All posts by John Gray

Sunday Class January Update

No class this month but since we are about to have the year of the dragon, some information about dragons

Year of the Dragon

Chinese New Year 2024 is a Year of the Dragon, more specifically, Wood Dragon. Chinese New Year 2024 will fall on Saturday, February 10th, 2024.

2024 is the Year of the Wood Dragon. Dragon is the 5th animal in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac signs, coming after the Rabbit and before the Snake. The next Dragon year in 2036 (the Year of the Fire Dragon). Dragons are associated with the earthly branch symbol chen. 

Dragons are powerful, endlessly energetic and full of vitality, goal-oriented yet idealistic and romantic, and a visionary leader. They know exactly who they are and possess the keenest sense of self among the 12 zodiacs of Chinese astrology. 

Dragons present themselves as magnificent yet benevolent rulers who’re confident, generous, idealistic, and ambitious. In Chinese culture, these mythical creatures are in a class of their own, regarded as the givers of abundance and longevity.

Dragon’s confidence is neither false nor empty, as they hold lofty ideals they’re striving toward— usually for the benefit of their community instead of themselves. They are independent thinkers who’ll never yield their highest conviction.

Dragons are wise and adventurous and, at times, temperamental and impulsive. They’ll be loved and admired by many but find it difficult to return such affection. This will be one of Dragon’s most important lessons.

Wood Dragons very popular and move in different social circles, but because of their fiery temper, Wood Dragons may not be as lucky or auspicious in their intimate relationships. . They are blessed with the ability to make good use of their environment and have an intuitive sense of timing. 

If you were born in January or February, pay special attention to when the Lunar New Year (or Chinese New Year) begins since you may be the previous year’s animal!

Have a very happy, healthy and successful year of the dragon!

Sunday Class December Update

This month we were looking at winter landscapes specifically those by artists Kang Kai and Mao Binzhi

Mao Binzhi

Kang Kai

The key thing to remember is everything is reversed – sky and water dark – land light. Kang Kai’s work was very different from what we have looked at before. He paints his landscape and then adds white paint for his snow. Northern School Xeiyi normally just leave blank paper for snow. The effect is very different.

Jean Gray

Sarah Turner

Malcolm Gowlett

Marion Dearlove

Rose Meach

Rose Meach

Sunday Class Update November

This month we were looking at large birds, specially eagles and cranes By artists including Li Kuchan and Xu Gu.

Li Kuchan

Xu Gu

The works were in a mixture of lei gu and mo gu styles in both ink and colour. They were fun to work with and required good brush loading and good control.

Ana Lau

Bianca Deegan

Karen Gowlett

Malcolm Gowlett

Rose Meech

Sarah Turner

Marion Dearlove

Sunday Group update October

This month we were looking at lei gu (outline) figure painting  by artist including Ren Bonian and Yang Shoutao.

Yang Shoutao

Ren Bonian

It was more difficult than people assumed it would be and we have fewer examples to show you

Sarah Turner

Virgina Hayes

Marion Dearlove

Sunday Group update – September

This month we were looking at fish working with examples from a number of
artists including James Tan and Lu Qingyuan. We haven’t painted fish for a
very long time. It was fun to try again.

James Tan

Lu Qingyuan

The results were interesting:

Sarah Turner

Virgina Hayes

Virgina Hayes

Karen Gowlett

Malcolm Gowlett

Marion Dearlove

Rose Meech

Jean Gray

Sunday Group update – August

This month we were looking at small birds, specially the work of an artists we had not worked with before – Yu Chunglin (1925-1985). We were suing his fan paintings as examples.

Yu Chunglin

He made wide use of over painting – so, it was necessary to work slowly and carefully allowing each layer to dry before the next one was added. This technique generates a very 3 dimensional effect on the birds.

The results were very pleasing:

Sarah Turner – yellow throated bunting

Virgina Hayes – bunting

Karen Gowlett – swallows

Malcolm Gowlett – sparrows

Marion Dearlove – Hoopoe

Jean Gray – Snow Birds

Sunday Group update – July

This month we were looking at horses using examples from a number of artists including Au Honien, Xu Beihong and Zhen Shanping.

Au Honien

Xu Beihong

Zhen Shanping

The horses were mainly lei gu style both Xeiyi and Lingnan.

Should be fun to work with. The results are below:

Karen Gowlett

Malcolm Gowlett

Sarah Turner

Jean Gray

Virgina Hayes

Marion Dearlove

Rose Meech

Sunday Group update – June

This month we tackled freestyle green gold landscape. It uses all of the same layers as gongbi but is painted on semi sized paper. We used examples by Qu Leilei both final paintings and demo pieces.

Qu Leilei

Qu Leilei

Qu Leilei

First outline everything in ink then add texture and ink shading.

When dry, add indigo and burnt sienna washes. Double load the brush with burnt sienna topped with indigo. Put the brush tip where you want the blue and then work down using the whole brush.

When dry add the mineral blues and greens.

When dry add the gold outlines below or above some of the original lines. SOME not all.

It required hairdryers because we only had 3 hours!

These are the results:

Virgina Hayes

Malcolm Gowlett

Karen Gowlett

Sarah Turner

Marion Dearlove

Jean Gray

Sunday Group Update – May

This month we were backing pictures because some of the group had not tried it before. To get a good result you need to lay the picture face down and lightly spray it. Leave to even out and then brush it flat using a dry wall paper pasting brush (or similar) working out from the centre of the picture. 

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When it’s flat, apply the paste, again working out  from the centre of the picture. Remove excess paste from the table. Apply the backing sheet and brush it on again working from the centre out. Cover with news paper and brush over to remove excess water. Repeat until newspaper is dry. Brush paste along the edges of the backing paper avoiding the area over the picture itself. Lift the backed picture – with the picture towards you and stick it to a board, north facing window, internal glass door or kitchen cupboard. Insert a tab to make removal easier. Leave for about a week to dry in damp weather or a coupe of days if its dry. Check it is dry before removing.

To remove, insert a plastic knife, or similar – lying flat – behind the tab but NOT behind the picture and slide the knife around (as illustrated below) to remove the picture from the board / surface. DO NOT stab the knife into the sheet you are sliding it under the edge well away from the painting and work all the way round. Don’t be tempted to just pull the picture off as soon as any part of it is free. You could rip the painting. You may tear the backing paper that is not under the painting – this doesn’t matter. Trim off the excess backing paper 

The results of our mounting session are shown below.

Sunday Group update – April

This month we were looking at the wonderful layered works of Huang Yongyu (2 Images below). 

Colour layering is great fun. You have to work from the back forward allowing each layer to dry before adding the next one. You create a random background. Let it dry. Add the ink work. Let it dry. Add the flowers and birds mixed with mineral colour to keep the image on the surface. We used hair dryers because the class is only 3 hours – no time to wait!

These are the results: