In this Issue:
Chinese Brush Painting Mastery Step 6
Making Sense of Brush Choices
Bamboo - the Gentleman of Summer
Painting Outdoors and the Red Album
Ling-nan Painting - Tools and Inspiration
Expectations and Disappointment
How to Confidently Substitute Colors
Chinese Brush Painting Mastery Step 6: Wet Mounting and Framingby Evan Yeh
Step 6 - Wet Mounting and Framing:
Because Chinese Brush Painting and Calligraphy is done on traditional rice paper, there is a process that is used to finish the paintings to make them suitable for framing. Rice paper is comparatively thin and because of the amount of moisture that is used in Chinese Brush Painting the paper can experience some minor buckling and waviness even after the painting is dry. You will also notice that because many rice papers are absorbent, the colors fade after they are dry.
This is why most Chinese Brush Paintings are finished with a traditional wet mounting process that flattens the paper and restores the colors. Instructions for wet mounting are tricky to find and many master painters consider it one of the secret processes that can only be shared with trusted long-time pupils. At Oriental Art Supply we have taken Ning Yeh’s system of wet mounting and paired it with ideal materials to make the wet mounting process accessible to all of you, our OAS Extended Family of Brush Painters.
We have guided thousands of artists through this process with a predictable level of success. So our first bit of advice is, “You can do it!” The second thing before we get into the details is that wet mounting is worth learning how to do. It is an integral part of creating a properly finished Chinese Brush Painting and it is the best way to give an observer or collector the experience of what the painting was like when you actually painted it. The way wet mounting returns the colors of the painting to their original vibrancy cannot be duplicated, so it is a process that is worth learning.
Basics of Wet Mounting
It is good to understand the basics of what you are doing when you wet mount. This will reduce your stress level and eliminate obvious mistakes that can result from being unclear of the basics. When you wet mount you are gluing the back of your painting to a larger piece of backing paper. Then you are gluing the edges of the back of your newly affixed painting and backing paper to a board for drying. It is important to remember that you are always applying glue to the back rather than the front.
Wet Mounting Success Tips
- Practice, practice, practice: do not wait until you have beloved finished masterpieces to practice wet mounting. Mount lots of practice pieces that you don’t care about to build your confidence and understand the variables that relate to successful mounting in your environment. Mounting practice pieces has a two-fold benefit. It builds your confidence in your wet mounting skill and it increases the value of your practice pieces. Once you see your pieces mounted with the flat finished look and the vibrant colors you may decide to frame pieces you once thought were just for practice.
- When mounting, give yourself plenty of time. We have made our share of mistakes over the years because we felt rushed or were fatigued from a late night session that was necessary because of procrastination. You should develop a habit of mounting work regularly that way you are never out of practice or rushed.
- Use the right paste and use it in the correct way. We spent a lot of time sourcing our OAS Mounting Paste. We mounted thousands of paintings with it and have the highest level of confidence in the way that it performs. A key to successful mounting is the right paste mixed to the right consistency, applied thinly and evenly.
- Find the right environment for successful mounting. Avoid mounting in excessively dry or hot environments. Stay away from artificial heat sources. You want the glue to dry slowly. If an excessively dry or hot environment causes the glue to dry too quickly, you risk causing tears in the painting.
- Avoid color bleeding by using a piece of “blotting” paper when you wet mount. Place your finished painting face down on top of a piece of raw paper like our OAS Practice Roll. When you apply the glue to the back of the painting, if you get any bleeding from the colors they will bleed onto your blotting paper instead of on the painting itself. After you put your painting on your board to dry, you should be able to peel off your blotting paper. Additionally, OAS recommends spraying painting with Krylon Crystal Clear to bring out color vibrancy and reduce bleeding.
Signature and Seal
The signature and application of soapstone seal imprints are an important part of traditional Chinese Painting. To sign a work an artist signs their name in Chinese Calligraphy and stamps an imprint of their Artist Name Seal in close proximity to their signature. If you do not have a Chinese Artist Name, you can purchase an OAS Signature Card.
