Chinese calligraphy is an ancient art form stemming back to almost 3000 years ago. This style of writing is said to be abstract art. Many masters throughout Chinese history have left behind their own unique interpretation of the Chinese characters. It was Tu Mang, however, who correlated it all together with form identification and style. He established names for the techniques used to describe the words. For instance, a “carefree” style has an unfixed or unknown direction. On the opposite end, a “carefully executed” form insists on careful execution and thought behind the work. “Mysterious” is to use your imagination. There are 120 existing expressions used for Chinese calligraphy, many born by great masters.
You have seen it everywhere. The beautiful strokes in black brushed on a canvas. Meaning something, but were not sure what. You see it in tattoo’s left on the skin to declare deep significance to the wearer, and often out of curiosity we ask what it means. It is a peaceful mystery, we are drawn to it naturally.
What kind of brush strokes would best represent the meaning of the words I had chose? I could go with a more classic, traditional style used in ancient times or even something called the “grass” style, looking more whimsical to me. I had not realized the depth of expression involved not only in searching a tattoo, but the actual essence, personality, and layers upon layers of meaning associated with this beautiful art.
Words like love, faith, endure, tranquility, written in a one character form creates a personalization amongst the observer admiring it. Many of these characters live on walls in homes to communicate a feeling. Many masters have created their own unique style and now exists over 120 diverse styles of written Chinese calligraphy.
Learning to draw these characters requires patience, proper tools, clear concise instructions and of course, lots of practice. Acquiring this skilled art form can be hours of entertainment and enjoyment because it is so unfolding in a multi conceptual way. You will learn the proper directions and different styles (one or two you may adopt as your own), and you will also learn each character’s simple, yet intense meaning.
The rules behind learning Chinese calligraphy are to invite simplicity, balance, beauty, and originality of style. You should possess graceful execution and represent the depth of meaning of each stroke, whether using a brush or ink. The idea behind Chinese calligraphy is to find understanding and beauty is simple delivery of who you are as the artist and what you are projecting as meaning with the chosen style adopted.
Whether you embark on learning to write one character well to display as art on your wall, or you continue with the craft to put words together, even learning to read Chinese, it is rewarding. The more you unravel the mystery living inside each of these characters, it seems to create added curiosity and a desire to keep going.
There is a quiet appreciation for Chinese calligraphy (called “Shu Fa” in Chinese). We see it everywhere. It has been around for thousand’s of years, and has danced it’s way into the western world. Character techniques were refined throughout the history of China as their culture’s social circumstances changed. Self expression thru disciplined understanding of form and technique has been handed down by the great masters of Chinese calligraphy, with each master leaving a unique, personal style. Within this heritage many artists have taken some influence from it for their own works. Picasso and Matisse are two artists who used some Chinese calligraphy in their art. It is considered an art form and with it’s amass of many followers, it is now a sought after as a class in which one can learn the art of Chinese calligraphy.