In ancient China, the primary approach to painting was ink and brush paper. Similar to Chinese, Ink and paper were used in such a way that captured the emotion of the user. This unique painting style completely omits traditional painting material color and the idea of form and value. The aim of this approach to painting is to “to capture not only the outer appearance of a subject but its inner essence as well—its energy, life force, spirit.” Based on this, things like color are seen as destructions. This ancient Chinese approach to painting also does not take advantage of techniques like ‘bleeding’ to capture l ight in its changing qualities or to create form. Instead, it relies on the “indelible mark of the inked brush.” These self imposed limitations allows for the practitioners of this art to create absolutely unique pieces that completely explores the different qualities of elements of designs like line and shape, while simultaneously capturing principles like rhythm.
Another unique material can be found in the Rock Art of the African continent, where materials like clay are used as pigment to creates depictions of “elegant human figures, richly hued animals, and figures combining human and animal features” What makes method of painting unique is its story telling capabilities. These simply ‘stickman-like’ painting tells us so much about civilizations, the type of ecosystems and species that existed during that time and how humans being migrated around the world. One of the main strengths of clay, as a material is its workability. Clay is multipurpose by nature, such that while it can be used for pigment, the material itself can be used to create sculptures in great detail.
In the Yoruba kingdom, clay is used as a secondary material in the created of the ife head via a technique known as the lost wax technique. This was a technique greatly utilized by the Greek in the later part of the classical period. The usage of clay in this context allows the addition of so much fine detail that the only limitation on technicality is the skill of the artist.