Exceptional art students learn Eastern culture

Alice Zhou, calligraphy and brush painting teacher, shows various art students the techniques of brush painting. Many of the students present were rising freshmen, and this served as their introduction to the high school art program.

On Thursday March 27, Alice Zhou, artist in residence, held a workshop for some of Leesville’s art students. She taught the students, including myself, the techniques and differences in brush painting and calligraphy from traditional art.

The workshop began with her demonstration of the basic brush strokes. These were then integrated into our first painting of a bamboo shoot and leaves. After this, she taught us how to write “bamboo” in Chinese symbol.

art2“Today when I came here, I was really excited, [because like any school], people are always so interested to try their best and [learn about] new cultures” said Zhou.

As students, we listened intently to her directions and were fascinated by the ease in which her skill came to her. We then painted two panda’s playing with each other, using the previously learned strokes and techniques.

Zhou said, “Everybody was so good, also, it was so quiet.” She explained how impressed she was by the behavior of the art students and their concentration on the project at hand. “Not only that, I think they did an amazing job for their first time. It’s really difficult. [They all performed] much better [than average beginners].”

With only a few minutes left in the class period, she showed us how to paint an orchid plant using our bamboo brushes and ink. It was a great finale, and we were thrilled with all the paintings we had created with Zhou’s guidance.

Zhou explains that her passion for brush painting and calligraphy is deeply rooted in her artistic family. “I did it by myself first, then I had a private [calligraphy] teacher.”

When Zhou came to America 19 years ago, she was encouraged by her peers’ and fellow artists’ interest in her artwork. “It makes me happy to see people here, in a different culture, so interested in Chinese culture.”

Zhou’s demonstration of exceptional artwork and teaching was immensely appreciated by myself and the other art students.


  1. The project was the result of a grant written by Ms. Stevens and funded by Duke’s Asian/Pacific Studies Institute as part of their Artists in the School Program. The Chinese calligraphy and brushpainting workshop helped students understand the global, historical, and cultural contexts of the visual arts and will be integrated into broader studies of Asian art in the future.


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