Enlightenment of My Childhood

In my childhood, there was no enlightening education, especially for painting. Sixty years ago, in the depths of the country of my hometown, it was hard to see a picture, let alone a drawing teacher.
  In my memory, the earliest pictures I saw were in my mother’s room: one was a New Year picture in which a beautiful woman was holding her plump baby in the arm; another was a pair of mirror-screened pictures with some flowers like wintersweet or peony. Both of them were my mother’s dowries.
  In addition, what gave me the deepest impression was the pile of books in the attic of my old house. Most of the books were the magazine that I knew later was Dongfang Zazhi, the East Journal. In the eyes of a little boy like me at that time, very, very big were they in which there were many pictures: film stars, genre paintings, cartoons, and the like. They were so attractive that I looked on over and over, again and again.
  As for the Chinese traditional paintings I saw in my early times, they have remained fresh in my memory till now. It was in the houses of other people that I accidentally saw such paintings that maybe were authentic works in my earliest memory.
  The first time was when I, at fourteen years old, went to sell orange. In a small street, there was a rich and big family. Its front door whose dark coat of lacquer was almost fallen was opened. I looked in through the door, finding two paintings of landscape, flowers and birds on the wall of the central room. They were so attractive that I, forgotten buying orange, set my back basket on the ground, went silently into the room and knelt on the big armchair to look them carefully. I was engrossed in the paintings when suddenly came footsteps, so I tried to hurry my way out. “My dear child,” a kind old woman, neatly dressed, said to me, “don’t hurry to leave. Look at them carefully if you want.”
  In another time, my mother took me to visit one of my grandpas. In his central and winged rooms, there were many paintings on the wall. In one of them, two ancients were playing musical instruments, sitting oppositely, with trees, mountains and waters. The other paintings concerned about landscapes, flowers or birds were all attractive. I still knelt on the armchair to look at them carefully one by one, thinking: “Why are they completely different from my pictures? How ugly I usually draw on the ground, on the wall or on the paper!” I admired them while ashamed of my own. At that time I wanted very much to know how the painters had painted them, but I dared not want one day I could paint like that.
  Since then, I was thirst for a sample, and even for a teacher.
  But this for me was only an extravagant hope. In the depths of the country in the central part of Sichuan province, the children like me were wild grass emerging and perishing of ourselves, and grew ignorantly in our small world. The old house of Dus—my family name, where my family people had lived for generations—was my kindergarten as well as my Eden where I scribbled everywhere.
  My biggest shortcoming in childhood was to make doodles. I always drew anything I had looked and thought on flagstone, on sand, on door, cupboard, waste paper, whitewashed earth wall, and the like. And I often felt self-satisfied over such doodles although it was in disorder everywhere. Sometimes I could be praised by my pals or even by grownups but frequently I was berated for I had scribbled in the places where I should not, or I was hit on the head by some grownup with his tobacco pipe when I was engrossed in my doodle. In this way I drew my pictures, forgetting everything. How I expected someone could instruct me!
  But I had not come across anyone until I went to the county middle school. There, Mr. Huang Chun(黄纯), who had graduated from an art school, taught me Picture Drawing. Strict and stern, he always kept a straight face in the class.
  At the very beginning, Mr. Huang talked a lot about visual art, plastic art, spatial perspective, and the like, which made us confused and uninterested. Possibly he felt this was to cast pearls before swine, so that he one day started to do instead of to talk in the class.
  It was indeed a real painting class I saw in the first time, still alive in my memory up to the present.
  We had already prepared two exercise books, one grass-papered book for pencil drawing, and one water-papered book for ink painting, each fifty or sixty centimeter long, which was different from other middle schools.
  In that class, Mr. Huang, having told us to put the water-papered book on the desk, used some rice to put a piece of the same paper on the blackboard, saying, “You prepare a small dish, a cup of water, and two brushes.” With our preparation, he shouted, “Make ink!” Then there in the classroom was no any sound except the one of ink making. This perhaps was caused by his serious face and his brief words.
  “Finished?” he asked. “Finished!” we answered.
  “Good. Put down your ink stick!”
  So we did.
  “Take up the small brush. And give it two rinses!”
  So we did.
  “Dip in thick ink!”
  So we did.
  “Scrape at the edge of the cup!”
  So we did.
  “Look! Dip in thick ink! Have two twists!”
  So we did.
  “Pay your attention! Look!”
  We watched him painting. Within a minute, on his paper appeared some branches that looked artistically spaced and just right of the shades. I at once watched in a daze while admiring his inspired strokes.
  “Now,” he commanded, “imitate!” So we did with reverence and awe according to the sample on the blackboard.
  “Use the big brush!” he cried out. With his eyebrow frowned and his face straight, he was like a foreign drillmaster in the burning sun delivering command to train his recruits, a serious appearance and a sonorous voice.
  “Dip in the water! Use thin ink! Have one twist! Take a little thick ink, on the brush point!”
  Oh! A stroke like this has its own thick and thin, smooth, and natural, so that the leaves painted with such strokes look fresh and alive. At that time in the class, admiring Mr. Huang very much, and being satisfied with my own copy, I was extremely excited with every cell of my body skipping and jumping about, just as an opium-eater who had enjoyed smoke to the full.
  Whenever I remember the class, I think of Mr. Huang, full of my reverence. As the result, in the only two times when I returned to my native town, I paid my special visit to him.
