A Boomer Lifestyle Blog

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Chinese Brush Painting

Kay at Musings wrote an interesting piece about the Japanese culture and the use or non-use of  "I Love You."  She included a picture of a Japanese character which made me think back to a class I had taken in Chinese drawing.

We have an organization here called Leisure Learning where you can take classes  in a wide variety of subjects.  Do you have it where you live?

LLU as it is called is housed in a building with rooms set up like classrooms.  Depending on the class it might have rows of chairs, individual table and chair or long tables with multiple chairs.  The classes vary on time and date and are sometimes only one or two classes or sometimes may meet once a week for six or eight classes.  I have even been to a couple of classes where we met at a different location such as a pottery studio, or a nursery (plant) or even a farm.

The Chinese painting class I attended was held at a lady's house and though small, we gathered around the dining table covered with protection where she had set out the supplies for each of us.  The special brush and mortar bowl is all I remember at the moment except that she asked us to bring paper towels, the folded sort you get from wall mounted hand stations.  For whatever reason I found that unique and I liked the way the way the brush drug across the paper and the look of the ink on the napkin.

Anyway, I have very little artistic talent.  I cannot sing or dance or draw.  I love to read about it and study it but it doesn't come naturally to me.  Sometimes I forget this and try my hand.  Even if I don't succeed, I always enjoy laughing at myself and learning something new.

Well this class was trying my patience because I really wanted to be able to do this.  I think Chinese Brush painting is so beautiful but after a lesson or two I had not created a masterpiece.

So, I was frustrated.  Just like ice skating, I wanted to get on the ice and be Peggy Fleming - but that is another story about how I met my ex.  There were two women in my class that were old friends.  They sat and talked the whole time.  I found their conversations intrusive and boring - just like I do when people talk on their cell phone where I am a captive audience.  Sorry.  Just the way I feel.

I did not realize how noise sensitive I was in those days.  It was before cell phones and since I worked in a law firm that was notoriously noisy, I just didn't realize you could be sensitive.

Finally I quit the class after only a few classes because I could not concentrate on holding the brush at the strange, upright angle while trying to accomplish what I was not very good at.  I might mention I also took a calligraphy class for a couple of months that was fairly large and somewhat noisy with people asking questions and this did not bother me.  Interesting.  Just the personal conversation of these two ladies seemed to bother me.

I've haven't regretted quitting the class but I have regretted not learning Chinese Brush Painting.  Maybe I'll take it up again in my retirement but then again, maybe I'll just admire it from afar.

PS: I do not know if there is a significant difference in Chinese Brush Painting vs. Japanese Brush Painting.  I'll put that on the list of things to research while I am up in the middle of the night and let you know.


  1. Trying something new keeps us young and makes life interesting. Laughing at ourselves is healthy, not taking ourselves too seriously.

    Have a great week.

  2. We have lifelong learning institute in VT(associated with the university) where I have taken some writing classes. In Florida there are adult continuing education (ACE) through the local school district. I have taken yoga, French, and drawing through that program. It is great to have such learning opportunities. Although my grand kids do think I am a little nuts for voluntarily going to school. LOL.

  3. from what I've studied of it...
    the chinese always have an unfinished quality. on purpose.
    and the scenes where the mountains are in the mist and the humans in it are always tiny is their reverence for nature and our place in it.
    fascinating really.
    I read that they can spend years just perfecting the circle with the brush you speak of.
    I wish we had something like your LLU here.

  4. Taking an art class through the local parks and recreation organization sounds like great fun, especially an art class.