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Bird and Flower, Landscape, and Figurative
Chinese Painting


            You are part of a new group of painters that are looking to create a name for yourselves.  One day, while walking down the street you spot a poster with an ad that catches your attention.  The poster is an announcement for a new restaurant that is opening in your area.  The owner is looking for the best carpenters, interior designers, sculptors, potters and painters to decorate the restaurant in a way that gives it a classical, traditional and authentic Chinese atmosphere. He wants the guests to feel like they have been transported back in time to ancient China once they walk through the door.  This is the perfect opportunity for you and your group to make a name for yourselves.  If your paintings decorate the restaurant, hundreds of people will see them daily!  You call the owner and he asks your group to come in to show your portfolios. The owner likes your work and wants you to create three paintings for his restaurant. He wants one bird and flower painting, one landscape painting, and one figurative painting.  Sounds simple enough but there’s just one problem; the owner knows a lot about ancient China and will be a tough judge on the authenticity and quality of your paintings.  You will be competing against other painters and to ensure your groups work gets accepted you must do your research first.


            You will be working with two other artists to research traditional Chinese paintings and create three different paintings that reflect traditional Chinese technique and subject matter.  Your group will create a bird and flower painting, a landscape painting, and a figurative painting.  Each painting will include a one page persuasive description and a title.  The final paintings will be submitted with the sketches and notes that were used in the planning process.


Getting Started

  1. You will be placed into groups of three.
  2. Your group must first research and familiarize yourselves with traditional Chinese paintings and their elements.  Discuss how the research will be broken up between the group members.  When researching you should look for information on how the paintings were created, why they were created, how the formal elements were used, what mediums were used, the significance of the paintings, what different types of traditional Chinese paintings were there and what role the poems or narratives, seal, and calligraphy played in Chinese paintings.
  3. Use the following websites to do research and collect information.

    Chinese painting:
    1. Traditional Chinese painting - introduce landscape painting, brush painting and more
    2. Splendors of Imperial China: Treasures from the National Palace Musuem on Asianart.com
    3. Chinese painting - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    4. Chinese Ancient Painting
    5. China's Ancient Theory of Painting
    6. Chinese Painting, Classical China Painting, Chinese Art

Compiling the Research

    1. After the research is finished the group needs to share and organize their information.  Below are some tips for organizing the research.
        • Read, discuss and share with each others notes and begin to pick out some main points and broad ideas.
        • List smaller facts under the main points.
        • Draw connections between key concepts.
        • Do not forget to include history and purpose in addition to technique and characteristics.
    2. After sharing with each others findings the group will create an organized final draft of information.  The information can be formatted in an outline, web, chart or whatever format appeals to the group.  Remember, the final draft of the notes must effectively and clearly organize the information.

Planning and Creating the Paintings

    1. After the notes have been organized the group will have to create three ancient Chinese paintings.  One painting must be an ancient Chinese bird and flower painting, one must be an ancient Chinese landscape painting and one must be an ancient figurative painting.  Below are examples of each.

Bird and Flower ancient chinese painting
Ancient Chinese Landscape painting
Ancient Chinese figurative painting from Tang dynasty
"Loquats and Mountain Bird" Chinese Southern Song Dynasty (1127–1279) "Buddhist Temple in the Mountains" 11th century, ink on silk Scroll of the Portraits of Emperor Sima Yan of Jin, silk painting, Tang Dynasty

2. Decide which group member will be assigned to each painting.

3. Refer to the notes on the history, purpose, characteristics and technique for each type of painting.  This information will help you plan out your painting and make it more authentic.

4. At least two planning sketches per painting should be completed before starting the final painting.  These sketches will be presented with the painting and description.  It is important to get the groups input when panning the paintings.

5. When planning and creating your paintings consider the mediums used, the purpose of your artwork and the message or story that is being communicated through the imagery.

6. Give an appropriate title to each painting.  Make sure they are neatly mounted or framed and ready for presentation.  A neat presentation will help to impress the restaurant owner.

7. Below are some web sites that have images of ancient Chinese paintings.  These images can be used as inspiration.

1. Chinese Painting, Chinese Landscape Paintings, Finest Chinese Paintings on Silk and Paper - Scroll Paintings
2. Chinese Art. Chinese Paintings. Painting Gallery, and oriental paintings
3. Chinese Paintings and Fine Chinese Art. Original Chinese Painting.


Writing the Description

  1. Included with each painting is a description.  The description should include the following information:
      • The title, medium and subject of the painting (bird and flower, figurative or landscape)
      • A description of the process and techniques used.
      • A description and justification of the formal elements used.
      • A description of the authenticity of this painting: relate it to history, purpose and explain what aspects of this painting connect it to ancient Chinese painting.  This description should show the restaurant owner that you know what you did and why you did it.
      • A list of the titles and artists of paintings you looked at for inspiration.
  2. The description should be in between one and two pages long and typed in Microsoft Word using 12 pt Times New Roman font.  Make sure that as a group you proofread each others papers.


  1. Your group will present the project to the teacher.  The teacher will be playing the role of the restaurant owner.  Your job is to convince the owner that your paintings are high quality and a direct reflection of ancient Chinese painting.  Before presenting make sure your paintings are neatly mounted or framed and you have your notes and descriptions ready.
  2. Each group member will have a couple minutes to present the painting they created and explain its connections to ancient Chinese painting.
  3. During the presentation the teacher will ask you questions about your paintings.  Each group member should make sure they know the information about all three paintings.  The teacher can ask any group member about any of the paintings.  The teacher may ask:
      • For personal opinions and justifications.
      • About a specific element in a painting.
      • How specific characteristics relate to ancient Chinese art.
      • What the painting is intended to communicate.
      • Why this painting would fit in the restaurant.
      • About any historical ties the painting has.
  4. After the presentation, the group will fill out an evaluation on their group members and turn in their paintings, descriptions, rough individual notes and information outline.

            The point divisions are based on the follow rubric.  Students will receive a group grade and an individual grade.


Points Possible

Points Earned




Thorough, use of websites, detailed




Paintings and Descriptions:
Good painting technique, detail, relevant, connections made, authenticity, craftsmanship




Presentation/Group Evaluation:
Organization, knowledge of subject, information, clarity, consistency





Teacher and Student Evaluations:
Attendance, participation, quality








            Completing this WebQuest has introduced you to the process and history of ancient Chinese painting.  You have developed your researching skills and learned how to work in a group to complete tasks.  You have gained experience in creating ancient Chinese paintings, making ties between your painting, culture and history, and professionally presenting your work to an audience.  To understand something one must understand where it came from.

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Disclaimer: This web page is created for educational purposes and is not for profit. It partially fulfills ART331 Technology in Art Education requirements at Eastern Michigan University. All information and image sources are noted on the page.

Copyright 2007 Brandon Ursing