Gongbi Painting - Chinese Traditional Painting with Meticulous Detail
Gongbi (工笔) Paintings, literally "detailed strokes", are paintings characterized by fine brushwork. Gongbi is a technique in Chinese painting. The name is from the Chinese Gong chin meaning tidy (meticulous brush technique). The technique uses highly detailed brushstrokes that delimits details very precisely and without independent or expressive variation.
It is often highly coloured and usually depicts figural or narrative subjects. In contrast with Freehand Brush-work Paintings, they focused a lot on details. Classical examples of this school are Imperial-court paintings of the Ming Dynasty, Qiu Ying's figure paintings of the Ming Dynasty and Shen Quan's Flowers and Birds of the Qing Dynasty.
The term gongbi is also used to refer to paintings that are generally more descriptive than interpretive. Gongbi paintings are considered to be the opposite of more freely and quickly sketched paintings called Xieyi (写意, literally means sketching one's thoughts).
The notion of meticulous style Chinese painting is similar to Western oil painting in layers - a monochromatic underpainting drawn out in complete detail is overlaid with thin color washes in various combinations.
A work in this style may take months to finish, but the reward of the patience is the subtlety and depth that a freehand painting misses. The techniques bellow are some general rules, regardless of subject matter.
Trace original design or sketch with no. 2 pencil on a sized rice paper. Copy table may not be necessary if the paper is thin enough to see through.
Paste entire surface of drawing board with white paper, which will catch unwanted water from a charged brush. Dampen the pencil drawing and fix it over the drawing board by applying Elmer's glue along the edges.
The paper will dry flat. In case of silk painting, glue the edges of silk over the pencil drawing. Painting silk is very translucent. The pencil lines underneath are clearly discernible.
Ink for meticulous style Chinese painting must be from oil-soot stick, for it does not tend to bleed during coloring. The older the stick, the less the bleeding. With a sharp, springy brush, trace pencil lines with ink. Because ink is unerasable, you may want to warm up by starting from somewhere less crucial.
With a soft brush apply color washes when ink is dry. For subtle graduation of shade, with another brush apply clear water along the edge of a wet wash. Repeat until desired tones are achieved. Painting over a dampened area is also applicable, like wet-into-wet technique in watercolor. However, Chinese painting pigment will not yield infinite range of shades as Western watercolor does.