Thursday, August 22, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Ancient China

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with other cultures. Okay, I'll admit it. I'm still obsessed with other countries and cultures!

Anyway, around age nine or ten I received a book about traditional Chinese painting, and thus began my life as an artist of the beautiful and illustrious Tang Dynasty. I'd been drooling over that book for a while. It had instructions for how to paint the various traditional Chinese subjects (mostly flowers, people, and landscapes) and a few Chinese characters, and it included a pad of rice paper, watercolor paints, two paintbrushes, a stick of black ink, and an ink stone. For the next few weeks and months, I pored over that book like it was my job. When I ran out of rice paper, I used printer paper or paper from my sketchbook. I loved the simple, loose lines of Chinese painting, and mixing my own ink from the ink stick. But more than the art style, techniques, or supplies, I loved pretending I was a famous artist in ancient China, or a spy weaving secret messages into my paintings. I pretended I was a poor girl selling paintings to provide for my starving family, or an explorer, traveling and painting my through China. I was an imaginative kid. 

I like to imagine that my brief period as a spectacular 7th century (Tang Dynasty) Chinese artist has lent a certain loose and flowing quality to my drawings and paintings as a 21st century American artist, but who knows. 

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