How to choose the right brush and paper for Chinese calligraphy?

By Fei Gao on Jul 01, 2023

Choosing the right brush and paper is essential for practicing Chinese calligraphy. Here are some tips to help you make the right choices:

1. Brush Selection:
   - Bristle Type: Chinese calligraphy brushes come in different bristle types, such as wolf hair, goat hair, weasel hair, or a combination of these. Each type offers unique characteristics in terms of stiffness, flexibility, and absorbency. For beginners, a soft brush made of goat or a combination of wolf and goat hair is often recommended for its versatility.
   - Brush Size: The size of the brush impacts the size of the characters you can write. For beginners, a medium-sized brush is a good starting point (around 1.5 to 2.5 cm in diameter). As you gain experience, you can experiment with different sizes for various styles and scripts.

   - Handle Length: Consider the length of the brush handle. A longer handle allows for greater control and versatility, especially when practicing large-scale calligraphy. However, the choice of handle length is often a matter of personal preference.

2. Paper Selection:
   - Xuan Paper (宣纸): Xuan paper, also known as rice paper, is the traditional paper used for Chinese calligraphy. It comes in various thicknesses and absorbency levels. Beginners may opt for medium or light-weight Xuan paper, which is easier to handle. As you progress, you can try different types of Xuan paper to suit your preferred calligraphy style.

   - Shuan Paper (双宣纸): Shuan paper is double-layered Xuan paper, which is more durable and less prone to ink bleed-through. It is suitable for more intensive practice and mounting finished artworks.

   - Practice Paper: For beginners, practice paper pads with grid lines or printed characters can be useful for practicing stroke order and character alignment.

3. Try Before Buying: If possible, visit an art supply store or calligraphy shop to physically examine brushes and papers. Test the brushes by drawing strokes on paper to get a feel for their handling and performance.

4. Consider Your Skill Level: For beginners, it's best to start with affordable and beginner-friendly brushes and paper. As your skills develop, you can invest in higher-quality materials suited to your preferences and expertise.

5. Personal Preference: Calligraphy is an art form, and personal preference plays a role in selecting brushes and paper. Experiment with different brushes and papers to find what works best for you in terms of handling, ink absorption, and artistic expression.

Remember that the right brush and paper can greatly enhance your calligraphy practice, but the most important aspect is your dedication to learning and improving your skills over time.

PreviousWhat is the artistic and cultural importance of Chinese calligraphy?
NextHuizhou Ink: A Treasure of Chinese Calligraphy

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