An old woman surnamed Zhang draws sketches for customers in Shichahai, a historic scenic area comprising three lakes in Beijing.
(ECNS) -- Administrative authorities in Shichahai, a historic scenic area comprising three lakes in central Beijing, has warned tourists to stay vigilant against street artists, Beijing Youth Daily reported.
The advice was given following online discussions over the quality of an elderly woman's so-called portraiture. The woman, who only revealed her surname as Zhang, usually charges 10 yuan (.40) to 20 yuan for a drawing of customers.
Some netizens said she was a swindler since her drawings look nothing like the real person.
Two tourists said drawings by Zhang didn't show any of their facial features or hairstyles. Most surprisingly, the tourists found they had almost identical portraits, both with the hasty signature of Zhang Laotai (literally Old Woman Zhang).
Yet other netizens seemed amused by the rugged outlines and urged people to have a light heart, even calling the woman a "soul painter."
Administrative authorities said Shichahai bans itinerant artists from the tourist attraction.
A reporter for Beijing Youth Daily said Zhang finished drawing a picture of her in 15 minutes and only raised her head about five times while drawing. The final sketch was very different from her and looked like others shared online, according to the reporter.
Zhang said she was 65 years old, learned pencil sketching with others, and could also offer massage services.
A restaurant owner told the paper Zhang has offered drawing services for two years around the lakes and received complaints for her obviously unrealistic works. Locals also told the paper she has had a hard life and once lived by collecting used bottles for recycling.