At the end of last year I taught an eight weeks course on Chinese Calligraphy. A number of students requested a continuation, so after an eight weeks break we will resume class next week.
I am not a professional teacher or calligrapher. My role, as volunteer tutor is to share what I love and learnt. I teach the use of tools and the basic skills but most important, I help the students see and appreciate the beauty of brush writing. We set a goal and learn on the path of reaching that goal.
As some of the students were illiterate in Chinese, I introduce them to the language by starting with characters with fewer strokes, for example, 一，二，三 (one, two and three) to practice the horizontal stroke. Our project was Peace: 和平, two characters that contained the basic strokes in brush writing: horizontals, verticals, bends, left and right sweeps, lifts and dots.
Students were able to complete their project and learnt how to prepare their work for mounting by the eighth week.
At the end of last term I gave the students the project for this term. It’s a twenty word, Tang dynasty poem. It may seem a great leap from two characters to twenty; not so. Once you have mastered the basic techniques, anything is possible if you practice, practice, and practice.
I have a composite class of varying abilities: students who can already write fluently with a brush and students who are still learning their abc (as a figure of speech). For the former they will concentrate on structure and presentation of the whole poem, the latter will have the choice of twenty characters to improve their basic strokes and composition. Whether they will learn to write the twenty characters by the end of this term will depend on their diligence. The goal is achievable.