Examining East/West Student Attitudes

7000 prospective art students sit for an entrance exam at Shandong University of Arts and Design. Only 30 will be admitted.


Student Attitudes East and West

One of the significant differences between the cultures of the East and West is their general attitudes about teachers and education. Realities of course are different than stereotypes but it is often useful to examine stereotypes as they are usually exaggerations of real tendencies.

Here we see eastern and western stereotypes for students.


Going beyond the cartoonish stereotypes, we can see that the cultures of the East carry a reverence for teachers and education that we don't always see in the west or particularly in America. In Eastern story telling there are accounts of martial arts masters that require complete, unconditional obedience from their students. This contrasts with the modern American stereotype of the overwhelmed teacher trying to teach students who don't even have a basic level of respect for them.

Much of this can be explained by examining the history of each culture. In America, there is a sense of abundant opportunity and the power of the rugged individual. This gives young students the sense that they will have many chances to learn things and that teachers represent a controlling system that must be met with their hormone fueled rebellion.

Meanwhile many cultures in the East have histories of ingrained class systems where advancement opportunity is scarce. Performance as a student is seen as setting a path that is lifelong and difficult to change. Also many of the major Eastern cultures have dense populations where there are very few teachers and endless seas of students.

What Does This Mean for Us as Students of Brush Painting?

As always, here at OAS we are interested in cultural exchange between the East and the West. How can we adopt the best of both worlds to make our experience learning brush painting joyful and productive?

  • Brush painting teachers are scarce here in the West. Opportunities to learn from them should be treasured, valued and met with the appropriate commitment
  • Claiming your power as a student is good. There are various kind of teachers out there but a good student can learn something from them all.
  • The most important thing as a student is to never give up. This does not mean that learning needs to be a struggle. Just that when you encounter difficulty, keep your focus and allow clarity to come to you.
  • Don't discount your ability to learn by doing. Most people I help just aren't painting enough. Learning is on-going not just when you are in class. Don't settle for just a book or mental understanding of an idea. Painting more will deepen your understanding that you once only understood in your head.

Another simple painting on our Vintage Mulberry Paper. It is very unusual to get this type of color brilliance on a semi-sized paper where moisture is also easier to control. Try Vintage Mulberry Paper!

Artist improvement


Evan OAS

Evan OAS

Thank you for your comment Beverly! We are pleased to hear that you are encouraged to paint again. Thank you for reminding us of your enjoyable experience painting with my father and studying his books! I am glad to hear that your local instructor recognized the style of your horse painting. That is quite a compliment to receive!



You have encouraged me to start trying to paint again. I still have most of my supplies I had when I took your class.
So far, I haven’t found a teacher near me. I did buy a few of your books that I cherish.
Hopefully they will help. Love looking at them
My student art work I did in your class, is framed and hung in my home. It is nice even though I was told that it looked like a girly War Horse.!
My Mainland Chinese Instructor at the local college looked at it and said that I had copied a very very famous Chinese artist! He did recognize the style.
I enjoy your newsletter.

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