It was a day of Gift Giving and Celebration at the academy on the fourth floor where we painted the models. When we arrived we were whisked into the main assembly room. There on all of the walls was the showing of our paintings. One by one they lined the walls at eye level. The paintings were once again framed beautifully and hung according to each artist. Howard had 8 paintings and I had 5 paintings (cause I had been sick.... But you probably already figured that out.) I was right, there were 91 paintings once again. In the center of the room were chairs lined up facing a huge speaking area. First, all of the artists signed a big book of rice paper with a huge chinese calligraphy brush. For some of the oil painters, this was a foreign tool, but for me, this oversized watercolor brush was lovely in my hand. It felt really good to sign my signature in large expressive letters with that flexible brush.
Next, we were ushered to the front of the room to sit in the honored chairs. Five of our paintings had been chosen as gifts for the government and I am honored to say that one of mine was chosen and is now part of the collection of the Chinese government. There were several speeches, even one by our Neil, all beautifully translated by Tina or Shirley. Next we exchanged gifts. Our five paintings are given to the government in thanks for such an incredible trip. In turn, They gave us a beautifully hand calligraphied saying by the famous calligrapher and several excellent art books on his work and other famous artists. To our delight, Tu's paintings are included in the books. My gift was for long healthy life (everyone was worried when I got so sick). Howard's gift was a dragon. Later as we
were taking a gazillion photos, another calligrapher wrote out each of our names for us in Chinese! Can't wait to frame them all for our studio!
Now all of this happened before lunch. We again dined with top dignataries.
On the bus again, lots of good byes and photos and a big truck to carry all of our suitcases! Our translators traveled with us to Shapguan, where they all go to college, and stayed with us as we got settled in our new hotel rooms, had an audience with Zhentao Zheng and during the elegant dinner at our incredibly Deluxe Shaozhou Hotel with the Officers of CCP Shaoguan Municipal Committee and the Municipal Government.
Here are the names of the officials tonight at dinner.
• Zhentao Zheng ( Secretary of CCP Shaoguan Committee )
• Ping Li (standing member of the CCP Shoguan Committee)
• Weiqing He (Vice Chairman of the People's Political Consultative Committee )
The audience with Zhentao Zheng was in a room set aside for dignitaries. I am not kidding! Huge upholstered chairs, similar to chairs you would find in an elegant living room or hotel lobby, lined the walls facing each other. That is where we sat. At one end of the room were three of these chairs facing toward the open center. That is where Zhentao Zheng sat. In the center the camera man was rushing back and forth getting photos while the reporters were quickly taking notes. Okay, maybe this will help. Imagine a room with a throne at one end and elegant chairs for the council on either side.... You got it. A scene from a newscast of Hillary Clinton and you name the head of state.... That is how we felt! It really made me sit up and mind my posture! Pinch me... Is this real? If not, please don't wake me up.
Dinner was beyond elegant ( and at the all time largest round table that we have seen in China). No turntable for this table. Instead we had a lot of lovely ladies serving us each course and we had 14 courses, all designed and placed perfectly on each beautiful china plate! This, too, was fit for royalty, no kidding. The toasts abounded with "Gambai" ( drink up). Each dignitary came to each of us, one at a time with an interpreter and gave us his or her card and thanked us for coming. We would thank them and give them our card ( with both hands...that is proper). Then we would drink a toast and they moved on to the next person. Tu was very happy that they served a wine that is made in the region of his home town.
Okay, if we keep this up, those pounds that I lost the last few days will just jump right back on my body!
One more thing that I want to let you know about.... All during this trip, Everywhere that we travel, we have police escorts. REALLY!! A big white SUV vehicle goes in front of us and has the sirens blasting if a car, truck or bus gets in our way or even near us. Needless to say, all the cars on the road give us room. It is so nice to know that we are in such good hands!
Good news... We have WiFi in our beautiful hotel room ( over looking a gorgeous lake surrounded by trees and mountains - you get the picture) so I can send you some photos!
Here are some photos of us painting models at the academy.