In this Issue:
Chinese Brush Painting Mastery Steps
Lotus as a Symbol of Transcendence
Taking the Next Step in Your Painting
Exploring a New Paper: One Artist's Process
Vintage Mulberry Paper is New "Old" Paper
New Tea Colored Mulberry Paper and New Semi-Sized Shuen Paper
The Colors of Chinese Brush Painting
Introducing the Mini Orchid and Little Beak Brushes
OAS YouTube Channel and Email Subscription
Chinese Brush Painting Mastery Steps
by Evan Yeh
In the last newsletter we talked about Step 2: Master the moisture. We talked about how Brush Painters actually think of Water as a color and how drying your brush by stroking it against a folded paper towel and then reloading water no more than 1/3rd of the way up the brush from the tip can help you target the correct amount of moisture especially when working with sensitive papers like Single Shuen.
Step 3: Loading and Blending the Brush
A signature element of spontaneous style brush painting is a single stroke where the color of the stroke fades seamlessly from darker colors to light colors. It is this stroke that give Chinese painting the look of elegance and simplicity while at the same time alluring beauty.
Remember to start with a dry brush (see above). Then load just water up one third of the brush. Then load each color from lightest to darkest with the light colors loaded deeper in the brush. See the diagram below for how the colors should be loaded.
Blending the Brush
Next you should brush the loaded brush in a small circular motion against a clean flat surface like a porcelain or plastic blending plate. This will remove the hard line between the different colors and encourage your stroke to show natural fading from darkest to light. After blending, reloading the darkest color again on the tip of the brush as the blending decreases the intensity of that color.
Applying the Stroke
If you only paint the stroke with the tip of the brush (like writing with a pencil), then you will get a small dark stroke with almost no variation. The get the benefit of good loading and blending, you have to “lower the boom” with the brush. This setting the tip initially and then placing the rest of the body of the brush on the paper as you begin to pull the stroke downward like a mop rather than painting with the tip like a pencil.
Proper Color Preparation
Make sure to take the time and mix your colors to the proper consistency. The colors should be mixed thoroughly with water so the consistency is somewhere between non-fat milk and cream. The thicker the color the more intense the color will be but consistency should be uniform. Rushed color preparation can create inconsistent color and the water separation with show on the paper.
Check out this Use of Color Video for Examples of Color Loading and Blending
Lotus as a Symbol of Transcendence
by Evan Yeh
Lotus painting from Ning Yeh's Book 3 108 Flowers
History of Lotus in China
Lotus has a significant place as a symbol in Chinese culture. We see Lotus rising out of the muddiest and murky waters to appear beautiful and pristine.
It has therefore been adopted as a symbol of purity, and transcendence. In particular it has been adopted by Buddhism as one of eight sacred objects.
Process of TranscendenceThe definition of transcendence is: exceeding usual limits or extending or lying beyond the limits of ordinary experience.
Stories of transcendence are usually large and impressive like Nelson Mandela surviving 27 years of wrongful imprisonment and then being released to become the leader of the country that once accused him of being a criminal.
But the process that is relevant to the great majority of people is smaller. This process boils down to how to we tolerate a situation or circumstance that is less than ideal while preserving a good attitude and eventually creating a change in our circumstance that moves us closer towards our ultimate desires?
Claiming the Power of Your Mind
It is important to understand and claim the power of your mind over your experience. Suffering is largely a product of the mind. We known this because people can be suffering even if everything around them would suggest comfort and abundance. We can even go as far as to define suffering as the act of focusing your mind on something that you do not wish to experience.
This comes in many forms. When we focus our minds on undesirable things and speak them aloud, this is called complaining. When we focus our minds on things undesirable in the future, this is called worrying. This tendency and all of its forms is the opposite of transcendence. It is locking yourself in a box defined by your circumstances.
Therefore the process of transcendence can be simply defined as the process of focusing your mind on what you desire regardless of your current circumstances. This act creates a feeling of contentment, anticipation, and positive expectation and eventually your circumstances reshape themselves to reflect your mental focus.
Origins of Painting: Lotus
Type: Gift Lesson
Spontaneous style brush painting grew out of the practice of calligraphy. Scholars who were practice writing characters wanted to feel more freedom expresses brush strokes.
They would paint characters looser and more free until the characters become visual depictions of the spirit or idea of the original character.
We explore this process through a single lesson focusing on the word for Lotus and ending in an elegantly simple Lotus painting. GLS054: Free with $50 purchase! ($6.95 reg.)more info
New Full Lotus Brush (Limited Quantities)
Tip Dimensions: 2” x 9/16”
First impressions are in! People love the Full Lotus Brush! Imagine the length and flexible combination hair of the Super Flow but with a full body! The full body of the brush allows you to carry the type of large shape strokes like those that are used to make a lotus leaf with consistent moisture.
