Chapter 62: Literary Competition - The Peak of Painting Skills
Voices exclaiming their admiration across the hall continued on. Even though Lin Xiao’s facial expression was calm, his eyebrows revealed how pleased he was. For this painting, he did not hold back the slightest bit of his skill. Bare in mind that the simpler the painting, the more it is able to reflect a person’s painting skills.
Long Yin nodded his head contentedly, then voiced out and asked, “Wuchen of Ye, what do you think about this painting?”
The crowd quieted down, all the gazes were fixed on him, waiting for his “step down gracefully” speech..
Ye Wuchen’s eyes flatly swept across Clear Water Lakeside at once, then said: “Not bad…but if master Lin only had this level of talent, then he cannot even compare to me.”
Putting forth this kind of extremely arrogant words stupefied all who were present, even the expression on Long Yin’s face appeared to be astonished for quite a long time. Sounds of confusion erupted from the crowd, some criticizing, some reacted with disdain, some sneering. None of them showed any signs of expectation. Based on their thoughts, Ye Wuchen’s arrogant and pretentious words were only to safeguard his reputation. A man dressed up like a high scholar even step forward and yelled, “How dare you insult such astonishing work, how shameful!!”
Ye Wuchen glanced at that person and said, “If this painting is the so-called astonishing work in your point of view, then that shows that you’ve never seen a genuinely great painting. This painting, in my opinion, regardless of painting skills or scenery, only deserves to be called a rough and excessive piece of art!”
These words are no doubt was even more arrogant than the previous comment, even more ruthlessly mocking Lin Xiao. Lin Xiao’s face turned green, then momentarily restored his tranquility and calmly said, “My painting certainly does not look pleasing to your magical eye, I’m requesting young master Ye to please give advice and counsel.”
“I’m flattered, since Master Lin sincerely asked for guidance, then I’ll provide some.”
Lin Xiao’s facial muscle twitched a little bit. The people’ eyes grew wide, observing how this arrogant young master Ye will give his advice and comments.
Ye Wuchen approached in front of the Clear Water Lakeside painting board, inclined his eyes and asked, “I dare to ask if master Lin has been to Clear Water Lake before?”
“Of course I have.”
“Then this painting depicts the scenery of the Clear Water Lakeside from which season?”
“Is that so? Then…where is the autumn wind?”
Ye Wuchen shook his head disappointedly: “Did you consider this in your painting? It seems that the picture is lifeless and dull with no trace of lively movement. The place in the painting is worn out to a pitiful condition. It must be borne in mind that for the lakeside willow tree, a lake without wind is stagnant, and a willow without wind is a dead willow. The wonderful lakeside cool breeze is not even present in this painting, even just a tiny bit of its reflection. In the end, it is just rough and excessive work.”
Before Lin Xiao could answer, the previous scholar yelled again, “You say it so simply! The graceful autumn wind cannot be seen, and also cannot be touched. How could you paint it. If you have the ability to do so, why don’t you show us!”
Lin Xiao also nodded smiling, “That being said, master Ye, please show us how to do your lakeside cool breeze.”
Ye Wuchen smiled indifferently, saying, “Then watch carefully!”
Ye Wuchen scooped up a painting brush, lightly dipped it in the ink, then traced some strips of the inclined willow branch. Deliberately decorating them with fluttering willow leaves.
“The so-called ‘Willow leaves on the willow branch sprouts on the west but faces the east’, this is not a painting style for a true willow. While unable to depict actual wind on paper, one relies on the willow branches to demonstrate, this is using the willow to describe the wind, the wind simply cannot be seen, but the wind blowing on the willow tree is clear!”
(Author’s Note: This seven character quatrain comes from Jiang Ti’s Accomplished Dash Painting Willow and Swallow)
Grinding the brush once more, the focus point of the paint brush shifted to portray the surface of the lake, showing several faint traces of moving water ripples.
“This is using the water to depict the wind. Without wind there are no ripples. Using the ripples to show the cool breeze’s direction and intensity, master Lin does not even know this common fact?”
Lastly, Ye Wuchen’s paint brush aimed at the woman below the tree. Lightly swaying the brush, he stoked some strands of fluttering hair. He then stopped the paint brush and turned around.
