Thursday, June 13, 2024

Son’s hockey games inspire artist trained in classic Chinese style | CBC News

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Xin Liu and his son Yilang pose with one of Xin’s paintings after a recent interview at the CBC News studio in Charlottetown. Xin was inspired by watching Yilang play hockey. (Mitch Cormier/CBC)

When Xin Liu came to Canada from China with his family in 2022, he knew nothing about hockey. His son, Yilang, had never seen ice in nature. These days Yilang is playing hockey and Liu is capturing it as art.

Xin Liu was classically trained as an oil painter at what he describes as a very traditional art college, the Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts. Hockey scenes were by no means a common subject during his education.

Now the Charlottetown resident says hockey has provided a major connection between himself and his nine-year-old son, who plays out of North River.

Over time, Liu came to recognize the interesting parts of the game. He thinks he interprets it differently because he was completely new to the game as an adult. 

A painting of two figures in the foreground with another in the background, all playing hockey.
Xin Liu worked in a different style while capturing this moment from his son’s hockey training. (Xin Liu)

Yilang Liu first stepped onto the ice in September of 2022, learning to skate.

“I was like: ‘How do you do this?'” he recalled of that day in a recent interview he and his father did with Mitch Cormier of CBC’s Island Morning.

Yilang said he fell down a lot, but he wasn’t nervous and falling didn’t scare him. Now it feels good to be on skates.

Liu’s series of hockey paintings takes you on the journey as his son explored the game.

“At that time, I just showed that,” he said of the early days. “His coach is just training the kids how to skate and do some very physical skills.”

A painting of two youth teams playing hockey.
Xin Liu’s paintings are inspired by moments he has witnessed in his young son’s hockey games on P.E.I. (Xin Liu)

Later, Liu created a piece from the point of view of a fan watching the puck drop to begin a new game.

“I think the moment is very attractive,” he said.

The paintings themselves don’t take long to do, but he spends a long time thinking about what he wants to represent in each one before starting to draw.

A painting of a person playing hockey, done in dramatic black strokes.
Liu has experimented with eastern and western styles of art in his paintings, including contemporary ink works like this one. (Xin Liu)

He’s since experimented with representing hockey scenes in various western and eastern styles of painting, though he still captures many other subjects and had a show of his work based on the impact of Hurricane Fiona in September 2023.

More examples of Liu’s work can be at his website,

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