My father is a Chinese traditional artist (porcelain painter) whose works are almost all large in size. He said that he doubted Zentangle’s potential, due to its size, when he first saw my actual Zentangle tile which was about the same size as the palm of my hand. But I had an great idea when I started to learn Zentangle: Zentangle building. With my twenty-year experience of construction and architecture, I knew I could do something special on a larger scale with Zentangle.
Zentangle village: A grander project than zentangle building, by which even more space is utilized.
“My hometown? Pretty girl/ clean air/ beautiful environment.”
I had never heard of this village either before going there.
This village is home to the Hei yi Zhuang ethnic group, which has a lifestyle in which they tend to never worry about money, promotional advertising, or career development. Instead, they prefer to fish in the local river or pick herbs from nearby hillsides. Although financially they are rather poor, they seem to feel so happy. Fishing/ basking/ singing/ dancing/ chatting/ drinking – things that people in modern urban life work so hard to earn, the Hei yi Zhuang seem to easily enjoy.
It clearly shows that money can do nothing for happiness.
Because more and more modern barracks have recently been erected, this small village has become crowded. There tends to be no painting/ no plants/ nor any decorations. As members of XMCOLOR （Beijing ximan color city landscape design Co.LTD ), we went to here to see if we could help them to recover their village environment in a way that respects their local traditions.
It reminded me of Zentangle when I saw their national costume with its rich patterns. I wonder how it would look to use reddish mud as a color, and to draw Zentangle on the yellowish mud walls, and Ms. Yu Ximan, president of XMCOLOR, supported and encouraged me to complete this project.
为配合城市宣传配合母亲节，公司举办的“感恩母爱 携手美育 共建桃源——西蔓携手谱美公益大使 广南坝美公益行”活动从广州一路到坝翁村，禅绕画这种极其简单有趣的绘画正好也让公益大使们亲自为村子谱写上美丽的一笔。
In order to promote Guangnan County during Mother’s Day, XM launched a charity, “Thankful mother’s love, aesthetic education together, build our heaven—XM invites Charity Ambassador to visit Bamei Town”, which enabled the Charity Ambassadors to beautify the village via Zentangle.
第一天，2017.5.10 . The first day.
I needed to test the reddish mud before ambassador’s arrival to ensure the arts activities go well.
The original wall is built of brick, but we coated it with yellowish mud, made of local soil. I thought maybe the surface is too uneven for a mud base on which to draw Zentangle, so I also prepared an acrylic paint, just in case. Mr. Guo prepared the reddish mud, and I asked for a bowl of it.
我心里很坎坷，会怎么样呢？ I worried, what about….?
嗯，似乎还行…… Hmmm, seems okay….
很顺滑… … It goes on smoothly….
心里小小窃喜 Yeah ……
Mr. Guo and Miss. Liting, stood there staring at me blankly, but they realized quickly that the material seems okay. I started to persuade them to join me.
Gradually, they started to become immersed in the beautiful Zentangle world.
We were so excited, leading to more and more of the area becoming covered by Zentangle.
Later, I found some children stood behind us, excitedly chirping, (I don’t understand their language), watching carefully.
“Do you want to try?” I started to pursuade again.
“I don’t know how.”
“I can teach you, very easy.”
“But, I am afraid.” They hesitated.
“It’s really easy, look at this, only a circle, just a simple circle is fine.” Finally, this boy picked up a brush and drew a circle. And more circles (it is #tipple as we know, a very simple Zentangle pattern) around the area. And it continued, with more patterns he learned later.
Another boy finally couldn’t help drawing for a while.
And another girl learned a rose…
“I drew some on this wall”. He is so proud of it.
Today’s attempt is so successful, and unexpectedly attracted children’s interest.
第二天，2017.5.11 The second day.
As expected, ambassadors like the activities so much, and quickly started to become so busy to drawing their own Zentangle world on the wall.
The secretary of party committee of Bumei Town became excited too when he saw the wall covered with beautiful Zentangle, and thought about developing an enormous project with Zentangle.
The children came up around me after the ambassadors left for more tasks. They asked to help me and for new patterns to learn, and I was so excited about it , an even better feeling than when I had finished a creative artwork of my own.
This child is the grandchild of the home’s owner. He is so happy to join us to create art out of his house. It seems the Grandmother understood what I asked, and helped the child know what needed to be done, although I don’t understand her language. Art is beyond language, isn’t it?
A heavy rain forced me to another place, and I had the children stop to avoid the rain. But when I returned to hotel, I found the children were still there, for they didn’t stop, they were still drawing. They had fallen in love with Zentangle.
On the third day we were unable to do Zentangle.
It is now the fourth day, Friday.
Children came to me after their school again. It seemed to be nothing special. But I found the concept of teacher is only a vague notion here in the village. For instance, a little boy wanted to learn #Rain by looking at the paper from my notebook, for I told him that way would be easier for him to draw it. Then I looked after another children’s question. Later I found the elder boy who learned from me first was teaching others the way that I showed to him. Maybe he is the youngest “Zentangle teacher” ever, who could take both the roles of student and teacher. I contemplated a phrase, “the best way to learn is to teach somebody else”.
Here is an another example. The man pictured here with a straw-hat is the headmaster, who stood behind his students for more than half an hour, watching us. I asked him “ Why not have a try? Your students can teach you.” Finally he was happy to take brush to start his first Zentangle, but following his students. I made a joke about this to him, “Now the teacher is student, student is teacher”. Children dare not to openly agree to the idea. But the headmaster agreed about this, for he said, “Yes, why not, you are your teacher’s teacher”.
When I told them, that Zentangle founders Maria and Rick include many other Zentangle artists, they were all so excited about this movement, and praised and encouraged them. They were so excited about the news too, and hope someday they can meet with Maria and Rick to learn from them directly.
The Children helped me to clean the bowls and brushes.
The fifth day, Saturday.
Today I gave the villagers a basic class, Zentangle 101. The conditions here are very primitive, no normal desks or chairs, and only two short tables that serve as the dinner-table. Some people need to squat. But they are all earnestly making their art.
The Zhuang nationality is very skilled at their own form of traditional embroidery, and I hope so much that they can mix their traditional pattern into Zentangle.
Our president Ms. Yu Ximan draw on the wall together with the children.
President Mr. Wang, likes the huge tipple, and I taught him to change it into #Jetties, so that the image looks more 3D and rich. He learn it very quickly and created his own patterns already, amazing.
The sixth day was our final day to draw upon the wall, and we needed to devise a nice ending for the wall. The Children were already my eager assistants.
We added a little bit more patterns to the wall.
And we started on another new wall.
Does it look like a huge pineapple?
We made a group photo with these tiny artists in front of our work today
We displayed our achievement via an exhibition of these four days of work.