Chinese Calligraphy: The writing Techniques

Calligraphy is an art, but also an exercise of meditation in order to be calm and tranquil. A Calligrapher will practice the basic calligraphy writing techniques over and over in order to reach perfection.

We talked about the tools required for Chinese calligraphy: the brush pen, the ink stick, paper, and the ink stone. The techniques starts by preparing the tools. Starting with making the inks.

Ink in Chinese is 墨 (Mò), the are available to buy ready prepared ink juice nowadays, but I like the good old traditional way. By adding a bit of purified water in the ink stone, and grind gently and steadily in a circular motion. Purified water makes sure that the water have minimal mineral pigments.

Steps to prepare ink:

  1. If it’s a new ink stone, it often has protection wax on, so we need to preform and initiation. By sanding the surface where ink will be prepared. The sand papers we use are 800 grit, 1000 grits, and 1200 grits. Starting with 800 grits and gradually move on to 1200 grits. This process removes the wax on the ink stone, so that the ink stick can release color pigments easily into water.
  2. Add a small amount of water onto the flat area on the stone, and start grinding in circular motion. But keeping the circles in same direction. Once the water on the flat are does not appear runny, and you’ll need more ink, then you can add more water after pushing the ready ink into the dip of the stone.
  3. It’s very important to not leave ink stick in the stone, because when the water dry out, the ink stick will stuck to the stone, and forcing it separate will damage both the stone and ink stick. If this ever happened, it’s better to sacrifice a section of the ink stick. By adding water to the joined section and let the ink stick sock. It will become swollen and then you can remove it. However, the swollen part of the ink stick cannot be used, and we need to cut it away.
  4. Washing and cleaning. Use a soft sponge to clean the ink stone. DO NOT wash the ink stick. The best way to look after the stone is to constantly use it, and to wash it thoroughly after every use.

Writing Techniques

To use the calligraphy brush for Chinese writings, there are 8 basic writing techniques. And there is 1 Chinese Character that contains all 8 of the techniques: 永 (Yǒng) which means Forever. We can see how the character is written in the image below. Mastering this character will give you a solid foundation on Chinese Calligraphy writing.

永 Yǒng Forever
The Chinese character that contains 8 basic brush use technique for calligraphy

Knowing how to use the brush isn’t enough, it’s important to know the order of how to write the character, using 永 (Yǒng) Forever as an example, it takes 5 steps to write the character. See the image example.

Stroke order for 永 (Yǒng)
The 5 stroke in correct orders to write the character 永 (Yǒng).

There are so much more in calligraphy, and we covered the most basics today. And what makes a calligrapher perfect, is by constant and diligent practice. We are so proud to announce that we will be hosting the very first calligraphy experience session on Thursday, 1st August 2019. At Kapow! comics cafe, Durban North. Visit their facebook page here.

Next week we’ll go back to the topic of Learning Mandarin Chinese: Numbers

Chinese Calligraphy: The art of Chinese writing<< >>Counting Numbers in Chinese- Learning Mandarin Chinese