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: Fangfa-style Stippled Animal Portraits
Summary/objectives: Students will learn to identify and describe the fangfa style in relation to scattered ink techniques and pastoral or animal subject matter. They will compare fangfa animal portraits to more detailed, delicate styles and discuss the effect of the styles on the presentation of the subject matter. During the activity portion of the lesson, students will emulate the style using watercolor and a stippling brush technique.
Work 1.Brushwork resembling Smashed Jade #211
Discussion: Why do you think the artist named his painting that? What kind of animal does this painting depict? Do you see how the artist might think the brush strokes look like smashed stone?
Work 2. Cat of Unique Charm #43
Discussion: What kind of animal does this painting depict? How does the cat look like it would feel? How does the tree look like it would feel?
Work 3.Year of the Buffalo #32
Discussion: What kind of animal does this painting depict? How does the buffalo look like it would feel?
Work 4.Shepherd Boys and Fighting Crickets #512-2
Discussion: How does the buffalo look like it would feel in this painting? How does this style of painting, though it is also of boys and a buffalo, differ from fangfa? Which style do you think looks easier to paint in? Which one do you like?
Activity: Students will sketch their animal portraits in the galleries, either from the paintings, or from their imagination. Downstairs in the lobby, they will experiment with recreating the scattered ink effect with watercolor, painting in a dry-brush or stippling technique.
Follow-up: What do you think of this style of painting? Is it easier or harder than paintings you’ve done in the past? Why do you think the artist chose to paint in this style? Would you paint in this style again? Why or why not? What does your painting mean to you?