ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Chinese Painting for Dummies

Updated on June 18, 2016

The Chinese painting is the most unique in the world. It differs from the western painting in equipments used, coloration, subject matters, compositions, and presentations. On the surface, Chinese painting appears to be flat, dull, and colorless depicting the same subjects that differ only in arrangements.


Chinese painting is as old as the Chinese calligraphy. It is a natural extension of the pointed brush that is used for the practice. Chinese found that the pointed brush could be easily adapted to painting as well. So, it is not surprising to find that a skilled calligrapher is usually well versed in painting. The black ink used comes from an ink stick grinding lightly in an ink stone mixed with water. Different techniques were developed over the ages to use the same brush to create the impression of objects found in Nature on paper.

1) Character strokes to bamboo

2) Raindrop method to show worn-off rock face

3) Chopping ax method to show rock face cleavage and hardness

4) Line width created with pressure exerted on the brush


Chinese painting is usually drawn in black and white. By using different amount of ink and applying the right pressure on the brush, varying shades of black appear, thus, the illusion of color. However, in ancient times, a variety of minerals and plants were used to add color to the painting if so desired,

Subject matters

Western paintings are more likely to showcase everyday life objects – buildings, trees, flowers, animals, people, etc. in great details and vibrant colors. Chinese paintings are a vehicle to showcase mostly landscapes, bamboos, pine trees, and certain flowers. The Chinese artists use the paintings to express the feelings and aspirations of the moment. As a result, the objects in the painting are drawn based on memory with little emphasis on details and color. Each painting is usually accompanied with a poem or a narrative as to the purpose behind the work.


The Chinese artists very often use the same objects but arrange them differently to create a variety of paintings to express their feelings. Like calligraphy, it takes years of practice to get all the elements – the firmness and softness of the strokes, the control of the ink distributions, the patience and consistent motions, etc. – to work together in order to achieve the desired results every time.

Western painters usually get their inspiration by watching the actual subjects before drawing them faithfully on the canvas, sometimes with perspective and emotion. Chinese painters usually get their inspirations from inside and then conjure up the best objects from memory to put them on paper. It is like creating a good poetry which depends on the mood, intuition, careful choice of words and arrangements.


The Chinese painting is done on the same paper as the calligraphy. It is usually in the following 3 formats.

1) Album – Paintings are either drawn directly into pages inside an album or arranged into the form of an album for easy of viewing, preservation, and transport.

2) Vertical Scroll – It is the most popular format to showcase a limited subject matter from close (bottom) to far away (top). This form of painting can be easily displayed by hanging on the wall.

3) Horizontal Scroll – This format is used to showcase a variety of subject matters that represent a sort of life journey through a slice of time. Due to its length, the painting is normally kept roll up in a scroll. Upon viewing, it is opened up from right to left slowly to reveal the story line.

The artists usually leave space in the painting for their signature seal and/or a poem or a narrative. In addition, for famous paintings that pass through many hands, each new owner will sometimes put his seal and/or comment on the open space found on the painting.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)