  The first time was in 1959 when Mr. Huang was nearly sixty years old.
  It was in a teahouse that I met him. At a distance, I saw a grey-bearded man sitting in a bamboo chair, a big drawing book on his hand. Once I recognized him, I went quickly in front of him, saying, “Hello, Mr. Huang!” He looked uneasy, hurrying to put the book to his bosom. I pretended not to have noticed his action, only to speak out my name very slowly and to tell him that his student came to look in him. “Oh,” he said, “I know.” And then, he let me sit down, and asked another cup of tea.
  At the time, he recovered his natural manner, again a serious and calm one. I found that he was almost the same with the teacher in my memory, except his grey hair and his unsmooth face.
  I politely offered him a cigarette and lit for him, saying that I was sorry not to visit him for a long time, that it was fortunate for me to get his teaching, and that I would never forget his favour. He immediately responded with politeness that he did not deserve my words, and that he was satisfied if not to have misled the students.
  And then, I told him my early story in search of a drawing teacher. Once upon a time, my father brought me, a little boy, to a teahouse where he met a drawing teacher, Mr. Wang. My father told him that I liked drawing pictures and asked him to teach me. But unexpectedly, Mr. Wang did not take any care at my father’s words, only to chat with others, and I felt very, very embarrassed. After the story, I then told Mr. Huang that it was in the middle school that had my first drawing teacher so that I felt extremely happy and especially grateful.
  Mr. Huang got delight with my good memory, and invited me to go around the middle school.
  On the way to the school, we had a free talk. I said that in those years I feared him very much for he was hot-tempered. I could still remember that once an old student, about two dozens of years old, made a joke to Mr. Huang, and Mr. Huang asked a school worker to carry a bundle of bamboo into the classroom, pressing the old student on bench to beat his ass. With half a dozen of the broken bamboo pieces aside, I was so afraid of his terrible cry that my hair stood on end. After hearing this, Mr. Huang forced a smile, saying that he was in the time too young to forgive his students, which was not good.
  When talking, we arrived at my Alma Mater. A belt of wall was built at the foot of the hill. On each side of the front door stood a big oak, and this kind of tree could be seen here and there in the school. The school had come from a temple. It was named the Wen-Zheng Middle School, after Sun Wen (Sun Yat-sen) and Jiang Zhongzheng (Chiang Kai-shek), originally a private school. In the front of the classroom that had been changed from the Tianzidian Hall (the Hall of Son of Heaven), we were likely brought back to the past, talking a lot about the interesting events of my schooling days. And at last, we waved good-bye to each other, reluctant to leave the old school.
  The latest time I visited Mr. Huang was in 1995 when he was an octogenarian.
  In an afternoon of the late autumn, the grey-white sunlight was slanting on the rough road of flagstone. Along the both sides of the small street stood the old grey houses, two rows of stooping old men. If there was not a popular song in the air, you must feel that you were in an old street before a century.
  Once again, I saw that familiar doorframe, declined on one side. At one glance, I recognized the old man was my teacher, Mr. Huang Chun, leaning against the doorframe, a walking stick in his hands.
  I hurriedly went up, said eagerly “Hello, Mr. Huang!” and made a deep bow to him. Having opened his cloudy eyes, he looked me carefully for a little while, and said, “It’s you, Yongqiao! Come, into my room!”
  His eyes and his voice evoked immediately my past memory: a tall young teacher, with his face bright, serious, stern, loud-but-clear-voiced in class as if a commander delivering his command, making my ear ache; I wanted his instruction but feared him to be close to my ear.
  Here, I helped him, much shorter now, into the room where his daily wares were clear at a glance: one bed one table and two stools, spotted, old and broken like some unearthed relics. I put a bag of gift on the small round table with its coat of lacquer fallen. Having waited him sit down on one stool, I sat down on the other that protested under my weight.
  An honest and simple man, Mr. Huang had kept his duty all him lifetime. During the Great Cultural Revolution (1966—1977), he suffered persecution so much that he made an attempted suicide by jumping from a building to the ground, with his leg broken as his deformity forever. Worse than that, his wife was dead years ago. And at the present time, his living was supported only by his daughter’s slender income.
  Looking on his silver hair and his wrinkled face, I seemed to see a lonely old man, stooping more and more, appearing and disappearing in the schoolyard. Suddenly, a fit of sad feeling surged up in my mind.
  Mr. Huang was deeply moved with my visit, saying, “You’re well-known, which is recorded in the county annals, but you’d like come to see me. Apart from you, none of my students have come and visited me though I have many of them. Thank you for your sending me Xuan paper, ink, brushes and pigments.” As he spoke, his cloudy eyes glistened with tears.
  I said, “You’re my first teacher guiding me correctly to draw and to paint. Perhaps, I have a little achievement, but that should be contributed to the favor of your teaching. An old saying goes like that the favor of a water drop should be repaid with a spring of water. I’m not able to do like that, but I’m at least able to come and see you, repaying a little of your kindness.”
  Smile on his face, Mr. Huang handed me a pile of his paintings, and asked me to speak of my opinions. Moved and apprehensive, I said, “You still make efforts to paint in your so high years that I really admire you. Don’t think too much. Just paint as you please.” He nodded with smile.
  After a while, he invited me out to eat. I asked a bowl of rice noodle to save his money. And then, he took me into the teahouse, introducing me to the people, and saying that it was his biggest satisfaction to have me as his student.
  In the Beimen Street, I took with him a photo that I have selected to put in one of my painting collections published in recent years. Mr. Huang is my be-loved teacher forever.


