Shape and color are the two basic languages of painting for expression. In fact, oil painting is a combination of the graphic arts and color art. How to understand and present colors′ important position in oil painting? It is clear that it is quite different from Chinese traditional painting. Because color ink Chinese painting is just coming from modern art. However, frescoes in Sui and Tang Dynasties are colorful. I feel quite confused that Chinese painting should be adopted with colors from that time, but it does not. The reason for the above phenomena may be that ancient Chinese painting is always circling around the poets, literal men, and bureaucrats. And this class deliberately pursues extraordinary conception and self appreciation, so they lose the opportunity of secularization. As a result, their life road becomes narrower and narrower.
Western theories about the art of painting were based on Plato Aristotle period, but they came into being and were widely integrated with practice in the Renaissance. The later generations noticed such a phenomenon in the study of the painting of the Renaissance: from Masaccio to Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, lots of masters personally practiced to interpret Aristotle's aesthetic thinking—Harmony. In Aristotle's theories, harmony was a vital basis. Those masters in the Renaissance tried to practice and refine their works with a focus on plastic art and color art, for harmony itself was the ideal of humanists.
To appreciate a Renaissance painting despite of the connotation of painting, we found that the two main characteristics of the paintings of this period: the rigorous scientific modeling layout, and soft and balanced colors. Because during this period the color theory were stressed on the composition of the painting and all the colors must be interrelated to form a unified result. Leonardo da Vinci made it clear that: a large area should use soft colors; high concentration color was only suitable for use in the small place. And he also stressed: for two or more color coordination, they must be balanced with each other in the main aspects. It can be said that these statements of Leonardo da Vinci almost summarized the basic spirit of color theory at that time.
It seems that these theories still have strong academic guidance significance. They appear to be simple and popular, but for hundreds of years, few artists could really understand their essence. Deliberate pursuit of color balance often loses distinctive personality and causes the mediocrity of painting. Therefore future critics argued that the painters of the Renaissance showed a high level in the composition but low in color performance. This comment is not unreasonable.