Although the class lasted only three months, Huang says he felt like a proper artist at the end of it. He put on clothes with paint stains and wandered around Barkhor Street, "just like an artist".
Huang found his first learning opportunities on the street, watching Tibetans make thangka paintings with mineral paints. He pretended he didn't understand a word of Tibetan, so he could watch them hard at work. Only when he got to know them better did he talk to them in Tibetan.
"They were all very surprised and asked, 'How come you speak the Lhasa dialect so well?'" Huang says.
Being able to speak Tibetan helped Huang again when he was asked to copy the ancient wall paintings inside Jokhang Temple, four years later. His teachers were the source of a wealth of information not just about the paintings but also about Tibetan culture, and Huang soon struck up a good relationship with the monks.
Despite his love of painting, Huang found it was difficult to survive on it. By the mid-1990s, taxis began filling the streets of Lhasa, and Huang became one of the first taxi drivers in the city - without a license, he says.
"I didn't pen a single stroke for three years," Huang says. "Those three years were really painful."
Not until 1996 did Huang finally get paid to do what he liked. A friend found work for him at a German-based nonprofit organization that works to protect ancient cities around the world.
Authorized by the local government, Huang was asked to measure every house on Barkhor Street - the height, width, thickness of the walls, type of construction and even the number of windows and pillars. He then transferred all this information into his ink sketches. 【1】 【2】 【3】