Chinese brush painting is done using a brush made from animal hair, usually horse or wolf hair, depending on the stroke that is to be done. Paintings are made using ink and/or watercolor on rice paper or silk.
There are basically two styles of Chinese brush painting, free style and fine line; with evolution, there is now a combination style of the two (mixed style).
FREE STYLE (XIEYI)
This is a spontaneous style of the “bone-treatment-of-line” method. Space is defined, but details are often not filled in. The quality of brush strokes keeps line quality strong and expressive. Colors of paint are loaded on the brush at one time, and there is one opportunity (one line) to apply the paint. A strong line inevitably suggests an inner, flowing movement.
FINE LINE (GONGBI)
Subjects are meticulously painted in detail, in an almost photographic approach.The objects are defined by first painting their outlines. Color is then applied within the boundaries. Gradations of color are achieved by applying a layer of paint then dragging a wet brush over that color. That layer is allowed to dry. For more intense colors, additional layers are applied. Up to nine layers may be applied in any one area.
The main figure, such as a bird or insect, is painted in the fine line style. The background plants are painted in the free style.