How to Draw a Chinese Landscape Painting

Written by tiffany ross
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How to Draw a Chinese Landscape Painting
The narrow peaks found in parts of China have inspired artists for thousands of years. (NA/ Images)

The art of Chinese ink painting uses the Taoist principles of harmony to depict its extraordinary landscapes. Drawing techniques for these landscapes follow the same principles of balance, with both the Yin and Yang being represented; the Yin in the valleys and the Yang in the mountains. These drawings using a calligraphy brush and gentle strokes that mimic the flow of nature. The strokes are executed with gentle pressure so the lines stay fluid.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Ink
  • Calligraphy brush
  • Paper

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  1. 1

    Choose a horizon line that will act as a base. The horizon line defines the size of the images in your drawing and gives it depth; it creates a foreground where things will appear closer to the viewer and a background where things will appear further away. Where you place the horizon line will determine the angle of viewing.

  2. 2

    Plan your drawing. Keep in mind the balance between Yin and Yang. Choose one mountain as a focal point for the centre of the drawing and balance it out with a valley or body of water at the base. Add clouds and trees, using these with care to keep the balance of the drawing. Many Chinese landscape paintings also include an image of a human or a monk's shack to illustrate man's relationship to nature.

  3. 3

    Dip the calligraphy brush in ink and begin your strokes. Start from the base of the mountains and work your way up. Use light pressure and long strokes. Each line in a Chinese painting represents a single stroke, so be deliberate. Keep your reference image nearby if you are creating a replica drawing from another painting.

  4. 4

    Step back from your work to check the balance. Do this throughout the drawing process.

Tips and warnings

  • Traditional Chinese drawings are drawn with black ink and minimal colour. Add colour sparingly, such as cherry blossoms on a tree.
  • Be wary of over-painting. Chinese paintings are known for their simplicity, so less in more.

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