Spotlight on an Artist- Ping Long

Ping Long is a Chinese Watercolor artist who is not well known in the west, but seems quite well known in China.  It's like a whole other watercolor world there, there are so many artists to find out about!  Of particular interest to me was that Chien Chung-Wei specifically brought Ping Long up during the workshop as an influence, or, at the very least, as a greatly admired painter.  I had also heard about him on the strekhovart blog, so that piqued my interest.  Two unrelated artists, both liking someone I had never even heard of!

Note the soft distance created with the wet into wet work...

Note the soft distance created with the wet into wet work...

... and how a painting like this works as both a color piece, but also because of value.

... and how a painting like this works as both a color piece, but also because of value.

i found this composition quite daring, having to push through the gauze of the trees to get to the buildings.

i found this composition quite daring, having to push through the gauze of the trees to get to the buildings.

According to my notes, Chien said Ping Long worked relatively large while painting plein air.  Of course, that's not saying much, since Chien paints so small!  LOL.  Still, I looked it up, and my google-fu proved it was true.  Other things worth noting from the photos below?  He's painting flat, and I can't tell if he's taped anything down.  It doesn't look like it, which makes me wonder what type of paper he uses, or how he fastens it down (if at all?).

that's atleast 1/2 sheet if not more.  pretty big stuff for plein air work.

that's atleast 1/2 sheet if not more.  pretty big stuff for plein air work.

I did find a couple of videos of him painting, but they're (of course) in Chinese and hosted on Chinese websites.  So, I can't embed them here.  Still, below are the links if you'd like to watch him do a few rough sketches (demos?).  Short stuff- each is around a 1/2 hour.  Things one can note?  Big square hake-like brushes, or floppy mops.  He uses a palette knife to make scratches.  He tends to paint flat.  He uses bull clips sometimes to keep his paper in place.  There's a lot of preserved white and negative painting.  Also, I'd take it all with a grain of salt- they're obviously demos, done relatively quickly, but it gives us some insight into his process.

For the videos hosted on youku, you need to wait the 45 seconds before the let you watch it.  After the countdown, the video becomes available.

Ping Long Video #1

Ping Long Video #2

Ping Long Video #3

Below, I share some demo photos I found on Facebook.  They show the process he's going through, which is helpful.  All credit goes to Alex Wuk.  Here's the link to the original gallery.

Note how he paints the shadows on the roofs early on, but doesn't bring the sky down all the way...

Note how he paints the shadows on the roofs early on, but doesn't bring the sky down all the way...

this allows him to paint in distant trees, wet into wet, but when he reaches the roof line...

this allows him to paint in distant trees, wet into wet, but when he reaches the roof line...

the trees don't completely disintegrate into the roof, because the water has dried a bit.  Also note how he's able to paint the foreground at the same time as the background, like two separate paintings.

the trees don't completely disintegrate into the roof, because the water has dried a bit.  Also note how he's able to paint the foreground at the same time as the background, like two separate paintings.

you can also see how he builds darker values wet into wet, bit by bit.  Now he begins to build form in the midground, after the foreground has dried some.

you can also see how he builds darker values wet into wet, bit by bit.  Now he begins to build form in the midground, after the foreground has dried some.

Note how he drops the leaves into the sky just before it dries completely.  Also the building has dried enough that he can add hard edged shadows.

Note how he drops the leaves into the sky just before it dries completely.  Also the building has dried enough that he can add hard edged shadows.

after the sky has dried , he does branches and dry brush work.

after the sky has dried , he does branches and dry brush work.

 
splatters and scratching with a palette knife for highlights go in at the end.

splatters and scratching with a palette knife for highlights go in at the end.

 

Here's a second demo as well-

the sketch is really rough.  only basic shapes that let him build a sky and foreground.

the sketch is really rough.  only basic shapes that let him build a sky and foreground.

in go the darker far away values.

in go the darker far away values.

they soften up real quick into a hazy distance. He drops in trees and cuts the form of the railing by painting it negatively.

they soften up real quick into a hazy distance. He drops in trees and cuts the form of the railing by painting it negatively.

the upper sky is just starting to dry.  You can tell by the shift in texture on the twigs in the upper right.  also, note the little detail work that goes in against the form of the house- they are clear and dark because the roof is dry.

the upper sky is just starting to dry.  You can tell by the shift in texture on the twigs in the upper right.  also, note the little detail work that goes in against the form of the house- they are clear and dark because the roof is dry.

the all important foreground goes in at the end- twiggy trees and splatter creating depth.  he's either cutting some of the forms in the foreground in at the end, painting negatively, or he is scratching them out.

the all important foreground goes in at the end- twiggy trees and splatter creating depth.  he's either cutting some of the forms in the foreground in at the end, painting negatively, or he is scratching them out.

I don't care to reduce an artist to influences, but at one point, my memory is that Chien suggested that if you combined Ping Long and Joseph Zbukvic, you might get something like him.  This seems very true!  Ping Long is clearly not adverse to using lots of color- something Joseph and Chien generally stay away from.  But there's also a bold, rough hewn, abstract quality to Ping Long's work that's very appealing and different.  Some of Chien's work really echos this aesthetic.  Here are some comparisons of their work that I found echoed each other some-

Ping Long

Ping Long

Chien Chung Wei

Chien Chung Wei

Ping Long

Ping Long

Chien Chung Wei

Chien Chung Wei

Ping Long

Ping Long

Chien Chung Wei

Chien Chung Wei

Ping Long- I love that purple shadow.  Reminds me of Sargent!  Also- check out the value shift on the trees, as they go from scratches against the green background, to positive, dark shapes against the sky.  Lovely!

Ping Long- I love that purple shadow.  Reminds me of Sargent!  Also- check out the value shift on the trees, as they go from scratches against the green background, to positive, dark shapes against the sky.  Lovely!

Chien Chung Wei

Chien Chung Wei

Ping Long

Ping Long

Chien Chung Wei

Chien Chung Wei

Ping long

Ping long

Chien chung wei

Chien chung wei

In the end, of course, this post is actually about introducing people to Ping Long.  There are a variety of things he's painted that I just don't imagine Chien getting much out of, or atleast approaching totally differently.  Stuff like this-

Chien likes to play with dry brush work a lot more than Pin Long seems to, and Ping Long is clearly playing with wet into wet work a lot more than Chien.  And yet, I can see similarities. 

Something Chien discussed during the workshop was that he felt you could get a good sense of an artist by looking at how they dealt with the corners.  The primary subject is often relatively similar between realist painters- it has more clarity and contrast; it often has richer chromatic colors; if there are people, it's often where they are; it's generally in the mid-ground.  But the corners are where the artist abstracts things out and bends reality to meet the needs of the composition.  It's very interesting to scroll over the pictures and think about that!  You can begin to see the different artistic fingerprints.

If you're interested in seeing more of Ping Long's work, I did find this gallery that someone else has collated- this one by Facebook user Alex Wuk (which also features many other interesting galleries of Chinese artists). 

Here are a few more Ping Long paintings to send you on your way-