Featured Artist Ju Oshiro

Artist Ju Oshiro presents a striking collection of portraits and figurative oil paintings. See more of her portfolio by visiting her website.


oil painting portrait of a man

“Abraham” oil on linen, 20″ x 24″


I have been on a journey from humble beginnings to discovering art and the life I was meant to lead. I was born in South Korea in a mountain town just south of the Demilitarized Zone, the child of a well-known fashion designer father and a traditional Asian mother who were in an arranged marriage.


Oil painting of a Latin American dancer

“The Dancer” oil on linen, 40″ x 22″


After the Japanese occupation and during the postwar 1960’s, Korea was severely damaged. Life was challenging to begin with, but when my father left our family, we struggled to get out of poverty. There was no place for art in the school or popular culture. As a student, I craved artistic expression and would often be distracted from my studies and doodle on my notebook as I daydreamed. My focus was to study in school and follow my mother’s strict plans to become a nurse and one day marry a doctor.


Portrait of Laura, oil painting by Ju Oshiro

“Laura” oil on linen, 17″ x 18″


One day, I watched my oldest brother’s friend apply watercolors to a large blank paper that covered the wall. I was totally mesmerized during the magical few days as his painting was transformed into a powerful portrait of a strong Korean woman. She was wearing a yellow and purple traditional dress with a mysterious smile much like Mona Lisa. That image left an indelible impression on me. My world changed that weekend.


oil painting of two boys playing in water

“Living Water” oil on linen, 24″ x 20″


I left home in my late teens and eventually ended up in America. Once I landed in this great country of abundance and opportunity, I needed a job. I took all my money and enrolled in beauty school to become a hairstylist. In nine short months, I was able to establish a career that allowed me to make a living and be creative.


Portrait of JJ, oil painting

“JJ” oil on linen, 20″ x 24″


As I earned my living by professionally working on hair and makeup, I learned to look at the true essence of women and elevate their beauty by making them feel good about their outward appearance. I made good money and built my clientele over 25 years, but I still felt a deep artistic calling in my soul. I often felt a sense of emptiness and a lack of fulfillment and purpose. Something important was missing, and I needed a creative outlet. Although I didn’t realize it then, I was going through a deep depression.


oil painting of a young woman and a wolf in a landscape setting

“Ethereal Beauty” oil on linen, 30″ x 24″


After my daughter was grown, my husband’s career required that we live internationally. As I experienced life in European cities, I found a way to put down roots by visiting the local art museums. I‘ll never forget the feeling of visiting the Rembrandt museum in the Netherlands. The Dutch master’s work is so lifelike that each painting literally opens up and breathes. Instead of resting as static images, his canvases pulse with the subtle energy of a living thing.


Portrait of a young woman "Hope" by artist Ju Oshiro

“Hope” oil on linen, 20″ x 16″


Back in the United States, at 50 years old, I started art classes at Scottsdale Artist School. I took workshops with famous living artists such as David Leffel, Sherry McGraw and Jeremy Lipking. Soon after, I moved to San Diego to study with Jeff Watt at Watts Atelier where I learned human anatomy, craftsmanship and painting fundamentals.


Portrait of an Indian girl with a jar of water

“Living Water International” oil on linen, 20″ x 16″


I continued my studies at the Russian Academy of Art in Florence, Italy where I learned to appreciate modern Russian art and the sumptuous canvases of the painters Nicolas Fechin, Issac Levitan and IIla Repin. Their paintings are completely loose, yet deliberate and faithful, and not at all flashy.


"Amelia" oil painting on linen by Ju Oshiro

“Amelia” oil on linen, 16″ x 20″


Around this time, I experienced a renewal in my relationship with God and understood His plans. This helped me find my purpose and gain confidence in this new life. My husband and I travel as part of his missionary work, and I have been so inspired by people in countries around the world living their faith. This has led me to create portraits and figurative paintings that honor all of God’s creation.


oil painting of a young woman being baptized in India

“Baptism of Sony” oil on linen, 20″ x 18″


Each painting I create is a source of healing for me. As I lean into my artistic passion, I have moved past the difficulties I experienced in Korea. With every brushstroke, I now bless my mother for bringing me into this life, and my father for inspiring me to be the artist that I am today. There is no place I would rather be than with a brush in my hand. I know I am here to make a difference with this gift and right now, there is no time to waste.

Ju Oshiro invites you to follow her on Facebook and Instagram


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  1. Ju Oshiro,
    Your portraits are very interesting. So realistic, yet sometimes the hair is so full of color and impressions of detail in them.

  2. Ju Oshiro,
    Your work is amazing! I love your use of color, as you bring to life and truly capture each individual. I also appreciated reading your life journey.

  3. Paula Siedlaczek says

    Hi Ju

    I loved hearing your journey to realize your passion. That was truly inspirational! Your artwork is wonderful. I feel your heartbeat in each painting. I dabble in watercolors trying to find my style but mostly love the joy I feel by painting. I’m retired so have time to explore the watercolors which I’ve always loved but never had time. I never pursued that passion although I would have loved to have done so. So now it’s very therapeutic for me. I would love to get good enough to supplement the income but living day to day and going where God leads me is sufficient.
    Your daughter is married to my nephew and I have enjoyed getting to know her when we lived in San Diego. Unfortunately I haven’t met your precious granddaughter but maybe someday. God’s blessings surround you as you follow your passions.


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