“Four Seasons of Chinese Brush Work”
In the last Zoom meeting until the autumn, Members of the Art Society were given not only a demonstration of the techniques involved in Chinese Brush Work but also a fascinating insight into the philosophy and practices that accompanied it. Jean Turton was originally a potter and went on a course to learn about Chinese painting – and, in her own words, “got hooked!”.
Chinese painting goes back more than 3000 years. A Chinese artist’s desk would hold 4 “treasures”, namely, an ink stone to hold the ink, an ink stick for grinding and mixing inks, brushes and, finally, absorbent paper.
After describing all the ingredients involved in mixing inks and creating brushes, our artist got to work with a brush and watercolours.
Holding the brush as if to throw it like a dart, she dipped it first into white then purple paint and, pressing the point downwards on the paper, let it slide up, mixing the 2 colours on the way to create a wisteria a petal – first of many. She surrounded these blossoms with brown wiggly twig-like connections before adding 3 small chicks underneath as symbols of spring.
When Chinese artists complete a work, it’s signed with a personal red seal as well as a “message“ seal which Jean demonstrated. However, every time a painting changed hands, the new owner would add their own seals as well – in a sense, adding provenance to the work.
After the break, Jean created 3 more seasonal paintings to follow this spring one – a beautiful peony with a butterfly, an orange autumn work and – for winter – a traditional bamboo painting using a pause-push-pause push rhythm to create the jointed stem effect.
Each cluster of leaves had its own name depending on the number and angles of the leaflets. So a simple pair were ‘A Goldfish Tail’ a group of 3, ‘Flying Swallows’, a group of 4 a ‘Landing Goose’.
For anyone interested she recommends The Chinese Brush Painters Society website for traditional supplies.