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querido

Brush-Calligraphy (neat and legible style) Thread!

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querido

Thank you for your recommendations.

I have two 胡開文-made inksticks, one oil and one pine. They smell great!

My stone is the very simple round type with a lid. The workspace is 10.5cm in diameter x 1cm deep.

My teacher approves of either 田英章最新书法专业教程:欧体毛笔楷书 or the rubbing/姚孟起临.

My favorite 田英章 videos are the ones on the non-running paper with grids (that you uploaded).

I found another good series of videos in this style (very clean and simple, on paper that doesn't run too) here.

I admire

a lot too (just one video). Good camera angle. (This same guy made three videos in 柳体.)

[Edit 10Jul12: Videos like these are interesting and helpful in the beginning, but unless you're practicing at that same size your muscles and bones must move differently (as hofmann has said). These major providers of videos that I'm aware of all tend to write big (perhaps for illustrative ease). ]

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querido

Today my teacher graduated me from traceover-using-thin-paper to freehand-while-looking-at-the-model. Attached is my first attempt, still using the Yan book.

He finally indicated clearly that he also does not prefer some of the Yan features, as you can see on the attachment. So I can now switch to one of the versions of Outi that I've collected.

post-12291-0-05517600-1338482417_thumb.jpg

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querido

I saw your new videos, thank you.

Ink: [edited]

Ink ground from the pine soot stick definitely won the smell test. It smelled a little like kerosene or turpentine, but *just a little*. Both of these sticks smelled like sandlewood when dry. Very nice.

That ink stayed watery (edit: That was wrong; it gets as thick as desired with longer grinding) but the oil soot stick produced ink with viscosity (oily), and I like that.

There is no question about this: these inks wash out of the brush much more easily than the bottled ink I have. So it's easier on the brush, a nice plus.

Ink grinding: [edited]

The stick must be softened a little on the bottom before grinding or it could scratch the stone; just stand it up in the water for a minute but don't let it stick to the stone. After grinding a little the softened part could be ground away and the hard stick could touch the stone again. This is easy to feel and hear. Just let more of it soften. This is a good reason to make just a little to get started and more as you go (stand the stick up in the ink/water and come back in a minute to grind). The oil soot stick was much less fussy in this regard, staying smoother. (edit: I had also thought that maybe the pine soot stick had some grit in it (sand, etc), but I was wrong. Just being a little more patient with letting it soften and it was OK.)

[edit2] If you put mud on the brush, the water would flow out leaving thicker mud on the brush that won't flow. Ink made from the pine soot stick is **a little bit like this**, while ink made from the oil soot ink is a little more like thick oil. It could be that this particular oil soot stick is simply better (made from finer particles?).

Stone:

One reason for a reservoir is to slow evaporation (which incidentally reduces the smell) by reducing the surface area of the liquid. I can get this effect in my flat stone by putting a thin block under one side. The ink puddles and leaves a nice area for wiping the brush too. Its lid, which is also stone and fits perfectly, also just about stops evaporation (edit: but don't try to take advantage of this for more than a few hours because the ink spoils).

Ideally, the workspace would be a little deeper (as you said) and the inner lip should be beveled (rounded).

Strokes:

Writers differ in technique and in loyalty to the model, and no one is perfectly consistent either. So, I'm having to collect ideal examples from different videos.

To finish 横 héng without the usual trace-around movement I practiced this (:33-:38) last week (but it should be straighter).

post-12291-0-50926300-1339344995_thumb.jpg

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Hofmann

It's nice to see your observations. I'll upload more videos later.

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querido

I had not thought of this but I learned it today: the ground ink, having an animal component, spoils!

I read that a good inkstick smells "fresh"; now that I have smelled the spoiled ink I know what they meant.

Not knowing how much it degrades in X hours, one should probably throw it out or use it all up each day, just as they all say!

It makes me want to rinse the brush in dilute shampoo-water too, as at least one credible person suggests.

[edit: I had noticed a white deposit on the brush. It can't be ideal for this to remain *inside* the brush. Dilute shampoo-water removes it easily.]

Ideal stroke-writing videos should be faithful to the model!

Then later, whole characters should have strokes that remain faithful, not pointed or tilted.

I would also hope for economy of movement where possible.

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querido

Do you still use grids?

[Edited]

I've prepared 米-style grids at the original size (3.3cm or 1.3"), 1.375" and 1.45".

I can easily see this grid paper under any other paper I'm likely to use now.

I found a nice resource. Someone lined up the rubbing and the best copy I know of (姚孟起临) in columns, 2 characters wide x 6 characters high, and made it available here.

Do you look at the rubbing (and also another reference when necessary), or just the 姚孟起临, or something else?

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querido

This was a great day, as a lot of questions were settled.

Grids and practice size:

My teacher decided today that I may graduate from using grids. This saves me some decisions and some technical trouble as I'd rather not use them anyway.