I'm Done Making My Kid's Childhood Magical

If our grandmothers and great-grandmothers could see the pressure modern mothers put on themselves, they'd think we were insane.
Since when does being a good mom mean you spend your days creating elaborate crafts for your children, making sure their rooms are decked-out Pottery Barn Ikea masterpieces worthy of children's magazines, and dressing them to the nines in trendy coordinated outfits?
I don't believe for a moment that mothers today love their kids any more than our great-grandmothers loved theirs. We just feel compelled to prove it through ridiculously expensive themed birthday parties that have do-it-yourself cupcake stations with 18 types of toppings and over-the-top gifts.
For a few years, I got caught up in the "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better" parenting model, which mandates you scour Pinterest for the best ideas, execute them flawlessly, and then share the photo evidence with strangers and friends via blogs and Facebook posts.
Suddenly, it came to me: We do not need to make our children's childhood magical. Childhood is inherently magical, even when it isn't perfect. My childhood wasn't perfect and we weren't rich by any stretch of the imagination, but my birthdays were still happy because my friends came over. It wasn't about the party bags, perfect decorations, or any of that. We popped balloons, ran around in the backyard, and we had cake. Simple. But when I look back on those times, they were magical.
Christmas. With four of us kids and a limited income, my parents bought maybe two gifts per kid. There was no Elf on the Shelf all month long monitoring our activities and getting into photo-worthy trouble. No special Christmas jammies. Very few decorations, if any. We didn't even make cookies. What made that time of year simply ethereal for me as a child was huddling in one bed with my brothers thinking we could hear Santa's reindeer on the roof. It was so much fun to try to stay awake, giggle together, and just anticipate the next morning. It was magical. I did not feel as if I lacked for anything.
I don't have a single memory of doing a craft with my parents. Crafts were something I did in preschool and primary school. The only "crafts" I recall were the ones my mother created in her spare time. The hum of her sewing machine would often lull me to sleep as she turned scrap cloth into hair accessories to sell and hemmed our clothes.
At home we played. All the time. After school, we'd walk home from the bus stop, drop off our backpacks and my mom would push us out of the house. We ran around with the neighborhood kids until dinner. Times are different now and very few of us feel comfortable letting our kids wander, but even when we were inside, we played with our toys and video games. We made blanket forts. We watched TV. We slid down the stairs on pillows. Our parents were not responsible for entertaining us. If we dared to mutter those two words, "I'm bored," we would be handed a chore.
I look back on those times and smile. I can still recall what it felt like to have carefree fun.
My parents made sure we were warm and fed, and planned the occasional special activity for us (Friday night pizza was a tradition in my home), but when it came to the day-to-day, we were on our own to be kids. They rarely played with us. Apart from the random empty refrigerator box scrounged from the back of an electronics store, we weren't given toys outside of our birthdays and major holidays. Our parents were around in case we needed something or there was accident, but they were not our main source of entertainment.
Today, parents are being fed the idea that it benefits children to constantly be hand in hand, face to face, "What do you need my precious darling? How can I make your childhood amazing?" You can't walk through Pinterest without tripping over 100 Indoor Summer Craft Ideas, 200 Inside Activities for Winter, 600 Things To Do With Your Kids In The Summer. 14 Million Pose Ideas For Elf on The Shelf. 12 Billion Tooth Fairy Strategies. 400 Trillion Birthday Themes. 

