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Impression of the Ancient Fish Route and Sulfur Flame Fishing
Ancient Fish Route
Sulfur Flame Fishing
Chinese Landscape Painting
Learn from Nature
Yan Ming Shan
The ancient fish route, located in Yan Ming Shan National Park, was the main thoroughfare for the fishermen in Jin Bao Li (nowadays Jin Shan) to ship their catches to sell to Shi Lin District in Taipei a hundred years ago. The ancient fish route started at the fishing village of Jin Shan Huang which used to be the port for exporting sulfur by the Spanish in the early years. Because of the abundance of sulfur and the fish’s attraction to the light, the fishermen made use of the sudden flames given out by burning the sulfur to attract schools of fish to jump out of the water and then caught them with the fish nets. In its hay days, there were hundreds of fishing boats using this method to fish in the northern coast of Taiwan. However, nowadays there are only four fishing boats left to preserve such an old method of fishing, which is also the most unique fishing technique in the world. Recently, through the promotion of New Taipei tourism, the beautiful scene of fish jumping out of the water with the sulfur flames (Jin Shan Sulfur Flame Fishing) gradually attracted people’s attention. Although a lot of photographers have captured this fascinating scene in pictures, yet there is very rare to find paintings using this activity as subject. Therefore, I decide to make use of this subject as my topic for a series of creative art works. In doing so, I hope to contribute a little to the preserving of this tradition. Besides the special scene of fishing with sulfur flames, the rich environmental ecology near the ancient fish route also provides various subjects of creative inspiration. Therefore, I started with sketches from nature, then made use of the experience of multi-medium and techniques I learned in recent years to combine engraving with water color and ink to compose a series of art works. This paper will discuss and explore Chinese imageries in paintings and the theories related to the creative works. I will start with the discussion of aesthetic of traditional Chinese landscape paintings and the techniques in sketching from nature along with the historical review and my personal knowledge on aesthetics. I will also apply those theories in my creative art works of combining engraving with Chinese ink landscape paintings. Famous Chinese landscape artist of Qing Dynasty Shi Tao once said, “(One should) sketch all fascinating mountain peaks” which emphasizes the importance of sketching from nature. Zhang Cao of Tang Dynasty said, “By study nature, one can gain inspiration.” This saying not only mentions sketching from nature, but also indicates that only by humbling oneself to respect nature, one can get inspiration to create. These sayings have presented me the highest goal of my personal learning and creative process. As famous artist Wang Wei of Six Dynasties puts it, “Spirit soars when staring at the autumn cloud, feeling vast and mighty when facing spring wind”. I hope that my works will not only help the viewers immerse in my paintings, but also get the viewers to experience the moving emotions I had while creating them. In hope of providing future creative direction and prospective, this paper presents my review and introspection through the discussion of whether there is compatibility or conflict in combining Chinese ink painting techniques with engraving in creating modern ink painting.
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