STYLING the STYLE – Part 1

Post 592 by Gautam Shah

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A style is a distinctive involvement by an individual. This approach is perceived by others to have diverse potential for application, in the same or different practices. The expression, in the physical work or the discourse, results from the local environment, such as the climate, geography, the society and the times. This gets also reflected in many other aspects of innovators’ personal lifestyle, and in some form dissipates in the society. So a personal style becomes universal by emulative confirmation. Some elements of the original style seem to persist in spite of the new environment, such as culture, technology, field of application and mode of expression.

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Tribuna of Uffizi > Wikipedia image by Johann Zoffany (1733-1810)

Mannerism spreads in a different locality, time period, different forms and fields. This shifting of emulation by individuals could be for a while, sporadic, but a group coalesces to propound it vigorously as cultural heritage or innovative approach. The select components include colour, pattern, form, emphasis, representation or construction, perceptive likeness and abstract or unknown conveyance of meaning.

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Pictorial brick depicting a Chinese Courtyard Wikipedia image by Editor at Large

The first art-form to be emulated were the uttered sounds. A community impresses other ‘neighbours’ by the arrangement, succinct meaning and the ‘manner’ of conveyance. These were intricately connected to universal conditions like postures, gestures, tools, foods, and rituals like hunting, caring for children, birth, death etc. The local character to the utterances was endowed by the spatial acoustics (of terrain and built spaces) and environmental affectations. The next art forms were the personalization of the body, tools, utilities and habitable environs. These patterns and colours were regional and tribe-based, due to local material resources and used for ‘universal conditions’.

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BaKongo masks Kongo, Africa > Ethnicity of manners > Wikipedia image by Ndoto ya Afrika

These forms were initially representations of the ‘culture’ but not stylized expressions. But few individuals were proficient in it. These were the mannerist of the society, appreciated for the skill and copied by others. But the mannerisms spread from local to regional segments. The spread was slow in time, and became diffused with distance. The operative distance was what one could travel, and recall the practice. The mannerists were not classicists to be discussed or commented upon by the critics. And wherever these practices, were fortified by terrestrial seclusion or political isolation, became ethnic traditions.

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Arrest of St Mark in Synagogue with Muslim dress influences > Wikipedia image by Giovanni di Niccolo Mansueti (1485-1527)

No one had qualms about adapting, converting and mixing influences like Gods, fables, heroes, religious rights, drama characters, dogmas, recipes, motifs, festivals, dresses and adornments. This was part of personal creativity, but was also used for convincing a sponsor or buyer for it. Roman art is influenced by neighbouring cultures but was also used for the rulers. ‘Roman art periods are branded with rulers or dynasties’ and not by the art-creators. Roman arts and crafts in spite of adaptations from others, and after being ‘emulated by other across times and territories, maintains its own essence.

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Cross regional influences Philae Columns Egypt > Wikipedia image by Mohammed Moussa

Any art-form, be it a personal statement or representation of ‘manner’ can be analyzed, on hindsight, into various effects. It originates from time and space realities. Its components find justification or raison d’etre when distanced. Most styles are identified by critics or rivals more for deriding it rather than appreciating it. Historic art and architectural styles were identified after the relevant periods were nearly extinct, or its originators not in practice. This was perhaps due to lack of faster communication and wider dissemination. Lack of communication did not allow immediate coalescence of thoughts and dissemination was slow as image transmission was nearly nonexistent. The art-forms, such as art, architecture could only be visited or transmitted over longer duration. The essence of the style, however, spread through many crafts, artefacts, adornments, performing arts, literature, etc.

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Monkeys as Judges of Art > Wikipedia image by Gabriel von Max (1840-1915)

This spread became faster and intensive during the Industrial age for several reasons, publication of quality images through print media, faster and easier travel by steam-power over land and sea, weakening of the moneyed sponsorship by likes of church, industrial houses, political powers, etc. and greater distribution of arts and crafts. Creative people began to interact with others more frequently, who unlike the non-practicing critics were less derisive. The creators on their own were more conscious of meaning of expression and were self-critic.

