Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Chinese calligraphy, diy style

Just to show that food is not the overriding issue in my life at the moment, though Field and Fen might lead you to suppose otherwise, go there to find out why!, I decided on a new art adventure this winter.

Last winter was about spinning and improving my yarn output, which I did pretty successfully, and added new skills to my life. Spring and summer was about papermaking and transparency work. But I always need a new horizon, since mixed media is an endless quest, and the local rec. department offerings finally had something I'd like to try.

At least that was the plan.  I signed up weeks ago, got the course title, time, date, location, etc., couldn't find any description anywhere, but never mind.  

Then I got a mysterious email to me and a list of others, all but two with Chinese names, all written in Chinese, with attachments of beautiful calligraphy in chinese...I wrote to the rec lady asking if this course was being offered in English, otherwise I wouldn't be able to make use of it.  And if the email I received actually related to it, couldn't even figure out that much.

She got back, assuring me that knowledge of Chinese was not necessary to attend the course.  I wonder now if she meant I could come, but wouldn't understand anything, including the directions on what supplies to buy.

Then another email, more lovely enclosures, and this time I wrote back to the writer as well as the rec lady explaining that unless I heard from them in English, I was very disappointed to say I couldn't use this class.  

We do have a sizeable Chinese population, so it would be popular for them, however, I didn't think they had intended to shut out nonspeakers.  I wonder if they never expected a Westerner to be interested, too.  Anyway, I have heard to date, and the class is this evening, nothing, crickets.

Soooo, nothing daunted, they got me interested for which I'm grateful, I proceeded to check out the library and the internet and to see what supplies I already had in the studio from long ago.

I did manage to get a great beginner's book, and to unearth my ink block and stick, and one brush which will do till I get more appropriate ones.  And I thought it would be fun to work on a giant post-it pad I was given ages ago.  

You see the back of the ink stone here.  Years ago I was doing block printing on fabric, and used it as one of my blocks, because the size and shape were just right.  Then I realized I really liked the design I'd created accidentally, and turned it into an artwork by just hanging it face-in.  It appeared in a show of mine years ago!

Then here's the ink block right side up, so you see the well the water goes in, and the slope the inkstick is rubbed on to create a well of ink.  That's the stick resting on it.  The outside is lacquered so you don't get inky fingers in the process.

Everything comes in handy sooner or later. I will need more appropriate paper for a beginner, but I already have the newsprint to protect my surroundings..

The book gives supply houses, so I can get my brushes, using the advice of the writer, and I think I'm getting set for my winter adventure.  It does take a long time to get any good at this, and it's a meditative pursuit, so that's fine.  Even grinding the ink stick down to make the ink to use is part of the meditation, not to be rushed. 

So now to study Rebecca Yue and send off for the brushes she suggests for beginning work, and look forward to some serious learning.  My goal is to incorporate the strokes into other works, to create small artworks that might get into my mailbag, which has been totally neglected for quite a while, and generally to enlarge my repertoire of art skills.  Of which patience is definitely one that needs work. 

I suspect that "easy" in this context may be a bit optimistic.  Engrossing perhaps, ready for that.


  1. Bravo to you. That sheer persistence seems to be a family trait.

  2. Yay, you found a use for the ginormous Post-Its.

  3. Yes, persistence, aka bloody stubbornness, serves a person well. Mostly. And Kate I thought you'd like to see that the Great Big Post-its are coming into their own. I figure I can pop a page of practice in front of me to study as I go, and see how to do better. Refrigerator art, maybe.

  4. Wow this is so cool to me! I am really looking forward to seeing and reading about this adventures. You continue to inspire me with your tenacity for learning!


Thank you so much for commenting! it means a lot to me to know you're out there and reading and enjoying.