So with no travel plans this summer I gotta find something to keep me busy, so I’m kinda having a “say yes to anything indoors and not too exhausting” summer. When my friend invited me to her Chinese calligraphy/painting (indoors with a/c) class I obviously jumped at the chance.
The other students, 3 foreign ladies, two of whom I met before, had already decided the subject for our class: a rain dragon. Dragon is my chinese horoscope and part of my Chinese name, so I already know I enjoy drawing dragons. I’m just, in all honesty, maybe very skilled at it…
Luckily this time we had a teacher to guide us, a picture to look and unlimited supplies. This was the real deal and we used rice paper, calligraphy ink and the traditional brush pens for every stroke and line.
So the teacher demonstrated first, telling us to start at the eyes and giving us some lessons in traditional painting (when you paint a dragon the eyes should always be looking down, if it looks straight at you then it is too powerful and is bad luck.) And then she told us to get to it!
We met at 4:30 and when I got to the stage above, one of the other women said “It’s 7pm, I think we should stop for the day” and I was like “What?!!” The time went by faster than a rain dragon flying through the sky.
So we said goodbye and promised to meet again the following week to learn the all important cloud technique. I put my half drawn painting on my wechat wall and this is what one of my friends sent in response:
So the next week started with the ever anticipated clouds. Thus part I was especially nervous because it would cover the whole rest of the paper and if I screwed this up, all my hard work from the week before would be wasted. Also, you needed kinda long, flowing brush strokes to get that “cloud feel” and I was afraid I was gonna just wipe ink all over my precious dragon. Then, the last step was to add a little color to the eyes and mouth. Again I was super nervous for this step. It’s like the more I painted, the more nervous I got, certain I would screw up all my hard work and totally ruin the painting right at the end.
The whole thing took about 5 hours (of very serious work. While there was four of us doing it together we didn’t take any breaks and were all quite absorbed in the work) and I am pleased with the results. I’m no Shen Zhou (one of the most famous Chinese painters) but I think it’s a step up from my last dragon attempt. After I put the finished product up on my wechat my friend Bong downloaded it and digitally colored it, making it look super cool!
So this summer isn’t anything like I was expecting it to be, for me and for the whole world really, but I’m making the best of it, and trying to get out to meet new people and do new things. I’m looking forward to seeing what other cool things I get to do this summer, and I’ll keep taking this painting class. Next subject: Phoenix!