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Stroke of Genius - Brushes for china painting

Stroke of Genius - Brushes for china painting

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Published by Stefan Van Cleemput
Brushes for china painting
by Paul Lewing The following article is excerpted from China Paint and Overglaze, by Paul Lewing, published by the American Ceramic Society, Westerville, Ohio, 2007. See review page 44.

lmost any of the supplies for other forms of painting, and many of those for ceramics or printmaking, are useful for china painting. Most novice china painters have had some experience with at least one other form of art, and will have many of the necessary tools already on hand. My br
Brushes for china painting
by Paul Lewing The following article is excerpted from China Paint and Overglaze, by Paul Lewing, published by the American Ceramic Society, Westerville, Ohio, 2007. See review page 44.

lmost any of the supplies for other forms of painting, and many of those for ceramics or printmaking, are useful for china painting. Most novice china painters have had some experience with at least one other form of art, and will have many of the necessary tools already on hand. My br

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Published by: Stefan Van Cleemput on Sep 14, 2012
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PotteryMaking Illustrated
March/April 2007
Brush shapes with round errules. Topto bottom: round, liner, scroller, script,cat’s tongue, cut liner, stencil, deerootand whirley.
lmost any o the supplies or other orms o paint-ing, and many o those or ceramics or printmak-ing, are useul or china painting. Most novice chinapainters have had some experience with at least oneother orm o art, and will have many o the necessary toolsalready on hand.My brother the musician always says there’s nothing toplaying the piano; you just hit the right key at the right time.I reply that there’s also nothing to drawing; you just make theright mark in the right place. And very oten in art, that “rightmark” is best made with a brush. When choosing brushes, re-member that the only thing that matters is the nished piece.Your hand and eye determine where the “right place” is, butthe brushes make that “right mark,” and thus, are your mostimportant tools.Artist’s brushes are designated as watercolor or oil paintingbrushes, soter ones generally being or watercolor and stierones or oil. Watercolor brushes generally work well or chi-na painting, particularly i water is used as the medium. Oil-based china paint is a bit thicker and stickier, so many chinapainters, including mysel, preer a slightly stier brush. Size,shape and hair type are the variables that aect the cost andunction o a brush.
A brush’s designation is determined by the shape o its er-rule (the metal or plastic piece that holds bristles to handle)and its end prole. Some common round-erruled shapes arerounds, liners, riggers, scrollers, scripts and stencils.A good watercolor round is the one indispensable brush.Most china painters preer them in sizes 4 to 6. The very tinyones are superfuous i you’ve got a larger one with a verygood point.
are long and thin, and
(so named becausethey’re good or drawing the rigging o ships) are longer still.They make long, thin, even lines. The point o a liner may beround or it may be angled, in which case it is called a
cut liner.
A more exaggerated version o this shape may be made witha fat errule and be called a
sword liner,
specically designedor banding.
are slightly thicker in the body, but also have a longthin point. They are used when a line with a small amount o 
Brushes for china painting
by Paul Lewing
The following article is excerpted from
China Paint and Over-glaze
 , by Paul Lewing, published by the American Ceramic So-ciety, Westerville, Ohio, 2007. See review page 44.
PotteryMaking Illustrated
March/April 2007
variation in width is needed. Theyare also the brush o choice orraised paste and enamel work.
are similar to liners, butwith atter bodies. I only the pointis used, they make lines similar toliners, but i you press down slight-ly, they will produce a wider line. Asthe name implies, they are used oritalic script.
brushes are fat on the ends,and are used to ll stencils with evenareas o color. They can also be usedto remove brush strokes laid downwith another brush, producing astippled pattern. Water-based chi-na paint blotted with a dry stencilbrush will have a ner grain patternthan that made with a wet brush.Very tiny stencil brushes can behard to nd, but you can make yourown by clipping the end o an oldround. When a stencil brush’s end iscut at an angle, it is reerred to as a
deerfoot stippler
. Some brush sup-pliers make a variation on the sten-cil brush shape, with shorter, soterbristles, called a
cat’s tongue
brush has a thickbody, and a short, sharp point. Afat-erruled version o this shapeis oten called a
berry brush,
andis specically designed or paintingmany tiny shapes, such as the indi-vidual seeds o blackberries.
may be round or fat, but o-ten have no errule. They hold large quantities o liquidand dispense it a little at a time. Mops are also used dryto pick up powdered color when laying a dry ground.Most o the above brush shapes are made with eithermetal or quill errules. Many china painters preer quillbrushes to metal errules because they are more fexibleand “spring” better. Quill brushes also dier rom er-ruled brushes in that they are not perectly round, andmust be held with the fat side down, or the point willsplit or “quack” into a shape resembling a duck’s openbill. Many quill brushes are sold without a handle, re-quiring the artist to move points rom one handle toanother, which oten splits the quill. They should besoaked in warm water to soten them and pushed gen-tly onto the handle. I they do split, you may slip ashort piece o heat-shrink tubing over the quill and heatit gently with a match.The common fat-erruled shapes are brights, fats(also known as shaders), lberts and tches.
