Aside from simply ensuring that your tools and accessories are laid out in an organized manner, the placement of the Studio itself is important for a truly traditional Calligraphy experience. Light, of course, is vitally important. Many calligraphers prefer to write with natural light. Placing your desk by a window will allow you to observe the world around you and ensure that, while you remain focused on writing, you are conscious of, and part of your surroundings. While good access to natural light is the ideal, this will not be possible for everyone. It’s always a good idea to find a good articulated desk lamp to ensure that you have direct light on your workstation. Selecting the light bulb is also important. It’s best to avoid fluorescent light, as this can tire your eyes out quite quickly. If your light creates glare on your paper, it needs to be further away or of a different wattage. If the light is to dim, this will also strain your eyes. If the light is too bright, or too close to your work, it can be very distracting.
What is the Aesthetic Concept of Balance in Chinese Calligraphy?
When it comes to writing Chinese Characters, especially with an artistic aim in mind, it is important to have a sense not only of each individual stroke and radical, but also of how these elements relate to each other coherently and beautifully. A well-written character will have balance both within the space it is written, between individual strokes, and between the radicals. What is meant by this?
How to Control the Tone of Ink in Chinese Calligraphy?
There are a great number of strategies that calligraphers use to provide visual interest within their works. One of the easiest ways to introduce different aesthetics is to control the amount tone of the Ink used. Simply by changing the ratio of ink paste to water, the calligrapher can use different tones to express different ideas. Darker tones can be used for weighty, sober meditations, while lighter tones can betray a more fanciful mindset. Using two or more batches of different ink in a single work can provide interesting contrast, especially when more than one script is used. Experimenting with different ink tones is perhaps the simplest way to experience the vast potential contained in the simple ink stick.
The first thing to note about writing Calligraphy is that a Brush is not to be held like a pen. Unlike Western alphabetic writing, Chinese writing requires equally fluid movement in all directions, not just across the page. As such, the Brush should be held perfectly vertical to the page, using all fingers and a relaxed wrist.
An Introduction to the Radicals in Chinese Characters
Once you’ve got a general idea of the Basic Strokes and their Order, you can easily begin to expand your knowledge of the final level of structure within each Chinese Character: Radicals. A Radical is somewhat similar in function to a Western letter. One of the primary differences is that whereas Western words are written horizontally and may be of very different lengths, all Chinese characters are meant to be of a standard size, no matter how many ‘letters’ they contain. Secondly, Radicals may relate either to the sound of a character or to its meaning. Each Character represents a single syllable. In fact, Chinese has so few available syllables that representing meaning in other ways than simple consonants and vowels is necessary to differentiate essentially identical spoken words. In speech, this differentiation is achieved by tone. In writing, differentiation is achieved using Radicals.