Ran In-ting was born in 1903. His father Ran Ching was a xiucai, a licentiate who passed at the county level of Civil Services Examination, and his family had been residing in Luodong town of Yilan county in Taiwan for generations. During his youth, Ran received instruction in Chinese classics and ink painting from his father. He graduated from Luodong Public School in 1915, and became an art teacher in 1921. At the age of twenty-one, Ran started studied painting with the great Japanese watercolour painter Kinichiro Ishikawa for four years. His early works show characteristics of Ishikawa's painting, in particular the warm colour tone and elegant brushworks. After his study, Ran over time developed a distinctive personal style emphasizing changes in the wetness and dryness of ink.
Fishing Boats by the Misty River (Lot 1365), is a masterpiece from the latter part of Ran's career. In this work, the artist integrates brushwork from Chinese ink paintings and composition from Western works to illustrate a peaceful and spacious landscape. Distant mountains are partly hidden by the mist, and fishing boats anchor along the coast, winding to the island in the middle of the river. The infinite sky and water surface decorate the right half of the composition, their expansiveness subtly contrasting with the denseness found in the rest of the picture. The effortlessly elegant composition incorporates both the multiple perspectives of Chinese painting and the single perspective of Western painting which clearly demarcates foreground, middle and background, creating a capacious vista of sublimity that cordially invites the viewers on a spiritual journey. The artist uses light ink to paint the mist and water, and employs the cun technique in Chinese painting for depicting the texture of rocks, repeatedly adding layers of ink onto the picture, imbuing it with stereoscopic depth. The artist employs dark ink for the portrayal of small objects, such as boats, fishermen and tree boughs, highlighting them from the nebulous background and endowing the overall composition with a vivacious finishing touch. The subtle variations in tonality and moisture of the ink reflect the artist's dexterous control of the medium, through which he successfully depicts the length and breadth the landscape.
To Ran, each medium has its irreplaceable value. Ink and watercolour painting are both means for artistic creation; one can easily incorporate ink into colour just as another can freely fuse colour with ink. The artist firmly holds this belief at heart as he integrates Western standpoints with Eastern spirituality to create works imbued with energy and rhythm that heartily convey his profound emotions for the land.