January 2017

Today is the last day of January, and thus the last day of my month of Chinese calligraphy. And, as it turns out, the last of my ink! Not terrible timing, I suppose, though I could have done with a few millilitres more, as you’ll see.

I thought it was worth taking a look at where I was at the beginning of the month, when I had little idea of how any of this worked and hadn’t yet found any instructions online. Here’s Day One:

Day 1

Bit laughable really.

Here’s today’s work, which is a bit scratchy due to lack of ink, and is a recap of all the characters I learnt over the last couple of weeks.

C17 Day 31 1

C17 Day 31 - 2

Not bad for just 15-30 minutes a day, and for less than a month – it took a couple of weeks just to figure out how to control the brush and how thick the ink needed to be (although I’ve got a lot of work to do on both of those fronts still!).

So, what have I learnt? Well, firstly, that there’s a lot of joy in doing something for the sake of it, without having a goal or any pressure. I’ve also learnt that you can improve rapidly with just a small amount of time devoted every day. I’m actually surprised with how much my basic skills have developed since Day 1. It’s really rather satisfying!

Will I come back to this at some point? Yes, I probably will, though I’ll get the right liquid ink this time, rather than grinding up the solid stuff that came with the set. And I’ll invest in a better brush. But for now, I am done. Tomorrow, I start learning crochet stitches.

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C17: Day 30 – qiu and dong

by Suw on January 30, 2017

Today is the penultimate day of my Chinese calligraphy month, and I wanted to do both “qiu”, “autumn”, and “dong”, “winter”, before I do a round-up of everything I’ve learnt tomorrow. It was difficult to judge the width of qiu, so you’ll see some of them are a bit cramped. Dong was a lot easier, but also needs a lot of care and finesse.


C17 Day 30


C17 Day 30 - 2

Last day tomorrow. I will really miss this, but I’m also looking forward to a month of crochet!!

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C17: Day 29 – xia

by Suw on January 29, 2017

Today’s character, “xia” or “summer” is possibly the longest and most complicated one I’ve done so far. I think I acquitted myself quite well though!

C17 Day 29

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C17: Day 28 – chun

by Suw on January 28, 2017

“Chun” means “spring”, and is possibly the most satisfying character I’ve learnt so far. I think it’s the big leftward sweep that’s so lovely to do. It’s also the biggest character I’ve done so far, so I could only fit eight on the page.

C17 Day 28

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C17: Day 27 – fang

by Suw on January 27, 2017

Today’s word is “fang” or “direction”. When used with, for example “dong”, “east”, it means “The Orient”. It can be used with the other compass point words too. Definitely another more fluid day, with a much more confident look to the characters.

C17 Day 27

I have been debating about what to do next month. I’m tempted by the idea of drawing a cat a day, but I think I’m going for a change of pace. I recently found a list of crochet stitches, so I’m going to learn a new crochet stitch per day!

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C17: Day 26 – bei

by Suw on January 26, 2017

Today is “bei” or “north”. And today’s challenge is spacing. I wasted a lot of space with the second column, and so the final column was a bit cramped. However, I paid more attention to making sure that the L-shape in this figure wasn’t too angular.

C17 Day 26

I realised today that I’m really going to miss this next month, when I choose my second task of the year. It’s so nice to have something creative to do that is all about the process and has no defined end goal. The fact that I’m not learning the language doesn’t mean that I’m not learning important things, such as posture, brush control and ink control. But it really takes the pressure off and allows me to sit back enjoy the process of learning. It’s truly lovely.

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C17: Day 25 – xi

by Suw on January 25, 2017

Today is “xi” or “west”. More fluidity today, though I maybe got a bit too angular on the L-shaped bit.

C17 Day 25

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C17: Day 24 – nan

by Suw on January 24, 2017

Another direction today, this one “nan” or “south”. Bit more complicated, so a bit harder, but recognisable I think.

C17 Day 24

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C17: Day 23 – dong

by Suw on January 23, 2017

I found another video!

So today’s word is “dong” or “east”. If you want to make it “East” or “Orient”, then it’s “dong fang”, but I’ll do that on a separate date. I think today’s challenge was that I was making my characters a bit cramped, so I need to be careful with my spacing in future. I also need to work on my pressure, as today I was a bit haphazard, resulting in overly thick or too thin lines.

C17 Day 23

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C17: Day 22 – Qian

by Suw on January 22, 2017

Toady’s number, qian, is 1,000. The challenge with qian is not the strokes but the proportions. Getting them right is hard.

C17 Day 22

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C17: Day 21 – Bai

January 21, 2017

Today I focused on the number 100, bai. If there’s an improvement, it’s in the fact that this took me a lot less time than previous pages.

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C17: Day 20 – Qi and Jiu

January 20, 2017

I found a new video! This one goes through all the numbers from one to 10, and 100 and 1,000. This teacher doesn’t do the little upflicks at the end of the curvy bit, but with a closer look at how the shapes are formed I think I’ve done a better job today. This is the number […]

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C17: Day 19 – Six to ten

January 19, 2017

Well, that was harder than expected! I thought I was getting into a flow, but today there were new shapes to form that I didn’t manage very well at all. Numbers seven and nine are especially hard. That curve and upward sweep is really difficult, and it’s not a shape I’ve practiced before. I think […]

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C17: Day 18 – One to five

January 18, 2017

I really enjoyed today’s calligraphy! These are the numbers 1 to 5, and I started top right and worked downwards, which just happens to be one of the directions that Chinese writing can be written in, called zongpai. I’m following the instructions on this worksheet from MIT (pdf), and tomorrow will do numerals from six to 10. […]

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C17: Day 17 – My first Chinese character!

January 17, 2017

Today, I drew my very first proper Chinese character! The character is “yong” which means “forever” or “permanence”. It contains all the basic strokes that I’ve been practicing, so it’s a good one to start with. A usual, it’s a bit scrappy and my dot, or “dian” is fricken awful. But still, I think anyone capable […]

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