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Accidental artists

By Chen Nan (China Daily)

15:41, March 12, 2013

Ning Yingxia is a mother who found painting as an outlet to express herself and joined her son in a painting class. (China Daily)

Visit Beijing's 798 Art Zone to appreciate paintings by a group of mothers, who attend art classes with their children. Chen Nan gives you the colorful details.

A group of mothers who learn painting with their children, is exhibiting their works in Beijing's 798 Art Zone.

Titled Mother Artists, most of the art on display are oil paintings. The exhibition was launched on March 8, to coincide with International Women's Day.

One of the works belongs to Chang Ying, 41, who claims that painting cured her postnatal depression.

"I've heard of postpartum depression but I didn't expect it to hit me," says Chang, who suffered from the disorder after she completed her yuezi, or observation of a confinement period of 30 days. (During yuezi, new mothers rest and eat special food to help them recover from the rigors of childbirth.)

"I felt lost and sad, not only because I put on lots of weight but also because my life totally changed."

The former accountant, who is now a full-time home maker and mother, was depressed for about five years.

"I endured the depression because I thought it's a normal feeling for mothers, especially full-time mothers. I ignored it and pretended to be normal," she says.

When her son reached the age of 5, she sent him to a painting class conducted by Chen Wei, a professional oil painting artist.

Attracted by the colors, she decided to join her son.

She says she uses painting as an outlet to express herself and in the process, her perspectives about life widen. She also stopped feeling anxious and loss.

"It's a game between me and my son. He likes drawing cars and we would discuss our paintings together.

"I also enjoy being part of the group. We get together to paint and share about our lives. It's like art therapy," says Chang.

Her work on display is called My Family, a picture of a house covered with snow.

"I used to hate gray clouds and cold winter. But after learning how to paint, I learn to appreciate common objects and interpret them in my own way through colors," she says, adding that she was inspired by a snowy morning during this year's Spring Festival.

Another mother, Wei Yu, 41, who has been learning painting at Chen's studio since November 2012, also says that painting cured her depression.

"I participated in some activities, such as yoga class. I even shopped a lot to make myself feel good, which turned out to be worse," she recalls.

"I thought learning painting was not for me. I attended painting classes in primary school and they were boring," says Wei, who has a 13-year-old daughter.

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