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As a versatile artist, Mr. Wang Hongxiang is good at both sculpturing and various styles of paintings. At his studio on Liu Li Chang street, you can get both a painting of yourself or a clay figure in your likeness. In addition, Mr. Wang offers a large variety of calligraphies, oil paintings, traditional Chinese paintings, and clay sculptures.

His desks are filled with various clay portraits. They are depicted very vividly, especially the eyes. One figure depicting a middle-aged man really stood out. You can even count his eyebrow hairs.

It doesn¡¯t take a long time for Mr. Wang to produce a clay portrait. You just need to sit here for 30 minutes, and your portrait will be complete.

The clay is specially processed. Not being fired in a high temperature, yet the clay sculptures are quite firm.  Each one costs from RMB 100 to RMB 200, depending on the size. 

Mr. Wang's painting works combines the art of oil paintings with that of traditional Chinese paintings. Each one is inscribed with beautiful Chinese calligraphy. If you want a photo painted, but can't visit the shop, you can send your photo by mail. A regular portrait painting costs RMB 500.

What I appreciate:
Fine workmanship

What customers appreciate:
Fine workmanship, reasonable price



Even within the Liulichang Culture Street, a center of traditional Chinese craftwork, artistry and antiques, Mr. Xu Bi's calligraphy shop is quite unique. For his writing brush weighs 4.5 kg, or 10 pounds.

Mr. Xu told me he had used this heavy brush for 17 years. With it, he can write a Chinese character 7 feet tall and 3 feet wide.

The heavy brush is made up of a regular brush and a piece of iron. Writing with it exercised Mr. Xu's wrist to the point where he can now write for several hours without feeling exhaustion.

In addition to the large characters, I also found some calligraphy works featuring characters which are as small as an ant. Mr. Xu said he use the tip of a brush to write these tiny characters.

Mr. Xu started to learn calligraphy at the age of six. In the past forty years, he has never stopped practicing it. His calligraphies adopt poems and essays in ancient Chinese literature.

Prices of his Calligraphy vary quite a bit. My favorite work, which featured 5000 tiny characters, cost RMB 5000.

His shop also offers a special service: designing signatures for customers.  It costs RMB 100. With the Olympics held in Beijing, this business is doing quite well.

What I appreciate:
Great art of calligraphy, calligraphy shown on the spot

What customers appreciate:
Names written in beautiful calligraphy



Wei Sheng Hang, a shop in 798 Art Zone, holds various handmade curiosities from Taiwan.

One of the first items inside which I found interesting was "Tales by Pave". This is an impressive series of stone carvings and paintings. The stone carvings depict stories about the Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses and those from Buddhism. Each stone is about 8 x 6 inches. The stones are light and used to hang on walls. The black stone carvings contain charcoal bamboo, which can purify the air surrounding it. Price is about RMB 450.

Their colorful stone paintings feature the imitations of paintings collected at Taipei's Palace Museum. Prices vary from RMB 450 to RMB 890.

The exquisite porcelain paintings are another curiosity at Wei Sheng Hang. They are artworks of a female artist who started her art career by painting on glass. Eventually, she made a career out of painting on porcelain. Price is RMB 662.

The shop also offers the beautiful celadon tea sets and the cloth-made figurines, handbags, and pillows.

What I appreciate:
Handmade artworks

What customers appreciate:
Precious artworks, special technique


Have you thought about turning your photos into beautiful oil paintings? In Bo Gu Yi Yuan Antique Market, I found a studio offering this service. The studio name is Cai Ze Ren Sheng, which means "colorful life".

Upon entering the studio, I saw an artist painting a Tibetan girl. To the side was a photo of her. I was touched by the girl's facial expressions, depicted in detail by the painting. Her colorful Tibetan costume looked even more vivid in the painting than in the photo.

The artist got up, and introduced himself to me as the owner, Wang Zeyuan. Mr. Wang then explained to me about his paintings. They are typically 3.5 ft by 2.3 ft. It usually takes 2-3 weeks to finish a piece. However, family photos will take a bit longer.

Price is RMB 3000 for the default sized painting. Customers can ask for a smaller piece for a cheaper price.

Mr. Wang is also good at drawing the landscape of nature. Some of his oil paintings are hung on the wall, for RMB 1000 each. If you like a particular scenery, send him your postcard and to have a fine oil painting done in its likeness.

Mr. Wang occasionally receives overseas customers. Communication is not a problem, nor is overseas shipment.

