Chinese painting & papercutting at the next CK Culture Workshop on November 18th!

Join us at our tranquil Culture Center in the Songzhuang Art District on November 18th for our next Traditional Chinese Culture Workshop. This month, try your hand at painting and papercutting!

Read on for more information about these fascinating subjects and how you can sign up today!


In China, the traditional style of painting is called ‘Guohua’ 国画 (‘national paintings’) to distinguish it from Western styles of painting such as oil painting. There are two main types of Guohua: ‘Gongbi’ 工筆, which uses colour ink in small amounts and is extremely detailed with fine brushwork; and ‘Shuimo’ 水墨, which uses either black ink in various concentrations or coloured ink and is usually done in a freer style, using few brush strokes and details but conveying the essence of the subject instead. Both styles commonly depict animals, flowers or figures, with landscapes considered the highest form of painting.

The earliest Chinese ‘paintings’ are geometric patterns found on pottery, and it was only during the Warring States Period (475-221BC) that paintings began to represent the world around the artist. From the Eastern Jin dynasty (266-420) onwards, painting became highly appreciated and being able to paint well was considered essential for any well-educated scholar or aristocrat. Up to the Tang dynasty (618-907), there was a focus on painting the human figure, but after this time landscapes became more popular, including the famous ‘Shanshui’ 山水 paintings (called ‘mountain and water’ because the subject is usually landscapes).

The ‘Four Treasures of the Study’ are the main tools used for both calligraphy and painting (in fact, traditionally the two went hand in hand, and the influence of calligraphic techniques can be seen in many ‘Shuimo’ 水墨 paintings). They are the brush, usually made of animal hair, the ink, made of soot mixed with glue, paper (or sometimes silk) and an inkstone, which the dry ink was ground on and mixed with water.

In this class, you’ll learn about the history of Chinese painting and the tools used, and look at some famous examples. You’ll practice some techniques and common motifs before making your own painting on a piece of card ready for framing!


Papercutting is one of China’s most famous folk arts. Probably originating sometime in the 2nd century, its possible that the techniques had already formed through cutting other materials, such as leather, even before the invention of paper by Cao Lun in 104CE. Due to paper’s perishable nature, few papercuts are preserved in the archaeological record. The oldest are five papercuts dated to the Southern and Northern dynasties (420 to 589) found in Xinjiang, where the dry climate helped preserve the delicate paper.

Papercutting is done using folded paper and scissors or a sharp knife. The most common motifs are auspicious characters (for example, double xi 喜 for wedding blessings or fu 福 for good luck at Chinese New Year), zodiac animals, birds and flowers. Almost all motifs have another meaning behind them, for example, the combination of magpies and plum blossom signifies ‘joy filling you up to your eyebrows’ (喜上眉梢). As papercutter Ms. Duan told us however, ultimately “the papercutter can create something from their own imagination”.

In this class you’ll learn how to cut some common characters and motifs under the guidance of an experienced teacher.

As well as these two workshops, participants will enjoy a presentation on the language and history of Chinese painting and papercutting, Chinese tea and snacks, and join us at a local restaurant for a delicious dinner of Chinese dumplings!

Event Schedule

13:00Pickup from Sanlitun (Tuanjiehu)
14:00Arrive, have tea and snacks, welcome talk
14:00 – 15:30Chinese painting class
15.30-16.00Tea Break
16:00 – 17.30Chinese papercutting class
18:00 -19.00Dinner
19:15Head back to the city
20:15Arrive Tuanjiehu

All of the above, including transportation, snacks, drinks, materials, activities, dinner and native-English speaking hosts, can be booked for just 528RMB per person/988RMB for 2 people. Place are limited to 6 people. You’ll be able to take home the awesome works of art you created to impress friends and family!

Chinese Culture Workshop with Cultural Keys

Date: Sunday November 18th 2018
Location: CK Culture Centre – Songzhuang, Tongzhou
Pickup: 1pm at Tuanjiehu Subway Station (Exit D)
Drop off: 8.15pm at Tuanjiehu Subway Station (Exit D)
Places: Limited to 6 people
Price: 528RMB per person/988RMB for 2 people
Payment: Prepayment via WeChat, Alipay, bank transfer or cash at our office

Alternatively, if you would like to book a private culture workshop event for yourself and a group of up to 6 people, feel free to get in contact. We’ll be happy to arrange it for you!

For more information about this culture workshop, or to book a private workshop for your friends, family or colleagues, please email us at [email protected] 

If you have any questions, or would like to confirm your place, please add NicD1280 on WeChat. Please note that we do have a cat and dogs on the premises, so if you are allergic to either, this event might not be suitable for you.

We look forward to having you join us for this exciting cultural event!

Starting from October 15th 2018, Cultural Keys will be publishing all our new posts on our new Official WeChat Account, with greater functionality and easier access to all the events, information and offers that you have come to know Cultural Keys for. 

In order to stay up to date with everything Cultural Keys is doing, together with our partners and all the other organisations that Cultural Keys works with, please head over to our new account by scanning the QR code below and following us there.To thank you for following our new account, everyone who follows between October 15th and November 15th will be entered into a prize draw. On November 16th, we will choose three names randomly, and those people will win one of the following prizes;

3rd prize – a 100RMB gift voucher for the CK Culture Boutique

2nd prize – a free custom-made calligraphy voucher (worth 500RMB)

1st prize – two free places on one of Cultural Keys’ monthly culture workshops (worth 988RMB)

Once you follow our new account, please add AJDonnelly on WeChat, and let us know that you have followed along. Your name will then be added to the list the winners will be chosen from.