This refers to the momentum, charm, and vitality in paintings as well as in calligraphic and literary works which together create artistic appeals. The term was first used to refer only to painting, meaning that the proper use of ink and the painting brush could vividly present natural landscape, make the painting flow with vitality, and enable viewers to appreciate its underlying allure. Later, the term was extended to cover poetry, essay, calligraphy and other literary creations. Artistic appeal, which is similar in meaning to such terms as artistic charm and literary charm, is an aesthetic appreciation gained through experiences and feelings. Expressed in a work of art, artistic appeal reflects an author’s unique approach to art and inspiration, something that he is born with rather than acquired.
- 六法者何？一曰气韵生动是也，二曰骨法用笔是也，三曰应物象形是也，四曰随类赋彩是也，五曰经营位置是也，六曰传移模写是也。 （谢赫《古画品录》） （绘画的六个法则是什么呢？其一是作品要充满生气，富有神韵；其二是运笔能自如呈现各种线条变化；其三是造型要顺应对象外形特征；其四是要根据对象特征进行着色；其五是构图要合理搭配，呈现整体效果；其六是要临摹佳作以传承前人画技。）
There are six rules for painting. A painting should be full of vitality and artistic appeal; the painting brush should be used in such a way as to make changes in lines natural; image painted should suit the appearance of the painted object; coloring should suit the features of the object portrayed; the painting should be well structured to present an overall visual effect; and masterpieces of past painters should be copied to draw inspiration from them. (Xie He: An Appraisal of Ancient Paintings)
- 气韵有笔墨间两种。墨中气韵，人多会得；笔端气韵，世每鲜知。 （方薰《山静居画论》） （气韵有两种，分别在笔之间、墨之间。用墨当中的气韵，人们多能领悟；笔端的气韵，世上很少有人知道。）
There are two types of artistic appeal in the use of ink and of the painting brush respectively. The artistic appeal created through the use of ink is readily appreciated; however, such appeal created through the use of the painting brush is not easy to appreciate. (Fang Xun: Paintings Appreciated at the Shanjing Study)