Written by (作者): Cooka Huang 黄翌云
Photos by (图片来源): BigStock
I started learning “Pen Calligraphy” when I was in kindergarten. During our early studies we had to memorize and memorize until we knew the characters by heart. My mom helped me practice regularly. I write down a word and she would erase it until she was satisfied with the penmanship. I hated this and therefore came to hate calligraphy. The practice eventually paid off though, because when I was in primary school my calligraphy was so good that it was often used as an example for lessons. Having learned of my skills, I began taking calligraphy seriously and moved on to “Soft Brush Calligraphy.”
The use of a brush for writing calligraphy in China goes back for ages. There are three kinds of brushes: stiff, soft, and mixed. Stiff brushes are good for practice and writing small characters. Soft and mixed brushes allow for more fluid characters and creativity.
I love writing calligraphy with a soft brush because it is the traditional method. I also like the feeling of writing on Chinese parchment with a soft brush. Coherency plays a key role in the art of calligraphy, so it’s important to practice. If you’re new to writing, I’d recommend using the calligraphy copybooks of Xun Ouyang or Shen Yimo.
I’ve found that calligraphy is a sort of meditation. It is my greatest joy to feel the stroke of the brush across the parchment, soft strokes, hard strokes. Today, most people are busy with work and don’t have much time for anything like proper meditation. Practicing calligraphy, or taking time out of the day to do so, helps with this. Writing calligraphy is like writing your own Heart Sutra (Xīnjīng), and it is very relaxing. As the saying goes “an hour in the morning is worth two in the evening.” Morning is the best time to write calligraphy, with the gentle breeze and scent of sandalwood and ink.
Calligraphy isn’t something that you pick up in a day. It takes years and years of arduous practice. It takes time to adapt and get used to the stroke patterns and methods. When you begin learning, it may be dull because you need to try practicing one word for an entire day. Therefore, patience is the most important thing when starting out. Even though it may take weeks to get one character right, don’t give up! Your attitude and outlook should be positive. It’s best to keep this in mind: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”