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AWS News, March 2014, Page 1

Report from the February 2014 meeting

Chinese Painting and Calligraphy

At the March 2014 meeting members were treated to an excellent talk on the history, philosophy and symbolism of Chinese painting and calligraphy by Doreen Brown, convenor of a Chinese painting group in Takapuna U3A. To assist, Ginette Wang illustrated characters and painted as Doreen directed.

Doreen’s involvement with Chinese painting began in Hong Kong where she attended university. Ginette also lived in Hong Kong and she is a highly skilled calligrapher and painter.

Chinese painting is one of the oldest continuous artistic traditions in the world. Calligraphy and painting are considered the purest forms of art. It began with early pottery and painting on silk, then later rice paper was used.

Calligraphy and painting were studied and practised by the Literati scholars and by monks. The formats were scrolls which were a practical way of keeping valuable pictures. The fan format was popular, and also album leaf sets.
By the 5th century, six principles of Chinese painting were established:

  1. Vitality and Spirit
  2. Brush strokes and texture
  3. Understanding the form of the subject, i.e. number of petals, etc.
  4. Colour, tone and value
  5. Division and planning composition
  6. Tradition of copying from old masters or from life.

The Four Treasures are:
Ink: made from soot and moulded into a stick.
Inkstone: devised in the 3rd Century BC
Brushes: devised in the Han Dynasty. They are always in the same form, using mouse hair, (finest) fox, deer, fur, goat, wolf and sheep. The shapes were always made to hold water.
Paper: made from rice which is very absorbent and demands complete control of brush and ink so that the flow of ink and the way it spreads should be as the artist desires. No corrections can pass without injuring the painting. Every stroke can be accounted for and judged for merits or defects. Truly “one stroke” painting.

Doreen pointed out that the expressive possibilities of the brush are infinite. Every stroke is a force from the artist and from these one can draw references regarding the artist’s temperament and intellectual powers.

Colours in the past were made from Lapis Lazuli (blue), sulphur (yellow), Malachite (green), Cinnabar (red), mineral soils (browns), pearl (white).

Symbolism in Chinese painting shows the pine as unyielding resistance, loftiness and, during the Sung period, longevity and prosperity. Plum, which is a first spring bloom, signified endurance and fortitude. Bamboo meant flexibility and resilience. Chrysanthemum, until the end of the 4th Century was a life giving herb used for rheumatism and has since represented the life of a recluse.

There were three main types of calligraphy and here Ginette painted the three styles.

  • The character “Yung” incorporates all the brushstrokes used in Chinese calligraphy and its meaning is “everlasting”.
  • The four gentlemen are Pine, Bamboo, Plum and Chrysanthemum.
  • Five pure things are Bamboo, Plum, Pine, Chrysanthemum, Moon and Flowing Water.
  • Three friends of winter are Pine, Bamboo and Plum.
  • Crane is longevity.
  • Lotus is purity.
  • Mandarin ducks are conjugal bliss and always a pair.
  • Carp is success with life.
  • Gourd is the universe in a nutshell; a mystery.
  • Broom is insight and wisdom, cares and anxieties.

There were more aspects of Chinese painting and calligraphy not touched upon for lack of time. These included composition and the Mustard Seed Garden handbook, published in 1650, and the perspective used in Chinese painting.

Doreen and Ginette displayed works which they had painted. Ginette had mounted her paintings and scrolls.

Kathy Shaw

Next meeting

The next meeting is on 14 April 1pm at the Glenfield Memorial Hall, Hall Road, Glenfield.

Challenge Topics:

Tall ships
Reflection of a girl/model in a mirror

Current and Upcoming Exhibitions


AWS Exhibition 2014

Our first exhibtion of the year will be held at the Takapuna Public Library commencing on Monday 7th April 2014 and will run for three weeks until 27 April 2014.
Set up day will be on 6th April any time after 10am...Chris Ashton will be there to receive and register your work which should be standard sized to small and be costed at under $250...(We will accept larger work and higher priced work but we want the work to sell and we have found that smaller and less costly work sells better and we want to send a large amount to the International Red Cross)
Opening night is the 7th April 2014 from 5.30pm members are asked to please bring a plate of finger food and a bottle of wine to share.
Contact is Joanne


Watercolour workshop

Murray Stuart will be taking a watercolour workshop on Saturday 3rd May 2014 from 9.30am until about 3.30pm - 4.00pm.
If you would l ike to attend this workshop with Murray please contact me as soon as is possible to register your name. Places will be limited to 10 people. The cost will $75 per person and the workshop will be held at the Glenfield Hall Hall Road Glenfield.
Tea and coffee will be available all day - please bring your lunch as there is no cafe nearby. The nearest cafe is in the Glenfield Mall...Later I will send an enail with the list of requirements for the workshop but at this stage i think your normal watercolour kit will be fine.
Contact is Joanne


AWS Merit Awards 2014

The Auckland Watercolour Society Merit Awards exhibition will be at the Takapuna public Library, dates will be announced in time.
For entry forms and entry fee please contact Joanne


Contact Information

For enquiries please contact Joanne Mortimore (
Gavin Fletcher (
Joanne Mortimore (
Chris Ashton (
Gerald Weber (,
Doug Higham (