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Chinese Brush Painting

Guest Author - Paula Devore

Chinese watercolor painting has always been fascinating to me. So when I started working in watercolors, learning about this artform was a natural.

First, the style fits my personal style. Most of it is accomplished with strokework and the approach is minimalist - little background and simple but expressive details.

Next, the colors are subdued; not muddy or pale. Subdued as in colors that can be strong while being softened, often with a complimentary color or brown mixed in. This gives a sophisticated feel to even a whimsical subject.

For myself, the best place to start is with a good book. Wanting to review some basics, I purchased "The Art of Chinese Brush Painting" by Lucy Wong. It is published by Walter Foster Books, a long time publisher of artist's instruction books.

The inside flap of the book states: "Artist Lucy Wong was born in Taiwan and graduated from the National Taiwan College of Arts in Taipei." It continues to tell of her numerous accomplishments. And the book demonstrates her training and teaching experience.

All of the basics are covered, including history, supplies you need, mixing the colors she uses and the different ways to load and use the brushes unique to this art form. She shows in detail how to execute the basic strokes she uses in the book which have evolved over centuries from traditional Chinese writing.

To increase your skills quickly, practice the basic strokes until yours look just like hers. You can practice on newsprint or tracing paper, but the more you practice the easier it will be to get pleasing results. (When I began studying Tole and Decorative painting, Priscilla Hauser told me to paint 100 of each basic stroke as homework the first night of the seminar. I did it and that exercise made me a believer in practicing strokework!)

One of my favorite sections is the simple and beautiful bamboo that you will be able to paint very soon, after just a little practice. One of the best things about bamboo is that you don't have to do a detailed drawing. Just a few simple lines to guide your efforts and there it is!

Ms. Wong goes on to illustrate how to paint several kinds of flowers, domestic and exotic animals, fish, frogs and my personal favorite, the panda bear. Maybe it's my favorite because you usually paint it with bamboo. How much fun is that!

Each subject she paints is illustrated in a step-by-step method which also shows the exact plactment and direction of each stroke. She starts with a drawing that you can either draw yourself or trace right out of the book and transfer to your paper to use as a guide. Another method I have taught is to place tracing paper right over the illustration and paint what you see.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and will keep it handy to use as a reference anytime I want to do a painting in Chinese Brush Painting. The instruction she gives will aid all types of painting, teaching use of color-tipped brushes and basic strokes to achieve striking results with little effort.

There is a link below to this book on Amazon. They have both new and used available, many at bargain prices. There are a couple of other links, one to a Chinese Brush Painting Set that has everything you need to get started and one to other Walter Foster Books (never met a Walter Foster Book I didn't like).

Please visit our forum and leave comments about this article, book, Chinese Brush Painting in general or whatever you would like to discuss. The forum is here.

We also offer a free newsletter which you will receive about once a week, usually just when a new article is posted. You won't miss any that way! The place to enter your email address is to the right of this article. You will only receive newletters from me and BellaOnline never shares your information!

Happy Painting,
Paula Devore
Painting Editor

Lucy Wong's book

Chinese Brush Painting Set

Other Walter Foster Books

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Content copyright © 2018 by Paula Devore. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Paula Devore. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.


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