Chapter 70: Chinese Painting
Wu Hongwen easily maneuvered his way through the crowd with his lanky figure and was soon beside Gu Xiqiao, placing the tools on the table, as well as laying out a roll of fine writing paper for her.
The young girl was going to protest at the change, but when a tall, handsome Wu Hongwen appeared in view under the sun, she was suddenly at a loss for word as a blush appeared on her cheeks. She forcefully swallowed the words that had threatened to come from her mouth, wanting to preserve her image.
The young girl was the daughter of the dean for the Academy of Fine Arts, and would be considered to be a scholar. However, she always had an unconventional behavior ever since she was little. Due to her status as an artist, her partially eccentric attitude was accepted by the people around her.
"What painting do you want, and what are your requirements?" Gu Xiqiao said as she held the brush loosely in her hand, looking at the young girl.
"Portrait, with me being the model for it. The girl said, sneaking a glance at Wu Hongwen before adding, "Make it prettier."
"Alright, have a seat." Gu Xiqiao said as she ground the ink slowly. She looked at the girl who was obediently sitting down, and thought over a few ideas before starting to work.
Figures in a Chinese painting involved capturing the outer appearance of the subject, and also the inner essence as well. This made it relatively more profound and had more depth than the usual scenic paintings. It required meticulous brushwork, as well as free, expressive brushwork, together with a decent mastery of calligraphy.
Gu Xiqiao had deliberately picked Chinese painting to study while she had been in the virtual space, but her level was only almost Intermediate, and she could only do her best in painting a portrait.
She closed her eyes, entering a meditative state for a short moment. When she opened her eyes shortly after, it was as though she excluded a mysterious aura, raising her brush and started to work. The tip of the brush danced across the paper, as though having a soul of its own. As the Chinese idiom ‘while the connoisseur recognizes the artistry, the layman simply enjoys the show', passersby who were walking around the place couldn't help but stop to look at the girl who was painting, their eyes entranced by the movement of her brush on the paper, stunned by the painting she was producing.
What surprised the audience gathered around was the fact that the painting was only using black ink, and yet the figure in the painting was bright, valiant, elegant, as well as clearly showcasing the feminine aspect of it.
Everyone who stopped to look had forgotten the passage of time.
Finally, Gu Xiqiao finished the last stroke of her painting, and seemed to snap out of her wondrous state, her mind brushed by the system.
[Mission completed! Obtained 20 points.]
[Ding! Congratulations Beauty Qiao, your Chinese Painting has leveled up to Intermediate. The system has rewarded 50 points!]
[Ding! Congratulations Beauty Qiao, your Chinese Painting has leveled up to Advanced. The system has rewarded 50 points!]
[Ding! Congratulations Beauty Qiao, your Ancient Martial Arts has leveled up to Bone Refinement. The system has rewarded 500 points!]
‘System, what is this?' Gu Xiqiao was slightly surprised, it was similar to the night when the system upgrade had been successful.
The system materialized slowly in its human form from the void, its form now more realistic after the upgrade, as it raised its flesh hand with claws to scratch its head. [Beauty Qiao, I have no idea what happened. But when you first started painting, it attracted the spirit of heaven and earth. I think you were able to gain another height of insight through painting as a route, and that's why you were able to achieve such an upgrade. No matter how it happened, this is a great thing. Don't worry too much about it.]
If Gu Xiqiao had to guess, getting a route to some form of enlightenment through painting and Bone Refinement didn't seem like something she would be able to attain even once so easily. The fact that she was lucky was most likely due to her leaving the Gu family, being able to let go of her past life and managed to break through the state of mind she had been in. That was the most probable reason for her to have a chance like this.
"I'm done, here you go." Gu Xiqiao said as she withdrew from her thoughts, holding out the painting to the young girl in front of her.
The onlookers watched as Gu Xiqiao handled the delicate painting so casually, and the same thoughts ran through their minds. This girl treated this pinnacle of a painting with a nonchalant attitude, didn't this girl have any appreciation for it at all?
The young girl was in astonishment as she looked at her. "You're…you're really giving this to me?"
