I read in your article that ink can be recreated into different grades. I am a beginner and I always have problem using ink and paper. Could you share more tips with me on how to create different grades?
In painting, ink can be thick or light, the ancients used to classify five grades: charred, concentrated, heavy, light, clear (焦、浓、重、淡、清 – Jiāo, nóng, zhòng, dàn, qīng), these are the so called “five colours of ink” “墨分五彩”. From these five colours can be created the harmonious effects of light and shade, closeness and distance, volume and texture, transparency and colour. Painters rely on these “five colours” to express their style, artistic and spiritual interest.
This is a fundamental technic in Chinese painting. To begin, you can train with only 3 grades and, when you will masterize the practice, you do with 5. You need 3 recipient like small plates (or 5 for 5 grades). In the first one, you put pure ink, as dark as possible. You dip inside your maobi and you “clean” it in some pure water, in the second plate. You will obtain the second grade (dark grey). You do the same in the third plate : with your maobi full of dark grey, you dilute in pure water in order to obtain a light grey. If you want 5 grades, it is the same but with 4 successive dilutions of the ink.
Thanks ericmarie for this wonderful instruction! I like it very much because it is the most clear explanation of how to learn this technique so far I have read in English. We will definitely share it with more people!