Jane Dwight’s mastery with Chinese painting techniques comes directly from the Orient. She began her studies under Professor Chen Bin Sun in the Philippines where she was a student in his very popular class. After leaving Manila her studies continued at the Malaysian Institute of Art as well as in Beijing. Once Jane had gained her Diploma in Chinese Brush Painting she was able to teach across Britain and has written three books on Chinese Painting technique, including ‘The Chinese Brush Painting Sourcebook’. Jane also loves working with batik tools, djantings and caps, so she often mixes the two art forms. Jane is passionate about both the meticulous and freestyle painting techniques – examples of both can be found on her website, janedwight.com.
Lisa: How did you first become interested in Chinese Painting?
Jane: I saw someone demonstrating. They painted a pink and yellow rose in 3 strokes…and I knew I had to learn how to do that!
Lisa: How do you prefer to paint; in the meticulous or freestyle way of painting? Do the brushes and paint that you use differ for the 2 approaches?
Jane: I have great fun using both methods of painting, however would have to say that freestyle is my favourite. The paper tends to be the defining element of the two styles. Meticulous paper is totally sized. Paint will run easily across the surface. Freestyle paper is usually non-sized single ply Xuan….but freestyle work can be done on anything. ( Unlike meticulous work which can only be done on sized paper or silk) Brushes, ink and paints used are the same for both.
Lisa: Is it important to refer directly to nature when you are painting, or can you work from photographic reference material?
Jane: The art form is based on drawing from nature. Landscape appearance might be sketched but the raw ‘feeling’ of the wonderful mountains is ‘remembered’ for painting back in the studio. Getting a sense of “spirit” or “Qi” into a picture is essential. Photographic reference material is always a useful prop.
Lisa: You often deliver painting workshops; does this have any influence over how you work?
Jane: It does! I have to stop and think what would be the best way to get learners to enjoy using brush; paper and paints.
Lisa: What is the best way to protect and store finished work?
Jane: Chinese paintings can be folded or rolled BEFORE they are backed so they are easy to keep in that form. Once backed or made into a scroll they need to be kept in a cardboard tube in a dry place.
Lisa: How much preparation is actually required for a painting?
Jane: Preparation for a painting includes grinding the ink stick on the ink stone whilst thinking about what is to be painted that day. Sketch books and written ideas should be involved.
Lisa: What subjects do you most enjoy painting and why?
Jane: I enjoy painting birds best of all. I like to sketch and watch them and have enjoyed painting them abroad too.
Lisa: Do you have a favourite brush? If so what is it and why?
Jane: My favourite brush is called a “Mountain Horse”. It has bristles not unlike horse hair and I can put heaps of ‘expression’ into my work with it.
Lisa: What are your creative ambitions for 2017?
Jane: I am working on a new app, which will be launched soon. The app will show a step-by-step way to create an image. It is an app with brushes and colours which you can use a bit like Procreate. But you can also have a go at loads of images based on Chinese Brush Painting. The pictures produced can be printed off on your printer and used as a card.
Lisa: Where online or in the flesh can we view more of your work?
Header Image: ‘The Autumn Mountains’ by Jane Dwight, Chinese Watercolour, 2015