Chinese Artist Teaches the Blind to Paint

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An artist in Nanning, China is convinced of the unique imaginative power of the blind. He's dedicated much of his life to teaching them to paint. Though critics question the success of his efforts, his students feel it has definitely improved their lives. Here's that story.

In the back room of a lighting store in Nanning, China an artist and his volunteers teach blind people to paint.

Zeng Bailiang has been teaching the basics of traditional Chinese painting to blind students for almost 40 years, and his passion for the work has only grown stronger.

He says blind people have powerful imaginations and painting can give them a healthy creative outlet and pride in their skill.

Zeng tailors his teaching methods to each individual student.

[Zeng Bailiang, Painting Teacher]:
"The way I teach is different for different students. I won't use dead techniques. Of course it would be convenient, but it would bring a type of 'death' to this person. So I have to adapt to different people, because each is unique and has his or her own intellect and this should be respected. So my way of teaching is to find out what the student is good at and use artistic concepts to help him or her grasp the skill."

Chen Linfang, who's been studying with Zeng for the past three years, said painting has helped her gain a healthier sense of self esteem.

[Chen Linfang, Blind Painting Student]:
"At first, my mental state was not good and I had very low self esteem. In the past, I did not even dare to leave my house. After learning from Teacher Zeng, at least I felt I could walk out of my own home by myself. I feel I am more confident now."

Zeng's students also learn massage and acupuncture as a way to help them earn a living.

Many of Zeng's students are blind orphans who come to the free classes in search of something fun to do.