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Shawls of 19th C France > Wikipedia image by Durin

StyleBeards

Beard Styles

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MEANING of CRAFT – 1

Post 516  by Gautam Shah

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Craft is an activity involving skill of making things by hand. The skill of making things by hand evolves with experience. So in this sense not only the skill but resultant products continue to evolve. Craft-work could be a hobby to keep oneself engaged or a pursuit for personal satiation, and a profession for earning a livelihood. Craft activity is a personal engagement, in spite of family, clan or employees partnering it. All human activities have some element of craft-work, as some degrees of innovations are involved in routine work. The innovations relate primarily to productivity, or doing things in easier (lesser effort) manner, and in quicker way. Other efforts include efficient use of materials, working with better tools, devising superior forms, endowing new functions, safety, well being and security.

A handcraft shop Udupi India Wikipedia image by Author Vaikoovery

Elephants at Thrissur Pooram Festival Kerala, India Wikipedia image by Rajesh Kakkanatt

Craft-work allows growth of personal skills, development of physical fitness, body limb coordination, refinement of cognitive abilities, expression of thoughts and feelings, interpersonal relationships, and socio-cultural recognition. Craft is considered a stress buster activity. Craft-items, cumulatively represent both ethnicity and external influences. The craft products form a legacy of solutions that are local and time-tested, and so familiar and reliable.

: Wooden crafts for sale at the municipal market of Patzcuaro, Michoacan Wikipedia image by Author Thelmadatter

Indian stringed puppets Wikipedia image by Author Nicolás Pérez

Craft is an expression of human activity that relies on design, improvisation, enterprise, abstraction of the form, reality of functionality and compression of diverse meanings. Craft has a recognizable shape, size and existence. It persists without the creator, but has with it the flavour of the place and time of its origin. Crafts denote materials, processes and recognizing the ‘good’ (or aesthetics) things. The ‘good’ things are sought to be recreated and improved upon through new materials and processes. Routine production processes output products of consistent form and quality, like bricks, ceramic pots, etc., and are not craft’s endeavours. This means craft items are substantially varied versions of the earlier products.

Old men making handicrafts in Naqsh-e Jahan Square

Agra India artisan producing marble stone inlays wikipedia image by Author David Castor (dcastor)

Craft-items are real products where there is an intensive exploration of materials, processes and the meaning. It is not just intellectual and physical activity of making a tangible object, but also the discovery of meaning. Craft making is devoid of any absolute result or exact definitions, but rather an approximation and realization of essence. A complete piece of craft becomes an art. It is contingent, so one moves on to something else, without certainty or expectancy. It is an experience that inculcates a desire, to do something different.

Mata Ortiz pottery from Chihuahua FONART exhibition 2010 in Mexico City Wikipedia image by Author AlejandroLinaresGarcia

There are indistinct differences between the work of art and pieces of craft. The works of Art are exclusively centred on the meaning, often subjugating the materials and the processes of manipulation. The craft item is an embodiment of manipulated materials. The applied arts though manifest the materials, but do not reflect the processes of materials’ conversions. Since industrial age massive manufacturing capacities have distinguished handicrafts. Craft-items can be produced by using automated tools and other machine-based processes. This has created some categorizations of folk-crafts, country-crafts and tribal crafts.

Basket weaving Cameroon Wikipedia image by Author ymea Permission (Reusing this file) CC-BY-SA. Autorization by OTRS (ticket n° 2006062110007771).

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ART COATINGS

Post 432 – by Gautam Shah

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Coatings are thin surface finishing techniques. A thin film is achieved by using a material that is in a liquid state or is convertible into a liquid phase. A coating may or may not have a colourant, but on drying achieves various degrees of transparencies. Coatings are applied to entities to alter the appearance, improve the tangibility and to provide a protective cover. Historically, however, coatings have been used for illustration and decorative effects.

The discovery of mixing dishes suggests that liquid pigment mixed with fat was also used and smeared with the hand. The subtle tonal gradations of colour on animals painted in the Altamira and Lascaux caves appear to have been dabbed in two stages with fur pads, natural variations on the rock surface were exploited to create the effects of volume.

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The simplest way of marking cave walls was to make finger-traces in the soft layer of clay covering the rock. Lime stone walls were engraved and filled in with iron oxide (hematite, or ochre), or the black pigment as manganese or charcoal. These materials were usually available locally. Analyses of pigments, reveal the use of extenders such as talc or feldspar, to increase the bulk of pigments. It also shows traces of animal and plant oils, used for binding. The pigment in paste form was applied with fingers, and also tools like animal-hair brushes or crushed twigs. Lumps of pigment discovered on cave floors may have been used as crayons, but since they do not mark the rock well, they were more likely to be sources of powder. Colour was often sprayed, from the mouth or through a tube. A network of ladder, supports and scaffolding was used to reach the ceilings and upper portions of walls. Light was provided by hearths, or portable burning torches.

