Chinese Painting and Calligraphy

Chinese Painting
      Being an important part of China's rich culture, Chinese painting is admired throughout the world for its theory, expression and the techniques used in it. Paintings on excavated pottery show that the Chinese people had begun to paint with the brushes as early as the New Stone Age about six thousand years ago.
      As far as technique is concerned, Chinese painting can be divided into two categories: the Xieyi School and the Gongbi School. The Xieyi School is marked by exaggerated likenesses to the objects and freehand brush work. The Gongbi School is characterized by close attention to details and fine brush work. Xieyi is the fundamental method used in Chinese painting. It emphasizes the sentiments of the painter. A painting conveys not only the appearance of an object but expresses how the artist looks at it.
      In regard to the contents, Chinese paintings can be classified into figure, water and mountain, flower, animal, etc. Figure painting involves people's profile and social life. Water and mountain painting depicts sceneries in the nature. Flower and animal paintings mainly show flowers and animals in their various forms.
      Calligraphy is regarded in China as an art of writing with brush. Good handwriting reflects a Chinese person's refinement, and it is very important to scholars and officials. Calligraphy is also a method used in Chinese painting. Chinese people are trained to write with brush since young age, but only a few can become calligraphers. It takes painstaking effort and years of assiduous practice to qualify oneself as an artist of calligraphy.
      The basic tools to practice calligraphy are writing brush, ink stick, paper, and ink slab, which are known as “four treasures in the study”. There are three types of brushes: hard, soft and hard-soft. Brush handles are usually made of bamboo. Ink sticks are made of pine, and it was used to rub the ink slab with water to produce liquid ink. Paper is one of the “four great inventions” of China. There are several types of paper, and “xuan paper” is the best for calligraphy. There are also a number of categories of ink slab, and duan ink slab is the best.