In China, it is usual to see some folk artists producing sugar paintings with liquid sugar along the streets, in the parks, and touristic areas.

InternChina - Chinese sugar painting
InternChina – Chinese sugar painting

The artist sits before a wooden stand where there is a polished slab of marble in the middle. On the side of the stand is a bamboo arrow and a wooden plate painted with various patterns in a circle such as a 龙 (Chinese dragon), bird, dog, or a flower basket.

InternChina -Sugar painting is especially popular among kids
InternChina -Sugar painting is especially popular among kids

Children especially usually select a figure by spinning the arrow on a wheel which will randomly land on such popular figures as a dragon, fish, monkey, dog, bird, or flower basket.

Sugar painting is very different from normal painting and was originated from the Ming Dynasty when sugar animals and figures were made in molds as part of a sacrifice in religious rituals. In the Qing Dynasty, sugar painting gained more popularity. At that time, many people made a living by sugar painting, shouldering a carrying pole and setting up stalls in crowded streets, in front of theatres and busy public places.

InternChina -Me and my Sugar Dragon 2012
InternChina -Me and my Sugar Dragon 2012

There are two main categories: plane painting and solid painting. For the plane painting (which is the easier one), the painter uses the brown sugar or white sugar as the raw material, the bronze spoon and a shovel as the tool, and the slab of marble as the “paper”. To acquire liquid sugar, the artist has to cook the solid sugar in a pot before painting. Since the hot liquid sugar could freeze solid if it cools, the artist has to produce his work very quickly.

Using a small spoon to scoop the syrup which looks like silk and thread, the handi-craftsman concentrates his strength on the wrist and takes the spoon as a brush pen, rising and pausing strokes, up and down, left and right. Soon a sugar painting of an animal, flower or a bike is finished, and the painter separates the painting from the marble with a shovel, puts a bamboo slice on the painting or wraps it with a transparent plastic bag.

InternChina -Separate the painting from the marble with a shovel
InternChina -Separate the painting from the marble with a shovel

If you have a sweet tooth or an eye for art – apply now to enjoy the Chinese culture and everything it has to offer. 

 

X