Agora Days at the University Laboratory High School

Chinese Literati Drawings with Pencil
University Laboratory High School, February 16-19, 2021

The Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies recently presented a mini-course on “Chinese literati drawings with pencil” during the Agora Days at the University Laboratory High School (Uni High). Developed and taught by College of Education doctoral student Xueqing Luo, this four-day course introduced three fundamental themes in Chinese literati art along with hands-on drawing practice using only pencil and paper to accommodate student remote learning. Students were introduced to the distinctive way of using lines in Chinese drawings through examples such as “Admonitions of the Instructress the Court Ladies” (nü shi zhen tu, 女史箴图). They explored “the body or the bone (gu, 骨) of rocks and mountains” and the conceptualization of space in historical drawings such as Muster Seed Garden (Jiezi Yuan, 芥子园). Students also learned to add cunca (皴擦), the technique of showing the textures by different touches of the brush, to rocks and mountains, as well as the basics of drawing human figures, boats, and bridges to complete their final masterpieces. At the end of the course, they discovered that “it was difficult to be simple,” that “less is more.” They were also impressed by how a simple line could vary and show all kinds of qualities and textures within it.  

This course is part of a series of educational modules on Chinese calligraphy and literati paintings for highs school students designed by Xueqing Luo with support from the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies’ Department of Education Title VI grant.  We plan to continue the development of these educational units and make them available to K-12 teachers, students and parents.

Chinese Literati Drawings with Pencil

Chinese literati drawings with pencil by Xueqing Luo