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Primitive coatings were daubing of clays, minerals, charcoal, lamp blacks often mixed with mediums such as water, tallow, vegetable excretion and juices, urine, blood, bitumen. Binding mediums were employed to fix the mineral or colourant particles on the surface. Some of the binding mediums were evaporative and worked only as a `leveller’ for particulate matter. By 6000 BC, in China, calcined (fired) mixtures of inorganic compounds and organic pigments and binding mediums (vehicles) were prepared from gum arabic, egg white, gelatin, and beeswax.

Some oily mediums though superior in fixing and longer lasting, but collected dust on aging. Oil mediums became darker in colour due to oxidation, or just peeled off. Some of the mediums were destroyed due to fungus and algae. Later little more complex substances such as starches of rice and maize, pine wood extracts, egg albumin, bees wax, hydrated limes, gypsum, etc. were used.

PREHISTORIC ART FORMS

There are basic TWO sets of Arts. Fixed arts are built-forms, wall murals and architectural embellishments. These could have been part of either exterior and interior environments. Portable arts, comprise of objects or artefacts. These usually remained in protected environments. Fixed arts were largely painted and scratched or engraved, but portable arts had, at least in initial periods, natural finishes by way of selection and production processes.

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Portable arts consist of wide variety of object forms and material combinations. Compared to the fixed Arts the objects are smaller in size. The portable objects show all, the surface treatments, embellishments and coating applications. The objects of this category show greater integration of all the three interventions and greater detail or involvement. Large number and wide variety of objects have been preserved and recovered even from regions where Fixed Arts entities have not survived. Portable arts’ objects are smaller and personal hobby or a family craft creation. The colour and surface quality were matter of choice or discoveries through innovation in production.

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Fixed Arts entities that have survived are surface treatments or renderings through show painting, scratching, engraving and daubing methods. On the other hand, the surviving built-forms, if considered as art-forms, represent technological milestones of material handling, supporting and construction planning. Fixed arts were large scale or important societal activities, involving entire community by way of voluntary participation or forced labour. The involvement of the community was for seasonal or occasional rituals. The leader, conductor or priest of the ritual and the team were the select few experts who initiated and updated the (art) entities over and over again. Such art-forms indicate occupation or interventions of several generations, as much as for more than 300 years.

Bradshaw rock paintings

Portable Art objects are incidental that is the availability, shape, size, colours, texture, etc. define the range of treatments. Many times the purpose it will serve evolves during the process of treatments. Such objects show material combinations. many different finishes were achieved, by change of forms and exploiting the tools. Material processes like heating, singeing, sintering, baking, beating, shaping, cutting, chopping, grinding, drilling, etc., were also used in farming and cooking. It was one seamless manner of learning.

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The materials were stones, precious stones, metal nodules, mineral and other colourants, woods, grasses, twigs, hides, leathers, skins, furs, hairs, shells, teeth, horns, bones, ivory, raw clay objects, baked clay ceramics, seeds, fruits, etc.

The objects formed were totems, body adornments, tools, implements, ritual and burial objects, cooking utilities, toys for children, amenities and dwelling embellishments.

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These were exchanged, gifted to others or offered in rituals. The objects began to have consistent expressions. The varied metaphors, passing from one generation to other, ultimately became abstract. Coins, plaques, seals, etc. represent multiple conversions of expressions like a language.

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Fixed Art objects like built-forms, though functional utilities were built for community and for political purposes.

The public use entities were irrigation facilities, forest clearance, dykes, bridges, walks or passages, drinking water resources, community surround structures, security amenities and storage arrangements. These were not ‘decorative arts’ but symbolized technological innovations. Some like burial stones and dolmen had items of personalization.

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Fixed Arts objects like wall arts show skills of surface preparation, rendering or painting and surface finishing. These creations also show art of surface preparation by way of grinding, etching, daubing, engraving and colourant application. Wall-arts exist in odd narrow corners, at very high elevations, tall ceilings, day time dark corners and in nearly inaccessible places. The effort must have required support structures, bridges, scaffolds, illumination and ancillary works to protect the creations from moisture.