The new Full Lotus Brush is a lovely, abundant feeling combination brush. Similar in length to the Super Flow brush but appreciably fuller. This fullness allows you to paint larger shape strokes while maintaining consistent moisture throughout the stroke. Great for any larger shape strokes like lotus leaves, iris leaves or even larger animal paintings like horse or panda. CSP04: Full Lotus Brush $39
Taking the Next Step in Your Painting
Ning Yeh painting with grandson, Cody
Beginners come to OAS to start their brush painting journey, buy all the necessary supplies, but a few of them have trouble getting started. How can a beginner get started in a way that is light and easy? Keep it fun!
If you are just starting out on your artistic adventures, don’t be too hard on yourself. Allow yourself to enjoy the spontaneity of the brush on paper and don’t expect to be a master. Think of it as playing and explore with no particular goal in mind but to enjoy yourself.
If the idea of painting with colors on quality papers makes you too nervous to even start, try keeping it simple with just our Best Bottle ink and Practice Roll. Need a smaller step? Try painting with just water on Magic Paper.
The Magic of Magic Paper
Magic paper is grey-blue paper that allows you to paint on it again and again; you “paint” strokes on it with water, the strokes show up as black before evaporating as if it had never been there. It allows you to practice your brush strokes without worrying about permanency.
Create your own magic paper doodle station and explore the delights of working with magic paper. A magic paper doodle station is a just a table with an over-sized piece of magic paper, brush, and a water bowl. This creates an inviting playground to paint some strokes anytime the inspiration hits! Play around with the magic paper until you are comfortable enough to try your hand at painting on paper. Also great for sharing your love of painting with children or friends.
Transitioning to Rice Paper
For those who are still too nervous to add color, try just painting with ink and paper. Still too big of a step? Work with just water on paper. Painting with just water on paper is easy, and useful for learning. You can practice playing with different levels of moisture on the brush and see how the water expands your brush strokes.
The Bible of Chinese Brush Painting
For those who are past this stage and want clear directions on how to start Chinese Brush Painting, we recommend Ning Yeh’s book, Chinese Brush Painting: An Instructional Guide (affectionately referred to as the ‘blue book’). It tells the reader how to begin brush painting - what materials to have, how to set up your workstation, how to hold and load your brush, and other helpful tips. It includes step-by-step instructions on how to paint various subjects and points out “boo-boos” to avoid when painting(with pictures).
Chinese Brush Painting: An Instructional Guide
Subjects include: Orchid, Peony, Horse, Landscape, seal/signature, wet-mounting and more.
BK01: Chinese Brush Painting $24.50more info
Magic Paper is a special grey-blue paper that allows you to paint strokes with water.MP15: Small - 15” x 13” $10
MP18: Regular - 28” x 17.5” $20
MP35: Medium - 28.5” x 35” $30
MP59: Large - 28.5” x 59” $40
Best Bottle Ink
It is a permanent, stable ink (does not tend to bleed during the wet-mounting process).
This ink surpasses all other inks in richness, transparency and smoothness.
I04: Best Bottle Ink $15more info
Discovering a New Paper: One Artist's Process
by Evan Yeh
During our last OAS Painting Challenge in our OASlife Facebook group, we were struck by the submissions of artist and OAS customer Peggy Kimiecik as she explored a new paper: OAS’ Vintage Mulberry Paper.
She started by doing some marbling on the paper. Marbling/Suminagashi is a technique of floating ink or color on the surface of water to create patterns. These patterns are then captured by laying a piece of paper over the surface of the water. This was a good choice given the qualities of the paper.
OAS’ Vintage Mulberry paper is durable, semi-sized, allowing it to handle excess moisture gracefully, shows vibrant color especially for a semi-sized paper.
Next she did some practicing of strokes and featured elements on the paper to get a feel for how the paper would paint.
One of her primary papers for painting is OAS’ Cotton Paper. Although Vintage Mulberry and Cotton are in the same “family” of paper, she remarked that the Vintage Mulberry paints “drier” than the Cotton paper due to its semi-sizing.
Next she did a flower composition where she paints in a way that takes advantage of the paper’s moisture control qualities. She described this painting as “loose play.” We interpret this to mean that there was a focus on more freedom in the strokes and the loading of the brush.
You can see here that she is painting with a wetter brush and sometimes painting “wet-on-wet” where she paints on an area and the paints over the same area while it is still wet.
