Ink & Water Colour Paintings
My training in Chinese art is in the literati style (paintings by scholar-artists) and my study of East Asian painting has gone some way to answering some of my questions about why we create and why art is so meaningful to human beings – as creator, viewer or collector. Perhaps because it is a different tradition, I feel freer to experiment and my reflections on what I have done are unhampered by Western ideas of what a painting 'should' be. Certainly, I have found that my study of Eastern art complements and balances what I have learned from our Western culture. In our globalized 21st century ancient Eastern heritage has become part of a single world culture that we in the West all can all draw upon to enrich our lives.
Further information about my work in the ancient Chinese ink painting tradition is related in a book I have written about my paintings and which has been translated into Chinese; see under LINKS. See also the pdf 'Ink Wash Paintings in the Chinese Tradition' under EXHIBITIONS.
When using Chinese ink and watercolour I usually paint on pieces of handmade paper which I then wet mount onto card or paper so that they can be framed and hung in Western style. I sign my work with red vermilion paste using a seal or chop in the Chinese manner (often with a seal of my artist's name Majingzhu) and this becomes an integral part of the overall image. This combination of aspects of Eastern and Western art is an intrinsic part of my painting style.
The natural world is always a source of inspiration for me. Birds and animals, plants and flowers and landscapes are traditional themes in both East and West.
Birds and Animals
Plants and Flowers
In China, people believe that looking at paintings of mountains is good for the soul as mountains reach up towards the heavens. A mountain can symbolize obstacles: climbing up a mountain can indicate overcoming obstacles or making progress, a spiritual or mental "rising" or improvement. When I have painted hills or mountains my thoughts were not always consciously engaged in this way, but there is definitely something about the stillness and majesty of mountain landscapes that transcends all cultures.
The sea has been a fascination for me for many years; two places have provided much inspiration, the Norfolk coast in the UK and Sanibel Island on the Gulf coast of Florida, a wetland swamp that is 70% wildlife refuge.