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Renascence: A New Birth of Spring Painting

A new birth of spring arrives. After such a long winter, I found the first few green shoots a welcome sight, even while the snow still fell in Michigan. Both inspired me. I could not ignore the impulse to merge the Ice Series and the Spring Series paintings.

Change is a fundamental principle of the Chinese philosophy of the I Ching, also known as the "Book of Changes." And while the time between winter and spring signals a new start in nature's cycle of life, it is a cycle that continues, forever changing.

The I Ching continues to guide my creative expression. As winter loses its dominance and the ice begins to melt, the forces of nature transform. Spring comes into its own. When I observe this union of pushing and pulling between two opposite forces, I feel inspired to paint.

The art is fresh, barely a few weeks old. It combines the ice theme with the theme of spring. The combination of the two ideas symbolizes the rebirth of life in nature after a long winter. As ice and snow melt away, new life sprouts and grows. It brings new hope to the world.

New start merging Ice and Spring Series together

It is the first time that I have combined two opposing series of paintings. The Ice Series paintingscapture the unique moment when water expands and freezes. In the extract below, you can see the same free-flowing lines achieved with the dry Chinese brushes as seen in the Ice series.

However, below the light blue ice, a darker blue dominates. Here the detailed brushwork depicts the ice as it begins to weaken. The lines created with the Chinese brushes give the ice a fractured-like effect like long vertical crystals or ice candles.

The influence of Impressionism in my artwork is evident in both series. I also reflect this aspect in the combined painting. I aim to portray the moment of change where warming ice melts. The application of spilled ink and acrylic paint creates natural drips on the paper.

While I use the brushes to follow the natural flow of the drying paint and sculpt the fine detail of the fracturing ice, the layered drips appear effortless. The overall effect portrays the heating ice caught in the act of thawing.


Pre-melting also weakens the ice to form holes in the ice crystals. Behind these chasms, a glimpse of spring, a hint of green pushes through beneath the ice.

Change ushers in a new birth

Like the Ice Series, my Spring Series moved away from my former figurative style to explore an abstraction of the spirit of nature. By combing ice with spring, I intended to paint what I felt and saw when I thought about the two opposing themes. How did ice turn become spring?

Change is cyclic. The two forces of nature continue to oppose but also cooperate. Together they lead to an ongoing cyclic movement where life is always changing from one opposite to the other.

And where better to experience the cycle of nature but in the changing of seasons?

As spring warms the land, the snow and ice melt away. Life returns. Branches devoid of leaves perhaps thought as dying, rejuvenate. The new buds burst open. Color returns to the earth as flowers bloom.

Hibernating plants sense the turning of the season. They break through melting snows and ice to recolor the world with shades of green and yellow. Their return heralds a new hope and a fresh start to life.

In the next extract of the painting, a close-up view reveals the detailed brushwork previously demonstrated in Spring 13, 2017. The free-flowing lines etched into the green paint shift in a different direction to the lines of the ice. The contrasting lines and colors between ice and spring create depth and energy.

As well, speckles of yellow paint against the melting ice and the white space within the spill of yellow color enhance the brightness of a new start, the new birth of spring.

Change brings new hope and new imaginings

When people view the painting of ice and spring, they are amazed at its color and depth. As with the Ice Series and the Spring Series, the level of detail in this new combined painting inspires viewers' imaginations.

In the first extract, the shadow of a clownfish appears in the melting ice. Almost level with the image of the fish, but off to the right side, a human-like figure with wings flies in the air behind an otter.

In the second extract, the dark-green as it emerges from the brown appears to resemble three humanoid shapes. In the middle, an older figure holds the hand of a much younger child. A much taller figure, perhaps a mother filled with new hope and a mane of flaxen hair, leads her children out of the dark and cold into the reawakening of spring.

In its entirety, the artwork continues to inspire the imagination with the family of three visible on the left of the painting. On the right, the outline of a feminine figure with blue hair joins them.

Renascence: A New Birth of Spring Painting

New Birth of Spring, 2018, Acrylic and ink on paper, 36x36 Inch

With change comes the return of the familiar

I returned to using paper as my medium for the new birth of spring, rather than using canvas as I did with Roots in the Water. I find paper works well when creating the detailed texture of the Ice Series.

A high archival grade of paper creates a longer lasting painting. Also, there is the option to mount the artwork on canvas or have it framed. If I choose to mount it, I use a traditional Chinese binding method. I find it easily peels off without damaging the painting if I change my mind later.

Paper paintings though can last hundreds of years, especially when they are cared for properly. You only have to look at how well the traditional Chinese rice paper paintings have endured in scroll form to find examples of long-lasting paper paintings.

The new birth of a painting – Ice and Spring

Just a few weeks ago, it seemed as if winter was never going to leave. While a significant coverage of snow still blanketed the ground in Michigan towards the end of the month, it melted fast.

While an extended winter delayed the start to spring, to witness the power of nature as the two forces pushed and pulled was a timely reminder of the ongoing cycle of change. Spring was ready and waiting.

The current season and its reminder of the cyclic characteristic of change as a fundamental aspect of nature inspired my latest painting.

My art gives a new start to the moment of change where ice melts into spring, a renascence.

Shulin Sun

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