Over the long history of paintings in ancient China, the largest portion of painters specialized in landscapes. Landscape paintings are the most influential category among Chinese paintings and were developed in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), usually taking images of natural scenery, such as mountains or rivers. Landscape painting continued throughout the following dynasties maturing over time. There are specific techniques used to express nature that have been passed down from the ancient masters, and extensive time spent in nature is needed to truly understand the teachings. There is also a dramatic use of perspective to show natures greatness.
In traditional China, training in painting was important as part of a general cultural education and preparation for a professional career.1 The professional artist would normally study under a master within a local school.2 When these painters were not painting, they were looking; but even more they were reading, thinking, and discussing their philosophical ideas.3
Generally before you even grasp the brush, you must concentrate your spirit and clarify your thoughts, then the image will seem to appear right before your eyes. One may either select a spirited style marked by strokes which are virile and powerful, or a pleasing style in which the strokes are flowing and unbroken.4 There are all sorts of variations which exist in the use of the brush. “The Chinese were masters of the brush. Sometimes Chinese painters used modulated lines for contours and interior details that elastically thicken and thin to convey depth and mass.”5 The achievement of the Tang masters was the way that they carried the articulated, calligraphic line right through the whole picture, so that the broken interior washes that give form and character to the hills and rocks became one with the outlines in a new integration of texture.6
There is an important balance of ink to water, and the amount of white space left on the paper. If you rely...
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Grove’s The Dictionary of Art. no. 7, China. Jane Turner. New York: Macmillan Publishers Limited, 1996.
Hough, Joshua . "History of Chinese Painting." April 30, 2010.http://www.art-virtue.com/painting/history/index.htm. Accessed 7 April 2011.
Kleiner, Fred S. . Gardner’s Art Through the Ages. Enhanced Thirteenth Edition ed. A Global History. Volume 1, Sharon Adams. Boston,MA:Wadsworth, 2005.
Lee, Sherman E.. Chinese Landscape Painting. Cleveland, Ohio: The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1954.
Sullivan, Michael. The Birth of Landscape Painting in China. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press, 1962.
Sullivan, Michael. Symbols of Eternity The Art of Landscape Painting in China. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1979.
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