Of Workshops and Brush Strokes

Before I begin, let me just say this: I wish you could all see the way Gi-ok Jeon (artist and workshop leader) handles the brush. The 'grip', the way she smoothly slides the brush on the rice paper (ironically made from bamboo pulp, I learned).

It's like I'm living 'Zen in the Art of Archery', minus the archery, of course, and a little less Zen...
I thought I understood the concept of 'being one with your instrument' but today I actually lived it. I mean, just the concept itself became alive in me. To actually truly live it, it takes years. Practice. Patience. 

Other than art classes in middle/high school, I've never actually done any real painting.  I've given it a go in my spare time, but rarely in depth and I always end up frustrated... 

This workshop, in its first session, has already taught me about patience. About control. Maybe it's to do with having the teacher around as a sort of safety net- encouraging you, guiding you, that makes it all better- but I felt good about my mistakes, about how difficult it all actually was.
The teacher makes everything look SO easy. That, my friend, is skill (and years of practice).

The materials used today: Paper. Brush. (Chinese) Ink.
[Freakin' amazing what these three combined can do]

There are 3 types of brush strokes: 
line stroke
wipe stroke
dot stroke
Add to that the different lines: dark, light, thick, thin, dry, fast, slow, etc...
Oh, the possibilities!
Right: The stem on the far right was done by Gi-ok; the others were stroke practices by yours truly.
We first learned about the aforementioned brush strokes, tried them out and attempted to paint grass/leaves. Easy, right? Not so much. There's a correct way of holding the brush- it's not all in the flick of the wrist, like cracking an egg (Sabrina, anyone?). The movement of a brush stroke is done with your whole arm- the brush is an extension of limb, as I see it.

Then, we moved on to something a little  more challenging: the Chinese Orchid.  
Gi-ok says she spends a full month of practicing/learning with her students when it comes to the Chinese Orchid, just to give you an idea.

Next came the bamboo. 
I don't think I need to tell you it's not as easy as it looks either. Especially the leaves! 
All photos taken by me using a Nikon D3000
I can't even begin to imagine how those big & thick brushes are to work with...

Instagram of a couple pieces I did
Have a look at this to really get a feel of it.
Check out Galerie N's website to read more about Gi-ok Jeon. Here's a glimpse at her amazing work.
From her collection, Dwelling in a Space (using mixed media)
So if you're in Bangkok and fancy a fun thing to do on a Saturday, you should sign up for a session or two!

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