Chinese Brush Painting: Studying Hongren (Jian Jiang)
Tutor: William CaiCourse Code: 3219-16


Through face to face instruction and with demonstrations, this course will introduce the work of the famous artist Hongren (1610-1663), also known as Hong Ren or Jian Jiang, who was a famous painter in the early Qing dynasty, China. In this workshop, through the study and research of Hongren's works, we will understand and master the essence of Chinese painting from the Song and Yuan dynasties: simple and beautiful composition, concise shape, strong brushwork, and the spirit of the work.


The tutor will demonstrate the painting process of the chosen works and guide you through one or two similar styles.
Through face-to-face demonstrations by the instructor, you will study and master some of the special performance techniques of Chinese painting.
Hongren (1610-1663) was a famous painter in the early Qing dynasty. He had the upbringing of a traditional scholar, but his pursuit of an official career was cut short by the Manchu invasion, and he eventually took vows as a Buddhist monk. He is the best known of the 'Four Masters of Anhui', members of the Xin'an (or Anhui) school of painting, who developed their own individual styles.
Hongren is also one of the famous 'Four Monks', along with Zhu Da, Shitao and Kuncan, all painters of the late Ming who became monks in protest after the conquest by the Manchus (the Qing dynasty). Their paintings were individualistic and innovative, expressing their feelings, especially the loss of the Ming dynasty. Their work was very influential on later Qing painters.
Hongren has an important position in the history of Chinese painting, changing the conventional form of landscape painting used since the late Ming dynasty. He studied the landscape techniques of the Song and Yuan dynasties. In particular, Hongren’s style was influenced by the Yuan dynasty landscape painter Ni Zan.
Hongren’s paintings convey his deep understanding of the mountains and streams. As he drew inspiration from Huangshan (The Yellow Mountains) and other famous mountains, he advocated learning from nature, which brought new vitality to Chinese landscape painting, and sketching from nature. His landscapes are usually large scale. They show simplified forms, and are empty, cool and calm, showing an idealized world: perhaps expressing a wish for less turbulent times, perhaps showing loneliness and isolation. His brushwork is sparse, dry, and elegant.

Please bring with you

  • Large, medium and small Chinese brushes (at least one of each)
  • A Bottle of Chinese Ink
  • A box of Chinese colour (or, Gamboge, Indigo, Burnt Sienna, Vermillion Carmine, Rouge tint and White colours, each one PCS)
  • Some rice paper (Xuan paper)
  • Felt or old blanket (about 1m2)
  • 2 or 3 white dishes to be used as palettes

The following items can be purchased from your tutor

The tutor will have some materials available for purchase if required:
Ink: a bottle for £4;
Chinese colour: each tube of 12ml for £1; a set of 12 colours for £8.00;
Chinese brushes different size from £2 - £10;
Rice paper (70cm x 135cm) for £1.50.


Suitable for all levels

Course Location

Missenden Abbey
Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire HP16 0BD


William Cai

William CaiWilliam (Wei Min) is a veteran Chinese painting and calligraphy teacher. He has taught Chinese calligraphy and painting in the UK for more than 30 years.
William has taught and worked at the British Museum, the Westminster Library, the National Gallery, the Princes Foundation Art School, and many other art associations.
He is very experienced at Chinese landscape paintings, flower and bird paintings, meticulous paintings, and freehand paintings, especially in traditional styles.
He believes that doing Chinese painting and calligraphy can make people happy. In the process of painting, you can cultivate your body and mind.
5th to 6th Aug 2019
Monday to Tuesday


9amCoffee on arrival
9.15amWelcome and tutor introductions
9.30am-1pmTeaching session
1-2pmLunch for all
2-5pmTeaching session
6.45 for 7pmDinner for residents
7-9.15amBreakfast for residents
9.30am-1pmTeaching session
1-2pmLunch for all
2-5pmLast teaching session

"The course was wonderful." (Summer School 2019)

"Another great workshop with William.  There is a lot to learn and it's fun!  William is very skilful and knowledgeable." (Summer School 2019)

"Williams information was very helpful with the most enjoyable subjects to paint" (March 2020)