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Less is more: middle school. (Clip Card).

Significant Problem

After reading about Chinese art and landscape painting and studying Chinese culture and symbolism, students are ready to observe and paint.

Essential Concepts

1. Making connections between the history and culture of China and our own.

2. Learning about Chinese art, landscape painting, and symbolism.

3. Learning about the philosophy and techniques of Chinese brush painting.


Ample supply of newspaper, 8 x 13" (20 x 33 cm) newsprint, paper towels for blotting, a container of water, a dish with India ink, and various sizes of bamboo brushes

Guiding Practice

Practice together using India ink, water, and newsprint. Practice holding the brush correctly. Use the whole arm to drag the brush across the paper. Leave sufficient white space for simplicity and viewer interpretation. Stress that nature, calligraphy, and poetry are a large part of Chinese painting. Suggest a subject important to nature, learning its symbolism, and using Chinese characters to title their final piece. By creating both light and dark strokes, the stalks seem to come forward and recede at the same time.

For the final piece, work in an atmosphere of quiet meditation. Give students only one sheet of rice paper and encourage them to paint vertically in the Chinese tradition. Use a thin black pen to write a Chinese phrase in the appropriate white space. Add a red chop or seal as a symbol for the signature. Or carve eraser stamps to symbolize China, their school, or their state.

Assessing Learning

Ask students to compare and contrast the Chinese and Western style of painting. Ask students to write a short paragraph of the important things they learned about Chinese art, landscape painting, and symbolism.

ClipCard submitted by Clare Scurry, a middle school art teacher at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Article Details
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Author:Scurry, Clare
Publication:School Arts
Date:Dec 1, 2002
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