Paintings on rice paper can be mounted onto scrolls using either the dry mount method or wet mount method.
Dry mounting is the easy way using silicon release paper whereas wet mounting is the old school way, all done by hand, including making the paste from flour. Of course I prefer the traditional wet mounting method. It embodies the spirit of Chinese art, and requires superb workmanship. Wet mounted paintings can be remounted in the future, but not so with dry mounted artwork. Wet mount is also more environmentally friend than dry mount.
The most common forms are vertical wall scroll (條幅) and horizontal wall scroll (橫批). I find the vertical scrolls are more convenient for hanging, but the horizontal scrolls are more suitable for sumi-e with a western feel.
I have finally found an old school traditional scroll mounting master here in Toronto. I am learning from Master Shen. I will finally be able to mount my own paintings!
I will be posting what I have learned for those who are interested. In the meantime, I have found the following resources which are very helpful:
OLD SCHOOL WET MOUNTING:
Articles by Master Su (original text in Chinese, use Google Translate to read it in English) :
- Five Basic Elements of Scroll Mounting
- Tips about making and preserving the paste
- His video instructions
MODERN DRY MOUNTING:
Blue Heron’s Video on dry mounting using silicon release paper
I have been getting enquiries from different countries about scroll mounters that I can recommend. I am based in Toronto, so I cannot really provide any, but I have found these on the internet if the info is helpful to you:
- Master Tsang in Hong Kong – he has been mounting and restoring multi million dollar Chinese paintings for many years
- Another one is Taiwan
If you have a precious Chinese scroll painting that needs restoration, here are some resources I have found online:
Wu Guan Zhong (吳冠中, 1919–2010) is my favourite artist. His art is the sublime embodiment of east meets west.
Wu is considered to be one of the greatest contemporary Chinese painters of all-time. Born in Jiangsu, China in 1919, he studied engineering but found his calling and enrolled in art school where he tutored under the great master of Chinese painting, Lin Fengmian. He then left to study art in France and returned to China in 1950. His works were condemned during the Cultural Revolution but he continued to paint and his works came to be celebrated internationally.
Actually, Wu studied at the National Arts Academy of Hangzhou, and just like my art teacher Master Lai, studied under Pan Tianshou (潘天壽, 1897-1971) and Lin Fengmian (林風眠, 1900-1991). As a matter of fact, Wu Guan Zhong graduated years after my teacher.
In 1947 Wu travelled to Paris to study at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts on a government scholarship. He admired the art of Utrillo, Braque, Matisse, Gauguin, Cézanne and Picasso, and especially for Van Gogh.
He returned to China in 1950 and taught at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. His works were condemned before and during the Cultural Revolution since his art did not comply with the political interests of the time. During these trying times, he continued to paint his works have come to be admired both inside and outside China.
(2015 update: I was so inspired by Wu’s watertown paintings that while I visited Shanghai in 2015, I made a special trip to the watertown of Wuzhen , one of the places that Wu painted. It’s amazing how Wu could capture the beauty of the place with minimal brush strokes. )
Being born and raised in Hong Kong, I am so proud that Wu Guan Zhong painted Hong Kong’s skyline many times, and made Hong Kong his home in his later years.
I would not attempt to describe his paintings since it would be an insult to his art. Wu is one of the few famous contemporary Chinese artists who decided not to sell the bulk of his paintings but instead donated them to museums for the public’s enjoyment.
Sumi-e is inkwash brush painting originating from China over a thousand years ago, and embraced enthusiastically in Japan, Korea and now internationally. The name sumi-e literally means water+ink+painting 水墨畫.
Different names are used in different cultures:
- Chinese in Mandarin is shui-mo hua and in Cantonese is Sui Mak Wa (水墨畫)
- Japanese sumi-e (墨絵) or suibokuga (水墨画)
- Korean sumukhwa (수묵화)
You will find that I use the term ink wash painting, sumi-e, and sumi painting interchangeably here in this blog. But sometimes it is easier to use the shortest word sumi-e when typing.
Ink wash painting uses Chinese ink on Xuan paper. Different tones and shades are achieved by varying the ink density and brush pressure. It is not simply to reproduce the appearance of the subject, but to capture its soul.
When I paint, I follow my heart and go with the flow.