This is an incredible value where, most commonly, some combination of your first and last name is translated into Chinese. This is done by choosing Chinese characters that when spoken sound like your name. For example my English name is Evan and my Chinese name is YiFan (逸帆) literally translated as “smooth sailing.”
Your new Chinese name will be delivered in a handsome folder which contains a finished example of how your Chinese name is written as well as a stroke diagram that details in which order the strokes are done. Practicing writing your new Chinese name is a fun way to introduce yourself to the practice of Chinese Calligraphy which can have huge benefits for your development as a brush painter.
When you look at classic Chinese Brush Painting masterpieces you will often see other seal imprints in addition to the Artist Name Seal. Chinese Brush Painters acquire or have carved “mood” seals whose meanings have significance. Oftentimes, a particular seal will adorn a group of paintings tying them together with a philosophical idea or a sense of the season. Collecting seals is fun and rewarding for any level of artist. There are fairly inexpensive mood seals, for those on a budget, all the way up to one of a kind treasures with artistic sculpted tops, hand selected stones, and exquisitely composed imprints.
Although soapstone seal collecting is not as mature as some other types of collection (like coins and stamps etc.), there is no question that the activity has everything that a collector looks for. You have a one of a kind found object in nature, shaped by hand by a skilled artist, carved with a poetic meaning, and useful both for making practical imprints on paintings or other correspondence as well as to purely display as a work of art unto itself.
Wet Mounting Set
This wet mounting set includes the basics necessary to mount your work:
- Mounting Paste
- Mounting Applicator
- Mounting Presser
- Western Mounting Paper 26”x40”
- Chinese Mounting Paper 24”x33”
- Chinese Blotting Paper 18”x27”
This is a translation of your name into Chinese and includes a stroke-for-stroke order on how to write your name.
Please be sure to include the name that you would like translated into Chinese in your order form.
Square Artist Name Seal
Please be sure to include the name that you would like translated into Chinese in your order form.
Important Notice About Our Physical Newsletter
Due to a large increase in postage, we are going to be refining our PHYSICAL newsletter addresses after our next (Autumn 2021) newsletter. We want to be conscientious of waste and thus send our newsletter only to those who want to receive it!
There are two ways that you’ll continue to receive our newsletter:
-If you’ve placed an order with us since January 2020 (if you’re not sure if you have, call us and we’ll check for you)
-If you contact us, and say that you would like to continue receiving our newsletter!
You can also stay in touch with us by signing up for our emails! Simply go to our website, go to the bottom right of the page, enter your email, and click the “Get 10% Off” button! Alternatively, you can always call us and we will sign you up for our emails.
Making Sense of Brush Choicesby Evan Yeh
Three Systems for Organizing/Categorizing Brushes
Hard / Soft / Combination / Specialty:
This system was originally created and promoted by Oriental Art Supply and organizes brushes by the nature of their hairs.
Hard brushes had light brown colored hairs that were on the stiffer side. These brushes came to point easily and were excellent for painting lines and blades. A couple of the most common OAS brushes of this type are: Happy Dot and Orchid Bamboo.
Soft brushes had softer, white hairs and were inexpensive brushes used for painting rounder shapes. These brushes were largely replaced by Combination Brushes. A select few are used nowadays mostly as budget alternatives to combination brushes or for doing shading work for fine line painting. Commonly used soft brushes are Fine Soft Brushes which are used for shading work in Gong-bi or fine line style painting.
Combination Brushes have soft white hairs on the outside and stiffer dark hairs in the middle. These are the preferred brushes for making shape strokes like the ones used for larger flower petals and animal painting. Their unique mix of hairs allow the brush to painter full strokes while at the same time still starting and finishing with a point when so desired. The most commonly used OAS Combination brushes are Flow Brushes.
