"...仇英有功力，然無老骨。且古人簡而愈備，淡而愈濃，英能繁不能簡、能濃不能淡，非高品也" --[竹嬾論畫] 明 李日華Ming dynasty artist and art critic Li Rihua criticize Qiu Yin (about 1495-1552) that Yin is very skillful but lacking of ancient bone. The highest works have the quality of simple and bland outside, rich and complete inside. Qiu Yin can do very complicated and delicate art works but cannot do simple, light work.
仇英 玉洞燒丹圖卷 設色青綠絹質 30.5×357.4公分 台北故宮博物院藏
董源，平淡天真多。 唐無此品，在畢宏上。 近世神品格高，無與比也。 峰巒出沒，雲霧顯晦，不裝巧趣，皆得天真。 嵐色鬱蒼，枝榦勁挺，咸有生意。 溪橋漁浦，洲渚掩映，一片江南也。-- 米芾 畫史
Dong Yuan knows how to be plain and bland, natural and authentic [pingdan tianzhen], to the utmost degree. No one under the Tang could compare...[In his landscapes] mountain peaks appeared and disappeared; clouds and fog were illuminated or darkened. He drew upon no artifice but was spontaneously spurred to natural and true expression. The mist's color is of a deep blue; trunks and branches rise up, vigorous and straight. Everything here breathes life. (In Praise of Blandness p.131)
more Dong Yuan's painting
"Like blandness in poetry, blandness in painting bathes the landscape in absence: the various forms appear only to be withdrawn, opening upon distances that transcend them. But this blandness does not lead to insubstantiality; the trees exude an inner intensity. The basis for the bland is, once again, the natural." -- Francios Jullien (In Praise of Blandness)
This really taught me how to appreciate ancient Chinese painting, and what 平淡天真 is.