The Chinese considered painting to be the only fine art. The artist looked to the past for inspiration. Recreating past masterpieces was regarded as a worthwhile and honourable endeavour – unlike in the West, where it is regarded as forgery!
Since the Sung Dynasty ((980 to 1279) landscape painting has been predominant.
The characteristic style of Chinese landscapes comes from a way of representing perspective which is very different to the Western convention of using diminishing size.
A typical Chinese landscape consists of three parts – foreground, middle distance and distance – separated by fields of mist. The foreground is marked by a rock; the middle distance is marked by a cliff; and the distance contains mountain peaks – usually pale blue, To this basic composition, the artist often added the figure of a scholar meditating under a gnarled pine tree.