Peggy used the “drier” qualities of the paper in these crows. The texture that a “drier” paper like Vintage Mulberry produces are great to show texture like those found in rocks for landscapes or for bird feathers.
Marbling/Suminagashi is great for capturing lovely patterns of ink/color on paper but we especially love when artists go back and paint using the patterns as backgrounds or abstract elements in paintings. Here we can see Peggy using the marbling to suggest a branch on which her crow is perching.
Final crow painting on marbling/suminagashi
Final deer painting on marbling/suminagashi
What We Learned from Peggy’s Process with OAS’ Vintage Mulberry Paper:
Be patient when exploring a new paper. Discovering a new paper is like meeting a new person. The more you get to know them, the easier it will be to partner with them to do something meaningful. Don’t expect to paint a final masterpiece right away, Be willing to paint on the paper numerous times just to learn what its qualities are and how they can be maximized. Expect to be uncomfortable. Each paper is different and the first few times painting on a new paper may be uncomfortable. OAS does not sell paper that is without merit. If you are having trouble with a paper from OAS, feel free to reach out to us and get some tips and pointers about how to use the paper.
Use a paper for its strengths. If a paper paints dry, use that quality. If it bleeds then use that quality.
Paint more! Artists are not in the habit of showing you their process. Most just show you a final masterpiece and we as the audience assume that they fell out of bed and painted a masterpiece on the first try. As prolific as this exploration by Peggy seems, it was only a fraction of what she painted to get these final paintings.
Peggy shared this as part of our OASlife Facebook Group 30 day challenge. This is where people commit to paint everyday for 30 days and to share at least one painting a day on our OASlife Facebook Group. We hope featuring Peggy’s process has given you a better idea of how you can explore a new paper. OAS has many wonderful papers. We encourage you to have confidence in exploring these papers and remember, we are always here for you if you have any questions.
Next OAS 30 Day Painting Challenge Starts on November 1st
Peggy actually credits her participation in the OAS 30 Day Challenges with helping her develop a daily painting habit. This, she says, "Has made all the difference!"
Join the OAS Life Facebook group today, to participate in the Challenge or to just be inspired by the deluge of paintings that come from the participants!
Americana Multi-Surface Satin Acrylics for Marbling/Suminagashi
These colors are perfect for those wanting to incorporate marbling/suminagashi with their Chinese Brush Painting. WCDA576: Single 2oz Bottle $2.95more info
Chinese Brush Painting Basics: Marbling DVD
In this hour long DVD, Ning Yeh walks you through the process of marbling/suminagashi with helpful instructions and tips. DV614: Marbling DVD $36more info
This shallow, white tray is perfect for marbling and suminagashi. ACMT: 13”x18” Marbling Tray $21.95more info
Vintage Mulberry Paper is New “Old” Paper
We are making available a new semi-sized paper called Vintage Mulberry Paper. It is available in cut sheets (16”x24”) and we are selling:
P0696A-06: 6 Cut Sheets for $12
P0696A-12: 12 cut sheets for $20
Like other semi-sized papers, Vintage Mulberry Paper will handle moisture gracefully without excess bleeding or running. Unlike other semi-sized papers, colors show richly and vibrantly on this paper.
Excellent for landscapes, especially wet-on-wet techniques for showing mist and also a wonderful choice for subjects where background washes will be used. Also great for Lingnan style paintings.
We are offering this limited supply of special paper first to our OAS email list family. Paper like this is no longer being made at this price. We’ve seen similar papers sell for $20-$50 for a single sheet in Japan.
Try it out. If you like it, be prepared to stock up so you can do some special paintings on this paper before it is all gone.
You know what they say about rice paper, “the older the better.” This paper has been aging in our warehouse since 1996, making it nearly 25 years old.
Why is old paper better? The hand making paper process is complex and as the paper ages, the volatility that you see in newer paper mellows out and disappears. Color show more vibrantly and moisture reacts more predictably.more info
New Tea Colored Mulberry Paper
Simple landscape painting on new tea colored mulberry paper
While testing candidates for our new batch of Pi Paper. We encountered samples of two new exciting papers! They have arrived and we are excited to offer them for the first time!
