Apr 15, 2017

Chinese Brush Painting

Last weekend, I attended a Chinese brush painting workshop offered at one of the nearby colleges.  Chinese brush painting is an ancient art form that goes back thousands of years.  The instructor has a master's degree in art and has studied this form of painting in Asia.  She told us she has taught this class in both Wisconsin and Illinois.  We learned techniques and brush strokes to create floral and botanical painting.  It's not as easy as it looks!

My Workstation -- Beginning of Class
Chinese brush paintings are done using rice paper, black Chinese ink, felt, and watercolor paint. You can read about the tradition of Chinese ink sticks and meditative exercise of grinding to make ink as part of the painting process HERE.  The felt is the surface you put the rice paper on while creating the painting. I found it interesting that rice paper is called so not because it's made of rice, but because rice paste is used to make it.  Rice paper is very thin and translucent. I used India ink I had on hand.  The instructor approved it before class, but during class said a previous student used it and didn't like it.  I don't know any different so I guess it was fine, LoL. 

Practice Lines
Then some mountains
and some flowers
First, we practiced some ink only painting.  Chinese painting is a really loose type of art work, which I'm not used to.  I felt like I was painting like a little kid.

My first attempt
You have to have the right balance of paint and water.  Translucent enough, but not too wet otherwise the water seeps and spreads into the paper, which (to me) doesn't look very good.  My rose painting had too much paint and the petals are too compact for my taste.

Other Student Work
The instructor was very pleased with how everyone's paintings looked so different.

Instructor's Art Work
She had us pin our paintings to a bulletin board. Then we had to talk about them and receive critique.  It was interesting to hear comments from other students.  They all were very encouraging.

My Orchids in a Basket
The nice thing about Chinese brush painting is that the art has a lot of symbolism than perfection. I should've brought my watercolor palette instead of just the five tubes of color the instructor told me in an email.  I would've chosen different colors than what I had on hand.  Oh well....

More Student Work
One of the things I liked about this class was that we had practice time before we did our actual paintings.  Although this looks like a painting, it was actually my practice sheet.

Bumble Bees
The last painting we learned was sunflowers. The sample we worked from was very impressionistic. I cropped my project down when I got home because I really didn't care for how the bottom part turned out.  I think this would make a nice postcard.

At the end of class, the instructor asked each of us which of the paintings we created was our favorite.  The next three were my favorites.

Morning Glories

Which one is you favorite?  Incidentally, the red square calligraphy on my paintings were made by a stamp set the instructor brought with her.  There were 12 different calligraphy sayings we could use.  She was tickled that most of us used them on our paintings.  I wish I knew where she got them.  I'd love to have a set.

My Workstation - End of Class
I had quite the mess going on by the end of class.  With each painting, the instructor gave students handouts to work from. So, I had those along with my paintings and art supplies strewn across my space.

I did learn something important (at least to me).  It's not a good idea to put the ink in a plastic palette if you still want it to use for watercolor painting.  It takes some effort to get off.... i.e. multiple scrubbings with bleach and a toothbrush.

One of the students brought this book to class.  Coincidentally, I have this same book checked out of the library.  It's a good reference to show the painting strokes and lots of different subject matter to practice.

I had a lot of fun taking this class.  In June, the same instructor will be teaching an Etegami class which I'm signed up for.  One of the other students is also signed up, so it'll be nice to "know" someone in class.

Until next time...



Brigitte said...

A wonderful new experience for you - and you were doing really great. Love the irises and the yellow-red flower you created.

cucki said...

so beautiful..i love them all so much.
big hugs x

Faith... said...

Beautiful artwork Meari! You are very creative.

Deb said...

Well done! My first pick would ne yoir pink roses. They are beautiful!

Anonymous said...

You definitely have some talent!! My favorite is the iris, but I also think your rose is very pretty. They all are good enough to frame in my opinion. I think it's neat that you have this opportunity so close to home.

Judi in Phoenix

Anonymous said...

Wow, Meari. I'm so impressed with your artwork. You are a very talented woman. All of your paintings were wonderful - even your practice bumblebees. I'm so envious.


Kim G said...

Meari they are so beautiful and what a learning experience for you!! I can't wait to see what you make in June!!!

Donna Pheneger said...

Your work is lovely. You never know how complicated something is until you start. Chinese Brush Painting looks so effortless but maybe that's because the good ones have been doing it for years.
Love the orchids in a basket though.

DJ said...

I am so totally jealous...I have a book somewhere I bought that teaches this technique, and I have always wanted to try it. Your paintings are lovely! I think my favorite was the Camillia. I have never heard of Etegami, you'll have to let me know how that class goes! Thanks for sharing!

CJ said...

All the paintings are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Mouse said...

ohh wow ... its hard to choose a favourite as they are all lovely .. never tried this kind of art before but it would be nice to give it a go one day ...not that I am any good at art ...lol those bees though are cute :) love mouse xxxxxx
ps love those stamps you used to

Katie said...

Wow so many beautiful pieces to pick from. You are so talented. I love the morning glories one. The blue paper tie dye background with the beautiful colored flowers just made it perfect to me. I'm so glad you enjoyed yourself. You definitely did a great job.

Anonymous said...

The Chinese brush painting looks like it was a lot of fun, Meari. :)

Karin in CA

Anonymous said...

All your paintings are lovely and you have so much talent in creating all your pictures.


Anonymous said...


Your painting looked nice. That whole process seems very interesting and the art is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Kim in CA

Anonymous said...

I love all of your paintings. Even the flower you didn't really like. I can't paint at all.


Anonymous said...


Your painting is beautiful no one would ever think you didn't know what you are doing! Have you ever thought of changing any of your painting into needle work?

Karen V
Fitchburg MA

Anonymous said...


Your paintings are awesome. I love them all and look forward to seeing more.

I'm always amazed at the mail art projects. This one is so cheerful and Springy! Just lovely.


Pam in IL said...

How fun! I took a similar class lots of years ago. Since you'll be taking another class with this teacher, maybe you can ask her where she got the stamps she let the class use.

Akila said...

Beautiful Meari!! You just amaze me with the number of things you try.. My personal favorites here are all the flowers