How to learn traditional Chinese painting

By Fei Gao on Dec 19, 2023

Gongbi painting is a branch of Chinese painting, mainly line drawing and coloring. Line drawing is the basis. You don’t need to draw sketches to learn gongbi painting, but you must master line drawing, and it is best to practice calligraphy. There are many online tutorials on fine brushwork and line drawing, and I spend 5 hours drawing every day. If you really love painting, no matter what your job is, you can always find time to paint.

Meticulous Chinese painting is a slow and meticulous work. Unlike freehand painting, which can be completed in a few minutes, one of my works sometimes takes several days to complete. In addition to the line drawing mentioned before, there are also various renderings and pigment matching. Many places require multi-level coloring. The feathers of birds and animals, the clothes of characters, and various details require enough care to draw them well. It is precisely because of studying traditional Chinese painting that I have enough patience, which will be of great help to my character and how I deal with people in the future.

I have always felt that interest is the best teacher. It is better to force a person to do something he does not like to do than to give him the freedom to choose what he likes. Although some people may not know what they like, they must know what they don't like. A twisted melon is not sweet, you must believe it.

Preliminary preparation

1. Outlining pen. Wolf hair.

2. Dye pen. Prepare several pieces of sheep hair of each size.

3. Cook well. Buy thicker paper that can withstand the color and costs about five yuan (four feet) or more per unit. For cooked rice, you should buy fresh and good quality ones, otherwise it will easily leak vitriol.

4. Ink. If you use ink sticks, buy about 100 yuan of oil fume ink. If you use ink, use Xuanzong Super Thick.

5. Pigments. If you are a beginner, you can first use sticks of Chinese painting paints, such as Marley Advanced Chinese Painting Paints (Blue Box). If it is better, you can use Jiang Sixu Tang’s traditional Chinese painting pigments or Japanese auspicious pigments.

6. Gelatin and alum. The prepared gelatin water is used to brush the cooked Xuan to prevent leakage of alum, and the gelatin is soaked to prepare traditional Chinese painting pigments.

7. Row brush. Brush with glue alum water and background color.

8. Water bowl, white dish and white plate.

Also, I don’t know whether the subject wants to draw meticulous figures or meticulous flowers and birds. It is recommended to find professionals to teach you how to get started. Self-study will not only take many detours but may also go astray.

In terms of copying, we recommend copying Song paintings, such as "Song Painting Collection of Treasures of Flowers and Birds", "Eighty-seven Immortals", "Han Xizai's Night Banquet", "Pounding Practice", "Guo Lady's Spring Outing", etc.

How to type a manuscript

What is how to draft? Zhang Cao, a painter of the Tang Dynasty, had an immortal saying about painting, which is "It's good fortune to learn from outsiders, but it's the inner ones that make you happy". These eight words summarize the objective phenomenon - artistic image - the whole process of artistic image.

You ask the ancients how to draft? In fact, I don’t think there has been much change in drafting between ancient and modern people. Good painters all go through natural sketching and artistic processing to finally create works of art.

This first step of sketching is the source of your draft. Copying nature and drawing all things is the most effective way to improve your ability, creativity and vitality. From the three-dimensional thing you see with your eyes to the two-dimensional thing you see on paper, this still requires strong modeling ability. If this ability is not strong, it will be difficult for you to become a true master.

If you ask me how to start a draft, I actually can’t explain it very clearly. In ancient times, you might have used carbon strips or the like to draw a rough composition, but you couldn't draw fine details, so you needed a brush to outline the fine details. Of course, if the ancient painters were talented, it would not be impossible to get started directly. Therefore, there is really nothing to say about how to start the draft.

First of all, Line drawing skillsLine is the most important thing in meticulous figure paintingNo matter whether you are painting characters, flowers or birds, you can’t do without this book. The ink lines on the characters' sleeves, streamers, clothes folds, flag tassels, etc. are interlaced and swirled to achieve a harmonious interest and walking movement, making people feel that various musical instruments are emitting a kind of harmonious music, melodious in the air. generally. I copied it once, twice and three times, and each time I copied, I gained a new understanding. . I started copying Wu Daozi's "Eighty-seven Immortals Volume" when I entered school.

Wu Daozi was a famous painter in the Tang Dynasty and was called the Saint of Painting in the history of painting. The picture below is his"Picture of the King of Heaven Sending His Son Off". The lines in the picture are very distinctive. The changes in light, heavy, rhythm and thickness of the lines make the lines dynamic and vital.

I will use the copyboardcopy board when copying "Eighty-seven Immortals", because the rice paper will look a little awkward when covered with the painting. Unclear. I think it’s useful. I recommend it. You can choose any brand or product at will.

Then another way to train lines,calligraphy. Calligraphy and painting have the same origin since ancient times. "The Story of Three Tombs"isLi Yangbing's masterpiece. This stele inherits the writing style of Qin Li Si's "Yishan Stele" and uses thin Strength wins, the structure is vertical and slender, the lines are powerful, the thickness of the pen is round and even, steady and natural, the structure is balanced and symmetrical, graceful and graceful. Among the seal scripts of the Tang Dynasty, Li Yangbing was the most accomplished. It’s called “iron line drawing”

This is not to say that calligraphy and painting are not divided into different families. First of all, when I was practicing calligraphy and studying Chinese painting, the lines I drew clearly looked strong and beautiful.

Secondly, if you practice calligraphy and draw the inscriptions, they will look good. Many friends back then were good at drawing, but the inscriptions were all crooked and ruined the beauty.

Actually, after talking about it here, it seems that there are very few people who can insist on copying "Eighty-Seven Immortals Scroll" and write calligraphy every day , which also has a certain foundation for line drawing.

Meticulous figure painting has very high requirements on character modeling ability, and the sketch modeling is the basis. At the beginning of improving your modeling ability, you must copy the works of some masters, and your eyes and hands must improve at the same time.

The lines of a painting are beautiful. On the one hand, the strokes are smooth, and on the other hand, the lines are in and out. The main spirit of meticulous painting is the front: that is, the tip of the stem, flower, and leaf stamens. The stamen is the most refreshing part, so the lines must be strengthened.

As for color, it is basically not a matter of technique, but rather a matter of how much you like the works. It is not limited to paintings. If you are sensitive to color, the color will naturally improve.

It is recommended to copy the templates, which are easier to find. It is good to copy the flower and bird sketches from the Song and Yuan Dynasties. Our instructor asked us to copy the "Picture of Birds Coming from Ripe Fruits" many times (to learn the high-dyeing method on birds and fruits, and the modeling is very good), "Picture of Loquat Eyes" (to learn how to silken hair and stand powder), "Bath Bird Picture" (a black crow is standing on a wooden basin taking a bath. Some versions don't call it this name. I forgot it. Learn how to dye with ink), "Oriole Picture" (an oriole pecks at an oriole) Bugs, learn how to use vermicelli hair), the Ming Dynasty's "Hundred Flowers Picture Scroll" and Qian Xuan's broken branches of flowers, etc., are all good templates and should meet the needs of the subject.

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NextHow to teach yourself gongbi painting with zero foundation?

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