A constant theme in Xiu Yingtong’s works is her interpretation of “serenity.” Drawing on an affection for traditional culture, Xiu builds brilliant Chinese landscapes with her paintbrush.

Xiu, a graduate of the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts, includes many boats in her creations. In her latest work, Floating Away, she depicts a world of leisure where a boat glides across a shimmering lake. It’s a scene that’s beautiful, tranquil and close to nature.

Since childhood, Xiu has dreamed about becoming an artist. “Any job in this world can leave you with conflicted emotions, but painting will not. When I pick up my paintbrush, it’s just me and my canvas,” Xiu says. As a university student, Xiu studied how to utilize “tranquility” as a separate artistic language. It was a direction that left her with more information than she could process, especially considering the breadth of Chinese tradition.

“I never intended to paint ‘traditional culture’. I just appreciate China’s creations, and culture became a natural process rooted in my mind,” Xiu says. “There is still a long way to go if I decide to pursue traditional culture as my research path. I’m sure is I’ll end up transferring some of my thinking to oil paintings in future.”

Xiu longs for a life in tune with nature: it’s easily seen in all her landscape works. Green mountains in mist, shimmering lakes, boats and sky are Xiu’s favorite subjects. The vivid, fresh colors she uses imbue each scene with vitality. She wishes she could be like the boats in her paintings, silent and free.

Xiu says the serene and vital feelings in her works come from her inner world.

“I believe the audience can see the artist’s mind through his or her works. It can be hard to hide. I put my inner peace and concentration into my works. If the audience can take a deep breath and feel relaxed in front of my painting, then my job is done,” Xiu says.

True peace doesn’t come from the world outside: it is hidden in our own mind, Xiu says. It’s hard to imagine a 27-year-old artist as being so calm and reserved, totally isolated from the vanity and glamor of China’s expensive art market.

But her vision for her future is as simple as it is humble: to never stop painting. Xiu compares herself to the soaring heron in one of her works, Cloud and Heron. The bird hovers above Chinese palaces and shifting clouds. The contrast between the free bird and still palace communicates a kind of beauty.

“The heron is flying hard on the path to art,” Xiu says. In the process of completing the painting, she pondered how China’s ancient artists completed their magnificent works.

“I am so in love with each of my creations. Selling them is hard. As a young artist, I am quite happy I have plenty of time to spend with my paintbrush,” Xiu says. “I want to draw with a pure heart and determination, and I’ll wait for the possibilities that will come to me in the days ahead.”

Karena Hu

About Karena Hu

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Karena was born with the English name Karen but decided to add an “a.” She dreamed of a career in astronomy, but bad scores in physics kept her out of the science department. She seeks other worlds in reading and writing and is a super fan of the Hunger Games trilogy.

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