Sue Lindemulder, Art Teacher

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Music: Zai Na Yaoyuande Difang (In a Faraway Place )

Chinese Scroll and Screen Painting

A one day lesson plan for 6th grade by Sue Lindemulder

In California the sixth grade Social Studies curriculum includes the study of China. A study of screens that are used as room dividers and scrolls that are used as decorative wall hanging fits into that curriculum. This type of room decoration is just as useable today as it was hundreds of years ago. This type of decoration allows for change with the seasons. The identity of the seasons is a part of the Chinese cultural heritage. These pieces of art are particularly easy to move from one location to another or store until the next year. If there are Asian students in class they may have scrolls at home, which they will be able to share with the class. Most of these items are available in a virtual art museum that can be found on the Internet.

Early 2-dimensional Chinese art dates from the T'ang Dynasty (618-9o7 AD). The subject matter of traditional Chinese painting falls into three categories:

  1. The human figure engaged in every day activities
  2. Landscape, because it could transport people away from worrisome life to a place to a place of tranquility, and
  3. Flowers, birds and other animals these also included trees, grass, and stones.

The "four gentlemen" (plum blossoms, orchids, bamboo, and chrysanthemums) are also frequent subjects. In China poets were painters and painters were poets. It was common to find poetry included on the painting along with the chop of the artist. At some point the artist began to include the name of the person to whom the painting was to be given.

Chinese painting does not include any depth perspective.


  • 9" X 24" paper (accordion fold 6" X 4" for screen or 1" along the 6" side for use with the scroll)
  • Watercolor paints and/or colored pencils
  • Brushes (#10)
  • Newspaper
  • Water container and water
  • Pictures of birds, flowers and, trees
  • Ribbon, yarn or, string


Have students paint directly on the paper with little or no pre-drawing. Screens are used with the paper used horizontally. When creating a scroll use the paper vertically. Students may use ideas or images found in several photos. Students should not copy a picture whole. In Chinese painting it is not necessary to paint in the whole background. Although there is often a great deal of detail depicted within the subject area background detail is usually omitted.

When the scroll is dry have students. apply glue to 1/4" of the one-inch fold. and glue down. Thread about 20" of ribbon, yarn or, string through the opening at the end so that the scroll can be hung.

California Visual Art Standards, 6th grade, used 2.1, 2.5, 3.2 and 4.1.