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Add Ink Wash Painting to your artistic knowledge

Updated: Feb 4, 2022

Thinking about China, Japan, and Korea, one may instantly have visions of manuscripts, ancient texts, and lengthy scrolls. After reading this, Ink wash paintings would be one of those beautiful imaginations!

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It is a style of East Asian brush painting, which was profound in the parts of China mainly, Japan and Korea being the side companions. It is very closely associated with calligraphy, as the materials used are almost similar.

It primarily emerged in the Chinese Tang dynasty, whereas in Japan, it was introduced during the 14th century by wise Zen Buddhist monks.

A type of brush painting, this is one of the "four arts" a Chinese scholar-official is expected to have knowledge of, in the Chinese class. The credit of the early development of this art form completely belongs to the great poet, musician, painter, and politician Wang Wei, along with Zhang Zao.


Black ink is the main and often, the only ink used for the art form. This form of art concentrates majorly on tonality. The goal of ink wash painting is primarily to express the spirit of the art and enhance the authenticity and rawness.

Understanding the temperament is given more importance than to actually match the original reference. The form of art is, quite genuinely, related to impressionism too.

Having a major impact on Buddhism and Daoism, it works on the beliefs of simplicity, self-expressions, harmony, spontaneity, and nature. Ink wash painting mainly utilizes tonality and shading, which is mastered by sensing and applying different load, pressure, and flow on each and every brushstroke.

Dilution of the black ink is an extremely important aspect of ink wash painting, and thus, needs to be mastered perfectly to achieve its true essence.

Artists that practice ink wash painting have to spend years mastering the perfect ways of brushstrokes, as often said, a single stroke of ink can impress upon many varied shades.


  • Black ink, being the most integral part of the art form, is used in the form of grind inkstick, inkstones, or liquid ink.

  • The art is created on the Xuan paper (Chinese) or Washi paper (Japanese), as they are known for being highly absorbent.

  • The brushes used are the same as the calligraphy brushes, traditionally created by bamboo wood and animal hair.

  • The hair used in the brushes is made in such a way that they have a pointed tip exactly like the ones used for fine calligraphy.


Chinese artists

  • Four masters of the Yuan Dynasty

  • Four masters of the Ming Dynasty

  • Bade Shanren

  • Wu Zuoren

Indian artists

  • Beohar Rammanohar Sinha

Japanese artists

  • Josetsu

  • Ike no Taiga

Korean artists

  • Owon

  • Jeong Seon

  • An Gyeon

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Well, now after having this insight into the culture of china and being mesmerized by the art of ink wash painting, why not try it on your own, what say artistic minds?


Wishing you a 'creative escape' ahead

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