Traditional Scroll Mounting

SCROLL MOUNTING :

Paintings on rice paper can be mounted onto silk scrolls using either the wet mount method or dry mount method.

Wet mounting is all done by hand the traditional way. It dates back to the Han dynasty (Around 200 B.C.).  It is a dying art which requires superb skills, years of experience. Dry mounting is the shortcut and cheap way which uses silicon adhesive.

Differences between wet and dry mounting:

Traditional wet mounting method is all done by hand and uses flour paste as the glue. It embodies the spirit of Chinese art, and requires superb workmanship. On the other hand, dry mounting uses silicon paper as the adhesive and uses either a mounting machine or a hot iron during the process.

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.

Very often folds and creases appear in dry mounted scrolls due to carelessness or machine malfunction, and these errors cannot be corrected and the paintings are thus ruined.

All famous masters’ works and expensive paintings are wet mounted.

Different styles:

The most common forms are  vertical wall scroll and  horizontal wall scroll. Vertical scrolls are more convenient for hanging, but the horizontal scrolls are more suitable for sumi-e with a western feel.

There are different hanging scroll styles:

  • 一色裱, one color mount
  • 二色裱, two color mount
  • 三色裱, three color mount
  • 宣和裱 or 宋式裱,, Xuanhe style/ Song style
  • 中堂裱, large hall painting style

The picture below shows the three colour mount (三色裱)
Three Colour Mount of Dragon Calligraphy by Tai Oi Yee

The styles below are Xuanhe style/ Sung style done with decorative ribbons known as wind ribbons 風帶 or scare swallows 驚燕. The ribbons used to be free flowing in the Sung Dynasty (between 960 and 1279), and the purpose was to scare the swallows from resting at the top of the painting and soiling it.

The style has later evolved to fixed ribbons for decorative purposes as shown below. The one on the right is Xuah He style wit the wind ribbons.

scrolls

 

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:

If you have a precious Chinese scroll painting that needs restoration, here are some resources I have found online:

http://www.asianartrestoration.com/
http://www.nationalmuseum.cn/en/survey/introduction/index.jsp
http://www.umma.umich.edu/collections/conservation_lab/eastasian.html

blogTaiOiYee

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Impermanence 諸行無常

TaiOiYee-calligraphy

I did this custom calligraphy, 諸行無常 (impermanence), at the special request of a musician who grew up in Japan but has moved to the United States. I guess this has special meaning to him. It is part of the Buddhist quote: 諸行無常 諸漏皆苦 諸法無我 涅磐寂静.

These are the Four Seals of Dharma , the four notions about the world which form the basis of all Buddhist teachings:
諸行無常 – All phenomena are transient – impermanence
諸法無我 – All phenomena are empty and selfless
諸漏皆苦 – All emotions are ultimately painful
涅磐寂静- Nirvana is true peace

This is the feedback he left for me:
“I asked her to create a specific four-character Chinese proverb, which she quickly produced within a day or two after I ordered and promptly posted to me.

Having grown up in Japan, I spent many hours in calligraphy classes. I know that her work only took minutes to create, but I know that this is the result of decades of intense training. The result is intensely beautiful. Her brush technique is impeccable, her expression is elegant, there is a subtle strength and grounding that I can feel through her brushstrokes. She is a superb artist.”  

Thank you, S. Ichiro, for such encouraging words and your support!

 

blogTaiOiYee

Western and Chinese Art: Masters and Classics

I am now taking an interesting online course offered by Edx.org in collaboration with Tsinghua University:

Western and Chinese Art: Masters and Classics

EdX offers MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) from the world’s best universities and organizations. Online courses from MITx, HarvardX, BerkeleyX, Tsinghua and many other universities can be taken here. Many of them are free.

Western and Chinese Art: Masters and Classics:
From da Vinci to Zhang Xu, Wu Daozi and Warhol, explore immortal works of Western and Chinese art and gain an appreciation of culture, history and civilization.


What you’ll learn in this course:

  • Major works of Chinese and Western art, the artists, and aesthetic theories
  • How art can be used to analyze current events, traditions, culture, and society
  • How to compare China and the West and tradition and modernity through art

If you are interested in Chinese and Western art, it is still not too late to enrol in this online course. It’s free and you can learn on your own schedule, why not?

blogTaiOiYee

The Four Treasures of Chinese Ink Wash Painting (文房四寶)

Ink wash painting (sumi-e) 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. Sumi-e is the timeless unison of the true self and the universe. When I paint, I follow my heart and go with the flow.

