Shan shui (Chinese: 山水 "mountain-water") refers to a style of traditional Chinese painting that involves or depicts scenery or natural landscapes, using a brush and ink rather than more conventional paints. Mountains, rivers and often waterfalls are prominent in this art form. Shan shui paintings involve a complicated and rigorous set of almost mystical requirements for balance, composition, and form. All shan shui paintings should have 3 basic components:
- Paths - Pathways should never be straight. They should meander like a stream. This helps deepen the landscape by adding layers. The path can be the river, or a path along it, or the tracing of the sun through the sky over the shoulder of the mountain. The concept is to never create inorganic patterns, but instead to mimic the patterns that nature creates.
- The Threshold - The path should lead to a threshold. The threshold is there to embrace you and provide a special welcome. The threshold can be the mountain, or its shadow upon the ground, or its cut into the sky. The concept is always that a mountain or its boundary must be defined clearly.
See "Shan shui". Wikipedia. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
- The Heart - The heart is the focal point of the painting and all elements should lead to it. The heart defines the meaning of the painting. The concept should imply that each painting has a single focal point, and that all the natural lines of the painting direct inwards to this point.