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Origin and Tools of Ink & Wash Painting
Ink and wash painting is an East Asian type of brush painting, also known as wash painting. The Chinese name is shui-mo hua.
Wash painting developed in ancient China during the Tang Dynasty. Wang Wei is generally the typical painter who applied color to existing ink and wash paintings. The art was further developed into a more polished style during the Song Dynasty. Then, it was introduced to South Korea and Japan etc.
In wash paintings, as in calligraphy, artists usually grind their own ink with an ink stick, but prepared ink is another choice available. Most ink sticks are made of densely packed charcoal ash from bamboo. An artist puts a few drops of water on an ink stone and grinds the ink stick in a circular motion until a smooth, black ink of the desired concentration is made. Prepared ink is usually of much lower quality.
Wash painting brushes are similar to the brushes used for calligraphy and are traditionally made from bamboo with goat, ox, horse, sheep, rabbit, marten, deer or wolf hair. The brush hairs are tapered to a fine point that is very vital to the style of wash paintings.
Different brushes have different qualities. A small wolf-hair brush that is tapered to a fine point can produce an even thin line of ink (much like a pen). A large wool brush (one variation called the big cloud) can hold a large volume of water and ink. When the big cloud brush rains down upon the paper, it delivers a graded swath of ink encompassing myriad shades of gray to black.