Asian calligraphy is the reason I make art

My earliest brush with ink

The striking balance of black on white calligraphy is deeply etched in my mind.

My earliest memory of Chinese new year isn’t that of the 12 different sweets in the ‘complete’ snack box, and, definitely not for the visiting relatives.

Every year, not yet spring, my grandpa sets up a folding table in the centre of the living room.

He then rolls out special red paper which stains everything on contact.

Next, into a white porcelain dish, he pours sumi ink from a bottle, creating a contrast of glossy black pooling inside a soft bone white border.

Using a chinese calligraphy brush (which, to a child, looked like tiny mops in bamboo casing), Grandpa writes Chinese greetings.

Pairs of 4 Chinese characters adorn each side of the doorway. Ours and some of his favourite neighbours’.

These 8 pictographs hanging at our doorway was mesmerising.

I thought they were like 8 icons, or pictures, or symbols that came alive.

They bless the entrance to a place we call home.

Drawing brush is my magic wand

A wide range of marks can be created with a single brush. The range of possible marks increases with brush size. Control increases with bristle stiffness.

Thick, thin, hairline and wash.

One brush, and one brush alone, draws it all.

To me, it’s magic.

A match for the racing mind

My mind races.

Drawing is my valiant attempt at capturing some (if at all) of that which flashes and otherwise disappear.

There is hardly time for any mark making medium to linger on a spot. Forget about switching medium for a different expression.

The drawing brush, for me, is the best performer for this near-impossible task, yet.

Art influenced by Chinese calligraphy

Perhaps due to the early exposure to calligraphy, I can’t quite shake the high contrast aesthetic off my back.

With any of my drawing (and even doll making), the result is often perceived simplicity.

Emotions is conveyed through the quality of the line.

Inked line, stitched line, all the same.

Which, often, either harmonises or contrasts the content. 

For example: an angry rabbit drawn with a pensive mark, or a docile cat created with decisive heavy lines.

The result echoes the ironies of life.


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