I recently completed a Traditional Korean Minhwa Painting course at the Daegu YMCA and was really impressed with the class and my result! I have been wanting to try my hand at painting for some time, so I jumped at the opportunity to take a FREE (except for supplies) class! This 8-week Minhwa (folk art) class took us from a blank piece of paper to a stunning dragon, rising out of the ocean and tearing through the clouds.
We started off with tracing—lots and lots of tracing. Nope, we didn’t use a pen or pencil to trace…. we used ink and a thin paint brush. This part was quite difficult for me as I was just learning to paint and I had to practice calming myself down enough to even hold the brush steady! Though it was very challenging, I learned to breathe and relax. Just like my pottery classes in Ohio… I couldn’t force it. I had to clear my head and be completely in the moment. The work quickly became therapeutic for me and I looked forward to my painting sessions. I even found myself painting at home on the weekends and using it to decompress from a long week at work.
After the tracing was finished (many of us completed it as homework), we started with the color. This is, of course, where I began to deviate. As you can see on your right, the picture we were going off of was a blue dragon and many of the other colors were muted. I (on the other hand) really like bright, vivid colors. I asked my teacher if it was OK to deviate from the norm, and though she stressed that Korean dragons are only blue or yellow, she said I was free to do as I wish. Needless to say, my finished product looked nothing like the original haha.
I spent a few weeks finishing the color as I completed it bit-by-bit. After the color was finished, I worked on gradation and the clouds-both were just as difficult (if not more) than the tracing, but they were well-worth the struggle. You can see the progression below.
The Finished Product
I finally put down my paintbrush last night and am quite pleased with my Minhwa. Though it obviously nowhere near professional quality, I’m proud of what I accomplished over the past 8 weeks and am happy that I was able to make this painting my own. I can’t wait to hang it up and be reminded of the rewards of hard work and persistence!
I hope to take another painting class at the YMCA, but will have to wait until next Spring for another class to be offered. What’s On this Autumn? A Korean Bookbinding Class! Can’t wait!
This is really nice! I really appreciate this kind of thing when I started taking art classes at the global center here in Seoul. I can’t eloquently put into words my feelings after I’m done. But yours is more intensive so the feeling of fulfillment must be more! Keep going!
Hi Wendy! Thanks very much for reading my post! I was very nervous to start the class, as I have very little confidence in my artistic ability (other than photography), but was really pleased with the class and instructor. I can’t wait to take more classes, now that I’ve extended my contract here. Thanks for the support ^^
Wow! How can others sign up?
Hi Jackie! The YMCA posts all of their English and ‘Culture’ classes on the ‘In Daegu’ Facebook Page! I think they will take the summer off of ‘culture’ classes but they will pick back up again in the autumn. I’m really looking forward to the bookbinding class ^^
I totally forgot you’re in Daegu! Too bad! I assumed Seoul would have it, too! Oh well… thanks for the reply though and good luck with the book binding class! 🙂
Thank you ^^ Yes, hopefully you can find it in Seoul 🙂
Wow, what an awesome way to get acclimated with such a great part of Korean culture! This inspired me to look into courses in my local YMCA. The artwork is beautiful and looks like it could have meditative and calming effects during the painting and tracing stages. Kudos to you for putting yourself out there and trying new things!
Thanks so much for reading ^^ I hope your YMCA or Global Center will also offer something similar. It was such a wonderful way to learn about the culture (and history) here and to try my hand at something new. Learning to let go and focus solely on what my hands were doing was one of the best parts of the class-definitely meditative! Can’t wait to sign up for the next one ^^
Lindsay, that is beyond awesome! I love seeing art from different places, but have never tried my hand at actually MAKING some of it. What a cool souvenir! I think the bright colors add to it, but don’t tell your teacher that 😉
Seriously though, well done! That picture is amazing!
Hi Nathan! Thanks for reading my post! I was super apprehensive, but very glad I did it!! I couldn’t agree more about the bright colors ^^… Thanks again 🙂
That is so stunning! It’s so cool that even the tracing was done with ink!
Thanks so much!! Yeah, it was a major labor of love, but I’m so pleased that I finished it!
I love how it turned out! The progress shots really shows the intensive work you put into it. Wish I had the time to have participated. Now you have a piece of Korea that you created yourself. So beautiful!
Thanks so much Charisse! Hopefully we can take another class at the YMCA together ^^
Whoa Lindsay, this is so what everyone said and more! I thought you were just showing me screenshots of your painting and that it was something small, until I see that picture of it next to you. That’s one beautiful Minhwa right there, and such a cool looking dragon!
These types of cultural experiences are so cool and really give you an insight into a Korea that we don’t know about, for the most part. I did a calligraphy class at my school and was just like you, nervously trying to not make mistakes as everyone else zoomed past me.
Thanks for sharing this. It’s so cool to see this side of Korea. Take care Lindsay!
Heyyy, thanks for reading! It will be fun figuring out a way to hang it in my next apartment, but I will find a way!! I’m really glad I did the class and will be keeping my eyes peeled to see what other classes I can sign up for over the next 18mos!
Hope you are well and that our paths will cross sometime!
Wow! I wish we would have done this when we were in Korea! We ended up buying a really awesome painting in Insadong before we left, but would have been much cooler and more memorable to have painted one ourselves! Awesome work!
Thanks for reading Megan, I really appreciate it ^^ Sometimes I think a professional painting would be better (would yield less scrutiny from me), but I’m very glad I finished… there is beauty in imperfection after all.
Best wishes and thanks for reading!
I love it! You really did an amazing job and I quite like the brighter colors that you chose. I really wish I lived closer to some of the big cities so I could take some classes like this.It really looks like an awesome experience!
Thanks for reading and commenting ^^ I’m very happy with the colors and glad I went with my gut! Cheers!
This is AWESOME! I wish they offered things like this in Pohang. WOW, its beautiful!
Thanks so much! I feel very lucky to have such an active YMCA in Daegu ^^