What I appreciate:
Oil paintings of one's own photos

What customers appreciate:
Reasonable price, overseas shipment


Pyrography is creating art by burning an image onto various materials, like paper, silk, wood, and leather. In China, this art has been around for over three hundred years. And in Beijing today, one of the best in the business is Mr. Luo Chengxiang, a talented artist with a studio at Bai Gong Fang ¨C the Handicraft Museum.

I visited his studio recently. At the first glance, his works look similar to Chinese watercolor paintings. But upon closer inspection, I realized that it's raised on top of the surface. This gives more of a three-dimensional feel to the piece.

Mr. Luo started learning traditional Chinese painting at the age of six, and has had 50 years of experience with pyrography. One of his best works, called "The Great Wall" was collected by the President of Finland.

When I noticed how heavy his heavy brush weighed (half a pound), he told me that he has used it for thirty years, and he's used to it.

Mr. Luo, like many other studio owners here at the Handicraft Museum, works for the love of art. He opened this studio here also to allow people to enjoy these works of art. And often, Mr. Luo would make pieces for retired people for free.

Prices are not expensive. Some can be bought for only RMB 100.

What I appreciate:
Rare art worth collecting

What customers appreciate:
Work done by a master of the trade, beautiful art works


The "Four Treasures of the Study", namely the ink brush, the ink stick, paper, and inkstone£¬are indispensable to any Chinese calligrapher. Chun An Tang in 798 Art Zone is a good place to discover these treasures.

The couplet of Chinese calligraphy, which roughly means ¡°Traditional art brings you happiness¡±, on the storefront caught my eyes. It showed the owner¡¯s deep appreciation of art.

Entering the shop, I saw Mr. Miao, the owner, chatting with some customers and showing them his ink brushes. He is proud of his ink brushes, as they are all made by Mr. Li Xiaoping, a very famous crafter. As he and I talked, Mr. Miao told me how to judge a good brush. The tip, he said, should always have a pleasing shape and enough elasticity, yet does not split. Mr. Miao also let his customers try out each brush through writing, before they buy it.

Inkstones in Chun An Tang come from Wuyuan of Jiangxi province. Wuyuan is a cradle of "She Inkstone", one of four renowned inkstones in China.

Prices of the brush pens vary from RMB 300 to RMB 580. And inkstones are sold from RMB 800 to RMB 1800.

What I appreciate:
Good brush pen

What customers appreciate:
Brush pen and inkstone


 In China today, it's rare to find someone who excels at Chinese painting, calligraphy, and seal engraving. Lin Tieyang is one of these few versatile artists. He works in his shop on the second floor of Dong Fang Gu Yuan Art Market, called Yan Lin Ge.

Mr. Lin was very talkative about himself. He told me that he has been a professional artist for 27 years, and started his own gallery in 1994. His paintings combine free-hand brushwork with detailed brushwork to depict a wide range of sceneries. This includes plants, birds, and landscape.

Mr. Lin learned calligraphy from his father, who specialized in writing official scripts. His father¡¯s teachings remained with him. Even now, he writes carefully, and in detail, at least 200 small characters on one piece of paper every day. And he has found happiness in his heart exploring the art of calligraphy.

Mr. Lin works with his wife, who frames all his paintings. Prices are very reasonable, generally from RMB 100  to RMB 2000. It is one of the reasons why he has been so successful.

What I appreciate:
Experience the paintings and calligraphy first hand.

What customers appreciate:
Beautiful Chinese paintings and calligraphy display

Beijing pictures, Liu Shouben's Studio

Tobacco bottles first appeared in China during the reign of Emperor Kang Xi 300 years ago. These tiny but exquisite bottles soon also became works of art, each with its own unique features. The especially beautiful ones featured paintings inside the translucent bottle.

Liu Shouben's Studio is a boutique in Baigongfang, which sells these reverse painted tobacco bottles. The 65-year-old Liu, a member of International Tobacco Bottles Association, is a master painter whose Beijing-style paintings are favored by collectors worldwide.

All bottles here are made with jade, carnelian, quartz, or crystal. It usually takes 2 weeks to 2 months to finish the reverse painting. Mr. Liu showed me a bottle that took two months to complete. It was called ¡®The Hundred Children¡¯, and you can actually see all one hundred on the bottle! This amazingly detailed work of art cost RMB 20000.

You can also find bottles with different themes, like spring lantern feast, ancient beauties, fairy tales, and landscapes. You can even have your own favorite image painted inside the bottle. It will take one month to wait though, and will likely set you back RMB 200 to RMB 8000 pending the quality.

