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Chinese Watercolor Paintings

Shui-mo (水墨), also known as Chinese watercolor paintings, is one of the oldest known artistic customs in the world. Until the 1900’s, watercolor paints were the only paints used. In modern China, even with the acceptance of oil paints, watercolor paintings are the popular painting medium.  Painting in this traditional style is referred to in Chinese as guo hua (国画).

Guo hua translates to “native painting” or “national painting” in Chinese. Guo hua uses the same techniques that are used in Chinese calligraphy and is painted by brush dipped in black or colored ink. Much like calligraphy, Shui-mo is primarily painted on rice paper or silk. The finished watercolor painting is then mounted on scroll and hung. Traditional guo hua is also found in albums, lacquer-work, and porcelain.

Chinese Watercolor Paintings
Chinese watercolor paintings are also referred to as shui-mo hua (水墨畫), or ink and wash painting. Only black ink is used in the shui-mo hua style of painting. Much like Chinese calligraphy, an inkstick is ground over an inkstone. The resulting ink dust is combined with water to create an ink. Typical shui-mo hua are painted with brushes that are similar to Chinese calligraphy brushes. The brushes are traditionally made from bamboo with badger, boar, cattle, deer, goat, horse, marten, rabbit, sheep, or wolf hair. The brush head is tapered to a fine point. This feature is vital to the shui-mo hua style of painting.

Each brush has its own desirable qualities. A large wool brush can hold a lot of ink. These brushes are sometimes called the big cloud brush. A brush that is tapered with a fine soft material such as duck feather or wolf’s hair can paint a thin line of paint similar to that of a fine point pen.

As Chinese culture has become prevalent in the United States and in western countries, so has its way of life. The art of feng shui is practiced in homes and offices as a way of bringing peace and harmony to everyday life. Many people start with Chinese watercolor paintings. Reflecting on a painting often soothes people minds before or after a bid decision at work. At home, these watercolor paintings help decorate rooms setting the mood for the room. Regardless of where you find them, Chinese watercolor paintings are a beautiful way to brighten up and room.
 
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