The first time people see Xiong Qingzhen’s toothpaste paintings, they’re not very impressed. Frankly, they look sloppy,, but then he flips the light switch in his bathroom and everyone’s jaws hit the floor…
Based in central China’s Hubei province, Xiong Qingzhen got the inspiration for his now famous toothpaste painting technique from his days taking photos with an old film camera.
He found the way images on negatives were inverted in a dark room interesting, so one day he decided to apply a similar technique in the comfort of his own bathroom. Using the mirror as a canvas and plain toothpaste as paint, Xiong started painting “negative” portraits of popular celebrities. They didn’t look too impressive to the naked eye at first, but a simple flip of the switch revealed the true artwork.
After discovering that his theory worked, Xiong worked on improving his painting skills, and after a few months, he was able to produce detailed masterpieces in just 2-3 hours. Still, he claims that painting with toothpaste is relatively hard, because of its texture. Plus, it dries on the mirror soon after being applied, which makes it very hard to edit the artwork. Still, looking at the kind of artworks he is able to produce, I’d say toothpaste is a decent medium.
Xiong Qingzhen’s videos have been getting a lot of attention on TikTok, where his toothpaste portraits of Audrey Hepburn, Kobe Bryant or Michael Jackson have been getting tens of thousands of views. Despite building up a following of almost one million people online, the Chinese self-taught artist does not want to turn toothpast painting into a career. It’s a hobby, and he wants to keep it that way, as he claims making it a career would take all the fun out of it.