Chinese Brush Painting
The major instrument in Chinese brush painting is the Chinese ink brush. Originally, Chinese painting brushes were made of animal hair such as goat, hare, or fox hair because the hair of these animals was suitable in producing brushes that were soft and stringy at the same time. These brushes hold up against pressure very well. Harder brushes are made from brown wolf hair.
Instead of oil or acrylic which is popular in Western art, Chinese ink is used in Chinese brush painting. Originally the ink was made from a mixture of pine soot and animal glue. It usually comes in the form of thick black sticks and used in combination with an ink stone. An artist will wet the ink stone and then grind the ink brush on the stone, wetting the stick, and making the ink run so that it can be used for painting. It’s very different from the printer ink used today.
Paper and Silk
Anytime something was written down or painted in ancient China, it was done on silk paper. However, silk paper was quite expensive so only very important documents and paintings were done on paper of this kind. After the Chinese invented the early form of paper in the first century, it became much cheaper to write or paint. It was made from hemp waste mixed and beaten and poured into a mold.
The Use of Calligraphy and Seals
The Chinese believe that calligraphy, painting, and seals all complement each other. It is for this reason it is common to find them all together in a single painting. Calligraphy is meant to stress a special arrangement between the structure of a painting and the brush strokes used to paint it. Seals, a stamp that makes an imprint in red ink, were originally used to depict an artist’s signature but evolved into a type of artwork. Many seals were assumed to be an integral part of the painting because the artist formed it just for that painting.