Finally brushes that don't fit into either of the above category are often called Specialty Brushes. These brushes can be quite varied. Here you will find the Mountain Horse Brushes (which are excellent stiff brushes for lines/blades and for textures like rocks and mountains) to flat brushes like Wash Brushes (which we use for background washes) to BIFF Brushes (which are the OAS "Secret Weapon" for perfect bamboo trunks).
Line, Shape, Textures/Wash:
More recently we've also created an alternative way to categorize brushes by their use. Hard brushes are good for painting lines, so we also call them Line brushes. Combinations brushes are good for painting shapes so we also call them Shape Brushes. Finally many of the brushes that are neither Line or Shape Brushes are used for Textures/Washes so we can think of them as Texture/ Wash Brushes.
How Do You Know If a Brush is a Quality Brush
No Hair Shedding:
One thing that people often complain about with poorer quality brush is hair shedding. It doesn't bother us if a new brush shed a few hairs at the beginning. However, if the brush is constantly losing hairs, something is wrong.
Comes to a Point Easily:
A quality brush of any type should come to a point easily and return to a point easily when loaded with sufficient moisture. Even the stiffer Mountain Horse Brushes when fully loaded with moisture paints excellent bamboo leaves. As Mountain Horse Brushes get drier, you will begin to see the tip split which is intentional for these types of brushes and is why we like to use them for textures. Drier brushes with split tips paint excellent textures like rocks and mountains. However, if you have Hard Brushes or Combination Brushes that, when properly loaded with moisture, have difficulty painting a stroke that begins or finishes in a point, then I would contact the store you purchased it from for assistance.
When damp, the brush hairs should come to a point. (See picture above)
Brush: Double Happiness Small
A good quality brush that is properly taken care can last decades and produce thousands of paintings. Of course, the character of these brushes changes as they age, but they still paint well. Ning Yeh has old Large Flow Brushes from OAS that are over 20 years old. He has reinforced the handles with masking tape but still relies on them to do his masterpieces and has a comfort and a fondness for them as he has produced so many masterpieces with these brushes over the years.
We are very confident in the long term durability of our Core Brushes. Brushes like the Flow Brushes and Happy Dot are exclusive to OAS and are made by a brush maker who we've been working with for over 30 years.
Good Brushes are Better with Good Service
Often times an issue that our customers are having with a brush has nothing to do with the quality of the brush. Of course we stand behind the quality of all of our OAS materials and have a generous return policy if our customers are unsatisfied for any reason.
However, we realize that what we and the customer want most is for the materials to work for the customer and to be essential tools for them to experience the joy of Chinese Brush Painting and Calligraphy.
This is why we are willing to go the extra mile to answer questions about difficulties that people are having with any of our OAS materials especially our brushes. With the prominence of new tools like smart phones and Zoom, we often are exchanging photos/videos or having live video chats with our customers to help them resolve issues that come up.
Premium Brush Set
This brush set comes with four of our premium core brushes (two combination brushes and two hard brushes) to get you started on experiencing the joy of Chinese Brush Painting!
PRE Series Brush Set
For those of you who would like to invest in quality brushes, but have a tighter budget, this brush set is for you! It includes two hard brushes and two combination brushes.
Black Brush Hanger
To ensure that your brushes don’t prematurely age, we recommend storing them tip down so that water residue doesn’t loosen the brush hairs from the handle. Hanger holds up to 16 brushes. (Dimensions: 17” x 12” x 4”)
Bamboo - the Gentleman of Summer
The Four Gentleman include Plum, Orchid, Bamboo, and Chrysanthemum. Bamboo represents the Spirit of Summer. With its flexibility, strength, natural air conditioning and preserving qualities, it makes the perfect subject to focus on this summer! The consistency in structure makes the bamboo a therapeutic subject to paint and practice. Painting the bone stroke with a Biff Brush over and over can be a source of relaxation after a tiring day; the smooth strokes of the Orchid Bamboo Brush on practice paper can be meditative and a source of calm. When you paint, not only will you experience relaxation, but you’ll be practicing at the same time!
