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In this Issue:
Chinese Zodiac - Year of the Rabbit
How Much Does a Master Paint?
The Significance of Signature Cards and Artist Name Seals
Artist Name Seals
"I'm Going to Paint More This Year" - Tips for Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions
Book of the Plum and Flowers of the Four Seasons: Winter
New and Improved OASLife!
Shine Through the Winter with These Metallic Watercolors!
A Tradition of Post-Christmas Gifts for Yourselfby Evan Yeh
Materials for Chinese Brush Painting are not the easiest things to receive as a gift. Most of the people who buy gifts for us are not Chinese Brush Painters so they are unfamiliar and will often opt for an easier gift option.
Because of this the time after Christmas has always been a busy season for the OAS Family. Holiday gift giving is over and often OAS customers will enjoy indulging in a gift for themselves!
What Makes a Great Gift for Yourself
When I give a gift I always think, what does this person want but for some reason is unwilling to buy for themselves. The hardest people to buy for are the people who freely buy things for themselves as soon as they become aware that they want them. Fortunately the majority of people are not like this. Most of us have things that they we want that for some reason or another, we are holding back on buying.
So when it comes time to buying a gift for yourself, it is important to realize how this is different than just buying any old thing. Now is the time to indulge in the types of things that you want but for some reason won’t normally buy for yourself.
Mythical Brushes: Phoenix and Dragon
With names like Phoenix and Dragon, these two mythical brushes are perfect gifts for yourself.
It is a challenge to make a large brush that still delivers the quality and control of a smaller brush without being exorbitantly expensive. Many years ago, OAS challenged our brush maker to give us big brushes that still delivered the type of control and quality that OAS customers had come to expect. The result was the Dragon and Phoenix brushes.
Phoenix is an extra large shape brush that delivers enough control to be incredibly useful. The classic stroke that causes many to invest in the Phoenix is the Iris leaf. This is a common element that is best done with a single stroke. The Phoenix is big enough to do this and any other large shape stroke. Phoenix is also our favorite brush for Zen style or abstract single brush painting. It offers the size one needs for dramatic strokes while still being nimble enough to add smaller accents and flourishes.
Phoenix Hair Tip Dimensions: 3- 3/16” x 13/16”
Dragon is like a super-size Mountain Horse brush. It's stiffer hairs deliver wonderfully energetic lines with texture and "flying white" (the desirable white space inside of a stroke". Amazing for large tapering line strokes like bamboo leaves and also excellent for Zen or abstract painting particular when texture is desired.
Dragon Hair Tip Dimensions: 2-5/8” x 3/4”
Chinese Zodiac - Year of the Rabbit
Red Banner Paper
Red symbolizes energy, fortune, happiness and luck. Giving red envelopes, termed as “hongbao”, stuffed with cash is a time honored tradition.
Paint your own Chinese banners, make your own red envelopes, create Chinese paper-cut art pieces - let your imagination take you away!
Red Gold Fleck - Colored Xuan
If you’re looking to express the Lunar New Year spirit with a fine art paper, try our beautiful Red Gold Fleck Xuan. This paper takes ink and color beautifully like a high quality single xuan paper but has the festive color that is perfect for the Lunar New Year!
Chinese New Year: the Rabbit Lesson
Legend says that when the Jade Emperor invited all the animals to his party, the rabbit arrived early and decided to take a nap. By the time the rabbit awoke, three other animals had gone in ahead. Thus, the rabbit is the fourth of the Chinese Zodiac animals. Enjoy this cute spontaneous rabbit lesson!
“Playful Friends” in Gong-bi Style Lesson
Take a dive into the world of Gong-bi with this step-by-step instructional booklet. If you were born in the following years, your sign is the Rabbit: 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, and 2023. For an accurate identification, please look up dates of the Chinese New Year.
How Much Does a Master Paint?
by Evan Yeh
Growing Up with Ning Yeh
When I was younger I spent a significant amount of time with my father while he was painting in his studio. But I actually don’t remember from those times paying attention to how much he was painting. Mostly I was involved with playing with toys and listening to the music he was playing while he was painting.
As I got older and consumed with my own activities, I remember seeing my father’s finished paintings and also seeing him do quite a few live demonstrations. I put these two observations together in my head with the assumption that everything my father painted was a masterpiece that he ended up framing, hanging and selling.
This mistaken assumption was actually quite stifling to my own artistic development as I would judge myself harshly whenever I painted often stopping right when I made a perceived mistake and rarely finishing a complete painting.
