A little bit of Asian culture filled the Art and Learning Center at Lighthouse Bay in the Brooks last Thursday after a handful of students took Chinese brush painting classes.
Nine students exhibited more than 50 pieces of art from both beginner and advanced students with their interpretations of bamboo, flowers, fish, landscapes and traditional Chinese symbols.
Chinese brush painting is an ancient art that evolved over thousands of years.
Instructor Jean Ciroalo took up watercolor painting, and then Chinese brush painting as soothing therapy for a health condition, and after just a few years she began teaching it to others. As a retired corporate executive who used to instruct, she said once she mastered the technique, she knew she could instruct. She also studied with master Chinese artists.
“I always gravitated toward Asian anything … because of its simplicity,” Ciroala added.
Ciroala explained that Chinese brush painting is much like Tai Chi on paper, stretching, bending and relaxing with the brush in hand. The brush painting art form is based on principles of Buddhist monks and calligraphy, using ink and a bamboo brush with the intention of capturing the spirit of a subject.
Student Priscilla Douglas, a retired college professor, enjoyed the class and her instructor’s technique that let each student go their own way. She said: “I never painted before in my life.”
“It’s relaxing,” student Kathy Bergeron said.
Retired engineer George Melody, who took the class with his wife, is used to drawing specific things to correct dimensions with no room for error. With Chinese brush painting, he said: “You don’t have to worry about making a mistake because you just turn the mistake.”
Dr. Mary Kirn, a retired professor of art history, viewed the exhibit at Lighthouse Bay with admiration.
“I’m just highly impressed with the quality of the work in terms of the level … All of them show an understanding of composition and how the brush should be held,” Kirn said. “It’s a wonderful compliment to the teacher.”