Chinese traditional art

What is Chinese art? How it influenced on people life’s? What is important in Chinese culture? This is the main questions on which I am planning to answer by the end of this research.

First what I started to look at was, Chinese Traditional Art. I spent three hours just looking at different aertisa and techniques which they used to use. First what I noticed was WILDLIFE.

Flowers, birds painting concentrates on the drawing of flowers, birds, animals, fishes, and insects, etc. in their natural state. Later I found that It came into being in the Northern and Southern dynasties (420-589) and became a mature art during the Song Dynasty.

Next was Space. If you will look closer to any traditional landscape drawings/ paintings, you will see that Chinese artists did very detailed art pieces but at the same time the used a lot of empty space. Specially for me, it’s a bit confusing but there is something deep in this empty space. From my point of view, when you looking at half empty art piece, you more noticing small details which you will miss if work will be fully finished.

Traditional Chinese painting is the art of painting on a piece of Xuan paper or silk with a Chinese brush that was soaked with black ink or colored pigments. It is regarded as one of the “three quintessences of Chinese culture”, the other two being traditional Chinese medicine and Beijing Opera.

By the beginning of the Tang dynasty (618–907), the tradition of landscape painting had advanced little, partly because of the ever-increasing demand for Buddhist icons and partly because artists were still struggling with the most elementary problems of space and depth. But during the Tang dynasty these difficulties were mastered. According to later Chinese art critics and historians, two schools of landscape painting emerged during the Tang dynasty. One, practiced by the court painter Li Sixun (李思訓, 653–718) and his son Li Zhaodao (李昭道, fl. early 8th c.), painted in a highly decorative and meticulous fashion, employing the precise line technique derived from earlier artists such as Gu Kaizhi (顧愷之, 348–409) and Zhan Ziqian (展子虔, ca. 550–604). They often used mineral colors blue and green for decoration, so their genre of painting is known as blue-green landscape (青綠山水). The other, founded by the poet-painter Wang Wei (王維, 701–761), painted in ink monochrome and developed a more spontaneous technique called pomo (“broken ink”), using varying shades of ink washes. These two schools were later (in the Ming dynasty) called the Northern School and Southern School respectively. It must be noted that the naming is not based on geographical regions, but an analogy to the different schools of Chan Buddhism.

The time from the Five Dynasties period (907–960) to the Northern Song period (960–1127) is known as the “Great age of Chinese landscape”. In the north, artists such as Jing Hao (荊浩, ca. 880–940), Guan Tong (關仝, fl. mid 10th c.), Li Cheng (李成, 919–967), Fan Kuan (范寬) and Guo Xi (郭熙) painted pictures of towering mountains, using strong black lines, ink wash, and sharp, dotted brushstrokes to suggest rough stone. In the south, Dong Yuan (董源) and Juran (巨然) painted the rolling hills and rivers of their native countryside in peaceful scenes done with softer, rubbed brushwork.

After few days of searching key information which can help me better to understand Chinese art, I finally decided to try to use my new knowledge in drawings. During my research, I found out that in Tang Dynasty was popular to do drawings based on poems; The Three Hundred Tang Poems.

The Three Hundred Tang Poems (Chinese: 唐詩三百首) is an anthology of poems from the Chinese Tang dynasty (618 – 907) first compiled around 1763 by Sun Zhu (1722-1778[1]), the Qing Dynasty scholar, also known as Hengtang Tuishi (衡塘退士 “Retired Master of Hengtang”).All editions contain over 300 poems: in this case, three hundred means not exactly 300 but refers to an estimative quantification; the ten, twenty, or more extra poems represent a sort of a good luck bonus analogous to the “baker’s dozen” in the West. Even more, the number 300 (or more exactly 305) was a classic number for a poetry collection due to the influence of the Classic of Poetry (Shijing 詩經), which was generally known as The Three Hundred Poems. One of poets, Meng Haoran influenced on one of my own works; “Spring morning”. Meng Haoran was a major Tang dynasty poet, and a somewhat older contemporary of Wang Wei, Li Bai and Du Fu. Meng Haoran mainly lived in and wrote about the area in which he was born and raised, in what is now Hubei province, China. Meng Haoran was a major influence on other contemporary and subsequent poets of the High Tang era because of his focus on nature as a main topic for poetry.He was also prominently featured in the Qing dynasty.

His poem are so deep and romantic. It’s so nice to feel his passion about surrounded beauty of nature.

Every time when I am reading his poems, it feels like I am going back to the Past where China was completely different. One of his poem “Spring Dawn” inspired me to make my own interpretations of this poem.





Spring sleepy,unconsciously dawn;

Suddenly awakened, crowded with birds.

Glamorous at night, seems to have the sound of rustling;

Uh, stormy, I do not know him many flower blown?

It’s like a symphony, word by word I was sketching my drawing. Small village with beautiful wild plum and mountains on the background. The wild plum is a cosmic symbol that expresses the continuity of life. In winter, in the curved trunk of the plum, one can only see its firmness, but inside it there is already the mystery of the future spring. The flowers of the wild plum mayihua gently pink or white in Chinese painting can make a real competition to popular bamboo. Plum symbolises a proud and beautiful person with a crystalline soul, unbending and persistent. Even in severe frost these trees keep alive juices.

Exploring different techniques and types of paper.

• Watercolour paint, ink, black ink pen.

• Watercolour paper-two types, sugar paper, Chinese paper.

My second experiment was watercolour paint/ sugar paper. By looking at different Chinese artworks, I tried to copy techniques like: light colours; tiny lines of paintbrush and same theme-nature. Tender blue and green colours make this work look soft and warm like used to do Chinese artists . In fact, I still can see my own technique which interrupting me fully feel this connection with Chinese nature.

Black ink pen/ sugar paper. Quick sketch of Chinese landscape which I found in internet to understand more about traditional landscape art.

Black ink/ watercolour paper.

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