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Chinese Painting Supplies

Chinese painting supplies are similar to what is used in Chinese calligraphy. In Chinese calligraphy, the supplies and tools used are called The Four Treasures of the Study. These tools are the brush, ink, paper, and ink stone. While the tools and supplies are similar, there are subtle differences.

Starting with the brush, the two most important decisions are size and texture. Size is generally classified as small (小楷), medium (中楷), or large (大楷).

Chinese Painting Supplies

The most common sized brush used in traditional Chinese painting is a medium size. Texture is classified as soft (軟毫), mixed (兼毫), or hard (硬毫). The texture chosen depends on the painting style. When learning to paint traditional Chinese paintings, the best advice is to have a one medium sized brush of each texture.

Ink used for painting in the traditional Chinese style is a water based ink. The ink is based on the soot of burnt wood, and then bound together with a natural gum in the form of an ink stick. Pulverized minerals are added to soot to create different colored ink sticks. To prepare the ink for painting, the artist grinds the ink against a stone and adds water to the ink powder.

The ink stone is a hard surface to grind the ink stick against. Most ink stones have a small well to hold the ink after water is added to the ink powder. Ink stones are commonly made from marble, slate, volcanic rock, and hardened wood.

Most traditional Chinese paintings are painted on xuan paper. Xuan paper is sometimes called shuen paper. Shuen paper is famous for its fine and soft texture. This paper resists bleeding and is suitable for Chinese calligraphy and traditional Chinese painting. Xuan paper is made from a variety of different raw materials. The most common are elm, rice, bamboo, and mulberry.

There are other items that may be nice to have. For example, many artists prefer to paint on an easel instead of a desk or table. When first learning the traditional Chinese style of painting, one may want a video showing and telling how things are done. Once some proficiency is gained, a detailed book could be of some help. Regardless of one’s painting experience, traditional Chinese painting supplies can be purchased relatively inexpensively.

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