Fundamentals of Chinese Floral Painting V3: Bamboo by Chow Su-sing
A popular book due to it’s reasonable price and iconic subject. The author Chow breaks down the subject of bamboo in three major styles: Spontaneous Ink, Fine-line, and Spontaneous color.
There are examples showing how to represent bamboo in the sun, rain, wind, snow, and hanging downward.
Dimensions: 8.25” x 10.75”
M003: Volume 3: Bamboo $15
Bamboo Shoots by Ning Yeh
This refreshing take on Bamboo is sure to rekindle your love for bamboo painting!
This lesson, never before offered as a gift lesson, is a mashup of the subjects from Ning Yeh’s 108 Flowers with the instructions from his video series.
This lesson includes step-by-step instructions that are very specific. Perfect for new and professional painters looking for a fresh take on bamboo!
WS8108: Bamboo Lesson $9.95
(free with qualifying orders)
Orchid Bamboo Medium
These best quality brushes are made of stiff hard hairs that feature a sharp tip and offer amazing bouncing resilience for lines, sharp blades and anything that comes to a point. (Read: Bamboo Leaves)
Medium is the most popular size and our recommended size for most people.
Dimensions: 1 7/16” x 5/16”
H2C: Orchid Bamboo Medium - $26
A large portion of our OAS Family has migrated from using wash brushes to using Biff Brushes for their bamboo stalks - and for good reason! They are “miracle workers” for getting consistent results when painting bamboo trunks! They’re also great for painting foliage, moss, and coarse textures!
Painting Outdoors and the Red Album
New Paint Outdoor Set!
We’re excited to introduce our new Paint Outside Set! We love the whimsical flexibility of this set, as it allows you to pack up your supplies and paint wherever you desire. It could be your backyard, a mountain top, the beaches of Santa Monica, in a bamboo grove - you name it. Take this meditative art with you everywhere this summer!
Remember when you saw breathtaking scenery or had a spur of inspiration but were miles away from your painting station? In those moments, it’s so important to have supplies with you so that you can act on your inspiration! Once you get home, it may be too late to capture the beauty of the sunset or be too hard to recall that specific idea that you had. This concise set is small enough to fit in your beach bag or backpack and travel with you wherever you decide to go!
Paint Outside Set
- Sketch Pad of Machine Made Rice Paper (48 Sheets 12”x9”)
- Pre Orchid Bamboo Brush
- 8 Color Ideal Companion Set
- Travel Sized Felt (included felt will either be grey or white based on availability)
SET06: Paint Outdoors Set - $36
An Album of Chinese Brush Painting - Out of Print
Ning Yeh’s red album is a wonderful resource not only of beautiful paintings, but also includes painting descriptions, compelling stories, and he gives the reader a sneak peak into the supplies that he used to paint each piece.
Unfortunately this book is now out of print. Thinking there were only a handful of new copies remaining, we priced them at auction level prices. However, we recently discovered a few more copies of this wonderful album in our warehouse! We would love to enable all of you artists (and appreciators) to get a copy of this album, which is why we are offering this book at $50! (Previously priced at $250.)
We'd much rather you have a copy of this exclusive book on your coffee table to appreciate, than locked away in Yeh Family treasure vault! We're unable to print more copies of this book, so once we sell out, we will be permanently out of copies. Act quickly!back to top
Camellia Painting from "To Paint in Ling-nan Style 1" by Lu Cheng-yuan.
What is Ling-nan Style Chinese Brush Painting?by Evan Yeh
I remember when I first saw Ling-nan Style Chinese Brush Painting. There was something viscerally appealing about it! I loved the intense color and the dynamic strokes that were full of freedom and texture. Then I saw the more realistic looking paintings that combined western sensibilities of light source and perspective with eastern tools and techniques. These paintings were full of intrigue and had a lovely sense of harmony and balance to them.
