Thursday, August 27, 2009

Writing Techniques 运笔法

There are three basic elements of brush techniques: brush holding technique, writing postures and writing techniques. The beginner will not be able to master all the techniques in a short time, but they must pay due attention to the principles of applying these techniques. It will be a shame for someone who has practised Chinese calligraphy for some time without knowing brush techniques.
We have discussed about the brush holding techniques and writing postures. We shall now look at the writing techniques.
In writing Chinese calligraphy, each stroke involves three phases of executing the brush: To begin the stroke (qibi), to move the brush (xingbi) and to end the stroke (shoubi). If strokes of a Chinese character are regarded as the basis of word construction, then qibi, xingbi and shoubi are essential techniques that determine the form of each of them.
Writing techniques are the most difficult part of brush techniques and beginners tend to neglect them. Therefore it is necessary to always remind yourself to pay special attention on this as you begin to write characters so as to cultivate good habits in writing strokes as you go along.
The basic approach to qibi is: You start with moving the brush to the opposite of the intended direction of writing the stroke for a short distance and then turn the brush-tip towards to the intended direction and proceed to the second phase of moving the brush. For example, when writing a horizontal stroke, which must be written from left to right, you have to move the brush to the left shortly and then turn the brush-tip back and move rightward. Similar steps should also be applied to start writing a perpendicular stroke. The Chinese saying is that move the brush leftward first if you intend to move it horizontally rightward, and move upward first if you intend to write vertically downward. The process is repeated each time you start writing a stroke.
The basic approach to shoubi is: Before ending a stroke, turn the brush-tip to the opposite direction and move shortly to complete writing the stroke. This process is repeated each time you end a stroke. However, there are cases where there is no need to execute shoubi and you need to find out and memorise these exceptions.
In writing a calligraphy stroke, one actually needs mainly to remember to apply the following three major principles of ‘centered tip’ (Zhong Feng):
1. Always hold the brush in an upright position, that is, it must be perpendicular to the writing surface.
2. Always keep the tip of the brush in the middle of the stroke.
3. Always ensure that the brush tip points at the opposite direction of the brush’s movement.
3. 要令笔锋指向行笔相反的方向。

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