Chinese Ink Painting class – Learning some basic strokes

The class started to learn how to write 兰 meaning Orchid. Chinese ink painting is closely related to forming of strokes and one calligrapher, Zhao Meng Fu (赵孟頫), a prince and descendant of the Song Dynasty‘s imperial family, and a Chinese scholar, painter and calligrapher during the Yuan Dynasty was the first artist to combine calligraphy and painting as he believed that both came from the same spiritual source. (Reference: “Behind the Brushstrokes: Appreciating Chinese calligraphy” by Khoo Seow Hwa and Nancy L. Penrose.) He encouraged the Yuan scholars to write calligraphy on their paintings and this style became the “Scholar’s style”. From his time onwards, painting also became “写画” or writing a painting.

The use of the Chinese ink brush requires the student to fully concentrate during the forming of the strokes. I was just joking with one of my students that I notice that he was rather distracted today when I saw how he was practising the strokes. Well, he was indeed as he was trying to solve a puzzle about rock climbing that he did earlier in the day:)

As an intro to famous calligraphers, I thought it might be interesting to share about the Yong Tau Foo team with my students and let them do the YTF scorecard. As our personalities very often determined our brushstrokes and what style we best write in, perhaps it might be useful to start them thinking about knowing more about themselves. (Reference: Growing Your Team: The Yong Tau Foo Team)

It turns out that my three students were Chilli with a mix of Bittergourd, Fishball and Bee Hoon.

The class were soon enough engaged to form that perfect stroke and busy practising…here are some of the pix taken during class.


More references:

  1.  Chinese Painting from Metropolitan Museum of Art website (
  2. “Behind the Brushstrokes: Appreciating Chinese calligraphy” by Khoo Seow Hwa and Nancy L. Penrose.



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