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Chinese Wave Paintings: the Balance of Art and Personality

Wave art

Since ancient times, Chinese artists have sort to capture the spirit of nature. In my Chinese wave paintings, I balance the metaphysical abstract of waves with my inner contemplation. My art explores beyond the corporeal to capture the personality of nature.

When wind transfers its energy to water, it creates a wave. As I paint, I consider the wave and its spirit. I give it a new life in the waves painting. I also reflect on how waves make me feel. What lessons of life do they hold?

The I Ching, “The Book of Changes,” influences my contemplation. Water yields, yet it is also strong and determined. Water and man are similar as both have personalities, sometimes tough, sometimes soft.

When I reflect on waves, I consider how calamity ensues when waves grow too large. The cycle of nature reverses. Rough becomes calm. This law of nature also applies to man as misfortune follows overindulgence or abuses of power.

Abstract art related to personality

The I Ching explains life as a cycle of change with two balanced sides. Yang and Yin are two forces in the universe that describe the complementary nature of change between opposites. They transform into one another to maintain cosmic harmony.

To create the Wave Series, I use traditional Chinese methods of splashed ink with acrylic paint. As the first layer dries on the paper, I capture the energy of waves and my inner feelings with dry calligraphy brushes. The natural shapes that emerge on the paper guide my hand.

I add more layers of paint to the paper. It is a balance of art and personality. My inner contemplation reflects on the personality of waves and their duality. Water/waves are tough and soft.

To describe the toughness and softness of waves, I use two different techniques. I portray the toughness with rugged and energetic brush strokes. The toughness is always in control. It represents a strong spirit, not fierce or arrogant.

I use detailed brush strokes to describe the softness of waves. It reveals realistic details and patterns from nature. The softness is calmness and peaceful but not weak. It matches the personality of water. It seems delicate and soft, but at the same time, water is unstoppable.

Viewers’ experience of the Wave Series

In Wave 9, you can see the contrast between the tough and soft personalities. Some viewers also see a bird-like shape in the blue. Immediately beneath in the brown, a humanoid figure appears tossed about in the surf.

Wave Art

While color represents the waves, ocean, and environment, it has no symbolic reference, other than that construed by the viewer. Blue, often associated with the ocean has a calming effect, while others might see brown as the stirring of water in the sandy shallows.

Wave 1 presents a more turbulent narrative. Close up the vivid and delicate detail of the waves enrich the viewer’s senses transporting them to the sea.

Perhaps if you look long enough, you might see other shapes in the waves. Some viewers remark on a whale, porpoises, and fish jumping through the waves, while others identify a pink-eared rat or dog-like creature beneath waves near the rock.

In the detail view of Wave 9, viewers see people diving into the waves. They also remark on long-nosed swordfish and towards the bottom-left, a swan-like bird. The white space in the paintings, the untouched paper, stirs the viewers’ imagination.

A balance of art and personality

The Waves Series demonstrates abstract art related to the personality of water. It expresses the wave’s spirit but also my meditations on nature.

When it comes to representing a visual likeness, I seek a likeness from within the wave and balance this with how it affects my mood, emotion, and character.

In nature, opposites change to create cosmic harmony. Duality exists in the:

  • Moon and sun.

  • Dark and light.

  • Summer and winter.

  • Positive and negative.

  • Rough and calm.

When I contemplate the personalities of waves, I see a resemblance in the personalities of people. People are also tough and soft, and like waves, they have extremes.

Adversity follows extreme arrogance and aggression, abuses of power and overindulgence. Just like the rule of nature, extremes always reverse to correct themselves. Unpleasant consequences come with corrections.

The lesson in waves

The key is to remain balanced. Success comes from careful moderation. We cannot sustain being tough or soft all the time. To guide our behavior, we need to work at cultivating our social manners and intelligence.

The personality of water also relates to how we behave. We should remain strong on the inside, but not act arrogantly or aggressively to others. Instead, by adopting the soft nature of water, we treat people with respect and trust.

The Wave Series is one of the younger series in my abstract art collection. It uses Chinese splashed ink and color on paper to express the embodiment of the spirit of waves.

The Chinese wave paintings capture the balance of art and personality. They depict the energy of waves, while also characterizing the personality of water and my inner-emotions. The Wave Series explores how waves and man are alike.

Shulin Sun

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