Tradition Mission

Old Beijing in pencil painting

Updated: 2011-01-24 16:02

By Cong Fangjun (

Twitter Facebook Myspace Yahoo! Linkedin Mixx

Get Flash Player

I nterview:Yang Xin, Folklorist

"I have liked painting since I was in third grade. After graduating from middle school, I was accepted by Hebei Normal College and majored in art. I was writing articles and taking news photos for a newspaper for almost 20 years after graduation. During this time, I was too busy to paint. In the 1980s, Beijing developed rapidly, and thousands of Hutongs were demolished. As a photo journalist, I took a lot of photos, which was the easiest and most direct way to record how Hutongs were changed. But as time went by − in 1998 and 1999 − I realized that I couldn't express my deepest feelings through photos, because it's not recreated, but record. So I started to paint pictures again.

At first I got into trouble trying to paint, because I majored in oil painting and it's hard to depict the change of Hutongs in oil painting. As we all know, a Hutong is a typical structure of Beijing and typical living space for ancient people. Oil painting takes a lot of time, and it's a Western form of art which I think has certain limitations. Therefore, I asked for advice from experts, artists and good friends. We discussed which way is the best way to illustrate, and finally I decided to use the colored pencils.

Actually colored pencils have been widely used in Europe and other countries in the last century. But Chinese people regard the colored pencil as a simple tool which cannot express deeper feelings. Despite that popular belief, I made up my mind to draw the pictures with colored pencils. From this came the first batch of pictures about Hutongs. On one hand, I wanted to express the feelings evoked by Hutongs. On the other hand, I wanted to find out whether I could create a different way of painting.

So I started to try German pencils, French pencils, Taiwan pencils, Japanese pencils, American pencils...I tested a number of the pictures in the sun again and again only to examine the discoloration. Finally, I developed my own way of painting. Until now, I have dedicated myself to painting ancient Beijing for more than ten years."


NPC & CPPCC sessions

Lawmakers and political advisers gather in Beijing to discuss major issues.

Self-made aircraft

An automobile mechanic in Northeast China made a test flight of his self-made aircraft which cost about US$395.

Venetian Carnival

Masked revellers celebrate in Saint Mark's Square in Venice.

All about the Year of the Rabbit
President Hu visits the US
Ancient life