Paintbrushes, ink, traditional paint, and specific paper or silk are used in traditional Chinese painting. It evolved and was divided into three categories based on theme: people, landscapes, and birds-and-flowers. Today these categories are used interchangeably, but they had different meanings then.
People painting focused on human emotions with various figures including portraits. Landscapes depicted scenes from daily life or history. Birds-and-flowers showed designs of plants and flowers interspersed with calligraphy writing as well as images of animals and gods.
During the Song dynasty (A.D. 960-1279) new genres of painting developed including tea ceremonies, poems, and pictures of objects such as swords and armor. The Yuan dynasty (A.D. 1271-1368) saw the rise of landscape paintings using bright colors. The Ming dynasty (A.D. 1368-1644) brought back the use of ink and brush painting on rice paper which gives the art form its characteristic look today.
During the Qing dynasty (A.D. 1644-1911) oil painting became popular which replaced china painting. China painting is still being done today in Taiwan and Singapore.
Paper and silk paintings produced with a brush wet in black or colored ink are well-known in Chinese art. Japanese art, on the other hand, comes in a variety of forms, including sculptures made of wood and metal, antique ceramics, ink painting on silk and paper, oil painting, calligraphy, and so on.
Both Chinese and Japanese artists used simple tools such as brushes, knives, and chisels to create their works. They also used ingredients such as gingko leaves, cypress twigs, and bamboo shoots as drawing materials. However, unlike Chinese artists who painted what they saw, often from life, Japanese artists usually created their works from imagination and memory.
Both cultures valued realism and accuracy in their artwork, so it is not surprising that many traditional scenes, people, and objects have similarities. For example, both cultures' artists were fond of using dogs as pets and symbols of loyalty. Also, both cultures had lots of festivals, so many elements in artwork relate to religion too. For example, Buddhist monks used to wear robes colorfully decorated with images of flowers and animals, and priests wore distinctive clothes during rituals. These decorations still appear in Asian art today.
Chinese and Japanese artists also shared some techniques and tools. For example, both cultures used red ink to paint blood, which was important in ancient China and Japan for coloring things like ceremonial robes and swords.
Traditional Chinese painting, or guohua (Guo Hua/gwor-hwaa/), is similar to calligraphy in that it is done with a brush dipped in black ink or colored pigments and is generally done on paper or silk. The final sculpture may be hung by mounting it on scrolls. Traditional painting on walls, porcelain, and lacquerware has also been done. Today, the term "Chinese painting" often refers to paintings that are inspired by traditional subjects but that use modern techniques.
In China, there are four main traditions of Chinese painting: Tianyi, Lanting, Quingyan, and Minimalist. Each of these schools of painting had its own unique style that evolved over time.
Tianyi painting is named after the name of an ancient ritualistic drama performed during the Spring Festival season. It originated in about 500 A.D. and was popular among the imperial court during the Tang and Song dynasties. Tianyi painting is characterized by its bright colors and lively depictions of people, animals, and objects. The scene usually takes place within the context of a story; for example, one might see figures standing beside a house who are talking with each other or looking at something off in the distance. The artist gives the appearance of having freedom in creating his or her own world, which allows them to express themselves creatively through painting.
Calligraphy, or the art of writing, was the most esteemed visual art form in old China. Painting and calligraphy originated at the same time, using the same tools—a brush and ink. The painter used his or her skills to capture images on silk or paper, while the calligrapher used a quill pen and ink to create characters for texts sacred or secular.
Painting and calligraphy were refined together through many changes over time. In the early years of Chinese history, people believed that only literate men could understand the secrets of the universe and convey this knowledge onto canvas or paper. So only literate men could be artists. But as time went on, women began to appear in paintings, so by the 11th century both men and women were being represented as artists.
During the Song dynasty (960-1279), when painting and calligraphy were at their peak, great masters such as Zhang Xuanzhi and Li Sungchang lived and worked in Beijing. They are considered the greatest painters and calligraphers of all time.
After the fall of the imperial court in Beijing, painters and calligraphers learned to survive by making a living doing commissioned work. Some painted for the walls of buildings; some made portraits; some wrote poems and essays.
The character of Chinese painting, like that of Chinese calligraphy, is inextricably linked to the medium. The basic substance is ink, which is produced into a short stick of solidified pine soot and glue and rubbed to the desired consistency with a little water on an inkstone. The brush used for writing as well as for painting is made of hair or bamboo.
Both painting and calligraphy use pigments to color their objects. In calligraphy, four colors are employed: red, black, white, and blue-black. In painting, yellow, red, green, and blue-violet are commonly used. The brushes employed for writing and painting are similar in shape but made of different materials. A writer uses a bamboo brush, while a painter employs a hair brush.
In addition to being colored, Chinese paintings also employ gold and silver leaf to decorate their subjects. Calligraphy, on the other hand, does not use any material other than ink to create its designs. However, writers do sometimes add a few strokes with colored ink to indicate flowers, trees, or other natural elements in their compositions.
Chinese paintings can be divided into three categories according to how they were executed: monochromatic, polychromatic, and bi-colored. A monochromatic painting is one that contains only one kind of color - usually either red or blue.
The oldest specimens of Chinese painting that have survived include pieces of paintings on silk, stone, and lacquered artifacts from the Warring States era (481–221 B.C.E.). Paper, which was created in the first century C.E., eventually superseded silk. The traditional way to preserve artwork was to paint over it with a new image, so very few original works exist today.
There are two categories of ancient Chinese paintings: calligraphy and pictures. Calligraphy is the art of writing with brush and ink. It is not known exactly when people started making drawings with brushes instead of chisels, but it is clear that many artists in China were doing so by about 250 B.C.E. Calligraphers used fine brushes made of horse hair or bamboo shoots to create images that would later be colored by an apprentice using pigments mixed with water and gum arabic. These colors were then applied with a brush just as you would use paint today.
People began copying pictures instead of writing words long before they started drawing with brushes. In fact, some scholars believe that pictures were used even before written language existed in China. By about 500 B.C.E., several different methods had been developed for making pictures. For example, one method involved drawing on wet clay with a stick dipped in black dye.