"Yeah, it's for you. Try not to trouble anyone anymore in the future." Gu Xiqiao said, shoving the painting into her hands when it was clear the young girl wasn't going to move for a while to take it. She then followed Wu Hongwen through the crowd, not giving any time for anybody to stop her at all.
The young girl suddenly snapped out of her daze as she lunged forward to grab Shen Nianzhi's arm. "Hey, do you think that's the girl that won!?"
Shen Nianzhi snatched the painting from her hands, looking up and down for a very long time. She hadn't been able to bring herself back to reality, but she felt her mouth move. "Li Li, let's settle whatever our problems are another day. You go after her, I'll go back to inform the dean!"
Li Li grunted in annoyance. "Hey, you're making it sound like I have no choice but to have a problem against you…"
Encountering such a major incident, the two of them set aside their old grudges temporarily and cooperated to work together.
The Academy of Fine Arts were also divided, with the Chinese painting department getting colder as the time passed by, and what with an oil painting winning the last championship, it made the survival of the Chinese painting department more difficult. So far, the younger generation of Chinese painting has only been supported by Shen Nianzhi alone.
She felt excitement as she ran, the people she passed were in a blur to her eyes. With the paintings from this person, there was hope for the Chinese painting department. It would also make that bunch of people in the art world to not underestimate the Chinese painting style!
Gu Xiqiao had planned to come out today to visit Mu Zong. After the Nine Heavens Network company had been set up, she had never gone to see it. However, the upgrade on her martial arts had made her change her mind. The body was profound and turbulent, and she needed to enter the virtual space to stabilize her levels and get used to it.
As she breathed in to regulate the chi flowing turbulently in her body, she also had to talk to Wu Hongwen at the same time. Wu Hongwen had initiated a conversation after she had painted the Chinese painting, and had not stopped chattering away since then.
When he reached the manor area in the city, he quieted down as soon as they entered the villa.
There was finally silence in her ears.
Gu Xiqiao who had followed him from behind looked relaxed. But Wu Hongwen was frozen in his steps, and his entire being seemed to stiffen up suddenly. Following his line of sight, Gu Xiqiao met a pair of cold black eyes.
It was no wonder Wu Hongwen held the expression he did. From their last brief contact, Gu Xiqiao was aware that Wu Hongwen held a healthy dose of fear toward Jiang Shuxuan. He would be scared stiff, and would be tongue-tied in front of the other man, and if he spoke his tone would also be lower than usual.
"Brother Jiang, Brother Yin." There was another middle-aged man sitting opposite Jiang Shuxuan, beside Yin Shaoyuan. Gu Xiqiao didn't know who it was, so she could only greet the other two obediently.
Yin Shaoyuan narrowed his almond-shaped eyes as he smiled, muttering a praise under his breath as he beckoned Wu Hongwen forward. Wu Hongwen held a bitter expression as he dragged his feet over to where they were sitting.
Jiang Shuxuan nodded his head at the greeting, a hint of warmth seeping into his cold eyes as it softened a little. He watched as Gu Xiqiao turned to return to her room, and said suddenly, "Wait."
Gu Xiqiao stopped at the stairs in slight confusion, watching as Jiang Shuxuan approached her. He wasn't walking in a hurry, but it seemed like he was at her side in just an instant. His lips were curled slightly, exuding an aura around him that made people want to stay away from him.
It was terrifying.
Jiang Shuxuan naturally didn't say anything, but he placed his hand at the acupuncture point in her lower back, which was the gate of vitality.
His fingers seemed to have touched a piece of ice, the cold chill lingering on his fingertips.
Gu Xiqiao was looking at the hands in slight shock, the sleeves neatly folded and rolled upwards three times, revealing thin arms. His arms all the way to the tip of his fingers were the same pale white and thin, fragile looking. It looked to be no different than what other people would expect of scholars, but she knew what kind of explosive powers lay hidden in them, she couldn't but feel horrified and amazed at the same time at the realization.
She suddenly recalled that the system had once said that Jiang Shuxuan's level in ancient martial arts was probably above Fleet Foot, but now it seemed like it was even higher than that?
Nurtured essence, white mist floating in the air, he had to be at least at Xiantian level, at a minimum!