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TEXTURES and MATERIALS

Post 162by Gautam Shah

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Removal of material Wood turning

A surface, is often the reason, why an object is being preferred or rejected for a use, and continues to survive in a particular setting. A user perceives the surface of a material-object in many different conditions. A surface is the most proximate and tangible part of an object. The proximity to a surface defines its visual experience whereas the tangibility refers to the mainly tactile sensorial characteristics. Texture is an important qualitative parameter of a surface definition. Textures are intimately linked to specific objects, and deviation from that is immediately registered.

Texture by Modification

Textures are part of naturally occurring objects. We also fashion new finishes by varying the textural qualities. An object acquires a specific colour ‘tinge’ as the texture affects the angle of reflection of light. The angle of perception also has similar effect. The quality of light (the spectral range) and its brightness affect the perception of texture.

  • There are more than 20 mathematical parameters applied to surface description, and some of the terms are: roughness, irregular features of wave, height, width, lay, and direction on the surface; camber, deviation from straightness; out of flat, measure of macroscopic deviations from flatness of a surface.

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Surface texture is a roughness that can be quantified by the vertical deviations from its “ideal form”. Surface roughness is a very subjective term what is rough for some context may be perceived to be smoother for other conditions. Surface textures are perceived for their extent. Surface texture is also sensed in terms of its proximity as well as its tangibility. A brick wall may be very rough to touch but a very extensive surface may not be perceived to be so rough.

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Textured surfaces have larger area, so greater reactivity with the environment. Roughness of the surfaces and have higher friction coefficient so susceptible higher wear. Surface irregularities are nucleation nodes for trapping of moisture and promote corrosion. Surface texture allows better adhesion.

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Textures are created by several methods, such as:

  • Removal of material >> Etching, Scraping, Roughening, Filing, Grinding, Engraving, Notching, Sculpting, Machining, Blasting, Shearing, Shaving, Singeing, Spluttering, etc.

Burnishing

  • Addition of material >> Painting, Printing, Dyeing, Metalizing, Material deposition, Plastering, Coating, Nitriding, Carburising, Galvanizing, Gilding, etc.

Diamond Polishing

  • By displacement processes like contraction and expansion >> Brushing, Rubbing, Ironing, Chasing, Repousse, Forming, Hammering, Forging, Beating, Levelling, Rolling, Buffing, Washing, Bleaching, Enamelling, Surface Alloying, Denting, Forming, Re-rolling, Peening, Spinning, Twisting, Weaving, Knitting, etc.

Road Paving-Rolling -surface creation

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GRISAILLE -monochrome form of presentation

Postby Gautam Shah

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13 Grisaille

In the later Middle Ages a new style, purged of colours, emerged to create artworks like painting, glass compositions and fabric arts etc. Grisaille painting is a technique where an image is executed entirely in shades of gray and modelled for the illusive effect of relief sculpture. The use of colour was a gray-scale palette like black, grey or single tones. This emerged perhaps as metaphorical simplicity for religious modesty or as a dissolution of the distinction between sculpture and drawn arts. The chosen palette merged the three-dimensional sculpture or built-form, and the two-dimensional drawings.

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The Grisaille sobered up the art, sculpture and architecture scene. In architecture, the clerestory windows of Gothic cathedrals replaced the saturated coloured glasses with patterned grisaille glass. This created interior architecture that was more honest to the form than the effect. It also devalued the story telling-board function of the windows.

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Grisaille style of monochrome or single hue presentations, encouraged the exploitation inherent patterns and textures of the architectural surfaces. The art of creating depth or its illusion through form-shape, shadows, silhouettes and forward-backward was re-explored.

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In French, Grisaille has also come to mean any painting technique in which translucent oil colours are laid over a monotone under-painting.

Grisaille (French: gris =grey), is an artwork form where Grey and its various tones are used to create sculptural effect in paintings. It is largely a monochrome form of presentation, though few other colours are also used. Frescoes with Brown tones have been called Brunaille, and with Green tones Verdaille.

Grisaille as technique is similar to Chiaroscuro. It uses shades as one basic tone to present many materials. It is also similar to charcoal or sinopia used for preparing a sketch, understudy, or prefigure outline.

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Grisaille form could be a painting or glass-art or an understudy for a painting. ‘Rubens and his school sometimes use monochrome techniques in sketching compositions for engravers.’ Grisaille was often used, to see the validity of a proposed sculptural composition. It was used to imitate classical sculptures in wall and ceiling decorations. In French, Grisaille has also come to mean any painting technique in which translucent oil colours are laid over a monotone under-painting.

