He Sudan, a sand painting artist who has settled in South China’s Hainan province, is renowned for her stunning depictions of the 24 solar terms on the Chinese calendar using sand. As she sprinkles fine sand onto a drawing board, she transforms it into stunning images with just a few movements of her fingers. Within seconds, flying snowflakes, dried tree branches, and a reading girl behind a window of a farmhouse with white walls and gray tiles magically appear, all to depict the xiaoxue (Minor Snow) solar term. Her recent work on xiaoxue has garnered more than 1 million views on Xinhua News Agency, and many people online have commented that they have a more vivid understanding of the 20th solar term, which fell on Nov 22 this year.
Since the beginning of this year, He Sudan has created sand paintings revolving around the theme of the 24 solar terms on the Chinese calendar. Her series of works have been translated into different languages, such as English and French, and have altogether received more than 100 million views. The sand painting artist says, “I had wanted to do the solar terms series for a long time because the related rituals have preserved the romance that belongs to Chinese people. Those terms are ancient wisdom that has been obtained through constant exploration over the long course of history. I want to use sand painting to show the passage of time and our farming civilization.”
He Sudan’s sand paintings have become a means to showcase the passage of time and the evolution of farming civilization. She says that it usually takes her a week to create a single piece in the series, including filming and editing. Before starting work on each painting, she researches the elements of the upcoming solar term and finds the best of its characteristics. As our country is vast, and expressions of the solar terms vary by region, she has to extract the symbolic elements that everyone can identify with.
Her sand paintings have found immense popularity among people worldwide, who have praised her work for its artistic brilliance and historical significance. Her artwork offers a glimpse into the lives of ancient Chinese people and their agricultural traditions, which continue to influence the country’s culture and lifestyle. Through her sand paintings, He Sudan has revived interest in the 24 solar terms and has successfully preserved ancient Chinese wisdom and cultural heritage for future generations.
He Sudan’s sand paintings are an excellent example of how art can serve as a medium to preserve cultural heritage and history. Her work on the 24 solar terms of the Chinese calendar is a tribute to the ancient wisdom that has stood the test of time. Through her art, He Sudan has created a bridge between the past and present and has helped people worldwide understand the significance of the solar terms in Chinese culture. Her work is a reminder that art can be a powerful tool to connect people and create a sense of shared history and culture.
According to He Sudan, sand painting is a medium that can better illustrate certain aspects of the 24 solar terms in different regions of China. For example, she says that Minor Snow is better depicted through scenes in the north of the country, where its presence is more acutely felt through high-frequency cold snaps and strong winds. By using sand painting, He Sudan can capture the essence of each solar term and its impact on the people and landscapes of different regions.
He Sudan also adds modern elements to her sand paintings to reflect the changing times. For instance, she ensures that the image of the farmer is up to date when painting qiufen, the autumnal equinox. Through her artwork, she aims to highlight the positive changes that the country has undergone and the advancements of the times. By incorporating modern elements, He Sudan provides a unique perspective on the traditional concept of the 24 solar terms and makes them more relevant to contemporary audiences.
Several of He Sudan’s works have been reposted by Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying and several Chinese ambassadors abroad. He Sudan says, “I feel that I have achieved my original intention of bringing the traditional romance of China to the world and letting people see Chinese sand art. But it is not enough, and I will continue to create more works on the subject in the future.” Through her art, He Sudan aims to share the rich cultural heritage of China with the world and to promote an understanding of the country’s traditions and history.
He Sudan’s childhood experiences predisposed her to sand painting. She recalls, “There was a river near my home, and I would go there every day to play with the sand.” Her love for sand painting began at a young age and has since developed into a successful career. By drawing on her childhood experiences and passion for sand painting, He Sudan has created a unique and innovative approach to depicting the 24 solar terms.
He Sudan’s use of sand painting to illustrate the 24 solar terms is a testament to her skill as an artist and her deep understanding of Chinese culture and tradition. Her ability to incorporate modern elements into her artwork while staying true to the essence of each solar term has made her work popular with audiences worldwide. Through her sand paintings, He Sudan is preserving China’s rich cultural heritage and promoting an understanding of its traditions and history. Her work serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving and celebrating cultural diversity and heritage in our rapidly changing world.
He Sudan, a talented sand painting artist, was born into a family of painters in Central China’s Hunan province. She showed her painting skills as a child and often doodled in the sand. In 2003, at the age of 15, she was admitted to Wuhan University of Technology due to her impressive art skills, and she focused her attention on animation.
The idea of using sand to create images struck He during her sophomore year, when her professor asked the class to use different materials to create an animation. She wanted to try something different from her peers who opted for paper-cuts, clay, or other conventional materials. “I remembered the sand and found that it has a certain fluidity that allows it to be used for animation.” From then on, He focused on exploring the possibilities offered by sand painting.
