Professor Wan studied painting at the Beijing Adolescents Palace from 1955 to 1959. In 1963, he studied for a BA degree at the Department of Art History of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing and also learned painting from Prof. Xiao Shufang. In 1967 he was put into prison (niupeng), where he became acquainted with senior artists such as Li Kuchan, Li Keran, Wo Zuoren, and Huang Yongyu. He was assigned to labour for “re-education” in Xuanhua, Hebei Province from 1968 to 1973. Prof. Wan was a painter at Beijing Academy of Painting from 1973 to 1979. He started to study painting with Li Keran in 1973 and Lu Yanshao in 1975. He won the First Prize for New Chinese Painting granted by Beijing Artists Association in 1979.
From 1979 to 1981, Prof. Wan was a graduate student at the Department of Chinese Painting of the Central Academy of Fine Arts under the instruction of Prof. Li Keran and Prof. Liang Shunian. His graduation painting and thesis won the Second Prize of Ye Qianyu Award. He became a member of the China Artists Association in 1980. From 1981 to 1983, he worked as Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Painting and also as executive editor of Chinese Painting Study (Zhongguohua Yanjiu). He was a Board Member of the Sixth China National Youth Council in 1983.