Octogenarian Xinjiang farmer paints floral life

2023-December-8 09:32 By: Xinhua

Shi Taiheng creates a traditional Chinese ink painting at his home in Erqi Village of Qitai County, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Nov. 28, 2023. (Xinhua/Xiong Congru)

URUMQI, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- Shi Taiheng, 83, has a remarkable talent for both cultivating apple orchards and creating beautiful traditional Chinese ink paintings with his skilled hands.

The seasoned farmer has dreamed of being a painter since he was a child. Influenced by his father, who painted in his spare time, and his brother, who is an art teacher, Shi's love for art began to bloom at a young age. He would spend hours scribbling, dreaming of one day becoming a professional artist.

However, his childhood was plagued by hunger and poverty in the war-torn country before the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Shi had to forsake his painting brush and take up the hoe and the sickle to make a living. Sixty years ago, in pursuit of a better life, the young farmer and his wife left their ancestral home in central China's Henan Province and moved to Qitai County, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It was there that they discovered vast, sparsely populated land that was ideal for growing crops.

In the village of Erqi, Shi had grown fruit for around four decades, expanding his 40,000-square-meter apple orchard to a 100-hectare plumleaf crab apple planting demonstration base before he retired 10 years ago.

Now, with his sons taking over the care of the fruit trees, the old man has ample time to follow his passion for painting.

Every day, Shi spends hours sitting at his desk, preparing inks and drawing on Xuan paper. The self-taught painter is adept at painting gongbi, a careful realist technique contrary to the interpretive and freely expressive xieyi style. His subjects range from flowers, birds, countryside scenery and rural life.

"I love painting peonies the most, because the peony is a traditional famous flower in China and represents peace and prosperity, which mirrors the life of Chinese farmers today," Shi said.

The more Shi continues to draw, the more noticeable his progress becomes. Many people have asked if they can collect the works of the "fruit farmer painter."

Shi plans to return to his hometown province next year and visit the city of Luoyang, which boasts the country's best peonies. There, he said, he could shadow a professional painter and further improve his skills.

This photo taken on Nov. 28, 2023 shows a view of Erqi Village of Qitai County, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. (Xinhua/Xiong Congru)

Editor: ZAD
More from Guangming Online


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's, GMW.cn makes no representations as to accuracy, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information.