The lotus has been depicted in eastern art for thousands of years. In the west, the rose is generously featured in paintings, embroidery and decorative items; similarly, the lotus is a common motif in ancient architecture, textiles and scrolls. The rose is widely accepted as a symbol of love. Different colors denote different degrees of love. For example, red roses represent passionate love, yellow roses represent friendship and white ones represent pure love. The lotus, however, has always represented spiritual devotion, which is another kind of love.
In this particular painting, Chi-Jen Liu gives the lotus qualities that are usually associated with the rose, hence the title, "Romantic Lotus." Blossoms embrace each other at the stems and blush with pink and red. Pillowy leaves laden with pearly dewdrops resemble luxurious gifts from a lover. The artist creates an atmosphere that is intimate and feminine by planting the lotuses in soft pastel-like water. Two dragonflies perch on lotus buds to symbolize first love; a pair of red koi meet under a lotus leaf canopy to symbolize marital love; and tadpoles gather nearby to symbolize family love. Even the lotus stems are given rose-like thorns.
The season of this lotus piece is spring. In literary terms, springtime is the early stage or the beginning of a phase. The poem asks, "When you behold such a romantic scene, does a smile not cross your lips as you relive your first love? Falling in love is a most splendid dream of romance." Chi-Jen Liu nudges us to remember the first time we fell in love because holding onto sweet memories are important to our happiness and relationships.