What I appreciate
Large selection of tobacco bottles

What customers appreciate
Large selection of tobacco bottles, Custom mix-and-match designs


Things can¡¯t be left unfinished halfway through. I wrote about West Liulichang Street. I could not avoid visiting East Liulichang Street to complete the picture.


Entering the street

The entrance area of East Liulichang Street is crowded with automobiles. In my opinion, cars and traditional architecture don¡¯t mesh well together, and the clutter lacks harmony. On a more joyous note, several rickshaw pullers wait for patrons there. This is a reminder of ancient China.


Ji Gu Pavilion

The first shop to attract your attention is Ji Gu Pavilion, a three-storey traditional building. Two stone lions keep guard on each side of the main entrance.


The first floor of the Pavilion displays the Chinese four treasures of study, as well as antiques, porcelains, silk, rugs, Chinese paintings and handicrafts. I noticed some leaves and feathers with delicate paintings on each, priced at RMB 20 each.


On the second floor, an art exhibition was going on. In the western wing of the second floor, there is a teahouse where you can enjoy a cup of tea, or purchase tea things.


The third floor shelters the studio of a famous artist.


Other shops

In a narrow lane on the North side of the street, there is a cultural relic appraisal center named Guya. There you can have your antiques appraised for RMB 50 per item.


Dai Yue Xuan is a shop with a long history. It specializes in writing brushes, ink stones, China ink, rice paper, Shou Shan stone seals, and other calligraphy-related articles.


Towards the middle section of the street, on the North side, the Tian Fu Tea Shop carries jasmine tea, green tea, black tea, oolong tea and pu¡¯er tea.


Ping Gu Zhai, Tibetan art

As I was strolling along, I became suddenly aware of a Buddhist music melody. I turned into the direction the music was coming from, and it turned out to be coming from Ping Gu Zhai, a shop specializing in selling Tibetan ornaments, jewelry and clothes. An attractive and mysterious atmosphere permeated the place.


Small curio shops

The other section of the street counts several small curio shops. The owners are warmer and friendlier than the employees of large shops, and prices here are much lower as well.


May you find out some treasures at low prices. Good luck!


In the Di¡¯anmen Wai Street, a strong artistic atmosphere emanates from a very attractive shop. Its name: Chuanghengda 102 Art Roomage.


It specializes in clay ceramic works created by folk artists: pottery art, clear clay gold bricks and cricket pots, wood carving works, Dehua porcelain, colored sand & gold foil silk craft pictures, etc.


Through the clean windows, passersby can admire various clay figures which attract them in.


A lofty purpose

The shop owner aims at shouldering the responsibility of promoting traditional Chinese culture, enhancing art, and paying close attention to artworks that are bridging the gap between tradition and modernity. The owner makes great effort to introduce folk art into our spiritual life. He has collected typical and original works of art from folk masters who have succeeded in combining life and artistic creation.


The art selected by the shop is famous for its excellent quality and distinctiveness.


Clay ceramic figures

When clay is infused with ideas, a lifeless matter becomes a pottery with soul. According to the saying, art roots in life but surpasses it. Quite right. Many clay ceramic figures offered by the shop have succeeded in recording villagers¡¯ simple and charmingly naive life vignettes.


The most humorous and impressive clay ceramic work may be this very strong village mother standing with her big feet apart, bulging her belly. A little boy is standing in front of her, raising his head and sucking on one of her breasts; another little boy is standing on the mother¡¯s buttocks, sucking on the other breast. The mother opens her big mouth, laughing brightly and enjoying the happiness of feeding her children. The whole scene cannot but bring a smile on your face.


Another interesting image features a villager sitting cross-legged on the ground, playing a two-stringed musical instrument, opening a big mouth with his chin up, and singing heartily as if he is the only one on Earth.


Clay ceramic works are the primary items carried by the shop. They brim with local flavor, and immerse their viewers into a simple and unadorned gentle mood.


Others items

Others works of art such as cricket pots, wood carving works, Dehua porcelain, etc. are equally attractive.



Most of the clay ceramic works cost RMB 1000 to RMB 2000. According to the shop owner, customers usually can benefit from a slight discount.


What I appreciated

Agreeable shopping environment, strong artistic atmosphere, fascinating works of art with local characteristics.

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Beijing Shopping: At Mr. Wang Hongxiang 's studio on Liu Li Chang street, you can get both a painting of yourself or a clay figure in your likeness.