Ling-nan style painting developed out of a school in South China in the Guandong Province. Ling-nan literally means “south of the mountain.” It is often described as eclectic because it really wasn’t intentionally created as a style. It was more like a group of artists who became influenced by Western and other Asian sources (India and Japan) and became energized with creative zeal!
One of the founders of the Lingnan School, Gao Qifeng was quoted as saying:
"The student of art must try to adopt a much loftier viewpoint and imagine himself charged with an altruistic mission which requires him to consider his fellows’ miseries and affliction as his own. He will then work hard on the production of only such pictures as will effect a betterment of man’s nature in particular and bring about an improvement of society in general, thereby presenting the new spirit of the art in all its glory and grandeur."
When you look at the defining aspects of Ling-nan painting and how it influences choice of materials you see these repeating elements:
- Use of mountain horse brushes to create line strokes with great energy and texture
- Use of semi-sized paper to allow for more free use of color and moisture
- Use of background washes to create depth and mood
To Paint in Ling-nan Style Series by Lu Chen-yuan
This book series by Lu Chen-yuan does an admirable job of providing a guided instructional tour through the beauty, optimism, and intrigue of the Ling-nan style of Chinese Brush Painting.
123-126 pages, Chinese/English
BK12: To Paint in Ling-nan Style 1: Theories, Flowers, Vegetables - $30
BK13: To Paint in Ling-nan Style 2: Insects, Fish, Birds - $30
Q011: To Paint in Ling-nan Style 3: Landscape, Animals, Figures - $35
Vintage Mulberry Paper
We found a batch of cut sheets of one of our mulberry papers from 1996, which means this paper has been aging for almost 25 years! Our Vintage Mulberry paints very dry even compared to other semi-sized papers. It is an excellent paper for artists looking for more moisture control!
One of the aspects of the paper that has definitely improved through the aging process, is the color rendering. Moisture control and durability were the main reasons we liked this paper in the past. The aging process has made the color intensity and display on this paper quite good especially considering its moisture control qualities.
Dragon Brush and Mountain Horse Large Brush
Mountain Horse Brushes are perhaps some of the most distinctive brushes in Chinese Brush painting. Their stiff, dark hairs produce bouncy, energetic strokes that are accented with wonderful texture. These brushes are definitely the weapon of choice when producing the signature single branch strokes that are so iconic in Ling-nan Style painting.
Many do not realize that our iconic Dragon Brush is actually an extra large Mountain Horse Brush. We also like these brushes for abstract, Zen style painting because of the ease in which they produce textured strokes.
Expectations and Disappointmentby Evan Yeh
I’ve often found myself in conversation with people who dislike disappointment so much that they are willing to lower their expectations so far as a way to guarantee that they will never have to experience disappointment.
What is so wrong with this? It is a common buddhist teaching to release expectations as a way to avoid disappointment and more gracefully accept whatever life experience comes your way.
The problem lies in the fact that positive expectation is one of the most powerful ways to manifest your desires. Have you noticed this in your life? Many of us have subjects in our life where our positive expectation is so consistent that things (at least in this area) almost always work out for the best. This may be with something as simple as finding a parking spot. Many people who are very good at their job experience this. You get to the point on certain subjects where you just expect good things to happen and almost always they do.
No Difference Between a Shack and a Skyscraper
One of the things that is hard for people to understand is that the Universe does not distinguish between different subjects. As far as the Universe is concerned, it is just as easy to create a shack as it is to create a skyscraper. So why is it that we find it easy to create positive expectation in some areas but not others?
When the subject is not that important to us, it is much easier to expect good things. The stakes are lower and the risk of disappointment is lower. It is easy to think “I always find a great parking spot.” But when it comes to subjects like money or relationships, the importance of those subjects to our happiness, makes it more difficult to expect the best things and risk disappointment. If we want to harness the power of positive expectation in areas where it can deliver us the most benefit, we must learn to apply it all areas of our life.
