Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Baby Robin

Baby Robin, Sumi-e
Seems I'm captured by birds again lately,,, And by sumi-e watercolor.

In an old Chinese legend, an artist named Zhang Sengyou (張僧繇) was asked to paint a mural in a temple. He painted four dragons but left out the pupils from their eyes. The Abbot asked him why. Zhang explained that if he painted the pupils, the dragons would come alive. When the Abbot insisted, Zhang proceeded to paint two of the dragons’ eyes. As soon as he finished painting the pupils on two of the dragons, they roared to life and flew away in a thunderous flash of lightning. The two dragons that had no pupils stayed on the wall.


This story embodies the philosophy of East Asian ink wash painting. The goal is not simply to reproduce the appearance of the subject, but to capture its soul. To paint a horse, the ink wash painting artist must understand its temperament better than its muscles and bones. To paint a flower, there is no need to perfectly match its petals and colors, but it is essential to convey its liveliness and fragrance. East Asian ink wash painting may be regarded as an earliest form of expressionistic art that captures the unseen.

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