have stories to tell our grandchildren in front of the fireplace when we grown old.

Chinese Brush Painting Class - Marina Middle School SF

Chinese traditional brush painting has developed continuously over a period of more than 5000 years.  It is the most simple and expressive visual art form.  Main tools are included brush, ink and rice paper.  Composition and space is the most important element for the mind set.  Seal and calligraphy is the final touch by express the theme and views on art and life.

 I designed this 6 sessions program for middle school students to have fundamental understanding of this art form.  Through domesticated native figures from China, such as bamboo tree, wild orchid flower and panda bear, students learned brush techniques and basic strokes.  Students had great fun played with the ink and create their conceptual express art.

Recycled Art - Reuse, Rethink, Recreate

I mentored students created these art projects by recycled materials and found objects in the nature.  Such as junk mails, tester bottoms, sea shells, dry flowers... Those are great gifts for birthdays and holidays to friends and families.  Instead of buying products, students paying more attention to our environment, what they thrown away in a daily base and use their imaginations to transform junks to beautiful objects.  My goals for this course is to inspire students buy less, reuse and recreate, own less and live more.  We will live healthier and the planet will be greener.

THE UNFORGOTTEN ROAD - June Li Oil Paintings

4 stages of life: The ongoing stories as a Chinese American artist’s transformation

“The world is an open book from which I read and live, fail and learn. I paint these moving images which are for me both fundamental and intimate. Painting is the best way to explore internal adventure by taking different paths without fear of risk, as my life is both glory and failure. Every one of my paintings tells a story, expresses a life, points to a path. I hope they will inspire you.”

---- June Li, 2012

Over my painting career, I have been influenced by many different movements and painters, notably:Movements - Northern European Symbolism, Impressionism, Cubism, German Expressionism, The Blue R ider Group, Russian Constructivism.

Artists - Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Rousseau, Gaudí, Rodin, Munch, Klimt, Schiele, Chagall, Kandinsky, Klee, Mondrian, Pollock, Kline.

I. The early days of an unhappy marriage, young motherhood and the story of family and love.

 In 1999 I moved to Sonoma, CA, from Southern China to marry and follow the path my family had chosen for me. I became a traditional housewife at the age of 21, while other girls the same age were partying and pursuing their own dreams.

My son was born a year later. Away from my family, in an unhappy marriage and Isolated in a small town, I lived a life limited to church every weekend; I couldn’t find peace through Jesus. I had a luxurious lifestyle, but my spirit was empty and depressed. My paintings were the sketches of loneliness born of a desire for love. I lived in the past and stuck in my inner world.

Three Stages of Life (2002, Oil on Canvas, 38”x72”) tells the story of my transformation from young girl to woman, and from woman to mother and housewife. My dreams of freedom cut short by a family life born of Chinese tradition valuing obedience.


Unforgotten / Night Light / Beloved / Leaves and roots

II. Transformation from the feminine to the organic beauty of nature.

A few years later, I ventured out of my interior world to explore the beauty of nature. Living in Sonoma and Bodega Bay, inspired by the beautiful vineyards, botanical gardens and undersea creatures, I painted a series of organic forms. I collected branches, flowers, leaves and seashells, which I studied extensively before painting them. I humanized dancing and other poetical expressions of my inner world of fantasy and romanticized perfection. Writing, classical music and modern dance played a large role in my life at the time. These works are shaped by their femininity, grace and passion.

Deep Sea (2006, Oil on Canvas, 24”x40”), is representative of that period. The “sea” is on the left, while the bold red is my own “deep” insight.


Deep Sea / Bloom I / Bloom II / Passion Fruit

III. Escape from my arranged marriage and my search for individual expression, exploring city life, traveling and other adventures.

In 2007, after eight years of depression, I decided to leave my marriage and move to my beloved city, San Francisco. I relinquished all my property and ran away with a single bag of belongings and one month’s rent. I lost everything, but felt I owned everything. A few months later, a new job and an art studio in Potrero Hill allowed me to continue painting. Amidst these new surroundings, I found my true self.

I explored city life, making new friends, traveling, trying alcohol, drugs, underground parties, Burning Man, talking to prostitutes and strippers... exploring neighborhoods like the Tenderloin, visiting homeless shelters, experiencing the darkest and deepest side of humanity. I painted a series of urban cityscapes. My color palette ranged from warm to colder and from broad to more selective hues.

Tenderloin (2011, Oil on Canvas, 24”x36”), portrays San Francisco nightlife. A cityscape where use of dramatic lighting adds emotion and excitement.


Tenderloin / Chinatown / Sin City / Pier 9

IV. A new way of seeing: Less is more. Abstraction.

At a certain point, explicit narrative could no longer satisfy my creativity. I felt that objects, by themselves allowed a very limited expression. What about emotions? Compassion, peace, joy, love, regret, fear, grief? I began the search for a new way to express these emotions.

After many experiments I found that “less is more”. I translated complex thoughts into simple ones. Minimalism allowed more powerful expression. I painted the Time and Space and New Element series with this concept in mind.

The Path (2012, Oil on Canvas, 24”x36”), is a work from the Time and Space series. People making life choices ranging from large (school, job, marriage) to small (changes in daily routine). Different choices lead to a completely different life experience. As much as choice can be unpredictable, it’s exciting. We can’t change the past, we can’t predict the future; we can only control our choices in the moment.


White Sea /  Black Fall / Spirit of the Stone / Present



The Space I / The Elements / The Path / New Dimensions