Watercolor was originally used for drafting oil-paintings in the tradition of western classical art. It is used to catch the instantaneous changes of shadows, colors, scenes and space. In terms of technique and expressive meaning, the brushwork, water control and sketched images in watercolor perhaps bear the most resemblance to the essence of traditional Chinese painting. Thus, western watercolor painting is more easily accepted and favored by many Chinese people.
(Dong Shaw-hwei, 1962- )has used oil painting as her medium of creation for years. However, in 2006 she learned that the old house and courtyard she had been living in for years would be demolished due to government policy. Feeling upset and under the time pressure that the yard was going to disappear, the artist needed to capture everything in the yard fast. Hence, she used the clean, crisp watercolor to capture the last glimpse of her yard. During the process of artistic creation, the artist added in the cultural sentiment of traditional Chinese painting. Because of that, not only did she see and master the impromptu style of watercolor painting, she also created a new artistic concept during the process.
Most of the artworks in the “Courtyard” series started from a sketch then turned into a painting on the spot. These paintings capture her instant feeling at the time. Therefore, they convey a vivid atmosphere to the audience. Dong combined the changing of shadow and light from Impressionism with lyrical images in daily life. She also added the culture and brushwork of traditional Chinese painting to create a uniquely fresh and personal style for contemporary watercolor painting. The technique of blending was used in large areas of her paintings. The idea is not so much from the “wet in wet” technique in western watercolor painting but from the artistic concept in the traditional Chinese painting. In other words, Dong’s watercolor painting creates a new watercolor style through combining both Chinese and Western elements. Her style is different from the watercolor style we normally see in art society.
The “Courtyard” is just a common space in daily life. However, the tiniest difference in time, season, climate, light and color will affect the perception of the image. Moreover, different plants in the yard add in different details that create all sorts of variation. The artist sees watercolor painting as a way of recording the instant and natural emotions. The causal blending of colorful layers of wash effect in the painting realistically records a spiritual world outside of physical objects. The delicate brushwork embodies the real existence of the objects. Dong’s watercolor work has mastered the interchange of object, spiritual world and aesthetic concept. She deliberately reduced the traces of using painting technique to a minimum and even presents the simplicity from a beginner’s perspective. All of this comes from her years of creative experience and painting techniques which make her styles look natural and free.
Dong Shaw-hwei〈Light andShadow in the Studio〉 54 × 38 ㎝ Watercolor on Paper 2006
Dong Shaw-hwei〈Grandma in the Courtyard〉 38 × 56 cm Watercolor on Paper 2007
Dong Shaw-hwei〈Under the Porch of the Courtyard〉 54 × 38 ㎝ Watercolor on Paper 2005