12 April 2015

Traditional Line Painting on Silk

Whatever style they follow, all silk painters must have an intimate knowledge of their material, painting silk is full of changing and unexpected characteristics. Click here to watch a contemporary studio demonstration of this fascinating technique on YouTube.  

The Tibetan Thangka is the best known religious form. Click here to further explore the technique used to create the famous thangka depicting the twelve stages of Buddha's life.  
Twelve stages of the life of Buddha

Gongbi is the name for the Chinese silk painting technique. The name is from the Chinese Gong chin meaning tidy, literally “detailed strokes” referring to the meticulous brush technique. Classic examples of this school are Imperial-court paintings of the Ming Dynasty. The painting below is a copy by the emperor Huizong of an earlier Tang Dynasty painting by Zhang Xuan depicting women pounding and preparing silk fabric. 
Court Ladies Preparing Silk

The Vietnamese style of silk painting utilizes the natural color of the silk as the background. Delicate color and silk background of this traditional style demonstrate harmony with nature. 
Silk painting from the village of Hue, Vietnam

I am fascinated by the precision and beauty of this traditional Asian silk painting genre. There are many resources available online for deeper study. Many museums exhibit traditional silk paintings in collections worldwide, including Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Beijing's Capital Museum and the British Museum to name just a few.

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