Sumi-e is the expression of the mind and spirit of the artist through the Four Treasures (文房四寶) .

The Four Treasures are:

  • Brush (筆): The ink brush is usually made of goat, rabbit, or yellow weasel hair. The textures are soft, hard or mixed depending on the artist’s use.
  • Ink (墨) : Ink sticks are made of soot mixed with animal glue, and sometimes aromatic or medicinal powders.
  • Paper (紙) : It is not just any kind of paper. It is thin mulberry bark paper (Xuan paper from China and Washi paper from Japan). It is also generically called “rice paper” in the west though rice is not one of the ingredients. It is highly absorbent and unforgiving. The brushstrokes have to be fluid and fast, and mistakes cannot be masked like on watercolour paper.
  • Inkstone (硯) : The inkstone is used for grinding the ink stick with water. The four famous inkstones are Duan, She, Tao and Chengni.

I will discuss each treasure in more details in future blog posts.

 
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Master RuLin-Ni discussing traditional Chinese scroll mounting

Traditional Wet Mounting of Chinese paintings on rice paper is almost a lost art now. I was lucky enough to have taken lessons here in Toronto from Master Shen from Beijing, but I haven’t had much time to practise due to my busy schedule. I should go back for more lessons to hone my skills.

Traditional wet mounting 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.

I have found the following video series by Master RuLin Ni 倪汝霖 who is very famous. He discusses and demonstrates scroll mounting in Mandarin, but you can see him in action even if you don’t understand Chinese. After you see the videos, you will realize why it is so difficult, and why it is becoming a lost art. It takes so many days to just mount one painting. That’s why most of the mounting you see nowadays are dry mounted with silicone backing paper, and many of them cheaply machine mounted.

國畫大師倪汝霖老先生談國畫裱褙

This is a series of videos with Master RuLin-Ni talking about Chinese scroll mounting.

Part 1

Part 2

Note: Master RuLin Ni is a very famous Chinese painting artist, especially for his cat paintings. You can see some of his paintings here: http://baike.baidu.com/view/3595182.htm

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

 

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:

If you have a precious Chinese scroll painting that needs restoration, here are some resources I have found online:

http://www.asianartrestoration.com/
http://www.nationalmuseum.cn/en/survey/introduction/index.jsp
http://www.umma.umich.edu/collections/conservation_lab/eastasian.html

 

 

blogTaiOiYee

Scroll Mounting video

Scroll mounting the traditional way is very difficult.  I still haven’t mastered it. Practice makes perfect. In the meantime, here are a couple very useful videos. This is traditional wet mounting.  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.

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:

If you have a precious Chinese scroll painting that needs restoration, here are some resources I have found online:

http://www.asianartrestoration.com/
http://www.nationalmuseum.cn/en/survey/introduction/index.jsp
http://www.umma.umich.edu/collections/conservation_lab/eastasian.html

 

 

blogTaiOiYee

Chinese Scroll Mounting

Who Cares About The Storm Above by Tai Oi Yee

Who Cares About The Storm Above by Tai Oi Yee

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!

“What’s Up” by Tai Oi Yee

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) :

 Master Su's video

MODERN DRY MOUNTING:

Blue Heron’s Video on dry mounting using silicon release paper

dry

Another video on dry mounting rice paper

More picture guide on 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:

If you have a precious Chinese scroll painting that needs restoration, here are some resources I have found online:

 

http://www.asianartrestoration.com/
http://www.nationalmuseum.cn/en/survey/introduction/index.jsp
http://www.umma.umich.edu/collections/conservation_lab/eastasian.html

blogTaiOiYee

My Favourite Artists Series (1) – Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

Wu Guan Zhong (吳冠中, 1919–2010) is my favourite artist.  His art is the sublime embodiment of east meets west.

© Wu Guan Zhong

Twin Swallows (雙燕) © Wu Guan Zhong

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

 

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.

 

吳冠中- 水鄉周莊

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中 – 水鄉周莊

 

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

 

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.

 

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

 

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

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.

 

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

 

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

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.

 

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

 

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

(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. )

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

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.

 

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

 

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.

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

© Wu Guan Zhong 吳冠中

blogTaiOiYee

What is Sumi-e?

“Soaring High”by Oi Yee Tai

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.

blogTaiOiYee