The Seal of Approval

What a fabulous evening we have just had! Before Christmas the CBP Challengers group set ourselves the challenge of Seals and we have just seen some of the best Chinese paintings of an unconventional subject that we could imagine. Well done to everyone who contributed and thank you.

Unfortunately I cannot share all of the wonderful work but we have been given permission to share some of the paintings…

Please note that the Calligraphy for a range of sea mammals is available on our blog post: Calligraphy – Sea mammals.

First up are a couple of paintings by Reg. Both are a play on words which fits the Chinese tradition so well:

A forest of Seals - Reg Robinson 2021
A Sea of Seals – Reg Robinson 2021
Carving a seal - Reg Robinson 2021
Carving a seal – Reg Robinson 2021

Next are a couple of paintings from Claire. The first painting is of a baby seal and concentrates on the texture of the seals’ skin. It also explores the head looking straight at the viewer (which is by far the hardest composition) although the eyes are looking at something off the painting:

Baby Seal - Claire Seaton 2021
Baby Seal – Claire Seaton 2021

Claire’s second painting explores more of the flopping movement of a seal/sealion when they move on the beach. Particular note was paid to the flippers:

Seal - Claire Seaton 2021
Seal on the move – Claire Seaton 2021

Kim was the brains behind the challenge as she proposed Seals/ Sea-lions/ Walruses. She painted some wonderful seals but the piece I wanted to include was this fabulous one of a group of Walruses:

Walruses - Kim Ashburner 2021
Walruses – Kim Ashburner 2021

My painting was inspired by the excellent paintings of the 10th century Chan painter, Shi Ke who lived during the 5 dynasties period. His work was featured in the stunning ‘Masterpieces of Chinese Painting 700 – 1900‘ exhibition which took place a few years ago at the V&A Museum in London. In Shi Ke’s paintings, chiefly of Buddhist and Daoist subjects, he set out in the Chan manner to shock the viewer through distortion and roughness of execution. I hoped to capture the essence of that with the following painting:

Contemplating Seals after Shi Ke - Paul Maslowski 2020
Contemplating Seals after Shi Ke – Paul Maslowski 2020

I was going to formally entitle this piece ‘Harmony’ after the original which has the title ‘Two Chan Patriarchs harmonising their minds’. However, Claire reminded me that it would be probably be more in keeping with the Chan mindset to not put a title on the painting. I purposely painted this painting on grass paper in keeping with the age and tradition of the original work. You may also notice the addition of a moon with a very misty Rat Dragon cloud in the sky denoting coming toward the end of the Year of the Rat…

It is worth noting that the book of the Masterpieces exhibition where we got to see Shi Ke’s work is available online through this search.

Some of you may recognise that I have done something similar in the past. You would, of course, be correct as I have been inspired by the works of Shi Ke many times. For those who are interested in this fascinating artist please also see my other blog post entitled: Be bold

We trust that something here may cheer you up and inspire you while we are stuck in lockdown.

Happy Painting and Keep safe,


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