Silk painting in Vietnam is unique artistic creations of the artists when using silk as a painting material.
Only in the art of painting in Vietnam as well as in the world, silk painting is called its name according to the background material, not according to the material painted on it.
With its soft, absorbent, elegant, and fade-resistant characteristics, silk contributes to the mild feeling of the work shown.
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Material of silk painting
Of course, silk is the main material of silk painting. Vietnamese painters often use silk to represent their works. However, because it is handmade, Vietnam’s silk has rough – rustic types, and there are small and smooth fibers. Each type of silk will create a different effect when presenting the work.
On the contrary, Chinese silk has the same horizontal and vertical lines. With that feature, when painting on Chinese silk, it will be easy to show light and dark, but the feeling will not have the maximum depth desired by the artist.
Also, Chinese silk is quite thin, so the ability to absorb water is not much. When painting, the silk must be wet, if left to dry to paint, it will become hard, opaque, and residue. Therefore, this silk limits the genre of work to be shown, it seems suitable for the cheering paintings, difficult for works that are washed and painted many times.
Currently, the silk commonly used by Vietnamese painters is the silk of Quan Pho village (Chuan Ngoai commune, Duy Tien district, Ha Nam province, Vietnam), which is woven entirely of worm silk, so it feels durable and has a strong texture, good color absorbency.
Quan Pho silk is handmade, so the texture of the silk is varied, different in size, uneven, and thicker. These factors make it easier to repeatedly brush on silk, making works on it easier according to the feelings, emotions, and techniques of each artist. The strokes are bold – light, thick-thin, shallow – deep, blurred, suitable for unpredictable changes on this silk.
Therefore, it is very important in the creation of silk paintings in Vietnam that the selection of the right silk material is suitable for the needs of expressing the aesthetic emotions of the painter.
Next is the material of the paint. Watercolor is the most popular color in this type of painting. In the past, colors painted on silk were handmade from nature such as black from bamboo charcoal ash, green from indigo leaves, yellow from flowers crushed and filtered for water or from wine wood, white from small shells ground.
These natural colors are durable, often have a low level of feelings, not as bright as modern colors. Therefore, the need to use modern powder colors, pastels, watercolors… to represent a variety of works for the increasing demand for composition in today’s life.
>> You may want to see another typical Dong Ho painting.
Vietnamese silk painting technique
Although there is no limit to the material and color to show on silk. Each artist will search and choose for themselves a color model suitable for their creative work. In general, liquid colors with less water are capable of providing a solid effect but lack clarity, depth, and flexibility on the silk painting step. Therefore, watercolor, pigment, or Chinese ink will be easier to create on silk.
First of all, it should be noted that, unlike oil paint, once the color has been absorbed on the silk, it is difficult to change. But the advantage of silk is softness, tenderness, calmness, and depth. To get all advantages of these futures, the artist needs to paint over and over again so that the color slowly permeates as desired.
An advanced technique in silk painting is silk washing or silk cleaning. The technical requirements are very high so that the color does not fade or splash. When using the silk washing technique requires the artist to practice a lot and be meticulous in each stage, then the product will meet the requirements. Many people say that the silk washing technique is similar to the grinding technique in Vietnamese lacquer.
Next, when performing work on silk requires the artist’s meticulousness. Draw one stroke at a time, from light to dark, possibly overlapping. This is also a way to mix colors directly on the picture. When the color is dry, to remove color residue or soften the color, the artist will use the silk washing technique mentioned above.
An element to pay attention to when drawing Vietnamese silk paintings is the technique of silk spreading or framing, this can be considered as the first stage to conduct painting. Silk is aligned onto a wooden frame that is attached with glue or studs. This technique is very convenient for the application of silk washing; However, it has the disadvantage that it is easy to be broken and slack. Therefore, you should pay attention to creating a solid frame, attach it carefully.
And another silk-spreading technique is to paste silk on the Formica whiteboard. This is an easy way used by many young artists. This aligning method can be applied to large-scale silk paintings, the slack factor is easily released.
With a basic technique of silk painting, it is necessary to pay attention to the gaps in the picture, all of which are colored to protect the silk from being moldy, the painting will have a longer life.
The artistic expression value of silk painting of Vietnam
The first expressive value is the artist’s creativity, which is similar to other types in painting. Each artist has different abilities and views about people, things, and life, from which they express differently in each silk painting work.
On silk paintings, based on the general artistic requirements of the layout, painters often rely on the softness and thinness of silk to enhance expression. Accordingly, the perspective and execution of drawing will be different; rarely to use light-dark skills, rising parts on silk paintings like oil paintings. Bold or sharp strokes are carefully considered so that when viewers are close or far away, they can most deeply feel the content of a picture that the author wants to say.
Another artistic expression value is the bare spaces in silk paintings. Most of the silk paintings cover a lot of art blanks. This factor helps the artist focus on more specific topics, express more clearly and concisely the main subject in his work.
However, the gaps are not just empty, but the authors have to handle them so that the color arrays match each other better, to enhance the main idea of the entire picture. Using blank arrays can help create light and dark, which can make a picture different depth and cool.
The outstanding unique feature of Vietnamese silk paintings is that it has found a separate color palette for silk, saving colors, few lines, but still creating richness, diverse nuances, unique, flavorful, and colorful feelings in each work.
Unlike lacquer paintings, silk paintings do not originate from Vietnam. However, many famous Vietnamese painters have made great contributions to the development and elevation of silk paintings to world art.
The restructuring and improvement in the technique of processing silk paintings not only in terms of shaping but also in the way of expressing the work with the worldview and human outlook, which creates the uniqueness of Vietnamese silk paintings in the international artistic creation.
The randomness and sensitivity in combining painting materials of many Vietnamese painters (such as Nguyen Tuong Lan, Nguyen Phan Chanh ..) turn silk paintings from an ancient product into a contemporary art full of vitality.
Thus, the silk painting is listed in one of the top traditional arts in Vietnam, which enriches the spiritual and artistic life.