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This art-form was preferred for being faster and cheaper. Sometimes, however, it was intentionally used for being less committal and also for its aesthetical beauty. Grisaille art-form was used by glass painters for colouring in place of stained glass or pot glass. Grisaille windows were popular because the monochromatic panes of white glass with black or brown painted outlines offered a very sober and brighter interior environment. It saved money, and worked well as a replacement for stained glass or leaded windows.

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WATER COLOURS

Post by Gautam Shah

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松壑清泉圖

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Water colours > Wikipedia image by Ariel Waldman from Munice

The distinguishing characteristic of water-colour painting is its translucency. The surface of the paper is visible through the thin water-colour pigments. It creates a veil-like effect that is very distinctive from the heavy and opaque painting in oil. Water Colour paintings have been created on papyrus, bark papers, plastics, vellum or leather, fabric, wood, and canvas.

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Water colour brushes Wikipedia image by Vinegarten en wiki

Water-colour paints are produced by mixing dry powdered pigments with gum arabic (a natural gum of acacia trees). Solid water-colour cakes can be dissolved in water and applied to paper with a brush. Although water-colour is a relatively modern type of paint, but various water-based paints systems have been used throughout the recorded history. Water colours are usually transparent and seem of pure hue because the pigments are applied in a relatively pure form with virtually no fillers or substrate that dull the effect of the colours.

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An unfinished water colour by William Berryman (created bet 1808-1816) using water colours, ink, and pencil.

Ancient Egyptian painted papyrus scrolls, and may be considered the first water colours system. Early oriental ink drawings are forms of monochrome water colour system. In medieval Europe, water-soluble pigments bound with a thickener derived from eggs were used in illuminated manuscripts. Frescoes in medieval times were also over-painted, touched or gradual shaded with a type of water-bound pigment stiffened with opaque white paint. Later types of opaque water-soluble paints such as gouache, which continue to be used today, and are closely related to water colours.

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Self Potrait Paul Cezanne 1839-1906

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The earliest true water colour art works are usually the landscapes and animal-studies of the 15th C. German master Albrecht, who work-finished his pen drawings of natural history subjects with water-colour. During the 16th and 17th C., artists used water-based paints only occasionally, and the custom was to use them in monochrome. Bistre (a brown pigment obtained from soot) and sepia (a blackish pigment prepared from the ink of squids) reached momentary prominence in the work of the French artist Claude Lorain and the Dutch master Rembrandt, both of whom used them to create expressive atmospheric effects of cloud and sky in their ink landscape drawings. The use of coloured water paints was rare, found only in the works of a few relatively minor masters, such as Hendrick van Avercamp and Adrien van Ostade. The important development in the history of water colour painting took place in England in the second half of the 18th C. As the Romantic movement.

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Water Colour ART by John Singer Sargent 1856-1925

 

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Water colour as a medium was ideal for out door painting hobby, as it dried quickly. It was also eminently suitable for rendering Romantic themes as stormy skies, fog and mist, and billowing foliage. At first, English water colour painters followed in the Dutch tradition, using washes of colour to heighten pen or pencil drawings. By the mid-1700s, however, artists began to apply water colour directly to paper without any previously drawn outlines. This development marked the maturity of water colour as an art form, and it became increasingly popular. Subject matter extended far beyond the landscape to include the mystical paintings of William Blake and the satiric social scenes of the cartoonist Thomas Rowlandson. In the hands of some artists, the peaceful, pastoral nature of water colour was replaced by drama, grandeur and sublimity. John Robert Cozens, for example, produced highly evocative water colours of the Swiss Alps. He was a prime influence on Thomas Girtin and J. M. W. Turner, the two great masters of English water colour. Turner, especially, in the first half of the 19th C., achieved a brilliancy and luminosity, that was never surpassed, his water colours were described as having been “painted with tinted steam“.

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Water colour did not achieve much prominence in other European countries, although it did affect the style of painting in other mediums. In India transparent water colours were often used for overlay effects in miniature paintings that were mostly done in opaque colours. Raja Ravi Verma and later Tagore and his contemporaries exploited the ink and water colour as a transparent media. Water colours has been very expressive medium for traditional and modern painters of China, Korea, and Japan.

View of the Tiber at Rome - Brown ink and brown wash on paper ART by Claude Lorrain 1604–1682

Japanese water colour Art

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