Artist introduces Chinese culture to global audience through peony painting

(People's Daily Online) 14:05, July 28, 2023

A Chinese artist is introducing Chinese culture to an expanding global audience through his guidance on how to paint peony flowers using inks and brushes.

Peony painting artist, Jiang Hongsheng, has voluntarily offered Chinese painting and calligraphy classes to more than 13,000 international students from 170 countries since 2012.

Chinese artist Jiang Hongsheng (3rd L) instructs foreigners to paint peony flowers at the Red Peony International Home in Ningbo city, east China's Zhejiang Province. (Photo courtesy of the interviewee)

Jiang claims he has "secrets" that can help students master the skills of painting a peony within two hours, inspiring a love of Chinese culture.

He has summarized three steps for peony painting from his years of teaching: getting the right amount of water on the brushes, blending colors, and executing simple strokes for peony petals.

Jiang developed a strong interest in Chinese painting and calligraphy when he began teaching English at a middle school in Quzhou city in east China's Zhejiang Province in 1990. He has since won awards in national painting and calligraphy competitions.

College students in the U.K. paint peony flowers on a 100-meter-long scroll. (Photo courtesy of the interviewee)

In April 2012, Jiang was invited to teach Chinese painting to 45 teachers and students from Germany. The class was received enthusiastically, with many students writing that they loved China in Chinese after the class.

"It was the first time I taught painting and calligraphy to others. I never thought I would enable foreigners to love Chinese painting and calligraphy in a class," Jiang said, adding that the experience made him decide to spread Chinese culture through painting and calligraphy.

Later that year, Jiang established the Red Peony Academy of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy in Ningbo city, Zhejiang.

"I am good at painting peony flowers. The peony symbolizes peace, friendliness, happiness, and prosperity. The cultural significance it conveys can impress foreign friends more easily," Jiang said, explaining why he chose to teach foreigners to paint peony flowers.

Chinese artist Jiang Hongsheng instructs an Iranian woman to paint peony flowers. (Photo courtesy of the interviewee)

Following the establishment of the Red Peony Academy, Jiang opened studios at Ningbo University, Ningbo Open University, and Zhejiang Wanli University to showcase the allure of Chinese painting and calligraphy through peony painting.

In early 2016, the Red Peony Academy debuted overseas in the U.K. During the visit, Jiang conducted 35 workshops on peony painting at various institutions, including the Confucius Institute and Lakeside Arts at the University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University, the University of Chichester, and five middle and primary schools. By the end of Jiang's visit, British students had adorned a 100-meter-long scroll with their peony flower paintings.

He also explored the cultural significance of various themes in Chinese painting, such as peonies, plums, orchids, bamboo and chrysanthemums, inspiring locals to learn about Chinese culture.

On Chinese New Year's Eve in 2017, Jiang discussed Spring Festival culture during a BBC interview.

Together with the Red Peony Academy, Jiang has promoted Chinese painting, calligraphy, and culture in many places around the world, including France, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, and South Korea.

In March 2021, the Red Peony International Home was opened in Jiulonghu town of Ningbo. Every weekend, Jiang organizes cultural activities there. He also provides online classes on peony painting, facilitating more opportunities for international students to learn about Chinese painting, calligraphy and culture.

Many of Jiang's international students have become enthusiasts of Chinese painting and ambassadors of Chinese culture.

For instance, Gillian from Australia was responsible for translating and proofreading a book on traditional Chinese painting compiled by Jiang. Gillian also taught people in countries including Australia, India, and Nepal how to paint peony flowers.

Jiang said he would continue collaborating with his students and foreign friends to introduce peony painting to more people worldwide.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Du Mingming)


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