Parents do not make childhood magical. Abuse and gross neglect can mar it, of course, but for the average child, the magic is something inherent to the age. Seeing the world through innocent eyes is magical. Experiencing winter and playing in the snow as a 5-year-old is magical. Getting lost in your toys on the floor of your family room is magical. Collecting rocks and keeping them in your pockets is magical. Walking with a branch is magical.
It is not our responsibility to manufacture contrived memories on a daily basis.
None of this negates the importance of time spent as a family, but there is a huge difference between focusing on being together and focusing on the construction of an "activity." One feels forced and is based on a pre-determined goal, while the other is more natural and relaxed. The immense pressure that parents put on themselves to create ethereal experiences is tangible.
I've been told we went to Disneyland when I was 5. I have no memory of this, but I've seen the faded photographs. What I do remember from that age is the pirate Halloween costume I wore proudly, picking plums from the tree in front of my house, intentionally flooding the backyard garden to teach myself to skip rocks, and playing with my dog on my front stoop.
I have not one memory of the vacation that my parents probably saved for months for: the vacation that was most likely quite stressful. The "most magical place on Earth" in my childhood was not a theme park; it was my home, my bedroom, my backyard, my friends, my family, my books and my mind.
When we make life a grand production, our children become audience members and their appetite for entertainment grows. Are we creating a generation of people who cannot find the beauty in the mundane?
Do we want to teach our children that the magic of life is something that comes beautifully gift-wrapped -- or that magic is something you discover on your own?
Planning elaborate events, daily crafts, and expensive vacations isn't harmful for children. But if the desire to do so comes from a place of pressure or even a belief that the aforementioned are a necessary part of one's youth, it's time to reevaluate.
A childhood without Pinterest crafts can be magical. A childhood without a single vacation can be magical. The magic we speak of and so desperately want our children to taste isn't of our creation, and therefore is not ours to dole out as we please. It is discovered in quiet moments by a brook or under the slide at the park, and in the innocent laughter of a life just beginning.
We constantly hear that children these days don't get enough exercise. Perhaps the most underused of all of their muscles is the imagination, as we seek desperately to find a recipe for something that already exists.


Jujuskin in Africa for skin care

  When I was in Africa, my interest in the natural world took root during my childhood in Africa. I remember the smells, the tastes, the colors, the street life, and the assorted creatures wandering in and out of doors. I remember playing at the trunk of a big tree with my brother, creating our own little world among the roots.
  JUJU means magic among some West African peoples, and to me, the Baobab is exactly that. Using different parts of the tree, I started mixing creams and scrubs at home in my kitchen. Working with these magical ingredients opened a new dimension of the natural world for me. I tested the formulas on myself, and my skin started to glow.I made JUJU for everyone, so we would not have to cover, color, and scent ourselves, disguising our individuality. These products care for our skin, enhancing the unique and subtle beauty in all of us.


