Chinese painting is an art. The painting is done by using a brush on paper or silk, often with black ink alone. It is a monochromatic work of art, perhaps, derived from calligraphy. A Chinese painting is a distinctive object based on centuries-old traditions common to many things in China.
The roots of Chinese painting can be traced back to Chinese Neolithic pottery. Chinese painting was closely related to crafts like pottery as observed in the decorations, used on decorative bronzes, carved jade and lacquer ware, such as figures of fish, frogs, deer, birds, flowers and so on. Paintings were mainly painted on silk or walls before the Tang Dynasty, and mural paintings were particularly popular.
Classical Chinese painting can be divided into three categories: landscapes, figures and bird-and-flower.
Landscape painting had already established an independent form of expression by the 4th century. It gradually developed into two separate styles, mainly lue-and-green?and ink-and-wash?landscapes. The blue-and-green landscape used bright blue, green and red pigments derived from minerals to create a richly decorative style. The ink-and-wash landscape relied on vivid brushwork with varying degrees of intensity of ink to express the artist conception of nature, his own emotions and individuality.
The art of figure painting during the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD) was considered the golden age of figure painting. Historical subjects and scenes of courtly life were popular. Paintings of historical character and stories of everyday life became extremely popular. Also, techniques were further refined.
Bird-and-flower painting was separated from decorative art and form an independent genre around the 9th century. Many well-known artists painted in this genre during the Song Dynasty and their themes included a rich variety of flowers, fruits, insects and fish. Many of the scholarly painters working with ink and brush used a great economy of line. They produced paintings illustrating things such as plum blossoms, orchids, bamboo, chrysanthemums pines and cypresses which reflect their own ideals and characters.