Chinese Culture has been the center of interest with its unique traditions, life styles, foods, and writing. Therefore, it wouldn't be a mistake to assume that Chinese art of painting is different from the Western style of painting.
The Relationship Between Calligraphy and Painting
Chinese brush painting is part of Chinese Art of Calligraphy. The relationship between the two art forms is the pictographs they use. Chinese used to paint to explain what they want to say and in time, painting was changed and replaced by pictographs which are used today. Until recently, the pictographs were drawn by brushes. In other words, they used to write with brushes and this led to the emergence of the ďChinese Art of CalligraphyĒ. Today, brushes are used only in calligraphy. In Chinese Calligraphy, it takes a lot of practice to write pictographs correctly and by the rules. It takes hundreds of times of repetition for just one pictograph.
Philosophy of Chinese Brush Painting
The theme of Chinese Painting usually involves mountains, birds, flowers, fishes, clouds. Basically nature. However, you never see an artist painting out in the nature while painting. Chinese artists are good observers. They observe. They observe everything happening around them and in nature. They memorize every detail. This observation and memorizing details is the preparation phase. When they are ready, they start painting. The preparation period varies on the artist. Sometimes it can be a very long preparation phase. This indicates that Chinese artists are patient. When they know what they are going to paint, the second preparation period starts. This time, the artist chooses the brushes and the paper he will use and prepares the ink. Once he starts painting, heís in his inner world and imagination. He tries to imagine the path that the brushes will follow. Once the brush touches the paper, it must move constantly. The foundation of the artist is his imagination, he doesnít draw on paper before painting. The hand and the brain work in harmony and freely. Without this freedom and harmony, itís not possible to reach perfection.
The tools used in brush painting are different from the ones used in the West. The papers are produced in layers an done by one. Shuan paper is the rice paper and itís made from Shuan grasses grown in China. There are two types of Shuan papers, raw and mature. Depending on the painting style, the appropriate paper is selected.
The ink, Mo, is prepared by grinding the ink stick on an ink stone with water. The ink must be prepared fresh before starting to paint. The desired tone is achieved depending on the amount of water used.
The Chinese brushes are different in terms of not having a numeric sizing system. Some brushes are as big as a broom, while others are very small and thin. The brushes have different textures, soft, medium and hard. The soft brushes are made from sheep and rabbit hairs and in white color. The hard brushes are made from wolf, ox, and horse hairs and in black or brown color. The medium ones are made from a combination of soft and hard hairs. Depending on the painting style, the brush type is decided.
Every Chinese artist has a namechop. Chops are carved stamps made of soapstone. Depending on what the artist wants, either the name or the words the artist likes, is carved on the chop. Every painting should have a name chop as a seal.
The main difference between the Western painting and the Chinese painting is the way the objects are defined. In Chinese painting, the strokes define the objects while Western painting uses light and shadows tor ender the objects.
In Chinese brush painting, itís not possible to correct any incorrect stroke. Every stroke has a meaning. The consistency of the strokes is the key to the spirit of the Chinese paintings.
In the West, the artists mostly prefer oil-paint as it has several advantages. Itís possible to make changes anytime, to correct the erroneous strokes. In addition to these, the artist can take a break and continue painting later. On the other hand, Chinese artist must finish the painting he started. Thereís no chance of taking a break. Thatís why the Chinese artists donít start painting until they feel they are ready.
Having a great memory and a great brush technique is not enough to paint, according to Chinese. A good mind and a good soul are, also, needed. A good artist must have the body and soul be in harmony.