Chinese brush painting is an ancient and beautiful technique that has influenced the art of painting and calligraphy for thousands of years. Contemporary Chinese brush work combines many different time honored calligraphy and ink wash techniques to create a unique and beautiful result. In addition to painted representations of natural beauty and the written language, traditional brush painting embodies Confucian philosophies and practices through the art of writing and creating.
The practice of producing paintings with black and red inks predates even the invention of paper, and many different materials are used to create an endless variety of artworks.
Creating your own traditional paintings can be a relaxing and grounding experience, and using the finished products to decorate your home or work space adds a touch of natural beauty and a reflective feeling of peace.
The practice of creating artwork with ink has been performed by artists throughout the centuries, and traditional Chinese styles are still popular today among painters and connoisseurs alike.
Traditional styles include ink wash painting, calligraphy and Po Mo, which uses spontaneous splatters and splashes to create beautiful representations of plants, animals and landscapes out of the chaos of spilled paint.
Po Mo can be translated as “splashed ink” and is created with thickened watercolor pigments. The artist pours or splashes the thickened watercolors across a specially prepared paper board surface, then tips the board to allow the colors to run across the page. After the splashed and splattered image dries, the artist uses a brush to add details and form to the spontaneous shapes created by this technique, producing a unique and beautiful image that embodies the spontaneous and imaginative spirit of art.
Chinese brush paintings often depict the beauty of the natural world and plant motifs such as bamboo shoots or plum blossoms are very commonly represented. Depicting natural scenes allows the artist to reflect on the beauty of their surroundings and traditional ink wash painting is often used as a kind of relaxing meditation for many artists.
In Chinese brush painting, representing the spirit, mood or essence of the subject is more important that creating an accurate or realistic representation. A practiced artist will be more concerned with showing the vitality and beautiful calm of the plum tree than with producing a perfect and realistic looking plum blossom. The philosophies behind this kind of brushwork make it a mental exercise as well as an art-form, and many artists practice these techniques to achieve a deeper connection with the beauty of their natural subjects.
Just as there are many different styles and techniques in traditional Asian artwork, there are many different materials that are used to produce different looks and effects in the finished product. Although these traditional artworks can often be very colorful, many of them are painted with black watercolors on a white surface, creating a very stark and dramatic contrast.
Touches of bright red are commonly used to sign the artist’s name or to accent the black and white image with a splash of color. Artists can also choose their look by using a variety of different paintbrushes, with bristles fashioned from everything from the coarse natural hair of horses and wolves to the soft and absorbent hairs of goats or squirrels. Paintbrushes with synthetic bristles are also available, but many artists find that natural hair bristles are the best for achieving the naturally textured strokes desired in this style. The kind of paper used can also affect the finished product. Papers created from natural plant fibers are often used for this technique, and rice papers and mulberry papers, both handmade and factory crafted, are commonly selected for traditional artworks. For the unique Po Mo style, a shikishi board is most often used, which is a thin board covered with rice paper and bordered by a thin stripe of gold leaf. Smooth or textured, absorbent or water resistant, the characteristics of the paper have a profound effect on the finished product.
Beautiful traditional Chinese brush strokes and art styles have been enjoyed and celebrated for thousands of years, and continue to be popular today. Whether you are a painter yourself or just an admirer of beautiful artwork, this lovely and disciplined traditional style brings peace and beauty to every one who experiences it.
The ancient practice of Chinese brush painting is an artistic style dedicated to capturing the soul and essence of the subject with traditional materials and techniques. The subjects of these images are often natural, featuring plants, animals and landscapes. Over the millennium, many different techniques and inspirations have contributed to this artistic style. Today, many people enjoy the beauty and discipline of traditional Asian artwork and calligraphy.