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How to practice Chinese calligraphy

For beginners, you need to find a calligraphy book which have some illustration about how to write strokes of Chinese. It will tell you how the brush actually move to write a certain stroke with a certain shape. That can not be seen by people who have not practiced for a long time, usually several years. You can also take out online Chinese calligraphy lessons.

The basic method to study calligraphy is Lin and Mo, also called Lin Mo.

Mo. Put the calligraphy works you want to study under a paper and sketch the outline of all calligraphy. Then write the characters inside alone the outlines. This is for the starters.

Lin. Put the calligraphy in one side, try to imitate the calligraphy. Try you best to imitate until your handwriting is close to the original. And when you remember the calligraphy, try to imitate the calligraphy without look at it. Compare your handwriting with the original one after you finish writing.

That's all you need to study Chinese calligraphy. But to be good at it, you need to practice year after year, and for your whole life.

So what are the shortcuts? Basically, there's no shot cut. Here I summarize some of my experience as a reference of people who like to practice calligraphy.

1. Concentrate on one tie a time. Here tie is the calligraphy art you are studying. It's a Chinese word. But there's no corresponding word for it in English. So I introduce it to English here directly from Chinese. There're some famous people succeeded by concentrating on one tie. The most famous one is Zhi Yong of Sui dynasty. He concentrated on Wang Xizhi's calligraphy for 30 years (some people say 40 years). In my opinion, you don't need to concentrate on it for so long. But you need concentrate on one tie for 3 or 4 years. You can do it for a shorter time but no less than 2 months. If you study some tie for less than 2 months, you just learn nothing from it.

2. Concentrate on one page. For a certain period, say 2 months, just study one page of a certain tie. It sounds like stupid and boring. But actually I can tell you it's a smart thing to do. You imitate the characters of one page over and over again. Every time you finished writing, compare it with the original. Find the difference and try to improve it. You will feel it boring. But you have to be patient. That also practice your patience. If you are not patient enough, I suggest you give up and never study calligraphy again. Trust me, it's much harder than to go to university to get a PhD degree. A PhD degree take you just 4 or 5 years. Some people even get it in 3 years or less. But to be good at calligraphy, you need at least 20 years. And to become a second class calligrapher, you need your whole life. To become a first class calligrapher, it really depends on your talent. 

3. Think. Some people practice calligraphy for their whole life but they never be good at it. Why? Because, they are not smart. Or they are very smart but they don't think. Not every people are born smart. But everybody can think. You need to think to become smart. Too many things to think about calligraphy.

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