Where to buy Chinese calligraphy and painting supplies:
I am based in Toronto, Canada where Chinese calligraphy and painting supplies are available but not the best nor the cheapest. I have been asked by my art followers where I get my supplies and if I can recommend some place where they can buy them too.
Here’s a small corner of my art studio. The antique chest has been with my family for a long time, and we brought it with us when we moved from Hong Kong decades ago. I bought a lot of supplies when I was travelling in China and Taiwan. I did buy some brushes here in Toronto, but they are almost double the price. I love seals, and I had them custom carved in China as well as here in Toronto. I actually carved some myself too.
Since my art followers cannot travel to Hong Kong, Taiwan, China or Japan to get them, I have now compiled a list here of some reasonably priced supplies you can get at Amazon. They are good enough for beginners to give it a try and not waste a lot of money if you end up not pursuing it. Actually the quality is not bad, just not ultra-professional, so even intermediate users will find them satisfactory.
If you are not sure what the painting supplies are comprised of, here is a brief explanation of The Four Treasures of Chinese Ink Wash Painting (文房四寶).
Sumi-e is the expression of the mind and spirit of the artist through the Four Treasures which are:
- Brush (筆): The ink brush is usually made of goat, rabbit, or yellow weasel hair. The textures are soft, hard or mixed depending on the artist’s use.
- Ink (墨) : Ink sticks are made of soot mixed with animal glue, and sometimes aromatic or medicinal powders.
- Paper (紙) : It is not just any kind of paper. It is thin mulberry bark paper (Xuan paper from China and Washi paper from Japan). It is also generically called “rice paper” in the west though rice is not one of the ingredients. It is highly absorbent and unforgiving. The brushstrokes have to be fluid and fast, and mistakes cannot be masked like on watercolour paper.
- Inkstone (硯) : The inkstone is used for grinding the ink stick with water. The four famous inkstones are Duan, She, Tao and Chengni.
Ink, Ink Stone and Ink Stick::
Here are some float frames which you can purchase directly from Amazon. They are perfect for framing irregular size artwork, and also economical since no matting or mounting service is needed. Simply insert the artwork between the two panes of glass or acrylic. So if you do not have access to Chinese scroll mounting, or rice paper mounting, you can try using these frames to showcase your work: