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A Classical Eye: Chinese Brush Paintings of the Botanical Garden from the Teachers and Students of The Pine Studio

September 4 - December 30, 2019

Works by noted artists Janny Huang and Joseph Yan of The Pine Studio together with several of their students reveal San Francisco Botanical Garden through the lens of traditional Chinese painting. "The Garden is an endless source of beauty and amazement, and an inviting challenge to a painter," say Huang and Yan, "so it was natural that we would one day want to organize an exhibition of works about the Garden and its inspirations through the lens of Chinese Brush Painting."

The exhibit showcases the Garden in a range of classical styles from a grand landscape of the Great Meadow to a set of detailed images of magnolias, all reflecting the prevailing styles of various Chinese eras. 

In addition to paintings by Janny Huang and Joseph Yan, A Classical Eye features works by: Yetta Allen, Marilyn Bancel, Martha Cheung, Eileen Lai, Miki Pan, Teri Reina, Michelle Tsao, Li Wang, Nikky Wang, Katy Yan, and Petty Yao. 


About The Pine Studio Artists


Janny Huang and Joseph Yan are both graduates of major art institutes in China. Additionally, Joseph graduated from the Art Institute College of San Francisco. Their work has been exhibited and collected internationally.

As teachers they ran The Joseph Fine Art School in San Francisco for 23 years and continue their classes now at Joseph and Janny's Art Studio in Daly City. The eminent educator and author Herbert Kohl wrote his charming book, Painting Chinese, about his experiences as their student.

Janny and Joseph named The Pine Studio for the large pine tree in their garden. Observing the tradition of identifying where an artwork was made, they often stamp a finished painting with their Pine Studio chop.

More about the Artists here >>

Pine Studio chop.jpg

About Chinese Brush Painting

Traditional Chinese brush painting uses water-based techniques that reflect its ancient origins in Chinese calligraphy. It is more stylized, more abstract and may be less realistic than Western styles. It emphasizes the importance of white space and may also be said to favor landscape painting over portrait art.

When calligraphers eventually began to incorporate images from nature, they kept their same brushes while maintaining their calligraphic and ink-only sensibilities. Color washes were finally introduced in the Tang dynasty (618-907), but with an ink-based heritage, colors were generally muted compared to Western tones. Present-day approaches now may employ brilliant color, but that style is clearly understood to be a departure from tradition.

The three major styles of Chinese brush painting encompass Calligraphy, Impression or Freehand Style, and Elaborate or Meticulous Style, all of which have specialized tools, materials, and sub-styles. The styles have overlapped and cross-pollinated over many centuries. In any style, however, once a brushstroke is made, it cannot be changed or erased. This makes Chinese brush painting a particularly demanding art form that requires years of training.


Framed original artwork and unframed prints are available for sale with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Library

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