The Art of Lines and Dots

The Art of Lines and Dots


Have you ever thought about
the process of writing? Writing is not only a functional thing –
it is also an art form. The best example is
Chinese calligraphy. Chinese calligraphy is composed
of two colors: Black and white – – different from a painting,
which is usually colorful. However, a beautiful piece of calligraphy
can have a striking visual effect. Chinese calligraphy is said to be
“The art of lines and dots”. So today, we will learn to write
Chinese calligraphy. There are around 50,000 Chinese signs – – when you begin learning, you always
start with one specific sign – – this one: The sign for “Forever”. This sign contains the
five fundamental strokes – – which, when combined, can make up
any of the 50,000 signs. Similarly, a set of fundamental strokes are used when
typing on a keyboard – not 50,000 separate keys. So which are the five strokes? The first is a dot, secondly, a horisontal stroke, a vertical stroke, a diagonal stroke to the left, last, a diagonal stroke to the right. If you learn to master these strokes,
you can write all of the 50,000 signs. First, we need to learn about the
“Four Treasures of the Study”. The first is rice paper. This is not ordinary
A4 paper – it is much thinner. Made to easily absorb the ink. The next “treasure” is the pen. Usually, the pen is made from either
goat or wolf hair – – or a mix of the two. This is a used pen – – a new one looks like this. As you can see, the tip is stiff – – as the hairs are glued together. When used for the first time, it has to soak
in water for 5-10 minutes to dissolve the glue. The pointy tip is important and used
to control the width of the strokes. The third “ancient treasure” is the ink. This is a modern ink, ready for use. Ancient ink, called inkstick,
you had to grind yourself – – and mix with water. The fourth treasure is the inkstone. The inkstone is for grinding inkstick
and containing the ink – – and can be beautifully crafted
and expensive. As I use modern ink,
I just use a simple container. In addition to the four treasures
there are a few more tools we need. First, the writing mat. This one is made from felt. As we use very thin paper, the soft
underlay will help the ink diffuse. Also, it helps to protect the table – – and makes it easier to write. Secondly, the paperweights. These are quite heavy – – they hold down the paper and
make the surface even. Now we are ready to write – – so let us write the
“Forever”-sign. First we dip the pen. The tip of the pen has to be
sharp and pointy. The first stroke we make is
the dot. The dot has to be diagonal
and round at the bottom. The second stroke is the
horizontal line. The third is the vertical. The stoke is made from the
top and down. This word has a small “hook” at the end
– like this. One more horizontal stroke here – – this one is the same as
the one above, just longer. And then the diagonal-left one – – and the same one again up here. The last one is the
diagonal-right stroke. This stroke is important – – if not well made, the
word will look messy. Usually, when the main part is completed,
we add a signature to the piece. You can sign your name or
write the current date. Adding this will balance the layout. Here, I write the Chinese
year and month. I am using the year and month from
the Chinese calendar – – the calendar rotates every 60 years, so
the names repeat with this frequency. The last step is to stamp. A good piece of calligraphy has
black and white, but also needs red. We dip the stamp in ink,
position the stamp – – and stamp. Now our piece has the
three colors: Black, white, and red and
is thus complete. Now, let us do some
writing-exercises. Usually, paper like this is
used for practice. The squares with the horizontal,
vertical, and diagonal lines – – can help you center the signs. Let us use this to practice
“Forever”. Remember the first stroke –
the dot. Then the horizontal ..and the vertical – – another horizontal – – the left-diagonal – – another left-diagonal – – and finally the right-diagonal. Using these five strokes we can
write all the different signs. For example, using only
these two strokes: Left-diagonal and right-diagonal – – we have the sign for “People”. Adding one stroke to “People” – – we have a different sign. A horizontal stroke – – then, like in “People”,
a left-diagonal – – and a right-diagonal. That makes the sign for “Big”. Let us make another sign which
looks similar to “Big”. Also one horizontal stroke – – and a vertical stroke – – then a left-diagonal – – and a right-diagonal. This means “Wood”. This sign is interesting. If we put two “Wood” together, it means “Grove”
(small group of trees). Three “Wood”-signs together
(a lot of wood!) – – and we have “Forest”. Now let us practice the
dot-stroke. Which sign contains a dot? For example, the sign for “Down”. First the horizontal – – then the vertical – – and finally the dot. The vertical has to be very
straight and centered. Another sign that has a dot – – is the sign for “No”. A horizontal – – a right-diagonal – – a vertical – – and then the dot. Just before we learned the
sign for “Down”. Let us learn “Up”. A vertical – – a horizontal – – another horizontal – Now we have the sign “Up”. We learned “Big” before – – adding just a horizontal,
it becomes “Sky”. A horizontal – – another horizontal – – a left-diagonal – – and a right-diagonal. Very similar to “People” is
the sign for “Enter”. Also a right-diagonal and
a left-diagonal. Only the length of the stroke is
different. Let us try another sign – – that is made using only
horizontal and vertical strokes. Horizontal – – vertical – – horizontal – – vertical – – horizontal, horizontal,
horizontal – – and a vertical. This sign means “Car”. Enough exercise for today. Back to “Forever”.
As you remember – – the sign contains the
five fundamental strokes: The dot – – horizontal – – vertical – – left-diagonal – – and the right-diagonal. Thank you for watching. If you want to see more
Chinese calligraphy – – please subscribe to
this channel.

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