Chinese Brush Painting
A Beginner's Step-by-Step Guide
Try your hands at these historically and culturally important methods, and create some beautiful paintings of your own.
Chinese painting is an ancient art that has evolved and become refined over many centuries. Artists brush ink and color pigments onto silk or paper using a variety of techniques, with two main approaches: gongbi a traditional and realistic style based on line drawing, and xieyi style, a freehand method that uses fewer strokes to suggest objects in a less literal way.
Painting themes generally fall into three categories: figure, landscaping, and bird-and-flower. Chinese brush painting is mainly presented in lines, shades and white space to express the feelings about nature, social phenomena, and the very essence of the universe. The framework for this expression is often traditional: certain subjects carry cultural connotations that are well-known and imbue the painting with a layer of meaning beyond face value of objects shown. The traditional subjects such as mandarin ducks, butterflies, and the 'Four Gentlemen' (plum blossoms, orchids, bamboos, and chrysanthemum) are examples that contain this rich cultural meaning.
Readers will learn first about the tools and materials, then painting techniques. Early pages explore the very basic painting methods and subjects—perfect for beginning painters—but continue to build skills for painting plants and animals of increasing complexity.
Chinese Brush Painting illustrates several Chinese brush painting techniques with the use of different tools, brushwork and color mixing. With the step-by-step projects, you can first follow the introductory lessons to learn the necessary skills of brushwork, usage of paper, and characteristics of water, ink and colors; then follow the advanced lessons to learn the compositions and more complicated color applications.