Wu Xing painting is a synthesis of a painting tradition and a philosophical tradition, namely the Chinese Xie-yi painting and the Wu Xing metaphysics of the five elements. Wu Xing painting also reflects the influence of several Wushu and Qigong Schools. It bears a close resemblance to Xing Yi Quan where the five basic movements are also correlated with the five Wu Xing elements. The techniques of Wu Xing painting are primarily used to develop awareness of the bodily tensions that can then be released. That’s why this method is frequently associated with art-therapy, and as such it has a pronounced beneficial effect.
The philosophy and the techniques of this style of painting are derived from Chinese culture, and thus an expression “Chinese Wu Xing painting” has come into regular use.
There are only five types of brushstrokes, five types of movements, and five types of composition in Wu Xing painting, all of which correspond to some specific element: wood, fire, earth, metal, or water.
Wu Xing painting is of metaphysical nature. It allows to create a painting that looks identical to traditional Chinese paintings. In this respect, the difference between Wu Xing painting and Chinese painting is non-existent. And yet, if one compares Wu Xing painting and the Guohua styles as a specific technique, there will be some differences:
• Traditional Guohua painting has several subject themes: mountains and water, birds and branches, grasses and insects, etc. The artist usually stays within these subject matter boundaries. Not so in Wu Xing painting that is not linked to any subject matter. Using five Wu Xing movements, the painter can depict whatever he likes.
• Chinese Guohua painting is traditionally done on rice paper and silk with certain kinds of paint whereas in Wu Xing painting there are no such requirements.
The only really important requirement is a beautiful and harmoniously balanced image that employs the principles of Wu Xing system. All else is secondary, including the materials, the subject matter, etc.