Book Review: Chinese Landscape Painting Techniques for Watercolor


This book from artist and teacher Lian Quan Zhen is a guide on combining traditional Chinese painting and modern watercolour techniques. An interesting premise.

The book includes 12 demonstrations and 17 step-by-step tutorials. Those examples are quite detailed and you can clearly see what's going on. Quite amazing to see how he turns mundane looking reference photos into beautiful works.

With Chinese painting, rules are more relaxed. For instance, there's no so called perspective points, or even vanishing lines. Modern watercolour techniques are more of representational drawings, and focus on getting the proportions right. Of course, within each style, there are many other details like the tools you use, how to handle brushes. All those are mentioned in the book.

It's refreshing to see how a scene is interpreted with Chinese painting methodology, and using that mindset to draw from observation. For example while Chinese painters would pour black into to make masses, watercolours can also be mixed and poured. What the author says about spontaneous style is true. It's important to break out of the comfort zone and try new methods. With representational drawing, it can be sometimes difficult because you want to capture what you see, at least with the right proportion.

The downside of the book is sometimes the examples are not so clear cut as to the combination of techniques. Well, the Chinese paintings fused with watercolours are alright. As for the some of the modern watercolour paintings examples, it's difficult to see that they are Chinese influenced or made with Chinese painting techniques. At times, it's hard to feel the spontaneity of the Chinese style. I'm saying this because I've seen that kind of spontaneity in an artist friend who mixes the East and West style brilliantly, combining colours with bold blacks (watercolour artist seldom use black), using flat washes or dry brush effortlessly in the same painting. You actually have to see it to realise that this kind of combination techniques are actually possible.

Also, Chinese paintings are sometimes quite minimalistic, but most of the examples are the fill-the-page type. I wish there were more coverage on using white space.

Overall, it's still an interesting book to get if you want to learn and practice some Chinese paintings techniques for your watercolours. I recommended it to artists who are more adventurous and don't mind some experimental fun.

Chinese Landscape Painting Techniques for Watercolor is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN) and Book Depository

Chinese Landscape Painting Techniques for Watercolor

Chinese Landscape Painting Techniques for Watercolor

Chinese Landscape Painting Techniques for Watercolor

Chinese Landscape Painting Techniques for Watercolor

Chinese Landscape Painting Techniques for Watercolor

Chinese Landscape Painting Techniques for Watercolor

Chinese Landscape Painting Techniques for Watercolor

Chinese Landscape Painting Techniques for Watercolor

Chinese Landscape Painting Techniques for Watercolor

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