Li Huayi began studying as a child and has become one of the most distinguished and internationally recognized Chinese artist of his generation. From a wealthy family, he was able to study both the techniques and styles of Chinese classical paintings as well as European drawing and painting. In 1982, Li moved to San Francisco where he earned an MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute. The expatriate experience reawakened his interest in the classical Chinese tradition of landscape painting and his best-known subjects are misty mountains. Li Huayi creates landscape paintings that are reminiscent of masterworks from the Song period (960–1279). However, instead of planning the composition beforehand, Li applies ink on the paper first, and then allows the composition to take shape in response to the density of the ink. This element of chance brings his work close to late- or post-modernist imperatives, combined with superlative aesthetic similarities to traditional landscape painting.