Dusk at Huashan Mountain (1983). [Photo provided to China Daily]
Zhang Ding (1917-2010) could barely contain his excitement when he retired from the head of the Central Academy of Arts and Design, now Tsinghua University's arts and design academy, in 1984. He was then 67.
The artist, designer and educator was delighted because he was finally free from administrative duties and could fully commit himself to ink-brush painting, according to Wang Luxiang, a longtime follower and Beijing-based commentator on arts and culture.
"After retirement, he got up before dawn daily and prepared a Westerns-style breakfast: coffee, fried eggs and toast. He then painted till noon. In the afternoon he read or received guests," says Wang.
He says Zhang traveled extensively and sketched till his 80s. He seldom slept while traveling on car or train but always searched for "prey"－landscapes, animals and people he wanted to paint－and once he found them, he would immediately start to work on his sketchbook.
Zhang's individuality is remembered by his colleagues, students and lovers of art.