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Millcreek Journal

Chinese workshop to transform students into artistic wordsmiths

Feb 09, 2024 01:37PM ● By Peri Kinder

Students at the free Chinese painting and calligraphy workshop, held at the Millcreek Library, will learn techniques to create their own Chinese artwork. (Photos courtesy of Wu Xu)

Chinese art and calligraphy is an art form rooted in tradition and cultural significance. For centuries, Chinese artists have used intricate brushstrokes to catch the essence of nature, history and community.

The Salt Lake Eastern Art Club will hold a free six-week Chinese calligraphy and painting workshop at the Millcreek Library ((2266 E. Evergreen Ave.) on six consecutive Wednesdays, starting Feb. 28, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The course is geared toward K-12 educational professionals but is open to anyone 12 and older. 

Chinese artist Yanqi Tong leads the painting portion of the workshop that will offer a unique, hands-on experience in the art form. Attendees will learn how to use Chinese ink and brushes to create their own paintings.

“All the lines are actually drawn in a particular Chinese black ink. You have to use different grades of blackness, from light black to dark black,” Tong said. “And we use special paper and Chinese brushes. We do the painting, then we add a little bit of color to the painting.”

Sponsored by the Utah Division of Arts and Museums Art Education Program, the National Endowment for the Arts, Salt Lake County Libraries and the Millcreek Arts Council, all supplies for the course are paid for and attendees can take their brushes, ink and paper home.

Wu Xu, president of the Salt Lake Eastern Art Club, teaches traditional Chinese calligraphy, which coincides with the painting. She will introduce five basic types of Chinese script. Having an artistic background is helpful but not necessary for enrolling in the workshop, and attendees don’t have to read or speak Chinese. 

“This Chinese art workshop is mainly to introduce Chinese culture and calligraphy is a written language from an ancient time that’s really deeply connected with Chinese culture,” Xu said. “I will teach calligraphy related to the painting. In Chinese painting, the signature and the title of the artwork are part of the whole art piece. I will teach those characters related to the painting so the student can build calligraphy skills into the painting to promote its meaning.”

Although the workshop is focused on art, Xu said there are myriad benefits to learning the practice of calligraphy. The Salt Lake Eastern Art Club is a nonprofit that often goes into schools and senior centers to teach people the value of concentration and meditation the practice of Chinese calligraphy provides. The club can also be found at local events, holding demonstrations or teaching attendees how to write their names in Chinese. 

“You have to be interested in this kind of art because Chinese painting is a very different type of art,” Tong said. “This way you can learn to appreciate these kinds of artwork.”

Space is limited to 12 students at the workshop. K-12 education professionals may receive a certification of completion for future recertification points. To register, visit

“I want to give credit to the Millcreek Art Council and the Millcreek Library,” Xu said. “We really appreciate their interest and support.”