Look for Mammy


My daddy named me Wei wei(卫唯), and I am 3 years old now. Today I wanted to draw though I have a broken heart. Before my daddy and mommy always quarreled and I am lonely with my mommy leaving us. Whatever, I drawed! The drawing is here as the following!

skull like

Do you like my drawing?

Mommy does not like her, so her left eye is with tears; Little friends do not like her, so her right eye is also with tears. But my daddy liked her, I brought her home!

I wanted to draw Mommy liked Hello Kitty originally, but drawing uncle told me that Hello Kitty was gone, was it because that my mommy was not here? But my little pig is also lovely?

Pig with tears

I don't want to leave from daddy, I want to be together with mommy and want to play together with other children.

My daddy always says I am lovely though I often awake him in the mid-night by asking for mommy.

Daddy told me that he liked Mommy and Mommy would be happy if she left from us; Daddy told me that he also liked me, must I leave from daddy to look for happy?

But I would rather stay together with Daddy and hoping who can see my Mommy and tell her I really really miss her! Daddy also really really miss her. Daddy and me is eager for her being back.

My picture is here now. Mommy told me before that  if who made her see my picture, she would be back. Would you please help to send my picture to her.





My Childhood

Born in Jan 1978, I am the second child in my family. My mom says I am a “Snake” because she gave birth to me at the end of Lunar year Snake, while I prefer to say I am “Tail of Snake and Head of Horse”. 
  We lived in the countryside of a county near to Fuzhou. Mom is a traditional peasant, and in her mind, the responsibility of her life was to get enough food for the family. She worked hard, leaving for the farmland at dawn and never returning until late. Unlike Mom, my dad never took himself as a peasant. He seldom stayed at home, and was always busy with his friends’ and neighbors’ business, and also because of this, Mom and Dad always quarreled with each other. Though I never think my dad is a good husband, he had been a good farther, and had taught me a lot. He used to take me with him when he visited his friends, take me to the cinema, and teach me how to be a well-behaved and polite boy. 
  In 1983, at the age of 5, I was sent to the kindergarten. Unlike my brother who was taken to the school by force, I like schooldays. The tuition was only one yuan, but we got balls of different sizes to play, and were taught many songs and games. What’s more, the school provided cakes and candies occasionally. Half a year later, our teacher gave birth to a baby, and the class was dismissed. 2 weeks later, I was happy to know that the baby became a member of my family as an adopted daughter. In the following half year, I stayed at home, helping my mom to take care of my sister.
   I resumed my study the following year. In primary school, my academic record was excellent, and was awarded as “San Hao student” each year. At that time, the school got little fund, and nine out of ten the rewards were 5 or 10 notebooks, so that was the only thing I could gave away generously to friends. I remember most of our teachers were from neighboring counties, and they lived at school. There was neither gas nor micro-oven in 1980s, and we cooked by burning dried leaves or tree branches. Our school was located at the foot of a hill with a creek in between, and once a month we will collect dried branches and leaves from the hill for our teachers, and all of us were proud of being able to do something for the school and our teachers. 
  Each year, we grew crops and vegetables, and mom also raised many cattle and fowls. Ever since my childhood, I had been a good hand to my mom. I would prepare the meals after school, and accompanied my mom to irrigate our crops late at nights. I helped my mom with the farm work also, but luckily I had never been a good farmer. On weekends, I would herd our buffalo with my friends. Buffalo is a kind of tamed animal, and we would ride on it while herding, imaging we were on horses. And if we were rid of doing that, we would tie them to trees, and played in the creeks. My mom would not allow me to learn swim, so I was always laughed at when the other kids were swimming joyfully in the creeks and I had to take cloths for them. And I also acted as a baby-sitter. At first, I liked my little sister much; as my mom was very busy, she used to “tie” my sister on my back, and I carried her wherever I went. But each time my neighbors would joke on me, referring to my sister as my child bride. Gradually, when I found out what that means, I rejected to carry her with any more, and my poor sister had to be stay at home and enjoyed herself. 
  In those days, we seldom got pocket money from our parents, so most of us got money by collecting and selling some kinds of herbs. Apart from buying some socks, I spent most of my money on rubber, pencil boxes—at that time, colorful pencil boxes were the best thing to show off among my little classmates. 
  From mid 80s, people in my hometown started to do some business cautiously, hoping to have more “Da tuan jie—the nickname for 10 Yuan note” in their pockets. Gradually some WanYuanHu appeared, among whom was one of my uncles. He raised white rabbits for their furs, and did earn some money. A couple of years later, my jobless farther started to raise rabbits also. However, that turned out to be a complete wrong decision as by then there had been too many rabbit raisers, and several months later my brother and I were the only happy ones in our family to enjoy delicious rabbit meat each day.
  After that, my farther tried some other business, but each time he ended up with failure. During those years, Mom still raised her cattle and fouls to support the family, which she thought were the right things for farmers.
   In retrospect, childhood was the happiest time in my life. I had few toys, no TV, and never had a chance to travel, but I derived a lot of fun from the nature. I net fishes, caught birds, herded cattle and even stole fruits occasionally. Over 20 years has passed, but I am still nostalgia for those days


