Kindness + Beauty + Superior Skill = Great Art

September 4, 2008 Updated: June 27, 2012

GREAT IMPROVEMENT: Jan van Eyck combined northern European Gothic style with his improved medium, creating tripditch masterpieces such as the celebrated Madonna of Chancellor Rolin. ((
GREAT IMPROVEMENT: Jan van Eyck combined northern European Gothic style with his improved medium, creating tripditch masterpieces such as the celebrated Madonna of Chancellor Rolin. ((
NEW YORK—Artists don't usually think of a successful formula for a painting. But New Tang Dynasty Television's (NTDTV) International Chinese Figure Painting Competition encourages just that—a formula that guarantees the work will achieve greatness.

Oil painting, the most popular and influential visual art, has delighted and informed viewers with its realistic portrayal of heavenly events and earthly achievement.  Traditional Western painting praises God, extols saints, shows the beauty of nature and depicts the human figure realistically.

NTDTV has organized the Chinese International Figure Painting Competition to inspire artists to portray purely benevolent and beautiful subjects. This competition offers artists an opportunity to exhibit the best in themselves and return to high standards of realistic portraiture.    

Since oil painting was introduced to world culture, realism has waxed and waned. When moral standards decline, realism goes out of style.

Contemporary art criticism removes all standards to judge what is good art or bad art. Many believe our culture has lost true aesthetic values and judgment. However, NTDTV offers an artistic yardstick for painters—only art that truly enlightens the viewer to the purely kind and purely beautiful can last forever.

Classical paintings show the artist's wisdom, talent and effort and the eternal significance of truth, benevolence and beauty. This represents a precious inheritance of true artistic import.

Creating a piece of art does not mean blindly following the masters of the past. Previous cultural highpoints are all rooted in the inheritance of the past while adding new developments. Every skilled artist makes his personal and emotional mark using the techniques of his time. A creator imbued with idealism understands what to accept and what to discard, presenting the significance of his era and walking his own path.

Early in its history, Western art drew inspiration from the natural world and is its greatest strength. But the first paintings were far from “realistic and lifelike.” The vividly-colored bust of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti presents both the realistic and idealized form which in turn inspired later Greek and Roman art.

When Renaissance artists transcended the style of the day, invented better techniques and discovered new materials, art reached a splendor never before achieved. The paintings of this period explored the use of perspective, elevating two-dimensional space to three-dimensions.  These artists controlled changes in light, giving objects more realism in contrast and weight.

They mastered human anatomy, accurately showing changes in posture. They presented emotion as never before seen. The achievements in realism during the Renaissance formed the foundation for all Western art that followed and became the standard for evaluating great art.

 (Courtesy of NTDTV)
(Courtesy of NTDTV)

Western European artists discovered how to mix pigmented oils. Initially, these oil mixtures sealed tempera paintings and painted sculptures. In the early 15th century, Jan van Eyck of the Netherlands, after repeated experiments, produced a stable siccative oil mixture of linseed oil, nut oil and resin that could be used to bind mineral pigments and oil replaced tempera as the media of choice.

Van Eyck’s improved medium of drying oil paint has a fine, smooth texture. The mixture does not dry quickly, giving artists time to work on the piece. When dry, van Eyck’s oil paint produces a smooth, translucent and glossy finish. The paint does not change color or lose its luster. Because it provides many benefits not found in tempera or fresco pigments, oil paint soon became popular. Especially when Renaissance painters pursued verisimilitude in figure painting, this oil paint seemed a gift from Heaven.

Van Eyck used his new medium in the northern European Gothic style, creating tripditch masterpieces such as the celebrated Madonna of Chancellor Rolin.

In layer after layer, the high density of his pigments rendered a level of realism not previously seen. His figures, however, appeared stiff and rigid. Compared to their Italian counterparts, rendering the human figure as depicted by northern European painters had a long way to go.

The Chinese International Figure Painting Competition is one in a series of cultural events sponsored by New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV). The competition will recognize figure paintings that express traditional Chinese virtues and values using techniques of classical Western realism.