Thursday, December 10, 2009
Ti An: The Techniques of Pressing and Lifting the Brush 笔法：提按
There are three structural forms essential to calligraphy. They are strokes, character structure and line composition, which join together to reflect the beauty of the calligraphic work.
Among these three, strokes are basic, because all the characters and lines are composed of strokes. The characters and lines are the tracks of movements or arrangement forms of the dots and strokes. Vigor, shifting, rhythm, change and harmony are key elements of the beauty of the dots and strokes, and are also the key elements of the beauty of the characters and lines. Certainly, these key elements demonstrate different proportions in the strokes, characters and lines.
When writing with a brush, the key element is the vigor of the strokes. There are several ways to demonstrate the vigor of the strokes, and the two most important ways are Zhong Feng and Ti An, a technique of pressing and lifting the brush.
In Chinese, Ti means lifting up and An means pressing down. Lifting up the brush a little makes the strokes delicate, powerful and smooth, and pressing down on the brush makes the strokes thick, vigorous and powerful. So Ti and An are the main ways to express vigor and rhythm in calligraphy.
While lifting or pressing the brush, the calligrapher should deal with another pair of ways to use power: moving the brush forward and holding it in position for a while, or moving the brush slowly - like a basketball player who moves forward while bouncing the ball on the ground. Such a skill is the result of hard practice.
Various scripts have different frequencies of transfer of lifting and pressing.
The wild cursive hand features swift movements of brush and fewer changes of lifting and pressing. The changes are more frequent in the lesser cursive and walking styles. The official script demonstrates more transfers between lifting and pressing, especially in writing horizontal strokes, which starts with a silkworm's head and ends in a wild goose's tail, and right-downward strokes. The standard kai-script illustrates the highest frequency of changes of lifting and pressing. But the seal script demonstrates no lifting or pressing at all.