Scholars with academic education, often with high positions in the administration, not only well versed in literature and poetry but also artists and calligraphers themselves. The wenren painters were a typical part of the Song dynasty culture. They often painted for their own pleasure and gave their paintings away to their friends.
The artists considered themselves as ideal observers of the workings of the moral law in nature, since they alone were free from the control of the academy on one hand and the necessity to make a living on the other; "besides being superior to the paid painters in general" (Dong Qichang [Tung Chi-Chang]).
A popular motif was daoist inspired majestic landscapes and bamboo, which were an ideal subject för the fast brush and the inspired moment.