“Traces of hair are similar to the traces of willow leaves, both can be used to describe the cool breeze. Clearly there are many things that can be used to describe the wind, but Master Lin painted such a lifeless picture, what an affront.” He lightly shook his head, with a sighing face.
The scene momentarily went totally silent, shocked into speechlessness. Ye Wuchen’s brush moved rapidly with no less skill than Lin Xiao. Furthermore, with just a few strokes, lasting only a few seconds, a huge difference occurred in an instant that changed the mood of the painting. This time by looking at that painting, people could clearly have the feeling that they were present in that image. Seemingly watching the wind brush through the willow tree, water rippling, even imagining the feeling of a cool breeze brushing through their face, bringing waves of refreshing wind.
Shock, incomparable shock. With just a very few strokes, a unique painting transformed into one of higher level. Through this painting Clear Water Lakeside, the audience began to realize what Ye Wuchen meant by the “painting condition” before.
The middle aged scholar faced the painting blankly. Feeling ashamed, he cupped his fist in the other hand to salute and said respectfully, “I’m ashamed. I offer my respect!”
“Great! Although the strokes were few, it is truly a brush that brings life to the painting. What I am really convinced of is that your artistic attainments have already reached this far. I am reassured!!” Long Yin exclaimed emotionally.
Not only other people, but the entirety of the Ye family, except Ye Shuiyao, Ye Nu, Ye Wei, Wang Wenshu all had identical astonished looks. No one expected Ye Wuchen to give them such a big surprise without prior indication. Ye Wei whispered to himself, “Don’t tell me that this God of Sword not only reached perfection on sword skills, but also on painting skills?”
Long Yin continued. “This Clear Water Lakeside painting completed by these two outstanding talents; I will surely treasure it personally. Although due to Lin Xiao’s negligence he wasn’t able to portray the cool breeze, his painting skills can be regarded as almost reaching perfection, everybody can clearly see it. On the other hand, Wuchen through sketching in light shades, can greatly raise the condition of the painting, truly a wonder!”
“Your Majesty!” Ye Wuchen turned around, then glanced at the complicated expression of Lin Xiao, said, “I couldn’t agree blindly at a statement made by Your Majesty. Although Master Lin’s painting skill are exquisite, there’s still a big difference between our skills.”
“This…” Long Yin wrinkled his brows, somewhat speechless.
“I dare to ask Master Lin, what is the peak of one’s painting skills?” Ye Wuchen asked.
“The peak of painting skills, naturally, is to be able to have exactly the same portrayal of the real thing, not possessing the slightest difference!” Lin Xiao answered.
“Oh…” Ye Wuchen walked in front of the painting, observed for a while, then using the tip of the brush pointed to the green worm on a branch of the willow tree: “Then may I ask, does this little worm feel satisfied about his image on the painting?”
Lin Xiao swept his gaze, then said with an air of arrogance, “Although I have but humble talents, regarding painting skills I have unquestionable qualification. Though this green worm was used as a decoration, it’s as realistics as a real worm could possibly be.”
“Oh, really?” Ye Wuchen smiled disapprovingly, then dipped the brush in the green ink. He moved the tip of the brush to painted a similar size green worm on another willow branch, then he moved aside, the corners of his mouth revealed a smile. He did not comment further.
Since the green worm was newly painted, the ink had yet to dry. It slightly reflected light under the sunlight and from a distance it appeared to wiggle. Before anyone could react, a warbling sound echoed, followed by the sweet voice of a young lady. “Xiao Qing!”
A green shadow quickly flew across until it reached the center. It dove down from the sky, long sharp beak pecking heavily on the surface of the Clear Water Lakeside painting.
A small voice sounded and the painting board swayed for a moment, then the green feathered bird fell to the ground from its violent impulse, struggling to flap its wings. Ye Wuchen picked it up, quietly infusing some of his powers, easily restoring its minor injury.
The Clear Water Lakeside painting now had a small hole pecked into it. The location of that hole was exactly the spot where Ye Wuchen drew his green worm. While he was gently caressing this docile green bird, he said unhurriedly, “If Master Lin’s painting skills had already reached a realistic level, then what would we call mine?”