How to paint a landscape
Wang Wei

Here is how a landscape that runs a hundred miles is represented on a foot-long piece of silk to unfold the beauty of a remote land right before our eyes.

Start from river bank and make the mountains sturdy. Determine road and trails which must not be shown completely. The mountain that takes the center of a painting should be tall; those around it should appear rolling. Place temples in cols and houses on river bank. Have a small grove beside the villages, of which trees must be arrange in groups. Have cascades over cliffs, of which streams must flow along its course. Ferry may seem deserted; road may be scattered with a few people. Bridges may well arch high; fishing boats may well be small. Let distant hills merge into clouds; let the shade of the river blends with the sky. Springs are likely to be found where the mountain bends; a plank roads are built where the hillside is too steep. Have willows around high buildings on an open ground; have firs around pavilions of monasteries and temples. Distant view should be draped in a veil of mist; background mountains should be wrapped in clouds. Far-away mountains should be small; foreground trees should be tall.

Many years of practice has rewarded me with this formula.

Essays on Chinese painting

Home | Contact | Rice Paper