Banqi-style Wax Resist Painting

Note: This lesson was created to be taught at the International Art Museum of America in San Francisco. If this lesson is to be replicated at another institution, some parts of the lesson plan may need to be changed to accommodate other works of art, as the pieces listed here are only available for view at IAMA.

Lesson Title: Banqi-style Wax Resist Painting

Summary/objectives: Students will learn to identify and describe the banqi style in relation to its similarities to engraving/printmaking. Students will discuss the painting style, subject matter, and philosophy  behind the style. During the activity portion of the lesson, students will emulate the style using a wax resist technique with light-colored or white crayons and watercolor.

Observation

Work 1. (I Casually Paint Simply for my Amusement Without Any Attachment)

Discussion: Let’s talk about the name of this painting. Can anyone say in their own words what it means? Why do you think the artist called the painting this? Why do we make art? To have fun! Do you agree with the name of the painting? What do you see in the painting? How do you think it was made? What would you call this painting?

Work 2. My Brush Produces the Effects of a Carving Knife without Losing a Strong Scholarly Effect #206

Discussion: This one has a lot more going on than the last one! What is this painting of? what do you think about this painting versus the last one we looked at? Can you see anything hiding in the trees?

Work 3. Old temple in Spring in Which No One Is Seen #230

Discussion: Here is another banqi painting, but this one is mostly in three colors. Which colors are in this painting? Where can we see that the artist had fun and didn’t worry about messing up the painting?

Activity: In the galleries, students will be given paper and pencil to lightly sketch their painting, either from a work in the galleries, or from their imaginations. They will be encouraged to work for “Amusement without any Attachment”, having fun rather than worrying about their art being perfect. Downstairs in the lobby, students will trace their sketches in white or light colored wax crayon. Using watercolor, they will paint over their sketches, the wax resist leaving behind negative space reminiscent of the negative space in banqi works, or in engraved prints.

Follow-up:

Do you remember the name of the first painting we saw upstairs? I Casually Paint Simply for my Amusement Without Any Attachment. What do you think about this, now that you’ve made your own art in this style? What does your painting mean to you?