Friday, September 10, 2010

Joon Tai on Standard Script 运开写楷书

It seems to be a generally agreement that the adult learners of Chinese calligraphy should start with practicing the standard (regular) script first. This is because most of the basic techniques of writing Chinese calligraphy can be learned by practicing the standard script.
The number of basic strokes in the standard scripts is said to be more than those of other scripts or styles. Besides the eight basic strokes in the character ‘yong’ (forever), it is estimated that the number of different strokes in standard script is more than twenty. More importantly, each stroke is clear and separate. This is different from the connecting and smooth strokes in cursive script.
The speed of writing each stroke of standard script is average, not as fast as in cursive script, nor as slow as in official script.
The structure of each standard character looks square while in official seal script (especially the small seal script) the structure is taller and rectangular, and in clerical script which is flatter and rectangular. The structures of characters of walking and cursive scripts are quite irregular.
New learners normally choose to practice on the model works of one of the four famous calligraphers, namely Ouyang Xun, Yan Zhenqing, Liu Gongquan or Zhao Mengfu.
Zhao’s style of writing the standard script is always eye-pleasing. However, Zhao’s works are generally considered not suitable for beginners as Zhao had simplified considerably the brush strokes. Ouyang’s model works are considered to be a good choice as the structures of his words are standard and his brush strokes are closer to that of clerical script. However, the writing of Ouyang is considered to be too structured so much so that the new learners may find it difficult to follow, since a slight error or deviation will result in wide divergences in strokes and structures of words.
I have started with learning the Yan style and then followed by the Liu style. For Yan style, one must practise at least the ‘Stele on Pagoda of Many Treasures’, ‘Yan Qingli Stele’ and ‘Record of the Altar of the Immortal of Mount Magu’. For Liu style, I have practised ‘Stele of the Xuanmi Pagoda’ and ‘Stele of the Imperial Guard’. I have spent much time on practicing the ‘Stele of the Xuanmi Pagoda’. I am still practicing it.
Shown here are copy works of Liu Gong Quan.
Practice on Liu Style 临摹柳公权《玄秘塔碑》

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