Session Eight – Introduction to Chinese Calligraphy


This is our last session and we will conclude with a demonstration of the backing technique.  Works on Chinese xuan paper are delicate and need to be reinforced for framing but there is another reason for doing so.

Chinese ink is a suspension of pigments mixed with glue; traditionally lamp black with animal protein.  You might have noticed the smell.  These days they are less organic but still the ink dulls as it dries.

To back a piece you wet the back of the work, apply glue and paste another sheet (or two) of xuan paper on it.  Chinese ink on xuan paper will not smudge. The paper is strong and can withstand the wetting and handling with care.   The process pushes forth the pigment in the artwork and the ink appears brighter and the characters more distinct.

I wish to thank those students who persevered to the end of the course.  Much as I try to decipher the complexity of Chinese calligraphy some still shy away.  I hope that in these eight weeks students had learnt:

  1.  The nature of the Chinese brush, ink and paper
  2.  The control of the brush to create desired effects
  3.  The intricacies of Chinese characters and stroke sequence
  4.  The placement of characters
  5.   A small vocabulary for those who were not literate in Chinese
  6.   Some history of the Chinese writing system
  7.   The process of creating and mounting an artwork

More than anything I hope students were inspired by the beauty of Chinese writing and learnt to love it.  Further, it would please me to see them apply that knowledge in their creative life.

As requested, I have agreed to teach a second term in 2016.


About Mary Tang

An urban orchardist everyday, a volunteer regularly, a poet sometimes and a blogger since March 2015. I travel when I can. Food is a constant.
This entry was posted in ., Chinese Calligraphy, Diary and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Session Eight – Introduction to Chinese Calligraphy

  1. gaiainaction says:

    Dear Mary, I have nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award, I hope you don’t mind, I ask 11 questions and I hope you enjoy answering them. Please ignore if you don’t do nominees.
    Kind regards, Agnes

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jan Schaper says:

    Mary, I like that you included history and language/meaning in your instruction, as it gives context for learning and perhaps also stirs respect for the richness of the calligraphy tradition.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. taphian says:

    I would like to learn that, too. Once tried it and found out how difficult it is, Mary. Have a nice day, regards Mitza

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dalo 2013 says:

    A true art, and good you are going to teach (and also learn) for another term in ’16 :-)

    Liked by 1 person

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