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Background of the design


There were numerous contemporary apparel designers who utilized Chinese culture and garments as inspirations for their collections. When designing with Chinese infludenced inspiration, most historical and modern-day fashion designers adopted Chinese attributes from the Chinese textiles and garments such as collars, sleeves, buttons, fabric motifs, ornaments, or silhouettes. There is a lack of design scholarship concentrated on incorporating traditional Chinese Xie Yi painting themes, ideals or motifs into modern fashion designs without the attributes of Chinese clothing through the use of a variety of handcraft techniques like wet felting and silk painting techniques, both of which originated in Asian thousands of years ago (Mornu, 2011; Tuckman & Janas, 1992). Finding the intermediary between Chinese painting and wearable art design and ideally bonding two artistic forms such as fine art and wearable art design is not often undertaken. 


The researcher/designer's father, Dafang Zhang, is a well-known Chinese artist specialized in Xie Yi illustrations of flowers and birds. He introduced the art world to her and later showed her the aesthetics of Chinese painting and Chinese culture in wearable art. His Chinese paintings are the foundation of this wearable art collection. As a Chinese artist, Dafang Zhang's lifestyle and paintings are deeply influenced by Chinese philosophies, especially Taoism, which believes that "emptiness" and "calm" are two aspects of the Tao of nature (Dongchu, 1991). Aesthetic concepts of Taoist, taken from nature, held that natural beauty was superior to man-made beauty. His paintings illustrate the beauty of nature and are expressed in a variety of blossoms, bamboo, birds, fish, insects, etc. The naural beauty of the four seasons is depicted under his brushes. The composition of his paintings also follows the aesthetics of Taoism, which are the balance of softness and stiffness, and emptiness and fullness. His artistic interests and his paintings represent his moral quality influenced by Taoism as well. 


Five components of inspiration


Imges. Three Chinese paintings were selected as the inspiration images by both researcher/designer and Dafang, Zhang from his series of fifteen paintings created between January to April 2015. The main criterions were set up by the researcher/designer before selecting the images in order to fit the aesthetic mood and goal of the design.


Colors. Chinese ink is always the main medium used by Chinese artists in both ancient and contemporary Chinese paintings. The balance of black and white color in a painting depicts the aesthetic accomplishment of an artist. Black and white colors are also the colors of yin & yang symbol. In the aesthetics of Taoism, white presents yin, black presents yang. They are connected and related each other. White presents empty as well. Taoist believes that empty space has endless power. It has inexhaustible potential uses. Thus, using black and white as the main color in this wearable art collection best represents the beauty of Chinese painting and the yin & yang philosophy of Taoism. 


Themes. Bamboo, lotus and wisteria are three main themes of Dafang Zhang's series paintings, which are the most popular themes of the Chinese artists as well. These three themse also symbolize special meanings in Taoism which are the beliefs that Dafang Zhang wants to depict through his paintings.


Moods. The mood of the researcher/designer for this wearable art design is to convey the overall feeling of the aesthetic of Chinese paintings and philosophies of Taoism. 


Techniques. Techniques in this wearable art collection include: (a) the textile experimentation using Chinese ink for submersion dye and silk painting, (b) nuno felting to create unique textile surface to express the aesthetic perception of Chinese paintings, and (c) hand beading and embroidery embellished the wearable art garments to add sparkle and emphasize an impression of space. 


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