Easy Lessons in Chinese Brush Painting


Chinese brush painting is an art form that combines technical skill with spiritual undertones. It Incorporates Taoist principles about nature and requires artists to use their hearts and minds in their artwork. Chinese brush painting often focuses on scenes from nature or one object from the natural world. Although a great deal of skill and training is required to become an accomplished Chinese brush painter, one can begin his education through a few easy, early lessons in this traditional art form.

Chinese Brush Painting Beginner Techniques

  • According to the "Six Canons of Painting," written by Hsieh Ho thousands of years ago as a guide for artists, Chinese brush painting should appear lifelike, due to the chi possessed by the artist. Thus, the artist must be a spiritually healthy individual to become a good brush painter. Ho also said that artists should use strong, sure strokes, and must paint objects as they see them, even if that makes paintings look less realistic. They should use black ink as their medium; the many shades of black that artists can achieve is considered color enough for proper Chinese brush paintings. In this art form, empty space is just as important as objects. Aspiring artists should study the techniques of the masters and attempt to copy their work before trying to incorporate creativity and express themselves individually in their work.

Beginner Chinese Brush Painting Lesson No. 1

  • First, a beginner in Chinese brush painting must become comfortable with quick, easy brushstrokes. There are no touch-ups or correcting strokes in this art form, so one must discipline oneself to make spontaneous strokes that stay true to the visual image of the artist. Practice painting simple objects found in nature (bamboo branches and leaves are usually practiced by beginners). Work on intermixing bold, thick brush strokes with confident, thin brush strokes—both are necessary in portraying objects and scenes commonly found in brush painting.

Beginner Chinese Brush Painting Lesson No. 2

  • After practicing branches and leaves separately, beginning students should attempt combining these two elements, creating bamboo branches and leaves in the same piece. Once this is mastered, beginning students should study the works of master brush painters, drawing on their work for practice ideas. Once these more difficult subjects have been mastered, brush painters traditionally begin to branch out on their own and paint from their own visualizations of nature and the beauty of the natural world.

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