The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wu Xing Painting

Below is an excerpt from an article at Wikipedia. The whole article may be read here.

As an aside, I had previously mentioned a book entitled Effortless Action: Wu Wei as a Conceptual Metaphor and Spiritual Ideal in Early China, by Edward Slingerland.  The book was an outgrowth of Dr. Slingerland's doctoral thesis. 

I found a paper he work which encapsulates the main points of his book, which may be downloaded here. It's a little over 30 pages long and well work the read.

Wu Xing Painting

Wŭ Xíng is a synthesis of traditional painting with its namesake philosophic tradition Wŭ Xíng – or, more specifically, the use of Chinese Xie Yi painting techniques and the metaphysics of the five Wŭ Xíng elements. Wŭ Xíng painting also inherited some traits from several Wu Shu and Qi gong schools. The closest in style is Xingyiquan, whose 5 primary movements are balanced with the 5 elements of Wŭ Xíng. Because Wŭ Xíng painting techniques are associated foremost with consciousness and overcoming corporeal restraints, it is common to speak of the manifest art therapy influence of this method.

Because the philsophical[1], and technical components of this type of painting have been taken from Chinese culture, it is common to hear it referred to as “Chinese Wŭ Xíng painting”.
Wŭ Xíng painting has a total of five brush strokes, five movements, and five types of composition, corresponding to the elements “Wood”, “Fire”, “Earth”, “Metal”, and “Water”.

Wŭ Xíng painting is metaphysics. Through Wŭ Xíng painting one can create a picture identical in its external appearance to any example of traditional Chinese painting. In this regard there is no difference between Wŭ Xíng painting and Chinese painting. Still, if one compares Wŭ Xíng painting and Guo Hua there are a number of differences in technique: Traditional Guo Hua painting is divided into several genres: mountains and water, birds and branches, grass and insects, etc and does not usually extend beyond these genres. Wŭ Xíng painting is not tied to any genres. Using the five brush strokes the artist can paint everything that he wants. Traditional Chinese Guo Hua painting inherited an attachment to rice paper and silk as well as to a certain type of paint, while Wŭ Xíng has no such limitations.

The single most important thing for the artist who practices Wŭ Xíng painting is an attractive image harmoniously constructed using the Wŭ Xíng system. Everything else is secondary, including the type of artistic materials, the genre, and so on.


Paul said...

You may also find this webpage interesting ( On a more "practical" level, it is system of "learn how to do traditional Chinese painting" founded by two Russian artists, Andrey Scherbakov and Maksim Parnakh. A novel pedagogic approach worth checking on....

Rick said...

Thanks for the lead!

Zacky Chan said...

Checked out some more info on this and it looks really interesting. Thanks for the introduction!

Rick said...

It's an interesting application of the Five Elements.