Chinese painting

Sorry for that long break… I lost my internet connection at home and that is the only time I can write blogs, when I’m at home. Work after all is very demanding, you can’t even sneak in stray thoughts, much less maintain a blog. That said, I’m bursting with excitement to relate the fun learnings I had in a free Chinese painting workshop at SM Lanang Premier last Saturday.

It was Atty. Kelvin Lee who first mentioned it in an emailed request if we can announce a free Chinese Painting Workshop on October 13. I did more than that. I bugged one of the teachers — Alex Chan Lim of the Chan Lim Family of Artists and Students — for a front page feature in Sun.Star Davao the week before.

You guessed it right, I was interested.

My encounter with Chinese painting was only in Chinese curio shops and a short mention in Humanities 1 in college; this despite taking up painting lessons in high school and architecture in college and dabbling in (Western) oil and acrylic painting in few occasions.

Those short encounters, however, have built a fascination… for the fine, sketchless (is there such a word?), but very deliberate strokes from where trees, branches, birds, flowers and landscape emanate from and make up a Chinese painting.

I couldn’t wait for the workshop to start, but there was still the opening of the exhibit to get through with, and the opening was already one hour late because the local officials who were to grace it were taking their sweet time.

We used that time to take photos of the teachers and the local Chinese Community who helped them set up the event.

After that, Dr Alex brought out his stuff and mixed the ink. Weeee!

He made it look so easy as he whipped out a bamboo painting in less than five minutes.

With just eight brush stokes, he made two bamboo trunks, added smaller branches and leaves and voila!

We tried our hand… with the aid of one of the teachers — Marissa.

I couldn’t even make one trunk look like bamboo. But I loved the dragonflies I was able to make. Two circles, a broken line, and dab, dab, dab, dab… to make the wings.

Even making the leaves took an hour before I could get the feel of what teacher Marissa was describing as “point, drop, lift”.

The closest to a proper bamboo leaf are the ones in olive green. The rest, either the brush was too dry, too wet, or the stroke just wasn’t right.

Sir Alex sat down with us for more bamboo lessons. Before Marissa showed us how to make flowers.

Major fail. Try again…

They’re not perfect but my hands now understand what “hold flat and roll” means. Baby steps, baby steps…

Most fascinating was when the white-haired teacher, the patriarch Chan Lim, sat down beside my friend Doctor Nina and I upon seeing us struggle with our bamboo trunks. He got a brush, got a paper, and demonstrated how to do it, emphasizing every stroke with one word, “Push!”

“This is how you do it. Push! Push! Push!” he said as he made three nodes of the trunk.

We got our brushes and followed what he did as he chanted, “Push! Push! Push!” Voila! We got our bamboo trunks right. We stared at each other’s paper as Mr. Chan Lim moved to the next table. “He’s good!” we said as we continued staring at what we have just done.

I did manage to make two bamboo trunks with branches and leaves that I was told were really good for a first-timer.

Thanks for the encouraging words!


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