Yuantong Temple watercolor inspired by tranquility

by | China

The subject: Considered one of the most important and famous Buddhist temples in the Yunnan province of China, the grand Yuantong Temple in Kunming delights the senses. The magic begins with the unusual design as you enter through gates above at street level and then descend a long series of steps onto the main temple grounds. Most Buddhist temples are built so that one climbs upward to the main temple and grounds from the entrance gate.

The inspiration: As one wanders the covered walkways skirting a large pond, it is not unusual to hear the soft echo of chanting monks as well as other singing, chanting or saying prayers in various worship halls. Carp, turtles and frogs are fun to watch in the pond, and turtles often gather in the sun around the perimeter of an island in the center of the pond, delighting children and adult visitors equally. On that island, connected to the temple entrance and a majestic hall in the back by two bridges, sits an elegant octagonal pavilion.

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It was as I leaned against a wall gazing at the pavilion, mesmerized by the peacefulness and subtle magic that I was inspired to create the watercolor of the Yuantong Temple you see above.

Artist’s tools: I used the program Procreate on my iPad Pro combined with an Apple Pencil. For this Yuantong Temple watercolor, I began sketching in the buildings, bridges and pond shape, selecting an ink brush with a bristle style I felt was most relevant to the scene – a magnificent Buddhist temple in China. Wanting to also capture the sense of tranquility, I used several different brushes types and watercolor paints to add splashes of color, textures, and the soft reflections of the bridge, flowerpots and buildings in the green-water pond.

A print of this digital painting on your wall is the next best thing to being there yourself…as well as a great gift for anyone in your life who loves Chinese culture and history. Click here to see the Yuantong Temple watercolor in my online gallery.


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Looking for more things to do and see in Kunming?

For more things to do in and around Kunming, we have an excellent number of articles including the Top 6 things to do in Kunming, China, plus Stone Forest in Yunnan great day trip from Kunming, and Visit Dragon Gate in Western Hills Xishan Park outside Kunming.

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Michael Hodgson

Co-Conspirator at HI Travel Tales
Winner of a 2018 Silver Medal from the North American Travel Journalists Association for travel writing excellence, Michael has authored more than 16 books and penned many hundreds of feature articles over the years. His bylines have appeared in Backpacker, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Outside, The San Jose Mercury News, Portland Oregonian and more. His travels have taken him to all seven continents. He is a member in good standing of the North American Travel Journalists Association and the Professional Travel Bloggers Association.
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