Hold the brush midway up the handle. Place the handle on the inside of the index finger, supporting it on the opposite side with the tip of your thumb. The tips of the index and middle fingers rest on the top of the handle: the ring and pinkie fingers are placed behind. Leave an open space in the palm of the hand, allowing for a full range of movement. None of the fingers should touch the inside palm. To achieve a full range of brushstrokes, hold the brush in a gentle and relaxed manner. Your touch should be gentle enough that a tomato could be held in the cup of the hand without bruising its skin.
The Upright Brush: Hold the brush upright and perpendicular to the paper. Apply varied speed and pressure to create a range from thin, delicate lines to wide, powerful strokes. For long, sweeping strokes, hold the brush higher up the handle. For detail work and shorter strokes, hold the brush closer to the brush hairs.
The Oblique Brush: Hold the brush at an angle in relation to the paper. In this method, the broadest strokes can be made with the greatest number of bristles touching the paper.
A small amount of water is placed in the inkstone reservoir (the inkstone is commonly made of water-resistant rock such as slate). The inkstick is gently ground with the water in a circular motion to create a deep black liquid.
The tip of a moist brush is dipped into the ink. As the ink is absorbed into the brush, the moisture that is already in the brush dilutes the ink and creates lighter gradations of ink further away from the tip. To use a side-ink technique, a brush is loaded with a light wash of ink. The brush is held in an oblique position (see image 3) and the sides of the brush are dipped with ink. This technique is used to paint subjects such as the lotus flower.
The following examples were painted with an upright brush. a) fast speed, light pressure; b) medium speed, medium pressure; c) slow speed, heavy pressure; d) combination of light and heavy pressure; e) “flying white” ( fei bai): fast speed, little moisture.
Notice how, by using different ink techniques, gradations of ink can be created within a single brushstroke. f ) Load the tip of the brush with ink and create a brushstroke by holding the brush in an oblique position (see image 3); g) Load the brush with a light wash of ink and dip opposite sides of the brush with dark ink. This is an example of a side-ink technique.