Chinese Brush Painting

Interested in Chinese brush painting? Read on to find out about the history and development of this unique art form throughout China.

Chinese brush painting is an extremely unique form of art that is very spontaneous in nature. Each stroke has to be made extremely carefully because according to tradition a stroke cannot be corrected or erased. The artists that work on brush paintings do not have a model or sketch before hand, rather the entire painting is done on the spot with translating the images in your head on to paper.

When it comes to brush painting the artist must get all his strokes right from the start to the finish. This is unlike the watercolor technique which has been part of the European tradition where over painting and corrections are allowed.

The nature of brush painting

A finished piece of brush painting is not meant to be a graphical representation of the subject matter. Rather it is meant to be a symbolic expression. This is why you will find that brush painting artists would never paint an entire tree if that were to be their subject. Rather they would create some strokes that would give an abstract idea of the tree. This abstract image would also have innate symbolic meanings such as longevity, growth, wealth etc.

This concept of painting is strikingly different from “Still life painting” where the object is placed in front of the artist who then tries to imitate it. The Chinese brush painting artist will try and translate what is in his mind and heart and thus attempt to become part of nature himself.

Brush painting has a unique concept of guest and host when it comes to composition. To illustrate this concept let us take the same example of a tree. A particular part of the tree will be magnified almost out of proportion. This is considered to be the host. The guest will be the other, smaller part of the painting.

Chinese brush painting and calligraphy

The abstract images created on the mulberry paper or silk scrolls would be accompanied by words or phrases in Chinese calligraphy. The art of Chinese calligraphy is regarded as being the zenith of all art forms of China. In fact it is through their years of writing Chinese calligraphy that the Chinese gained remarkable mastery over the use of the paint brush hence managing to develop a wide range of techniques. The calligraphy on Chinese brush paintings would indicate the concept of the painting itself and in some ways it would act as the title or theme of the art work.

This classic combination made Chinese brush painting a unique form of art that had certain revolutionary aspects to it along with the accompaniment of traditional Chinese calligraphy. Only those individuals that were highly skilled in calligraphic arts could engage in brush painting as it required extreme skill and absolute perfection in order to get it right on the first go.

The development of the harmonic and beautiful art of Chinese brush painting stemming out from Chinese calligraphy was but natural and till today it is highly regarded in China and continues to grow in popularity throughout the rest of the world.

 

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