Her paintings are like the beauty of the East breaking through the scroll. The raised details in the pattern, slightly mottled in the sunlight, like an ancient civilization through the ages, will tell the story anew.
Well-known painters in the industry also exclaimed, "She has painted such moving works!"
She is Lian Yang (lotulist, 莲羊), the famous "China-Chic illustrator", who created many beautiful works of mineral pigment paintings.
As a young painter, her popularity is not a surprise. The romantic narratives of Chinese myths and legends are revived under her brush, rich and full of beauty.
A chance encounter with mineral pigment paintings
The road of art is never-ending. In the seven years since Lian Yang came into contact with and studied mineral pigment paintings, the loneliness and hardships she went through were unimaginable to ordinary people.
After graduating from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, where she studied CG techniques for four years, Lian Yang founded a studio herself, but it still could not satisfy her desire to create.
After trying cartoons, Chinese paintings, and porcelain firing, she hit a wall one after another, unable to find a place to put herself. She was at a loss for a long time: am I suitable for painting? Until the opportunity came.
In 2013, Lian Yang stumbled upon a painting on the Internet. The picture was of a cat in bright colors, like an oil painting or a mural. The strange thing is that this work is not like the thin and transparent gouache, nor is it like the thick and gaudy pigments. With just a glance, she was deeply touched.
After asking the author, She learned that this painting style was mineral pigment, the author had learned from a teacher who had returned from Japan. Lian Yang was delighted, for this was exactly what she had been looking for.
But when Lian Yang learned more about it, she realized that there was too little information about mineral pigment paintings.
At that time, Chinese mineral pigment techniques were only used to repair ancient frescoes, and even many of the mineral materials used in mineral pigment paintings were so expensive and rare that they could not be purchased in China.
During the Tang Dynasty, mineral pigment techniques were introduced to Japan, without much external influence, and the system of painting techniques was passed down intact.
Seeing that the ancient Chinese culture was being lost day by day, Lian Yang wanted to regain it. She came to Tibet alone and saw the murals on the temple walls, "Wow, this is what I want!"
She sat in the temple from dawn to dusk, thinking about where she should go in the future. Mineral pigment painting is a thousand-year-old skill, and it was too difficult to learn it from scratch.
Against the advice of her friends, she went overseas to learn the mineral pigment painting art from the beginning, so that this traditional art could be passed on in China.
Creating mineral pigment paintings is not an easy process
The steps of mineral pigment painting are very complicated, and the choice of pigment and paper is so delicate that Lian Yang spent half a year learning the tools and materials alone.
The technique of mineral painting is more complex than one might expect. After the natural minerals are ground into crystals powder, layer after layer of color is applied and then air-dried, it is time to move on to the next step.
If a specific mineral is needed, Lian Yang will try to purchase it from various sources and wait for months to get the right color.
The next step is the soul of the mineral paint - gold.
Gold foil is an essential part of the mineral paint, and the gold foil descends from the gold scattering tube to the canvas, forming a golden dappled like a flower fire. Lian Yang says, "The creation of gold foil is always a matter of order during chaos, waiting quietly for the surprises to come.
But gold foil is not enough to bring out the glowing colors of a painting; a gold mine called "gold clay" is also needed.
Because of its high price, gold clay is generally used for the skin part of Buddha statues and rarely circulates in the market. When the gold powder is applied to the canvas, stroke by stroke, a new life force begins to grow freely.
Creating a piece of artwork takes Lian Yang months to complete. It is more like a practice rather than saying that mineral pigment painting is a skill. Art never walks in a straight line, but flows in a disorderly manner.
As she watches the brushstrokes become more and more exquisite, Lian Yang has her doubts: what can this traditional art do in this era? What can it become? Besides copying, can this ancient culture be refined?
The perfect combination of Chinese culture and mineral pigment paintings
To find a new possibility of "Chinoiserie", Lian Yang started to learn a lot about Zhou Yi, Buddhist scriptures, tea ceremonies, traditional Chinese painting, etc.
"I hope that traditional culture can become the base of the work, not just a pile of various elements."
Just by imitating, the skills will eventually become a memory. The revival of mineral pigment paintings requires a generation of people to awaken with their hands. Now it seems that Lian Yang has done it.
The thick mineral pigments, like history, through layers of clouds and dust, have taken root downward and grown upward in our generation!
Lian Yang also began to promote mineral pigment paintings, publishing painting books, holding painting exhibitions and exchange meetings, recording teaching videos, and more and more people are paying attention to mineral pigment paintings.
In 2018, Lian Yang painted the mineral pigment paintings "Le Tian Fei Wu" with the theme of Yang Yu Huan for Honor of Kings, which the French National Museum collected.
Because of this dream-chasing girl, more and more young people began to study mineral pigment painting. As Lian Yang said: the road to cultural heritage is long and complicated, but the spread of culture is something that everyone can do.