Finding balance in life and art

National artist teaches oil painting workshop in Waynesville
By Jessi Stone Guide editor | Jul 02, 2014
Photo by: Jessi Stone

Qiang Huang’s philosophy on art is based on balance — walking the fine line between realism and abstraction in his paintings.

Last week he visited a group of artists in Waynesville to teach his technique during a three-day workshop.

Ann Todd and Margaret Roberts, who paint together with a small group in Roberts’ home studio, have been trying to get the well-known painter here for two years to teach.

Huang has made a career out of traveling all over the country teaching painting workshops. His stop in Waynesville was No. 12 of the 23 workshops he has scheduled.

“More and more people wanted to learn my style so I got into teaching in 2008,” he said. “I enjoy doing it — it allows me to visit places I never thought I’d get to go.”

Traveling and teaching also allows Huang to learn about different aspects of American culture since he moved here from China in 1985.

And while his painting skills are highly sought after, he only began painting about 17 years ago. He has a degree in physics and took a job in science and technology when he came to the states, but he changed career paths when he moved to Austin, Texas.

Since Austin is a major arts hub, especially for modern and abstract works, Huang found himself attending a lot of gallery openings with friends, but he didn’t like much of what he saw.

“A lot of it was just disturbing,” he said. “There’s so much junk around the art world. If they call that art, I thought to myself, ‘I can do much better than that,’” he joked.

And that is exactly what he did. He started attending classes to develop his skills and has studied with well-known artists.

Inspired by paintings of the late 19th Century by John Singer Sargent, and Nicolai Fechin, Huang mostly paints still life, portraiture and figurative. Though his brush strokes are mostly broad, his paintings are incredibly life like and detailed.

He said it could be a result of his Asian culture, but he always strives for “middle ground” in his art.

“In my art, I search for balance,” he said. “It’s not super realistic but not understated either. I’d call it impressionistic realism.”

Huang spent the first day of the workshop giving the artists an overview of his technique by showing them all the tools and doing a demonstration. Then the artists try to paint their own canvass using the concepts they learned.

On the second day, Huang does a second demonstration but breaks it down into separate stages of the painting so the students can follow more closely. While many of the artists felt they were struggling on the first day, the second day went much smoother. The canvasses they worked on were very similar to Huang’s style but still had their own personal touches.

Local artist Judy Rentner, who has been painting and teaching for a long time, said Huang’s workshop was amazing.

“He’s very articulate and intuitive,” she said. “He knows how to balance the right brain with the left brain in his work.”

Ann Todd, who was instrumental in getting Huang to teach a workshop here, heard about him while taking a painting class with Joyce Schlapkohl. Once she saw his work, she knew she had to have him teach their group.

“In Joyce’s class, she told people to watch him and how he paints,” Todd said. “And I thought, why can’t we do this?”

Roberts, who hosted the artist in her home and held the workshop in her studio, said she and the other artists had learned a lot from the three-day class.

“All of us are struggling because we’re learning something new — something we don’t do — but he’s given us a lot of new tools,” she said. “He’s taught us to see all the colors in something that we don’t usually see.”

To find out more about Huang’s work, visit

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