are the most versatile fat-erruled brushes.They are slightly longer than they are wide.
aresimilar, but their length and widthare the same. Both are used to ll inbroad areas and washes o color, andboth are made with either square orangled tips. Flats and brights makea broad, straight-sided, square-end-ed mark when they’re moved up ordown, and a thin mark when movedsideways. Moving them in a circularmotion produces a C-shaped mark.
have a rounded proleand make an oval mark.
 taper to a chisel point and make ateardrop shape, useul or drawingoliage. Fitches and lberts are typi-cally not moved sideways, but onlyup and down, although the straightside o a tch can be used like thesquare end o a fat.
also have a fat errule, butthe bristles are splayed into a widerounded end. They are useul ormaking streaky marks, and are o-ten used dry to blend areas o di-erent colors while the paint is stillwet. Clipping some o the bristlescan result in very interesting marks.
are the most ver-satile shapes. A selection o theseand a good liner or rigger will cov-er most painting situations. Manychina painters use no more thana small round, a liner, and a largeand small shader, either square orangled. In traditional china paint-ing the “American style,” eaturingsot naturalistic eects, is usually painted using squareshaders, while the more rigid and brighter “Dresdenstyle” employs more rounds and liners.
Whirleys (or spooleys)
brushes are unlikethe above shapes, and are made up o sti bristles pro-truding rom a central shat. A whirley’s bristles arevery sti and short, and are designed to be draggedthrough a wet stroke to simulate hair. Spatter brusheshave longer bristles, as well as a piece o wire or woodalong one side. When the brush is rotated against thewire, droplets o paint are fung onto the work.
The best watercolor brushes are Kolinsky sable, re-nowned or strength, springiness and ne point. Nextbest are red sable, not as springy as Kolinsky, but abouthal the price. Sabeline is a ne ox hair dyed to resem-ble sable, and is cheaper but not as good. The cheap-est watercolor brushes are squirrel, sheep, or goat hair.Squirrel hair is very ne and limp.
Brush shapes with at errules. Top tobottom: at, bright, flbert, ftch, an,angled and mop.
PotteryMaking Illustrated
March/April 2007
Brush strokes made with a round-erruled brush.Brush strokes made with a fat-erruled brush.
The best oil painting brushes are hog bristle and verysti. Hog bristle brushes are generally too sti or mostchina painters’ taste. A soter oil brush might be mon-goose, and an ox hair brush will be soter yet. “Camelhair” is a trade name applied to any number o hairs,none o which come rom camels.The wide variety o synthetic bristles has an enor-mous range o stiness, price and holding capacity. It isoten dicult to compare brands o brushes, because somany dierent bristles are simply labeled “synthetic.”Nylon bristles, which do not taper, are very resilientand easy to clean.
This is a tricky issue or ceramists because biquewareand raw glaze abrade brushes quickly. A ne brush thatwould last a watercolorist a lietime may lose its pointin a year or two o oxide decoration. China paintingis not nearly as hard on brushes, as the smooth glazedsurace is not as abrasive. For banding or laying onfat areas o glaze, an expensive brush may be wasted.Sometimes though, only a very good brush will makethe mark you need, consistently and repeatedly.With brushes, price is a very good indication o qual-ity, so remember that your brushes are your most im-portant tools. It’s oten tempting to save a little moneyby getting the next-best bristles, or a slightly smallersize, but all that matters in making art is what it lookslike. Skimping is oolish i the art doesn’t look right.
Never dip a dry brush into colors, either water- or oil-based. The brush will not load completely i the bristlesare not wetted rst. Dip the brush into water or othermedium and dry it slightly on a rag.Brushes should be rinsed ater use as dried china paintwill abrade the bristles. Soap or solvent is not necessarywith water-based china paints, but might be with gum-lled commercial products. Oil-based mediums shouldbe rinsed out in clean turpentine or paint thinner. Somechina painters also rinse their brushes in alcohol at theend o each session. Avoid strong solvents such as lac-quer thinner, shellac remover, or acetone, as they willweaken the glue which holds the hairs in place. I youwork with both oil and water mediums, use a separateset o brushes or each.Never rest a brush on its bristles. A brush let todry that way becomes useless. Brushes which have thebristles glued into the handle, like sumi brushes, shouldnot be let to dry with the tips up. Sumi brushes otenhave a silk loop on the end o the handle, used to hangthe brush point down. Don’t let your brushes dry on aheating element or in a blast o hot air. This will dry outthe natural oils and make the brush less fexible.Use a palette knie to mix colors, not a brush. I mustadmit I am consistently guilty o this sin, and my brush-es pay the price or it.I you transport your brushes, protect the tips. Youcan buy a specially made brush case, but a length o 

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