I started practicing Chinese Traditional Painting since kindergarten. This is an ancient Chinese way of drawing. We use brushes and ink to draw on a special kind of soft paper. The key of this way of painting is the shadows (the thickness of the ink) and the space arrangement. A part of the paper is always left empty intentionally in a good space arrangement. A full use of the paper is not persued, as shown below.
The more simple, the more beautiful. Also, geometric structures are also avoided. You should never draw a square, rectangle, circle or any geometric shaped figures or structures. You should also arrange them in such a way that they are kind of a mess, but occupy the space in a perfect way and thus making the whole painting far reaching and deep, simple and beautiful. Sometimes, it can even be as simple as below.
There are three general categories in Chinese Traditional Painting: Plants, Animals, Landscapes and People. All four have different approaches.
As for Plants, people usually draw plum blossom, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum. They symbolize the four spirits of morality that have been valued at an extremely high extent by Chinese people. Plum blossom means fearless perseverance, orchid the self discipline, bamboo the chivalry and chrysanthemum the prominence in a negative surrounding.
As for Animals, carps, horses and tigers are often picked. For carps are seen as the symbol for luck and horses are always highly valued since ancient China. Tigers are worshiped and considered as the king of the animals.
The landscape drawings are special in the way it is painted in Chinese Traditional painting. Huge brushes are often used with ink mixed with lots of water. The landscapes are often abstract and vague because Ancient Chinese considered the mountains and waters sacred and mysterious.
When drawing people, a very sharp brush is used (just like a sharp pencil) to draw the details out. It is just like drawing with charcoal in our class: drawing out the figures and shading.
Having been practicing Chinese Traditional Painting for almost 15 years, I joined this class to try another way of drawing. And I found that although the painting materials and strategies are different, the keys and essentials are the same. I always apply the space arrangement skills and the shading skills I learnt from Chinese Traditional Painting to charcoal drawing.