Chinese Painting

Chinese painting has a long history going back several millennia. The earliest Chinese paintings were done on silk, but by the 6th century paper was in popular use. Most early Chinese painting was monochromatic, utilizing black ink in different consistencies; colored inks were also used on occasion. Chinese painters were very ingenious and used various formats for their art.

The hanging scroll painting was one format, of which a scroll of paper was suspended from a rod at each end and was rolled up after viewing. Chinese hand scroll paintings were viewed horizontally and not intended to been seen all at one time - only one section of a time in a story-like fashion. Fans were also used for Chinese paintings, and could be folded or rigid, and sometimes mounted in albums. In the albums, each page could be turned to show another painted Chinese image.

But the most popular part of Chinese art may have been Chinese landscape paintings. Landscape paintings in China offered a perspective entirely different than Western scientific perspective. The objects in Chinese paintings are represented in a flat manner with almost no regard for depth and distance. This is partly due to the immediacy of working in ink versus oils. In the West, a painter could go back and rework part of an image - not so in Chinese landscape painting. Ink paintings just do not allow for such flexibility.

Another difference between Chinese ink paintings and Western art is that the former captures the mood of the painter, rather than the exact representation of the objects or scenes, as in Western art. Chinese artists learned by copying the works of master painters. These copies often include identical reproductions of the master artist's original work, including signature and seal.