MAGGY  AMES 
      HANDMADE

 

 

ABOUT CHINESE BRUSH-PAINTED PORCELAIN

Porcelain is considered by most potters to be the purest clay body used - it is extremely hard, free from impurities, purely white in color, and translucent when fired to high temperatures.   The image and art appearing on my porcelain work is called "Chinese brush painting", named for the type of brush and brush strokes used.  This type of art closely represents the philosophical and ethical precepts of Chinese society ‑ it strives to be contemplative and serene in a disciplined process with specific techniques and specific strokes.  The Chinese brush painting technique was also imported to Japan, where it is called sumí-e, or "Japanese ink drawing".
      Though in modern times we see Chinese brush painting most frequently on rice paper, the earliest examples were in fact found on pottery, usually porcelain.  This school of art derives from early Chinese idiograms dating back to 2000 BC, and fully developed brushwork images have been found on pottery and cave walls dating back as far as 200 BC, a full century before the discovery of paper.
      The mode of Chinese brush painting represented on my work is called xieyi hua.  In this artform, the painter does not represent an object but an idea; s/he does not represent a bird, tree or flower, but the "chi", or spirit, of the bird, tree or flower.  In the xieyi hua artform, expression is far more important than rendering a specific form.  The goal of the painter is to depict as much as possible in the fewest strokes possible, lifting the brush from the page as seldom as possible.  Xieyi hua images are always "completed in one breath", that is, they are painted immediately, quickly, sequentially, and in one sitting.  While the xieyi hua artist may contemplate an image for several hours or days, preliminary sketches are never made.  The Western artist looks at the subject in order to paint it; the xieyi hua artist thinks about the subject and then paints the image in only minutes.  The philosophy of Chinese culture is evident in this tradition, as the xieyi hua artist believes that discontinuous painting sessions and discontinuous brush strokes break the "life force" of the image which is emerging.   It is also interesting to note that Western art is usually three-dimensional, needing light and shadow to represent the depth and angle.  Chinese xieyi hua art, on the other hand, uses no light or shadow, does not worry about the third dimension, and puts the emphasis, instead, on the line (or brushstroke) of the work.

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