Bamboo (detail) (Chinese ink on Xuan paper)
Today I finally overcame the obstacles preventing me from attending a meeting of Gateshead Art Society. As I've explained previously, I won't be able to work in oils there so water media of some sort will be what I have to get to grips with. Finding subject matter to work that way and a general mental resistance have held me back, so when I realised that today's session would consist of a workshop in basic Chinese painting techniques I figured that that at least would relieve me of the need for subject matter.
The tutor was enthusiastic and demonstrated the basic strokes for painting bamboo stems and leaves very clearly. I have to say, however, that by the time I'd covered the (quite large) piece of paper with bamboo and leaves, I'd probably had enough of bamboo. What I did enjoy was using the brush and learning how to get the best out of it.
When we finished the session by learning how to do the "8 stroke panda" I began to lose patience a little. While I understand the tremendously long tradition behind this kind of painting, it goes against all my instincts to learn a "how to" technique to paint anything. It's like students I've heard asking "How do I paint a tree?" or worse, tutors who tell you "This is how to paint a tree." You learn how to paint a tree by looking at it. I guess you learn how to paint a panda by looking at it too.
As painting an 8 stroke panda was on the cards, I did one. But it looked lonely, so I painted two more. If only there was an instruction on how to paint a bowl of porridge.
Pandas (Chinese ink on Xuan paper)