Gongbi Books

Gongbi work is painted on sized paper or sized silk and is a very controlled technique.  It can produce some exquisitely beautiful paintings. Gongbi painting is now not widely taught in the UK, so it is hard to learn the technique.  We have been unable to find any books that give a detailed explanation of the techniques in the English language.  We have therefore gathered what we have learnt from Cai Xiaoli, Kaili Fu, Li Jia and Qu Leilei in a series of three books for our members.  A copy of each of these books is free to all members, while supplies last.  Additional copies are available to buy £10 each plus p&p: contact us if you are interested.

Marion Dearlove has written  the first of these books, covering  Bai Miao – line work – and Mo Ran – ink washes.  It provides a detailed step-by-step guide to this technique.
Marion has generously made available the underdrawings and final versions of her line work and ink wash step-by-step illustrations in Gongbi 1. You can print these for your own use.
Camellia underdrawing
Camellia complete
Bird underdrawing
Bird complete


Figure underdrawing
Figure complete
Landscape underdrawing
Landscape complete
Xia Gui (fl 1195–1224) – Enjoying dialogue in a snow-covered hall
Note that the painting on page 43 is by Xia Gui, not Li Tang.
Xia Gui, another of the 4 great Song dynasty landscape artists, further developed the traditions of Li Tang, also focusing his
landscapes on detail rather than on scale.

Here is a video of Cai Xiaoli demonstrating how to use both painting brushes in one hand:

The second volume, on use of colour in Gongbi painting,  has been written by Angela Reich.    This covers the light colour and heavy colour styles.
Angela has kindly provided the underdrawing of her bird and loquats, for you to print and use for your own paintings.  (The original is about A3 size.)
bird and loquats underdrawing
Bird and loquats

In the third volume, Margaret Wall provides a step-by-step guide to writing 40 Chinese phrases in the elegant Slender Gold script.

We are very pleased that copies of all of the CBPS Gongbi books have been accepted by the British Library, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and Cambridge University Library.