How to paint your dragon

Roaring good time: Chiang (right) helping his students with their dragon paintings for Chinese New Year. — THOMAS YONG/The Star

JOHOR BARU: For the past two months, art teacher Chiang Kek How has dedicated hours guiding his students in creating the perfect traditional dragon paintings to usher in the Chinese New Year.

Chiang, 51, said they started the dragon paintings about two months ago so they could complete them in time.

“I wanted my students to come out with their own designs instead of just copying paintings made by others.

“It may not take that long to complete a painting, but the difficult part is coming out with a design that is unique and in line with Chinese culture.

“It could take months for a person, even experienced artists, to come out with a design. As such, I have to start the lesson early so that they can have the painting ready by Chinese New Year,” he said in an interview.

Chiang has been helping students produce paintings related to the 12 Chinese zodiac signs every year for the festive season.

“The 12 zodiac signs are very important for us, and I want my students to experience painting each of them.

“This year we are focusing on painting dragons,” he said, adding that the paintings are made with watercolour and traditional Chinese paintbrush.

Chiang, who has been teaching Chinese traditional art for over a decade, said he also took the time to explain to his students the meaning behind each element of the painting.

“In order for them to come out with their own design, they need to understand the meaning behind each colour and shape.

“This will allow them to make better choices when designing so that the final painting will be one that is unique and meaningful,” he said, adding that he has about 20 students who are between 11 and 72 years old.

The father of two, who has been painting for over 20 years, said he also encourages his students to teach others so that the tradition will continue on for generations.

“I know how difficult it is to find someone who could teach traditional Chinese art, and that is why I decided to teach. I hope that my students will also be able to do the same,” he said.

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