My cherished childhood memories

Footsteps of years walk ceaselessly,having gone too soon ,I had already spent more or less than 30seasons. The most cherished memeory was when I was living with my grandmother,and at that time my ancle and aunt were in their 17’.I am their little pet ,an apple of their eyes, they gave me pin money, gave me little toy bear who have music that was magical to me at that time; the little plastic toy people who can move, when you twist the the mental that in the back of him. They hold me in their arms to sleep.Sure enough I had a happy childhood.My grantparets always took me to the field ,in there and I can turn the grass upside down ceaselessly to seize the grigs with curiousity,did not afraid the lalaseedling the grass that always scratch my skin.eventually I seized a grigs,its my triumph,I laughed and laughed,then I can observe him in the colse range,there! who had the legs full of saws,with two antennas in his slippy head , the wings he weared like a gentleman, I liked it very much!so I made the house for he,I dig the mud with my childhood friend, made the mud square shape,dig the mud out from the squre big mud ,then there had the space,I fecthed stickes and made them orderly pluged in the mud, and there were gap for fresh air and wind ,then the grips house was done.I put he in his big house ,with a grass in. put it besides my little creature made the my life happy.

summer is a beatiful season. I always barefooted ,with platic bags full of water in left hand ,and a stick attach a plastic bottle on its top in my right hand,dash to the pond edge, to salvaged the tadpole. They always in a great group ,as I through the bottle to the pond ,I always had many of them in my bottle,then put them in my plastic bag and dashed to home with much green alga in the bottle. I ask my grandparents give me the big transparet glass bottle to put them in ,with the green alga.At the beginning I can see the black creature with the green alga,the color which mathched so well,and I always mixed the ltttle white rock in ,sat still to watch the happy tadpole cheerfully swam from here to there. every now and then they will go to the little rock to sucked ,I like them .I discovered they should have friend on land,and I put the grig together with them ,i changed the bud house for grig to the glass caned bootle with the cap made holes by my aunts ,they can see each other,they lived harmoney with each company. .….The first time I learn to ride bycicle,which was newly bought for my little aunt, but I eagerly to ride it ,my anunts put  me on and holded it for me and loose hands lets go of his fingers, letting me balance myself, I scared cheerfully, after many times runed into ricks ……my cherished memories was my childhood,the frist day I wore new clothes with the new school bag; when I got to school and was late for lesson all the time Always day dreaming in the class till I don't even know the lessons done Then my teacher always tell me never ever be lazy again. played and always having fun with the nei***our next to me ,until the setting sun, Those were the days of my past I miss my hometown I miss my old friend When will I see them I recall the childhood full of happiness,that cannot come again,which are our treasure,the first time make house for the little creature and bring them up,the first time changed the water for little creature and watched them gradually from big head black tadpole to green big eyes frog………….today I have no time to dash to the pound with feetbared and even have I will shy…I no longer have the simplicity.The natural grass will not surround our house but the manicured lawn. All the plastic material surround fresh air but everynow and then smell the chemical from the dump…