100 Sheet Warm-up
What changed my understanding was observing my father taking home 100 full sheets of his favorite paper. I asked him what he was going to do with that paper and he said that he hadn’t painted very much in the last couple months and was going to use these 100 sheets of paper to warm-up. 100 Full Sheets of paper to warm up?!
For those that don’t know, a full sized, handmade sheet of xuan paper is typically 27” x 54”. Most artists will cut this full size sheet into thirds and paint 18” x 27” finished compositions. So 100 full sheets makes 300 large cut sheets. That is a lot of paper to “warm up.” This is when I began to realize that my father was painting much more than I had originally assumed.
The First OAS Painting Challenge - 100 Sheet Challenge
This realization gave birth to our first OAS Painting Challenge, where we challenged our OAS extended family to paint through 100 full sheets of paper focused on a single subject. We had many people sign up for that challenge, and quite a few people successfully complete it!
Many of those successful 100 sheet challenged participants are still painting today and most of them credit the challenge participation as formative for their artistic development.
- Establish an everyday painting habit. Try to paint a little everyday. Our OAS Painting Challenges are excellent to encourage you to paint a little everyday.
- Be easy on yourself, especially initially. The first goal should be to establish a rhythm and flow. Paint with a sense of freedom and joy. Refrain from evaluating your work as it is happening.
- Create a dedicated space for you to paint and have your materials organized and ready to go when the inspiration strikes.
Give yourself time to warm up. Just grab a brush and start painting with ink and enjoy the pleasure of seeing the brush, ink, and paper dance.
- When you get to the point of painting compositions, always try to finish every painting that you start. The choices you make after a perceived mistake are just as important as what you do when everything is going perfectly. A masterpiece is often the results of many “happy accidents.”
- Do your own 100 Sheet Challenge and see what artistic development awaits as you paint your way through 100 sheets of paper.
Premium “Jade Plate” Double Xuan
In the past, we always thought that if you needed a paper that was good at handling excess moisture (i.e. doesn’t bleed excessively), you had to sacrifice color brilliance. Meaning that most papers that are good at handling excess moisture also are more dull when it comes to showing color. Our Premium “Jade Plate” Double Xuan breaks the rule by being a paper that handles excess moisture elegantly while still showing wonderful color brilliance and velvety smooth textures.
Pi paper has always been OAS’s choice for landscape painting, wet-on-wet techniques, and Ling-nan style of painting. Raw papers like Single Xuan or Premium Double Xuan can be difficult for beginners to work with, due to its spontaneity and how freely it paints. Pi paper is semi-sized so it partially resists moisture, allowing you to do washes, overlapping strokes and other techniques that are difficult to do on Raw Xuan Papers. For a semi-sized Paper, Pi paper shows nice colors.
*Our Pi Paper 100 Sheet Pack is a new batch as of August 11th, 2020.
What Is In a Name?
Names have existed since the dawn of time. Each person is called something. Names can be descriptive of that person and their characteristics (e.g. Eve, the mother of all, means “to give life”). They can also be given to represent a specific time in one’s life (e.g. Ning means “tranquility” which was to celebrate the end of the second World War). Signing your name on your artwork and stamping it with your name seal is an integral part of Chinese Brush Painting, authenticating your paintings. It also provides compositional interest as you place it intentionally on your painting.
“Remember that a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” -Dale Carnegie
Our signature cards are beautifully handcrafted with a calligraphy example on decorative xuan paper on one side and a stroke diagram and translation on the other.
I personally have given many of these to good friends and loved ones over the years and they are always warmly received. The special value in these comes in the professional translation service.
Most frequently a person submits a name they wish to be translated and our expert translated pick characters that when spoke sound like the name. For example “Evan” is translated as 逸帆 or “Yifan” which literally means smooth sailing.
Our translators have extensive fluency in both English and Chinese and choose names that have beautiful and deep meanings. They have performed this service for large corporations for significant compensation. All this expertise is included in our $10 price for our Signature Card.
Artist Name Seal
Our Artist Name Seal is a product that has so much value that we are unsure how long we will still be able to offer it. The reason for this is that the rapidly growing economy in China has the expert carvers in our Beijing studio making large, decorative soapstone pieces as high priced home decor for wealthy Chinese clientele.
It is only because we have been doing business with them for many decades that they still honor us by carving our precious Artist Name Seals for a reasonable price. We have commissioned so many Artist Name Seals from them on behalf of our customers over the years and to this day we are marveled at how consistent and beautiful the carvings turn out.
This year we have completed four different painting challenges on our OASLife Facebook Group and many of our OAS Extended family has use the Challenge to produce wonderful bodies of work that should be signed and seal in the traditional way. The new year is a perfect time to order your own name seal and start signing your paintings in this way.
