A Man and a Horse by a Stream | Artopia

Hua Yan

A Closer Look

Hua Yan uses lines to create the shapes of the man, horse and trees in this painting. He then uses more lines to show details within these figures. Line is the most basic element of design. In math, line is described as a series of dots connected to one another, creating a path. Hua's lines are soft and flowing. His artwork was used to illustrate his poetry. Try writing a poem and illustrating it with a line drawing. Use your lines to express emotions in your drawing.

About the Painting

Here Hua Yan depicts the kind of ordinary, funny-looking subjects that the Eight Eccentrics liked to paint. His horse is small and pot-bellied and so is the man holding the reins. In the upper right-hand corner of the painting is one of Hua Yan's poems written in Chinese characters, drawn with a brush in a process called calligraphy. The red square is the artist's signature, made with a special stamp dipped in red ink.

About the Artist

Hua Yan was a very well-known painter of his day who liked to paint funny animals and pictures that went with stories. He was part of a group of artists called “The Eight Eccentrics” who broke many of the rules of traditional Chinese art. They used strange compositions and odd, wiggly brushlines, and their subjects included bamboo, orchids, rocks and ghosts. Their work marks the beginning of modern Chinese painting.


Write About It

  • Make a list of what you see.
  • How did the artist use the elements and principles of design?
  • What do you think the painting means? How does it make you feel?
  • Select two paintings to compare & contrast.