Traditional Chinese painting prizes inkplay, or the subtle tonal variations of ink, in which the concentration of the ink, the amount of ink on the brush, and the velocity of the brush against the paper are all determining factors on the outcome of the ink on the paper. The original painting of High Tide of the Qiantang River utilizes the technique of “Water-rubbing,” and by exploring the wondrous effects of ink settling in water, it excels in the traditional notion of inkplay in Chinese painting.
In creating the print, the monochrome composition and subtle tonal variations of ink demanded a complex division of plates. The color on each plate is manually mixed. Taking black, white or grey as its base, additional supplementary colors, five on average, are added to create the specific color required for each plate. Due to the nature of the “Water-rubbing” technique, the surface of the original painting is predominately smooth and without texture. Coincidentally, silkscreen printing, allows multiple layers of colors to stack without smudging or clumping the paper, thereby retaining a smooth image. Effective stacking of plates is determined by the transparency of the colors. Water-based conditioners are added to the oil-based colors on selected plates to heighten the transparency. As a result, the print mimics the watery effect of the original image and demonstrates the treasured Chinese notion of inkplay.