Clouds Surrounding the Mountain Peaks（云拥群山）
I think the poet’s line “A flock of birds fly with clouds on their backs” is very beautiful and evokes wonderful imagery. In fact I couldn’t stop myself from making a painting when I read it. I don’t remember who originally had this unique thought, though.
Painting clouds is a very important part of Chinese landscape painting. Clouds are insubstantial, and play an important role in adding “magic” to the mountaintops. Clouds can lend animation to a painting without making it busy or stagnant. “Intermingled substance and illusion” and “both substantial and illusory” are pithy descriptions of how clouds can be used in a landscape painting.
A famous line from the poetry of Bai Xiangshan goes “Mountains drift in the insubstantial void.” This perfectly expresses the state of peaks enveloped in clouds. The contrast between heavy mountains and gauzy clouds lends grace and mystery to a scene, and makes the mountains carried on the backs of flying birds even more beautiful.＠