Saturday, May 26, 2012

Wang Yani and Other Gifted Child Artists

A while ago my dad's friend gave us a book called Yani: The Brush of InnocenceIt features a collection of artwork by this little girl's named Wang Yani. She created really lively Chinese brush paintings. The one thing that makes her stand out though, is that she was really little. I mean two and a half years old, little. Yani painted monkeys, lots and lots of expressive monkeys, fish, chicken, or birds that appeared as if they are in motion. The book showcased brush paintings that she did between four years old and twelve. Her skill was so advanced that normally, people several times her age would not have those skills. Most of the kids my age cannot draw as well as she did.

Here are a few of her drawings:

I never actually read the book of how Yani started to paint until now. I used to just stare at her beautiful brush paintings. Going through the book is really interesting. This one part in the book compares Yani to a girl named Nadia Chomyn and they show a few of her pictures in the book as well. However, unlike Yani, Nadia was diagnosed as a mentally retarded child with autism and "severely delayed language development". She also suffered from "severe emotional disturbances and cognitive deficits". yet she draws with ease, "all within the span of a minute". How do we categorize a kid who is so talented artistically, yet considered to be mentally retarded.

Roosters by Nadia at age  6
 based on memory
A horse and a rider
by Nadia
at age five

I considered myself a good artist, but....I'm going to have to say that some people are just born with artistic skill. I can practice and practice, but by the time I would have been able to draw like Yani or Nadia, I would have been much older and I would definitely not be able to draw it with as much ease and as quickly as Nadia and Yani could. Yani and Nadia a true prodigies.

Now, Yani is not a kid anymore.  I think she has lived in Germany for over ten years now,  she is married and has kids. Her style has changed. She draws abstract drawings, but to me, they are definitely not as moving as those she did as a kid. Somehow, the "brush of innocence" is replaced by something else. I wonder what it says about how child prodigies develop. I wonder what happened to Nadia.

Yani's paintings now
Yani's paintings now

Video of child Yani narrated by Sir Richard Attenborough.


  1. That's quite beautiful. Kids with this kind of talent is bound to go places.

    1. Yeah I know! I just read another article about this girl who is 6 years old and entering the National Spelling Bee. She's friends with other home schooled geniuses like herself. (For example: An 8 year old who takes calculus)