What Happens When You Expect the Best and the Best Does Not Happen
Hope Versus Expectation
Sometimes when we think we have positive expectation, what we really have is hope. The actor Jim Carrey is well known for writing himself a $10,000,000 check before he had ever made any real money as an actor. He wrote the check to himself for “acting services rendered.” He dated the check for Thanksgiving 1995 and believe it or not, just before Thanksgiving of 1995, he was offered a starring role in the movie Dumb and Dumber for exactly $10,0000,000. Jim Carrey is often quoted as saying “I don’t believe in hope. Hope is a beggar. Hope walks through fire, faith leaps over it.” Hope is not a bad place to be on the scale of emotions but positive expectation is better and is a more powerful and consistent way to manifest your desires.
Patience and Persistence is Required
In the reality we live in, we are given a buffer of time before our thoughts turn into things. So often, what happens when we are disappointed is that we haven’t allowed sufficient time for our positive expectation to create a result. Unfortunately, after this initial disappointment, many abandon their positive expectations and the creative power that comes with them.
- Notice the power of your positive expectations in the easier areas of your life. You always expect to have another breath of fresh air. Most of us have an expectation that the sun will make an appearance. These are such critical things to our well being yet they are taken care of so automatically that our positive expectation is unshakable.
- Whenever you are tempted to feel disappointment, remember that persistent, positive expectation over time guarantees the desired outcome.
- When you start using positive expectation, look for signs. If you begin to expect richer experiences in Chinese painting, note and begin to enjoy any small evidence. An opportunity to study with a teacher may cross your path, a sunset may inspire you, a piece of video instruction may appear on your social media account.
- If certain subjects are difficult to establish positive expectation, find another subject. Start with easy ones like grandchildren or favorite pastimes. Being in a happier emotional state even if your focus is on a different subject is often more effective at making your dreams come true than focusing on the dream in a negative way.
How to Confidently Substitute Colorsby Evan Yeh
Principles of Color Substitution
Oftentimes, students get stalled out following Chinese Brush Painting instruction at color mixing. If they do not have the exact colors that the instruction calls for, they think that they cannot do the lesson. Here are some tips for overcoming this obstacle.
Understanding Color Use in General
When you look at most lessons by Ning Yeh, he is using two different shades of a main color. For example, for a red flower, he will have a red and a dark red. He will make petals by loading the red farther into the brush and the dark red at the tip. Same goes for the leaves. For light leaves he will use light green in the body and a dark green at the tip. For darker leaves he will use dark green in the body and ink at the tip. When you understand this, it becomes easier to do color substitution.
Using Other Colors
Once you understand the idea of how lighter shades and darker shades of the same color are paired, it becomes easy to substitute almost any color that you have to make it possible for you to follow the lesson. If you are not picky you can even do a blue version of a red flower, if you have dark blue and light blue but do not have red and dark red.
Be Guided by Your Taste
Different students have different goals. Initially many just want to be able to follow a lesson and produce any painting inspired by that lesson. With this more general goal, there is a lot of flexibility with color. You can generally substitute color and still be successful.
Bright Light Chinese Watercolors
We been looking for a budget color solution for more committed studies and we’ve finally found it in the Bright Light Chinese Watercolors!
Bright Lights are newly available with the following strengths:
- Excellent quality especially considering their value price
- Mix well with ink and other popular color lines used in Chinese Painting (*read below for instructions regarding wet mounting)
- Color fast when wet mounted
- Available individually so that the most popular colors can be replenished as often as needed without waste
*We recommend using exclusively Bright Light Watercolors if you are thinking to wet-mount your work. These colors blend well with other brands when you aren’t looking to wet-mount, but when you do want to wet-mount your work, we recommend that you use the same brand of colors so that the colors don’t separate.
Individual Tubes - $2 (do not mix with other brands of colors if you plan to wet mount)
CS10-108: (Set of 9) 108 Flowers Watercolor Set - $14.99 (reg. $18)
CS10: (Set of 15) Original Watercolor Set - $24 (reg $30)