Everything You Should Know When Buying Chinese Brush Painting Supplies

Chinese Brush Painting has been practiced for more than 500 years! This age-old Chinese tradition has been passed down from generation to generation of families coming to the United States. 

Brush painting is a beautiful tradition that is now practiced by all kinds of people. Chinese people paying homage to their cultural heritage and lovers of this Asian cultural practice are all learning to practice this art form. 

Whether you are a veteran in the art or are just beginning to learn about Chinese painting, continue reading to learn some of the tips we suggest following when buying Chinese brush painting supplies. 

The Brush In Chinese Brush Painting 

The importance of the brush in the art of brush painting cannot be more stated and finding the brush that works for you is all about exploring the options that exist. Different brushes made out of different materials will create all kinds of different textures, so it's all about what works for you.

Round brushes with stiff hair are usually made with hair from deer or ox and the stiffness of the brush head will allow you some control in how your brushstrokes appear on paper. Round brushes with soft hair made from goat or rabbit lose shape as the brush touches the paper. Hake brushes are wide and flat and have short hair. 

Orchid Bamboo brushes are a type of hard brush best used for lines and strokes. Happy Dot is another hard brush in the family of Chinese calligraphy supplies. These brushes are best for very thin lines, small dots, calligraphy, and signatures. 

Finding the brushes that work for you is one thing but learning new ways to hold the brush can also create new dynamics in your practice of Chinese brush painting. In Chinese and Japanese traditions, instead of holding the brush at a diagonal angle when painting like it is done in the West, the brush should be held vertically and away from the palm. 

It's All About That Ink

The quality of the ink used in Chinese brush painting is one of the most important factors in honing your craft and improving your art. Experimenting with thin or thicker paint will help you find what your most comfortable with. 

India ink is a great choice for any artist, its waterproof quality does work best with line painting though. Mixing darker ink lines with diluted color will help in finding the right shades for your art, this is known as the line and wash method. A base ink mixed with other colors may also create new dimensions to your work.

Calligraphy inks are also commonly used in Chinese brush painting. Watercolor paints may be suitable in some cases but they do run more than other paints. 

Chinese Chip Colors are a great way to add some life to your brush paintings, to balance the traditional black inks with something different. They are watercolor based and paint beautifully onto rice paper. 

Ink Stones 

While liquid inks are more common now because of convenience, using the traditional ink stick is also an option. Following this cultural tradition means that you'll need an inkstone to turn your ink stick into liquid. An inkstone is simply a container that will carry the liquid ink, it was originally made from slate but ceramic and plastic can also be used.

Paper Trails 

Now that we've discussed the importance of brushes and ink, we can't forget about the paper. There are a couple of different types of paper in traditional Chinese brush painting.

Unsized paper is absorbent. Alum-sized paper is non-absorbent and most commonly used for the outline style of Chinese painting. Watercolor paper can also be used in this style of painting. 

Shuen (Xuan) paper is one of the most commonly used and popular rice papers in Chinese brush painting and calligraphy. 

If you'd like your art to be painted directly onto a decorative canvas, consider buying a Shikishi Board. These boards are made of laminated paper place on a hard backing, the perfect way to display your masterpieces. 

Brush Painting Skills Put To The Test

Now that you know about all the necessary supplies to become an expert in Chinese brush painting, you can venture into different art forms as well. Sumi-e is the Japanese art form that uses black ink and white backgrounds to capture Japanese natural landscapes. All the Sumi-e supplies available for exploring this art form will make you an expert in no time! 

Seoye is the Korean version of calligraphy. Although languages differ, all forms of calligraphy are used to present lettering in an artistic form. Some of the earliest known Korean calligraphy used thick and powerful strokes that can still be found in present-day Korean calligraphy. 

These are some of the other art forms that can be practiced with supplies used in brush painting and the knowledge gained from that practice. 

The Brush Painting Supplies Expert 

Chinese Brush Painting is a beautiful way to express your artistic side and pay respect to an ancient cultural tradition that is popular to this day! Experts and beginners will find resources in this list of the best buying tips of the accessories needed for a successful endeavor into Chinese brush painting and other Asian art forms.

Finding what kind of brushes, ink, ink stones, and paper types that work for you will get you on your way to creating beautiful art. Please contact us with any art supplies questions you may have!


Rosalie Rizzo

Rosalie Rizzo

will using my Chinese Brushes wear down if I occasionally use them on watercolor paper?

Patricia Diemer

Patricia Diemer

I need help with what to buy. I’m a beginner and I don’t want to spend a lot at first. But I need everything. If you can help that would be great. I also need a book for beginners.
Thank you

Evan - OAS

Evan - OAS

Dear Meg,
There is a beginner’s booklet included in our beginner set. You can start with this booklet. After that finding new words to practice is easy. We have different lesson booklets that teach you how to write different phrases in different styles.
Feel free to contact us via email or phone if have any other questions.
All the best,
Oriental Art Supply

Meg Findley

Meg Findley

Hello, I would like to learn Chinese calligraphy. Do you have a dvd on this? I see your beginner set, but I’m still not sure how to get started.
Thank you.

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