The first paper is a tea colored mulberry paper. This is a thin, semi-sized paper with subtly visible fibers. The paper has many wonderful qualities:
Although it is thin, it is durable and can be painted on confidently even using wet-on-wet techniques (painting over a stroke or area while it is still wet) without fear of tearing
It shows color well, especially for a semi-sized paper
Like all semi-sized papers from OAS, it is more forgiving with excess moisture
It has wonderful, slightly irregular natural edges and the full size sheets are a very convenient size for final compositions. This allows you to have a finished painting with all four edges being natural rather than having a hard edge
The natural “tea” color gives any painting a wonderful feel of antiquity
Great for landscapes, Ling-nan style painting, or for any floral/animal/bird or traditional subjects where the moisture handling qualities of the paper are desirable.more info
New Semi-Sized Shuen Paper
Persimmon painting on semi-sized Shuen paper
For the first time ever, we have a semi-sized shuen paper. This combines the smooth feeling of raw shuen paper combined with the moisture control of semi-sized paper.
The hardest thing that people with experience in western water color struggle with is the extreme “honesty” of raw shuen paper. Once you put your stroke down, it cannot be changed or manipulated without the paper revealing it to the world as an obvious mistake.
If you love Chinese Painting but struggle with this aspect of raw shuen paper, then this paper will give you the best of both worlds! It gives you the velvety feel of raw shuen paper but it allows you to “pull” the excess color or moisture of a stroke in different directions to “fix” things or just for effect.
Incredible versatile paper. Great for anything where more moisture control is desire. Great for landscapes, four gentlemen, flowers, and birds!
It shows color well, especially for a semi-sized paper Like all semi-sized papers from OAS, it is more forgiving with excess moisture and even allows you to “pull” or redirect excess moisture after application.
Try the “krinkle” technique for wonderful rock textures for landscapes A great paper for painters with experience with Western watercolor looking for a bridge between their Western watercolor brush technique and Chinese Painting brush technique.
P38: Semi-size Shuen Paper 10 Full Sheets (27” x 54”) $20more info
The Colors of Chinese Brush Painting
Ideal Companion Watercolor Sets
These sets are great for travelers or people who have trouble making time to paint. Solid color options that works well with rice paper and is ready to paint quickly. Excellent for beginners looking for the easiest color option. No additional accessories required.
CS02: 8 Color Ideal Companion Set $7.99more info
CS03: 12 Color Ideal Companion Set $9.99more info
Winsor Newton Watercolor Set
Together with Chinese Chips Vermillion and Chunk Yellow, these watercolors by Winsor Newton are the preferred colors of teachers like Ning Yeh and Mayee Futterman. This set is beautifully vibrant on rice paper.
These colors mix and blend well, work well with ink and are sufficiently colorfast through the traditional wet mounting process.
A more natural and realistic color palette especially when compared to Chinese Watercolor tubes.
Easy to replace as individual colors run out.
Chinese Brush Painting using Winsor Newton colors is the best of both East and West.
WCWN: Winsor Newton Watercolors $9.69 - $30.59more info
Chinese Chip Colors
These chips are the closest color option to the traditional mineral pigments and plant dyes historically used in Chinese Brush Painting. Nice medium cost/quality solution for someone looking for a more flexible option than watercolor sets. With chips, it is easy to replace individual colors as they run out.
CC02-10: Chinese Chip Colors $5 - $7.50
CC02-CC10 Set - $50.00more info
CC01: Chinese Chunk Yellow(6-7g) $7.50
CC01L: Chinese Chunk Yellow(10-13g) $10.50more info
Yasutomo Chinese Watercolor Set
This affordable set mimics vibrancy found in more expensive premium Western Watercolors and provides more consistent quality and better price than the more popular Marie’s Brand Chinese Watercolor Set. It also contains traditional iconic colors found in classic Chinese painting.
CS06: Chinese Watercolor Set $9.99more info
Introducing the Mini Orchid and Little Beak Brushes
Mini Orchid Brush
Tip Dimensions: 3/4” x 1/8”
The mini orchid brush is a small, hard hair brush, making it good for lines, small bamboo leaves or orchid leaves and orchid petals. It has a narrower body than the Happy Dot brush and many may find it easier to control. HSP06: Mini Orchid Brush $9more info
Little Beak Brush
Tip Dimensions: 13/16” x 5/16”
The little beak brush is a small combination brush made with primarily rabbit hair. Finishing with a long thin tip, this brush is versatile and has the ability to paint small shapes and fine lines. It is particularly clever at painting fine curved or looping lines like vines or tendrils. CSP02: Little Beak Brush $9more info
YouTube Channel and Email Subscription
Oriental Art Supply's YouTube Channel
One resource that a lot of OAS Family members aren’t aware of is our OAS YouTube channel. It contains numerous painting tutorials and calligraphy demonstrations as well as book reviews and other insightful techniques and information.
To access our YouTube channel, simply click here, then click the subscribe button to receive updates.
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