Color and Chinese Ink

Color and Chinese Ink



Figure 1.

Lan Ying (1585-1666, Ming Dynasty)
White Clouds and Red Trees

Ink and Colors on Silk Hanging Scroll, 189.4 x 48 cm

The Palace Museum, Beijing

     In a completely modern and technologically urbanized environment, the "colors" that children see every day are quite different compared to those of their parents. Modern cities everywhere are filled with commercial signs and advertising billboards. Everyday on the way to school and everyday life, we pass by a multitude of colorful signs that leave visual impressions, using a multitude of colors. The purpose of these advertising methods is to attract people's attention. Therefore, when painting, using bright, strong colors can make people take notice; you too can employ the use of an advertising tactic. When all different kinds of advertisement are very bright, our field of vision becomes littered with vivid imagery, so our environment becomes a kaleidoscope of sorts. From a young age, children's eyes see many colors so often. In fact, there are so many strong, jumbled colors from childhood, that they will lose the ability to distinguish between good and bad color.

      If you grew up in the past and lived in nature, the moment you opened your eyes in the morning would be the start of an art class. The earth is an eyeful of green that does not need any theory. From tender to strong, to withered vegetation, nature is the perfect endless display of the color green. The glow of the sunset is also a very extreme warm-toned display. Europe has a lot of countries protecting the environment by preserving forests, because nature provides the perfect color course. European children's eyes have been influenced by nature for a long time, so they have experienced deep immersion. Even though they do not participate in afterschool art programs, their aesthetic judgement is elegant. This situation is worthy of our consideration.


Figure 2.

ZhiQian Zhao (1829-1884, late Qing Dynasty)
Lotus Flower, 1859

Color on Paper, 22.4 x 31.5 cm

Shanghai Museum, Shanghai

       Ancient Chinese scholars took nature as their teacher; they enjoyed being in the mountains, feeling the world's magnificence and being immersed in the naturally colorful environment. Through the elegant and rustic style of ancient paintings, we can dive deep into those distant landscapes. Our ancestors also had fantastic visual taste. Figure 1 is a Ming Dynasty landscape. “White Cloud and Red Trees", is full of wonderful artistic conception; although the painting uses red and blue, each color has black ink added to it. Without the black ink, the red and blue are excessively strong and bright. But because the artist blended different concentrations of color, all the strong contrast has a coordinated quality. Figure two "Lotus Flowers", and figure three "Gourd Flowers" are masterpieces by ZhiQian from the end of the Qing Dynasty. The pink and green colors in “Lotus Flowers” have black added to them, resulting in a painting that is uniquely contrasting yet coordinated.
      We are now living in a world where trees are cut, flowers and plants are rare, and there is no natural green. Cement, metal buildings, market signs, houses, stickers, garbage, and paint are everywhere. As a result of all this visual pollution in their environments, children have no option but to rely on art practice to improve their level of visual taste.



Figure 3.

ZhiQian Zhao (1829-1884, late Qing Dynasty)
Gourd Flowers, 1859

Color on Paper, 22.4 x 31.5 cm

Shanghai Museum, Shanghai

The use of ink painting to create different grays is effective in managing color levels. We can mix different wonderful shades of gray, and when used with other colors, reduce the brightness of those colors. This creates unlimited possibilities. You can create countless colors through mixing; this creation is the only method to repair damage to visual senses from color confusion. Often doing ink exercises can remediate the effects of removal from nature, and cultivate elegant, keen color sensitivity.