The Power of the Brush

April 15, 2023

“Today we will be learning how to write heng (horizontal line) and shu (vertical line) today,” said Zhou Laoshi, the IAP Chinese Calligraphy teacher. “By the end of the class, you should be able to write 二 (two), 工 (labor), and 王 (king). ”

I couldn’t wait any longer. My hands simply wanted to pick up the brush and start practicing calligraphy right away. But before I could do that, I needed to pay careful attention to my teacher’s demonstration.

He dabbed his pen in black ink, let the extra ink from the brush trickle down the side of the bowl, and then began. “I will start with heng. Make sure your pen isn’t crooked on one side. When the tip lands on the page, the brush should make a pointy end. Then, press gently. Afterward, write the stroke at a slight angle and lift the brush a bit toward the end. Finally, rotate the brush a little to finish it off nicely.”