Syllabus: Chinese Brush Painting



An extension of calligraphy or brush writing, Chinese Brush Painting is the foundation of the all oriental brush arts and has greatly influenced Western painting. No other art form emphasizes the mastery of the brush. The lively interaction of brush, ink, water, and rice paper is transformative and fun! Through brush strokes, the Chinese brush artist represents the spirit and essence of the subject rather than its realistic detail.

In this course, students explore the spontaneous style of Chinese Brush Painting through hands-on step-by-step instruction. The course follows the Xieyi (Depicting-Idea) style developed by the traditional painters of the 11th century and specifically focuses on the Po-mo (Throw-ink) method: in order for a painting to show the vitality of nature, it must be executed in a lively way; hence, the movement of the brush is completed in a simple, dynamic, and powerful manner, as if the artist is throwing color and ink on the rice paper. Subjects include floral, landscape, and animals. 44Topics include detailed instructions on appropriate use of rice paper, brushes, colors, and ink. For beginning to advanced students.



This course is for students, professionals, and life-long learners of any age, background, or experience level who are interested in art, Chinese painting, and culture. Designed for learners to:

  • Empower themselves with Chinese brush painting skills and knowledge gained through a reliable source of guidance

  • Express themselves in creative, spontaneous, and inspiring ways

  • Explore life and the world around them through the lens of this art form--including its philosophy, concepts, techniques, and


  • Try something new and fun!

In this course, students will explore the wonders, experience the beauty, discover the essence, and share the joy of Chinese Brush Painting including:

  • Gain an overview of the history, philosophy, and aesthetic concepts.

  • Understand the proper selection, care, preparation, and use of traditional materials.

  • Perform the basic skills and techniques for brush strokes on floral, creatures, and landscape subjects.

  • Engage in a dialog about the principles of design and composition and methods of critique.



By the end of this course, successful participants will be able to:

  • Demonstrate general knowledge, preparation, and proper use of Chinese Brush Painting materials including various types of line, shape, and specialty brushes; various types of raw, sized, and specialty rice paper; a combination of both the traditional Chinese inks and mineral colors and western watercolors.

  • Demonstrate beginning skills to deliver brush strokes with fluidity, dexterity, and spontaneity including proper brush handling; preparation, loading, and blending; sequence and execution of strokes including line work and bone strokes; shape and dot strokes; washes, shading, and textures.

  • Apply Chinese Brush Painting techniques to produce finished compositions including floral, creatures, and landscape subjects.

  • Apply key principles of design and composition to produce original images such as bringing contrasting elements into

    harmony; organization of space with solids and void; creating focus, sequence, and flow.





  • SET A: WESTERN/CHINESE COMBO SET — This combination of Western watercolor tubes and traditional Chinese chip colors offers the best of both worlds. Tried and tested on rice paper, these colors are long-lasting, convenient, high quality, and go a long way.

  • SET B: TRADITIONAL CHINESE COLOR SET — This set is for those who want to enjoy traditional Chinese

    mineral and vegetable pigments. Colors are long-lasting and don’t bleed when wet mounted. They take more time to

    prepare and can get moldy if not used properly.

  • SET C: BUDGET SET — An affordable entry level option, this set includes equivalent colors to Set A but at a much

    lower cost. While this set lacks the overall superior quality and will not achieve the same level of results, it offers an interim step for first timers before investing in higher quality materials.


Various types of rice papers (xuan) will be used to explore a variety of brush painting techniques including single and double-ply, sized and semi-sized, colored xuan, and other specialty rice papers.


Basic Chinese Brush Painting accessories include: white felt, water bowl, fine mist spray bottle, ink dishes, mixing

plates, flower palette, and paper towels.


Students will produce complete compositions with the teacher through hands-on, step-by-step guidance. All course work will be produced together in class. Projects will be evaluated interactively as it they are being developed based on the criteria below. Students are also encouraged to reflect on what they are learning and engage in constructive self-evaluation.

  • Proper preparation and use of materials for the specific project

  • Understanding and proper execution of appropriate skills and techniques for the task.

  • Applying principles and concepts to achieve a finished product



1) Introductions and course overview

2) Materials set-up and preparation
3) Discussion of painting topic/subject

4) Instructor demonstration

5) Practice painting skills and techniques (instructor and students paint together)

6) Step-by-step guided composition (instructor and students paint together
7) Critique


Subjects will be selected based on student age, background, level of experience, and class schedule. Handouts, live cam, sample paintings, and demonstration materials may be utilized as teaching aids depending on program resources, classroom space, and set-up.

  • Basic Flowers: e.g. Bamboo, Grass Orchid, Camellia, Plum Blossom, Iris, Persimmon, Pomegranate, Fuchsia, Calla Lily, Cactus, Tulip, Waterlily. Chinese Magnolia, Strawberry, etc.

  • Basic Creatures: e.g. Small birds, Panda, Goldfish, Swallow, Sparrow, Snake, Shrimp, Jellyfish, Chick, Koi, Rabbit, Octopus, Dragonfly, etc.

  • Basic Landscape: e.g. Misty Mountain, Waterfalls, River reflection, Garden, etc,

  • Advanced Flowers: Lotus, Peony, Poppy, Chrysanthemum, Sunflower, Banana, Hydrangea, Cactus, Wisteria, Hollyhock, Magnolia, Night Blooming, Orchid, etc.

  • Advanced Creatures: Crane, Cat, Egret, Rooster, Peacock, Horse

  • Advanced Landscape: e.g. Misty Mountain, Waterfalls, River reflection, Garden, etc,

  • Traditional Wet Mounting

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Phone: 213.725.4169     Los Angeles, CA

©2020 by Mayee Futterman.

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