Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Chinese painting brush

There are many kinds and sizes of Chinese painting brush. Mostly they are made of animal hair, range from wolf, sheep, cow ear, horse, chicken, rabbit, pig, yellow weasel, you name it. Some people make brush out of baby's first hair as a life souvenir.
Different brushes, as in water colour or oil painting, are used to serve different purpose.
I buy all my brushes myself. Everytime I go back home in Beijing, I go to art shops to buy one sample and take back home to try. When it is good, I buy hundreds for my class until I visit home again.
By the way, the knife in the middle of the brushes is for cutting paper. It is not made of any hair.

Chinese painting brush for first class

In my first class, I gave students two brushes.

One is a large sheep hair, reletively soft (but harder than the sable hair in water colour painting.) In the picture is a white hair one.

The other one is a medium wolf hair. It has a beautiful bouncing strength. When you press down the brush, it reflects your strength and bounce back. I use it for thin bamboo stick, orchid flower or a freehand outline. You find in this picture the brown hair. My kids (4 and 7 years old), find it fascinating that mom dares to use the hair of the "big grey wolf".

Chinese painting brush for second class

After a couple of classes, usually after students already got a feel of the Chinese brush and the way of holding it, I gave them the third brush. It is a tiny wolf hair used for outlining and painting fine details such as the pistils and stamen of the flower, house, figure etc.
You can use a water colour nylon hair brush size 3 - 5.

Chinese painting colour

Chinese colours are a blend of pigment of bondings.
These are some of the colours I use. I usually do not use chips or powder colour as they require more preparation.
As long as water based, it works well on your brush. It has a free flow.
Other western manufacture's water colours are perfect right. You can start with inexpensive student level colours.

Chinese painting ink stone

This is a 8 inches x 8 inches or 21cm x 21cm ink stone. It is practical to have a bigger sized stone.
I like to grind my own ink. Drop a little bit of water (a half tea spoon) and grind in circular motion. I take it as a calming down and mental preparation time.
When I was young, my sisters put a couple of cypress leaves inside. It smell the fresh forest. In Chinese, we say it the fragance of ink. (mo xiang)

Chinese painting bottled ink

This is a bottled Chinese painting ink. It is convenient and of good quality. Students in my class got it in my first class.
This ink is very condensed. I drop it into a plate and dilute with water until I get the desired darkness. Usually in time ink with 3 to 4 times water you get still solid back. Dilute it on in your ink plate, do not dilute in the bottle.
Other brand of ink serves the same. Japanese or Korean ink is made with the same tradition.

Chinese painting exercise paper

Yes, this is hand towel as you find in gas station and public toilet!
This is the paper my students and I use for exercise Chinese painting strokes. This paper is strong and absorbant. It reacts very similar to ink as rice paper. It's cheap, you dare to mess around with it and really feel free, no guilt.
When my students get comfortable and confident with their hand control, they start to use rice paper.