Friday, September 3, 2010

study of Chinese landscape painting and explorations

Chinese master  and  my ink sketch
Chinese landscape is fascinating: the  painters are not primarily interested in how nature looks, but how people relate to it. The landscapes are meant to help people fathom out the intricacies of life itself by studying the landscape. The Chinese artists are not concerned with duplicating nature, but putting together the parts of the landscape in a compelling and significant way. A painting is the way to convey the inner landscape of the  artist's heart and soul.
When a Chinese painter goes into the countryside to paint it is most likely with a bottle or stick of ink and a brush. My guess is that ink makes an artist work faster and record only what is essential.   Students of Chinese painting do go into the  landscape to observe and sketch, however when they return to the studio they select elements and combine them to create a new vision with deeper complexity and beauty.

What I have understood from my reading:
*Examine what the landscape is trying to say to you.
*File it into your memory, write about it. (sounds familiar, right?)
*Try working with pen and ink. Quickly record  only the essentials.
So that is what I have been doing in my limited time this week. Carry ink with me and paint at any little moment. Using ink is CHALLENGING. It's much more permanent and unmovable than watercolor, pastel or oil. No matter how hard I rub with a paper towel the mark is there!  Yipes!

*Study master Chinese landscape painters


Caroline said...

I was told that it is the empty spaces in Chinese landscape painting that capture the very essence of what is being shown to us. The journey does indeed continue....

Nika said...

Thanks Loriann,
I always think that Chinese landscape ink painting would be one of the most difficult things to master.
I love this Hokusai quote about mastery of painting/drawing, I think it reflects the philosophy behind many of these paintings. I do recognize that Hokusai comes from Japanese woodblock tradition but nonetheless I see the commonalities. Here's what he says:

"From the age of six I had a mania for drawing the form of things. By the time I was fifty I had published an infinity of designs; but all I produced before the age of seventy is not worth taking into account. At seventy-three I learned a little about the real structure of nature, of animals, plants, trees, birds, fishes and insects. In consequence, when I am eighty I shall have made still more progress; at ninety I shall penetrate the mystery of things; at a hundred I shall certainly have reached a marvelous stage; and when I am a hundred and ten everything I do, be it a dot or a line, will be alive."

loriann said...

Hi Caroline, that's very the empty spaces. hmmmm.

Hi Nika, great quote...makes me look forward, even more, to getting older and wiser. Do you know how long he lived?

Nika said...

Hokusai lived to be 89, I beleive. What's most inspiring to me is that he produced his most recognized body of work after he was seventy.