It is funny how sometimes things just get to you. Last year my collage had the honor to host a week celebrating Chinese culture as part of an embassy program. To be honest I didn’t know much about China, only that it has an enormous amount of people and the government prohibits to have more than one child. I was actually quite excited to be go and actually learn about this ancient culture. The opening night I was marveled at the museum exhibit. It was like nothing I have seen before, specially the traditional paintings. It was as if the paintings came to life before your eyes, as if telling you an old story.
Traditional Chinese paintings are made with ink on silk or scroll of paper. The artist has to know beforehand what is going to share in his painting since there is no room for erasure or correction. This requires mastery of their craft that is only learn by years of copying the great masters of the art. Each stroke of the brush is meaningful in the painting and it is highly appreciated by critics and viewers. The themes of this paintings are commonly nature landscapes and ordinary activities. These themes are shown in a way that captures the eye and enhance the natural beauty of contrast. The key here is in the details, since two artist can look at the same mountain and draw two different things. It is the art of capturing what nature speaks to you.
The traditional feeling of this paintings comes in the preserved technique and dedications of their artists. Even color is use in a different way of what we are used to. Most painting are done in black ink, showing contrast through stroke width. Color is add, when used, as an accent, to highlight the message and make the effect more true to life. The pigments used here are nature based, as used hundreds of years ago, like azurite, malachite or cinnabar.
After that exhibit I was so amazed by the painting that I decided to become an art student. There is something about the careful details in the craft that gives me a great sense of admiration. These year I have the pleasure to travel to China and have the experience first handed. I understood why they are so dedicated just by looking at the deep respect they have for the breathtaking landscapes that they have. That respect and admiration is pour on every stroke on a traditional Chinese painting.