Chinese painting styles
Chinese Brush painting evolved from ancient Chinese Calligraphy through the centuries. The most important style is the Xieyi or 'Written Idea' form which was formulated by Chao Meng-fu (1254-1322). Simply put it is the expression of emotion in painting. This innovation shaped all later artistic development in China.
- Xieyi or 'Written Idea' form. A freehand style also called Shuimo - water and ink ("shui" means water and "mo" ink).
A free calligraphic painting style, a spontaneous approach that tries to catch the idea of the subject matter and appears to be done with almost careless freedom, but which follows the mastery of line, also called
- Wenren hua or "Literati painting"
The school of literary-freehand-brushwork landscape painting wenren (Scholar) xieyi (free hand) shuimo (water and ink) hua (painting) represented by Wumen School became a new trend. Its landscape painting focused on emotional appeal and quiet elegance, while its flower-and-bird painting focused on innovation and variation, which had great influence on later generations. The theory of wenren (Scholar) hua (Painting) proposed by Dong Qichang at the end of the the Ming Dynasty had far-reaching repercussions to the style of landscape painting in the Qing Dynasty. Having inherited the tradition of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, the Scholar Painting gradually became the mainstream style. Landscape painting and shuimo (water and ink) Xieyi (freehand) hua (painting) were popular. Influenced by Wenren (Scholar) Painting, more and more painters began to pursue the emotional appeal of painting.
- Gongbi, realistic painting often referred to as "court-style" painting.
A meticulous fine line brush drawing to which colour has been added. Emphasis was on great control by the strict use of very small brush strokes! This style was developed to allow the artist to via minute details, express the innermost life of the objects.
- Baimiao, outline drawing where colour is mostly absent.
A variation of Gongbi; linear style of monochrome ink. Commonly used for figure painting, in which precise description is important. In result much similar to copperplate engravings.
- Mogu, or "boneless style" is what its name evokes.
"Mo" means without and "Gu", bones. The Mogu style is inspired by the Xieyi style and both dates back to the Five Dynasties (907-960). While there are no outlines, brush strokes are made in either ink or colour, but each stroke produces an object or a part of one. The form of the subject painted is achieved entirely by free spirited and spontaneous execution of brush strokes without first sketching or outlining. One of the most important elements of this approach is that the artist does not go over or make any attempt to 'correct' a stroke. Correction would take away the element of spontaneity and would make it impossible to read the original brush strokes of the artist which is highly desired. The artist uses light colours while hiding the intentionally pale under drawing and seeming thereby to dispense with the usually dominant element of a strong brush outline. For example: a leaf may be brushed in with one stroke or two; a petal one stroke: a flower stem or a birds wing, one stroke. Accents, such as veins in a leaf or stamens on at flower, are added afterwards.
- Gufa means "bone manner"
The name refers to a style catching a motifs inner skeletal structure, somewhat opposed to its "idea" as reflected by the Xieyi style. The "bone work" is the linear or vertical strokes made by the tip of the brush. It suffuses the ink painting with strength and muscle. Colour is laid on in a series of washes, but only after the outline is complete.
Often mogu and gufa are combined in one painting. For example, at bird may be painted in the mogu style, while the branch on which it is perched may be drawn in outline gufa style.
- Pomo or "Throw Ink" style
The Pomo or "Throw Ink" style is rapid painting where we use no drafting lines and make no corrections, leaving what we have painted as an expression of our inner self. Our goal is a spontaneous and free spirited effect.
See also Painting themes and Qianjiang