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Colors on the tree in a grey city

Shijiazhuang (石家庄), capital of north China’s Hebei Province, a grey city suffering from the worst case of smog this winter, has recently found temporary relief in these lovely “paintings on the bark”.


In the bleak winter, these lovely paintings of beautiful sceneries as well as animals looking out from the tree trunks brighten up the ordinary street outside the city’s No. Nine Middle School, bringing smiles to people’s faces. The painter, Wang Yue, a local girl, is currently a senior student of Visual Communication at Dalian Polytechnic University. These paintings on the bare inner layer of tree barks, which she calls “Meitu” (美途 beautiful path, is a play on word, since tu could also be 图 meaning picture), are part of her graduation project.

Wang Yue at work. Photo from Li Yue's weibo @Belladrops. Photo:

As for why she made these paintings, she said that she noticed the cracked barks of the trees one day when she was walking along the street thinking about her graduation project. Filled with dirt and sometimes garbage, they were an eyesore on the street. She also noticed that the inner layer of the bark are very smooth, which is good for painting. She suddenly had the idea of decorating these “ugly tree holes” with her painting. “I just thought the trees look miserable in the grey winter, leafless and colorless. Why don’t I give them some color and make them more beautiful?” she said in an interview with Anhui TV.

After getting support from her professor and parents from the school, and most importantly, the approval of Chengguan, (城管, urban management personnel), she decided to give it a go. She and her BFF Li Yue (@Belladrops), who is also her photographer and “official spokesperson”, picked a few tree-lined major roads in the city for her two-month project. She has finished eight paintings so far and plans to complete her series before the semester begins in March.

Li Yue accompanies her friend every time she paints and faithfully keeps record of all her works with her camera. She posted the photos on Weibo which soon attracted a lot of attention, including that of the famous actress Yao Chen @姚晨 who is dubbed the “Weibo Queen”. She left a comment on Li’s Weibo, which says, “the world of the tree hole paintings”. Soon, the media swarmed in. Wang Yue and her paintings were on TV from provincial levels to CCTV.

Wang Yue is now a scene herself on the street of Shijiazhuang. Photo:

Among the many compliments, there are people who raised concern about whether the paintings might harm the trees. Wang Yue and Li Yue specially asked the reporter to consult the Shijiangzhuang Bureau of Landscape and Forestry for them, and were told that the paints will not harm the trees in any way. Some was concerned about how long the paintings will last. Wang admitted that they will gradually faint away without care and will be washed away by rain come the summer. But, she said, “However long they might last, so long as they have once been there, their beauty, though short-lived, will last forever.”

For more lovely photos of Wang Yue's paintings on the bark, please click on.

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