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Some of the Many Styles of Chinese Brush Painting

The earliest paintings were monochromatic Ink painting. In the East, black is considered a color. Black has profound meaning and importance and takes its place in the Asian 'rainbow', alongside the other colors.

The strokes employed in brush painting have developed since the 5th century in China and the 9th century in Japan. It was the Chinese who articulated, defined and codified the technique of brush painting strokes and the Japanese later made significant contributions of their own.

To achieve freedom, spontaneity and boldness, the emphasis in brush painting is on the idea. In fact, this type of painting is referred to as 'written idea'. Visualization of an idea is required before touching brush to paper. To visualize requires much thought and devoted practice. Visualization brings to bear mind and soul, artistic motivation and the bold expression of inner beauty that leads to art work that is unique to the artist alone.

In brush painting, brush "movement" is a cardinal element. The nature and various unique properties of the brushes lend readily to reflecting the movement of the brush, which becomes an esthetic element in achieving artistic integrity. Highlighting the all important 'movement of the brush', the artist does not correct the original brush stroke. It would betray crudity and clumsiness to do so and would diminish the straightforward honesty of the artistic effort. Strokes that are contrived or labored lose the light and airy elements of freedom and spontaneity.

Bone work is a linear movement of the brush tip and suffuses the brush painting with strength and muscle. In fact, without bone work the painting would seem weak and diffuse. The bone work used to paint branches, stems and twigs gives a complimentary strength to the more delicate flowers. Chinese Brush painting is contemplative and complex with ostensible simplicity. This appearance of simplicity is an extremely important element.

Chinese Brush painting is executed in many modes or styles dating from the Han Dynasty in the 3rd century A. D. Among other thing, the mode or style may depend on the subject. Chinese Brush painting was born of ancient Chinese Calligraphy and evolved through the centuries. The most important is the Hsieh i or 'Written Idea' form originated Chao Meng-fu (1254-1322) and simply put it is the expression of emotion in painting. This innovation shaped all later artistic development in China.

Painting rapidly in the Po Mo or 'Throw Ink' style we use no drafting lines and make no corrections, leaving what we have painted as an expression of our inner self. Our goal is a spontaneous and free spirited effect.

The form of the subject painted is achieved entirely by free spirited and spontaneous execution of brush strokes without first sketching or outlining. This is called Mo Ku meaning 'Boneless' mode or style. One of the most important elements of this approach is that the artist does not go over or make any attempt to 'correct' a stroke. Correction would take away the element of spontaneity and would make it impossible to read the original brush strokes of the artist which is highly desired. Mo Ku may be combined with the outline/contour style called Ku Fa, the 'Bone' manner; the Narcissus is a good example.

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