Lady with dog
People are well represented in all styles of guo hua (国画). Learning gongbi (工笔) style relies on drawing skills, tracing long, even lines and endless hours of exercising the hand and the tip of a thin brush to properly behave, by making big, dense spirals circles. We learned to understand the lines expressive potential, concentrated on its start, its end, its direction and the energy contained.
Dunhuang lady on silk, 1958
The xieyi (寫意) or “freehand” style on absorbent paper is different, reserved for experienced artists, capable to orchestrate instantly on absorbent paper, strokes and patches of rapidly flowing ink into a full symphony, expressing the richness of subject and their own deep sensitivity.
Romanian fall harvest, 1958
It takes a lot of exercise to conquer the difficulties of xieyi style and Chinese artists, trained from early age in calligraphy mastered it more easily than a foreigner, unfamiliar with these traditions.
I think that without this popular, brush and ink training in writing, considered formative in many aspects of Chinese personality and character, the Chinese culture would be different.