Chrysanthemums (菊花 Júhuā) are flowers of autumn, and one of the Four Gentlemen. Both wild and cultivated chrysanthemums are painted, growing or picked. Small, yellow wild chrysanthemums are often depicted trailing raggedly over rocks. They may be supported on a wooden trellis.
Chrysanthemum (ju) symbolises autumn and long life, and also joviality. It stands against the cold, as the scholar stands for his principles. Chrysanthemum tea can be bitter, and may need sugar added. Chrysanthemums are often painted with a teapot and cups.
The Double Ninth festival is the 9th day of the 9th month (of the Chinese year) is the best day for picking or viewing them, as well as drinking chrysanthemum wine, and they are often shown with wine bottle & cup. The Double Ninth in 2018 is 17 October.
A brush pot or oil light suggest scholarship. A painting of pine and chrysanthemum wishes the recipient long life. Or a grasshopper on the flower implies a long time in high office. Chrysanthemum plus bamboo suggests birthday greetings. With plum, peony and lotus, it denotes the four seasons.
The Jin Dynasty poet Tao Qian (Tao Yuanming) wrote poetry to the flower, and was said to have preferred a life of chrysanthemum growing (with wine and poetry) to being an official, seeing the flowers as indicative of moral integrity and a reclusive life. He is often depicted looking at chrysanthemums by the eastern fence (e.g. by Li Keran), a reference to one of his poems.
You can see photos of various flowers here (Note: be aware of copyright issues). Chrysanthemum paintings by famous Chinese artists. Notable painters of chrysanthemums include Wu Changshuo, Xu Wei, Yun Shouping and Bian Shoumin.
There are videos of outline chrysanthemums by Henry Li here & here, plus a hanging scroll. Virginia Lloyd-Davies paints “boneless” chrysanthemums. Bear in mind that all teachers have slightly different approaches. Notice how they use the press-and-lift of the brush to make the shapes of leaves etc. Also notice the compositions, off-centre, and leaving a lot of white space.
And here are a couple of rough paintings of mine, based on a vase of flowers. They use both outline and boneless style of flowers. They need more work to improve the composition, and the calligraphy is too big.
© Angela Reich 2021