CHINESE painting expert Anne Allen returned to Keighley Art Club to run a ‘workalong’ workshop. She has over 20 years’ experience in the style, regularly appears at art clubs, and was one of this year’s resident workshop turns at Ilkley Art Show.

Our members were treated to step-by-step instructions on producing plum blossom and birds in the Chinese style. All materials were supplied because every aspect except water differs from those in the West.

The paper itself is semi-transparent rice paper and is both delicate and unexpected. By contrast the brushes are hefty, with strong bristles to soak up the triple-loading of chosen colours without seepage into the neighbouring colour that is already soaked into the fine point of the brush.

Western paintings are mostly composed to ‘take in’ a scene. In Chinese painting just enough of a subject is created with simple “moment in time” lines for recognition and character.Leaving areas of white paper is important.

The two general styles are: outlines or freestyle. Every mark made with the brush is a vital component, as detail is absent by nature of the method.

Every day scholars in China practice calligraphy – line work or grass orchids in order to produce fluid, flowing work.

The rice paper is smooth on one side and rougher on the other, for different compositions. The rough site is for landscapes, fluffy animals and freestyle work, and the smooth side is for flowers and vegetation.

Western watercolours can be used, but oriental paints have more resin or glue mixed in the paint and less additives, so it soaks into the paper and is more static when dry. There are transparent and opaque versions.

Use of the brush is completely different: it is held to be at 90 degrees to the paper. This releases the ink or paint into the loaded sequence chosen.

Our members found the evening with Anne Allen fun, interesting, different and challenging.

Minimal numbers of lines did not mean that the work we produced was inferior. Instead it but showed that less is more, in all styles.

Keighley Art Club will welcome several demonstrators over the next few months, and visitors are welcome to all sessions. A small charge is made.

The demonstrators are: Bruce Mucahy on gouache (October 23), Frosty Watercolour Winter by Jane Austin (November 27), and spring watercolour with Pat Jones who trained under renowned local artist Arthur Craven (February 19).

Arthur had studios in Haworth and North Street, Keighley, where he also held art classes.

Keighley Picture House kindly continues to host a permanent exhibition of our work, for which we are grateful to the manager Jamie Sutcliffe and other staff. There are three positive benefits.

The cinemagoers can view the paintings while they enjoy refreshments in the coffee lounge. Secondly, we display work to encourage both children and adults to be inspired to have a go.

The third benefit is that a few members of Keighley Art Club have sold their work, encouraging them to buy more materials and carry on drawing and painting.

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