Painting and Brushwork

view of painting and embroidery


Traditional Chinese painting is distinctly different from Western art. In a Chinese composition, each individual component - such as an animal, tree, or rock - has its own vital force that influences each element around it. The final balance of such elements thus creates an inner spirit that fuses it together.

A harmonious impression of nature is created by Chinese landscape painters through the careful placement of stylized water, mountains, rocks, and trees. Traditional artists strive to duplicate a formula created by the masters and passed on to successive generations that will re-create the inner spirit of the ancient scene.

Traditional Chinese painting differs from Western art in other aspects as well. For instance, shadows in a landscape may define the object, but the scene is not limited to a particular time of day. Shades of color express the characteristics of scenic elements, but not how their shades relate to fixed sources of light. Embroidery often merged with the art of painting, and famous masterworks were painstakingly copied in colors of thread.

Ink brushwork is the closest of all Chinese art forms to calligraphy, which is regarded as a highly valuable art on its own. When added as a title or poetry to paintings and brushwork, the calligraphy is on an equal level with the artwork.

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landscape painting
Landscape painting - painted on paper, by Dr. Yu-Ying Lee.
--Artifacts on loan courtesy of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, Independence, Missouri


horse painting
Ink brushwork - running horses are depicted on a rice paper panel with a silk brocade backing, 1960. Gift of General Yeh Taui-pei to President Eisenhower.
--Artifact on loan courtesy of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, Abilene, Kansas


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