After practicing at 1.3"/3.3cm for a while it was easy to feel that my previous 1.8" is too big (it involves a lot more wrist). 1.3" to 1.5" (on the theory that my hands are bigger than his) is a small range to worry about.

Paper:

I had collected 14 samples and small quantities of different relevant kinds of paper (this was also for someone else's Chinese watercolor project). I spent a lot of time testing these. I wanted paper that was closer to traditional (neither wood pulp nor pressed bamboo). Above all, I tested whether or not I could make it hold clean straight lines and sharp corners. These three were my favorites (not necessarily in order) and luckily my teacher likes them too...

Double xuan- If the ink is ground very thick, the brush not too wet and the brush always moved quickly this can be used for small characters. Otherwise the ink spreads too much. With thick ink it works great for larger characters.

Yuanshu- This absorbs (all the way through) the ink placed upon it and then stops it from spreading, like newsprint. It is yellow and made of bamboo but is a woven type much better than pressed bamboo paper. It is tolerant but very thick ink and somewhat dry brush are best. It is very easy to make sharp corners on this, and I like it. My teacher says it's only for practice but I think it is beautiful too.

Sized double xuan- This is treated to be non-absorbent. So, it doesn't spread because it doesn't absorb. It holds sharp corners. It is tolerant of ink thickness and brush wetness and doesn't care about brush speed . This was our choice for me at this time.

I want to stay accustomed to all three of these papers. [edit: There's no time for that. I'm using only sized xuan now.]

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Hofmann

I only look at the stone rubbing of 歐陽詢's handwriting. At one point I looked at 姚孟起 a bit to see what certain blurry strokes were. For example, in 挍, it's not clear whether or not the 7th stroke is connected to the 8th stroke, as that is a legal variant and he did that later in 交, so 姚孟起 can clarify that.

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querido

Thank you, I agree with that.

I feel free to skip the characters that aren't clear to me, for now, and other works by 歐陽詢 that are helpful to look at are catalogued at 9610.com.

Ink:

You recommended two brands and I told you I tried one of them. Now I've tried the other brand, and my new favorite is 曹素功, 油煙, "大好山水". I like their 松煙 better too. There is less grit and nearly zero smell in these.

Inkstone:

My inkstone was too rough, and the inner lip was sharp and rough too. My solution was to polish it with sandpaper. I used a "block" to keep the grinding surface flat. It was easy, as it is just slate (soft). It's easier to clean now too.

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querido

3.3cm/1.3" squares, no grids, looking at a poem printed in STKaiti:

post-12291-0-31683200-1341017879_thumb.png

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Hofmann

If I were you, I'd practice basic strokes for a bit more.

But now you've given me some ideas on what to talk about in videos.

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querido

Thank you.

I hope so.

Inkstone:

I knew that I shouldn't let the inkstick stick to the stone because prying it off could break the stick. But here's something I hadn't imagined: after letting it stick badly, prying it off pulled some of the grain out of this soft stone, leaving a scar about a fingernail's thickness deep! It left stone grains in the stick too.

Ink:

I discovered a method for removing grit from the end of the stick. Soften the end in water without pressing down on anything, then press it gently to a fluffy paper towel. Repeating this as many times as necessary, the grit will eventually come off onto the towel. (Don't push down to avoid pushing the grit back up into the softened stick.)

Sized paper absorbs very little ink, so to look good the ink must be ground very black. My experience now is that a pine soot (often blue black) is more tolerant (producing a near-black to solid-black over a wider range) than the oil soot (often reddish or brownish) stick that I had named in #29. So now that the type of paper is decided, I have changed ink to a 曹素功-brand 松煙 pine soot stick. [Edit 10Jul12: I like 曹素功-brand but I can't settle on oil soot or pine soot.]

[Edit 10Jul12: You're right that I need to practice more. But I also discovered that the tip of my favorite brush isn't very good. Now I'm having terrible trouble picking a new brush.]

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querido

Brush:

In post #15 I linked to a favorite brush. I've changed favorites several times since then. Sorry I didn't keep you informed. :-)

Here (or much cheaper for example here) is my new favorite. This is the springiest/sharpest I've found, and it sheds much less (this first one I opened has only shed one hair so far). I have some experience testing brushes now :-) and I think this must be about as good as it gets for sharp-cornered kaishu of this size. I tried different sizes and shapes "so you don't have to", and I think this .7cm*3.1cm must be about right.

Practice setup:

I cut 54"x27" sheets of sized xuan down to 13.5"x9". On 8.5"x11" paper I printed a grid, 6x8, of 1.3" squares. This grid is easily seen through the xuan paper (and the sized xuan doesn't bleed through). There's room at the top for the paperweight and at the end for practice strokes.

Those two sheets and the paperweight are on top of a sheet of thin cardboard; instead of repositioning the paper and paperweight, I just slide the cardboard over the table.

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