Qi Baishi painted morning glories because he was fascinated by the flower’s round, trumpet-like form and vivid colors. He was among the first to present this vine alone in a large-format composition. The color combination and execution techniques in this particular painting are the culmination of experiments undertaken over nearly three decades. He initially used blue pigment for the petals but found red to be closer to his liking for the warmth and ebullience it conveyed. Similarly, his earlier paintings combined the red flowers with blue or green leaves—these were eventually replaced by simple black ink. Qi Baishi had discovered this striking combination of red blooms with black leaves earlier when depicting other flowering plants, such as peonies.
The painting is composed of three large black leaves produced by splashes of ink on paper which have been supplemented with painted veins. Growing out from behind the pendant leaves, a loose network of branches was applied in pale to medium-tone ink in swift brush strokes similar to cursive script. Five unopened buds appear with three fully opened blooms, created with three short downward thrusts of a brush dipped in heavy red color, followed by a half-circular stroke and a pale red wash to define the lower portion of the cone.