The Four Treasures
Animal hair is typically used to make a brush used for Chinese Caligraphy. Sheep and Wolf are conventional sources, while the hair of the bear, pig, chicken, rat are also used. Bamboo is used to make the stick that holds the hair that forms the brush.
Unlike western pen’s ink, Chinese ink is made from pine charcoal, which can’t be used in a regular pen because the Chinese ink will dry and stick in the tube of the pen. Therefore, Chinese ink is solidified and made into a stick called an ink stick. Before writing, the calligrapher grinds the ink stick with water to obtain the black liquid ink.
The paper used for Chinese Caligraphy is the Xuan paper. Xuan paper is distinguished by its high water absorption. If Xuan paper is unavailable, toilet paper is a good substitute.
The Ink stone is a bowl used to grind the ink stick and to keep the ink liquid. The ink stone comes in various shapes and sizes and is a major component in making the ink. A good ink stone results in better quality ink.
• head is upright;
• the body is straight;
• the shoulder is aligned;
• arms are opened;
• feet are still.
HOLDING THE BRUSH
Holding your arm away from the desk makes it easy to write huge
characters. This enables your arm to be free so that movement is without any restriction;
Putting your arm on the desk is more stable and allows control of your brush. The stability is especially important for beginners. When you are holding a brush, there should be a space in the middle of your hand so that you could move all of your fingers and the brush stick should be vertical.
KNOWING YOUR INK
Making Ink is the first thing to learn. Beginners are like a chef trying different recipes when making ink. Fortunately, there are only two ingredients for the ink, one is the solidified and concentrated ink stick, and the other is water.
Start by paint any random thing on Xuan paper to see how the liquid moves when you move your brush fast or slow using only the nib or the full brush hair. Try it, and observe the ink on the Xuan paper. Eventual mastery of Chinese Caligraphy means that you can image how the brush strokes will look even before you put brush to paper.
Practice by copying. Copying is the best way to start learning Chinese Caligraphy. Copy from Samples or Copybooks, you will understand the balance of structures not only between a single Chinese character but also the whole work on a large scale. Practice makes a habit.