He concentrated on theoretical studies of the medium as well and looked into the history of sand painting. The art form involves pouring colored sands, powdered pigments from minerals or crystals, and pigments from other natural or synthetic sources onto a surface to create images. “In fact, we can find examples of sand painting as far back as the Song Dynasty (960-1279),” He says.
The animation studies offered He guidelines and specifications to conduct sand painting. In addition to grasping essential skills, she researched and developed the history and theoretical studies of the medium. This dedication paid off in 2016, when she won the gold medal at the first World Sand Painting Championship held in Japan.
He’s sand paintings have evolved beyond mere animation into an exquisite art form that reflects traditional Chinese culture, history, and modern elements. The goal is to reflect the positive changes the country has undergone and the advancements of the times. Her solar terms series captures the essence of ancient wisdom and depicts the passage of time and farming civilization.
He Sudan’s childhood experiences predisposed her to sand painting. Her talent in painting and animation studies provided her with the necessary skills to explore the possibilities offered by sand painting. She devoted herself to developing the history and theoretical studies of the medium, which led to her winning a gold medal at the first World Sand Painting Championship. Her sand paintings reflect traditional Chinese culture, history, and modern elements, and she aims to showcase the positive changes that China has undergone through her works.
Sand painting is an integral part of Chinese culture, dating back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Evidence of this can be found in the phrase “huadi jiaozi,” which refers to the mother of literatus Ouyang Xiu teaching him how to write and paint on sand with a reed. Folk artists in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties often drew on sand to attract customers. These historical roots are important to He, who feels a responsibility to share this art form with others.
He Xiaolong, born into a family of painters in Hunan province, displayed her talent for painting from a young age. While studying animation at Wuhan University of Technology, He experimented with using sand to create animations, drawn by the fluidity and versatility of the medium. She continued her studies in fine arts at Hainan University, where she delved deeper into Chinese culture and art theory, gaining inspiration for her own creations.
He’s love for sand painting is evident in the fact that she does not tire from carrying the heavy sand painting table during performances. Each performance is an opportunity to improvise, and the fleeting nature of the art form motivates her to continue creating. Although the product of the art form is ephemeral, He has tried to extend the life of her work by using adhesive spray.
For almost a decade, He was a part of the Hainan border defense force art troupe, where she developed her artistic style and created themed sand paintings that showcased the life of frontier soldiers and the country’s development. Her performances brought joy to military personnel and enriched the content of her work.
In 2019, He became a teacher at Hainan Normal University, hoping to popularize sand painting and train more teachers for children. Her goal is to share this traditional Chinese art form with more people and inspire future generations of sand painters. “I feel that I have achieved my original intention of bringing the traditional romance of China to the world and letting people see Chinese sand art,” He says. “But it is not enough, and I will continue to create more works on the subject in the future.”
Sand painting has great potential as a tool for art education, especially among rural children who have easy access to sand and may face financial limitations. This is the opinion of He Wenjun, a sand painting artist who has set up a sand painting education facility for children with special needs in Hainan. He believes that the unique touch of sand has a healing effect on the heart and hopes to help these children through the art of sand painting. She notes that children with hearing or vocal issues are often very smart and enlightened, and can benefit greatly from this art form.
Feng Yu, a rural teacher from Qiongshan district of Haikou, Hainan, recently learned about sand painting from He and was amazed by her work. Feng attended a training session to learn how to draw simple patterns like trees, clouds, and the sea. Impressed by what she learned, Feng plans to get some equipment to study sand painting herself before teaching it to her students.
He is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in artificial intelligence and sand painting at Wuhan University of Technology. She believes that the development of any art, especially modern art, requires a multidisciplinary fusion that can deepen the work and move more people. He’s team has developed a control terminal that operates a mechanical arm to aid the creation of sand paintings featuring Chinese characters and images of landmark buildings.
Yuan Xiaofang, a professor from the university’s School of Art and Design, says He has an eye for beauty and an adept hand for expressing it. He works hard and has made an important contribution to the country’s art of sand painting. He’s ultimate goal is to enable her machine to realize novel creations based on the style of certain artists, demonstrative teaching, and user interactions. She believes that this will lower the threshold for learning sand painting and enable more people to experience its charm and fun.
In summary, He Wenjun believes that sand painting has great potential for art education, particularly among rural children and children with special needs. She has set up a sand painting education facility for children with special needs and is pursuing her doctoral degree in artificial intelligence and sand painting. Her team has developed a control terminal that operates a mechanical arm to aid the creation of sand paintings, and she aims to enable her machine to realize novel creations based on the style of certain artists, demonstrative teaching, and user interactions. She hopes that this will make learning sand painting more accessible and enable more people to experience its charm and fun.