This week I visited Dongtai folk artist Liu Yuming, who creates wheat straw paintings in the local town of Anfeng. Wheat straw paintings, as the name suggests, are works made from wheat straw, which is selected, dried, and sun-dried after the wheat harvest. The straw is then used as a raw material to make the paintings, bit by bit, by means of collage. Liu says she painted large propaganda posters during China's planned economy when there were no big printers or computer software like PS, so she had to rely on fine hand drawing. Speaking of painting, she proudly says, "I was self-taught at that time", and also has a set of her own concept of beauty of the narrative. 80's after the development of publishing and printing, in order to cooperate with publicity, design, and drawing became more important. Liu was working in those days while figuring out the art of drawing on his own.
However, looking at the content of these works, the themes of wealth and longevity, dragons and phoenixes, Chinese zodiac signs, and children, which are household names and have beautiful symbolism, have remained unchanged. The composition of the images is influenced by ink paintings, with seals around the subjects and in the corners. Of course, in order to match the propaganda of the motherland, a strong country, anti-epidemic works are also done.
"This work can't be made big, it just has to be small and fine to show the preciousness of handmade." That's what Liu says, the fineness of the handmade is important in her mind, and that's what she sees as the value of handmade.
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