Because the seals are hand carved in Beijing, we need to batch at least 10 orders for them to begin carving. This is the perfect time to order an Artist Name Seal as a post-Christmas treat or pre-Lunar New Year gift for yourself.
The most popular size and imprint for an Artist Name Seal is 5/8” Square Positive or you can try 3/4” Square Positive for a bigger statement.
Try Our Other Seal Shapes:
“I’m Going to Paint More This Year.”
I always associate New Year’s Resolutions with a failure to continue in whatever it was that I had resolved to do. This happens in all different areas of life. Eating healthier. Painting more often. Meditating intentionally. How can we improve our odds of succeeding while still refraining from “brute-forcing” ourselves into forming a new habit?
- 1. Think through (or write down) why you want to start this new habit. For example if you wanted to paint every day, you could say, “I want to spend time in this meditative art form and free my mind and body from stress,” or “I want to be able to paint the Peony effortlessly.”
- 2. Remove any hindrances to the habit. If you have to set up your paint station every single day, this is an extra step that may hinder you from painting. To remove this obstacle, try finding a spot where you can keep your supplies set up. If your space is limited, try opting for supplies that are relatively easy to prepare. (E.g. Ideal Companion Pan vs. Chinese Chip Colors, which require more preparation. Or precut P03B: Practice Xuan opposed to full sheets of paper that you need to cut before painting.)
- 3. Allow for imperfections.“I’ve already messed up. What’s the point of continuing?” As adults, life is complicated - you get sick, your day is crammed with activities, you have endless appointments, or maybe you simply forget until you’re tucked in bed. Be understanding of yourself and pick it up the next day. Don’t give up just because you messed up your “streak.”
- 4. Find a resource to paint through. Many of us struggle with making decisions (like choosing a subject to paint) and so deciding on a book, video series, or list of subjects to paint through can eliminate the roadblock of trying to decide what to paint. Some seasonal books perfect to paint through this winter include Book of the Plum or Flowers of the Four Seasons Volume 4: Winter.
(L to R): Book of the Plum by Su-sing Chow and Flowers of the Four Seasons V. 4 Winter by Su-sing Chow
Book of the Plum by Su-sing Chow
Su-sing Chow shows you how to paint Plum Blossom in Spontaneous and Gong-bi Styles.
You can use this book as your own 30-Day Challenge. Chow has broken down the different elements of Plum Blossom into thirty bite-sized sections, which provide enough structure to paint through each day. (Small branches, moss dots, arrangement of the branches, etc.)
He begins the book by focusing on single elements of the plum blossom and building your confidence. By Day 17 you will being painting a complete composition, combining the techniques you’ve practiced.Details: 80 Pages Chinese and English
Flowers of the Four Seasons V. 4 Winter by Su-sing Chow
Su-sing Chow teaches winter flowers in spontaneous style. He begins each lesson with a brief introduction to the shape, color, history and meaning of the flower. He provides several illustrations of the flower for reference and emulation, accompanied by detailed sequential instructions for rendering each individual component (bud, stem, leaves, branches, etc.).
This book includes five beautiful floral compositions. Each flower “chapter” has 5-7 lessons. Complete one chapter a week for a self-taught five-week course.Subjects include: Tea Flower, Narcissus, Monthly Rose, Wax Plum Blossom, Cattleya Details: 64 Pages Chinese and English
Above: Orchid painting using Sakura Silver mixed with Sakura Gold
Shine through the Winter with These Metallic Watercolors!
ALL NEW Sakura Poster Color: Silver
This limited supply Sakura Silver paints like a shimmering white. You can dilute it to add a transparent wash or glimmer to your paintings. Or you can keep it concentrated to add dynamic strokes to your leaves, pollen dots, or as striking strokes in your calligraphy practice. This liquid silver is the perfect mid-winter gift for yourself! Spruce up your winter landscapes with this striking silver!Details: 30mL jar
Mica Watercolor Pans
For a more diverse array of metallic colors, try our Mica Watercolor Pans! This set includes a range of colors - from a rich warm gold, to light champagne gold, to silvery white gold, this set includes six different shades. You can use these metallic watercolors with other colors to add a shimmer or you can use them on colored papers and let their unaltered tones shine through.Details: Set of 6 Pans
Sakura Poster Color: Gold
Delight yourself with this jar of pure gold. You can mix Sakura Gold and Silver for a blended shimmer. This gold can be used with other watercolors to add a shine or it can be used straight out of the jar as gold accents. Try using it on our Black Licorice Xuan or Red Gold Fleck Xuan to add an extra “pop” to your paintings!Details: 30mL jar