All posts by Angela Reich


CBPS keeps a list of reliable mail-order suppliers.

There is a lot of CBP material available on the internet, but it can be hard to judge the quality, and what is available may change.  Here is current information from our Teachers and Group representatives.  It also helps if you know what you are looking for, especially with paper: our Getting Started page has a lot of information on CBP materials.

Desmond Chung says “I’ve recently ordered from this shop in Taiwan. Quite good quality and excellent service. There’ll be shipping fees.”    This site is in Chinese, but you can make reasonable sense of it with Google translate.  Note that overseas suppliers may incur import customs charges.

Judy Bell: “You could try the Heaton Cooper Gallery at Grasmere. I managed to persuade them years ago to stock some Chinese Brush materials. It would be helpful if any members visiting The Lakes could pop in and buy the odd thing so that they will continue to hold some stock”.   They have “rice paper” and Wenzhou bark paper rolls.

Bark paper ( 温州皮纸 wenzhou pizhi) often seems to be called rice paper (eg here), though it is made from the the bark of the Paper Mulberry tree (Broussonetia papyrifera).

Anne Allan: “Have you tried temu – I’ve had good success with purchases (though others have not) but I have bought mainly shikishi boards and not xuan.”   This does explain if xuan is raw (unsized) or half-cooked (semi-sized)

Peta Allingham: “I purchase packs of raw Xuan paper from T La Art and Craft shop in Manchester (16 Nicholas Street ph. 0161 236 2333 ).  The sheets are around A2 in size and cost £6 per pack (over 20 sheets but I haven’t actually counted them).  I also purchase 250 ml bottles of my favourite Cheong Hwa ink for £5.50 each (the one with the eagle on the box).  They can post orders promptly using Royal Mail.  Very good service.  They do have an online shop where the paper is listed as rice paper but you can phone between 10am and 6pm seven days of the week.”


Sharon Wybrow: “In answer to your query about paper, I used this one from Amazon for a Calligraphy course I did a couple of years ago with the Chopsticks Club and as recommended by them.  I found it a really good and quite kind practice paper especially for the Calligraphy. As it’s white the black ink shows up better than on yellowy grass paper.”

Two Perfections

The Three Perfections extolled by the Huizong Emperor are Poetry, Calligraphy and Painting.  Here are two of the Perfections exemplified by members.

Il Duomo (c) Jane Evans
CBPS Honorary President Jane Evans and her husband Martin  have published  Reflections,  which features 45 of Jane’s paintings that she has chosen as having special significance for her.  Martin has written a poem to go with each painting. Buy direct from Jane and Martin.
Il Duomo was inspired by the light coming through the cupola as you look up in the Duomo in Florence.
Member Xincai Tan write his own poems for his paintings.
National Beauty Peony
The peony roots stand with authentic and their flowers are pure shining proudly under the blue sky,
Flower-visiting tides continuously come though they want to keep their solitary fragrance in private.
Thousands of people praise their beauty when the colourful flowers are full of the site.
Few visitors will look up to their appearances underground when their fresh had withered away.
National Beauty Peony (c) Xincai Tan
Emerald Green Bamboos (c) Xincai Tan
Emerald Green Bamboos
The green bamboos in the garden are jade-like and fully scented.
Their appearances are always shining with blue brightness in all seasons.
They stand upright with honest and firm structure forever.
They dance with clouds in the sky and compose phoenix badges.


We had a great CBPS AGM Weekend by Zoom !

Saturday 4 November 11.00am – 12.30pm: AGM
Included reports by Treasurer and other officers & votes to re-elect existing Committee and one new member.   There were no proposed resolutions.
Jane Evans  one of our Honorary Presidents, said a few words, and  there was opportunity for member’s views and questions during the Open Forum.
A summary will appear in the next Newsletter.

Saturday 4 November 2.00pm – 3.30pm: illustrated talk
Peter Huang gave an illustrated talk on the origins of Buddhism and Buddhist art in China.   Here are some of the many interesting places and sculpture forms that Peter mentioned :  Mathura styleGandara style,  Mogao CavesTiantishan Caves,Bingling Temple,  Maijishan Grottoes,   Shuiliandong.
An  alternative view of Stein and the context of his expeditions.
This talk was recorded and will made available to members for a limited period .
Buddha Maitreya, Northern Wei (Metropolitan Museum, New York)
Chang-e by Desmond Chung (c)
Sunday 5th November 10.30am – 12.30
A paint-along demonstration by Desmond Chung.
Desmond showed us how to paint the lovely moon lady Chang-e and her rabbit companion.   Other mythologies feature a moon rabbit.
In Desmond’s painting she is gliding through clouds holding a fan behind her and cradling her rabbit in her left arm – he is peeking back over her shoulder.
This demonstration was recorded and will be made available to members for a limited period.

Here are some of the wonderful paintings produced by members in the paint-along!

Chris G
Chris N
Zara T
Susan F
Pat J
Paul G
Sybil H
Jane H
Jill B
Looi L
Lucy W
Mayura T
Lynne S
Diana D

Member Jess M shared this link to Yoshitoshi’s print of Chang-e.

A Touch of Colour


Rattan is a lovely delicate transparent yellow, not a strong or dense colour.
As member Zara pointed out, it  is not the same plant as used for furniture.  Natural rattan is the resin of the Garcinia hanburyi tree (mangosteen).
It is hard to find large chunks of rattan.  You can get small lumps from: Oriental Arts or Inkston
They sell small amounts which should last quite a while.
chunks of rattan

Put the lumps in a small shallow china dish
To use it, spray lightly with water, and just take the colour off with a brush.
Let it dry out after use.  It will gradually get wrinkly-looking, but that does not affect its use.
Leave the dish open.
Remember that natural rattan is poisonous, so wash your hands after touching it and do not ingest it.

Mineral Blue and Green

If you want to use these, you have a choice of  form – tubes. chips or powder:  have a look at our CBPS notes on colours.
Tubes are the most convenient, chips are fairly easy to use, powder most difficult.  We have listed the  Marie tube numbers for convenience.  Tubes are available from eg Oriental Arts.
Inkston sell blue and green “chips”, but you may need a mortar and pestle to crush them for use.  They are harmful if swallowed or inhaled (including their dust) and you should wash your hands after touching.  Note any hazard labels or warnings on their website.

Have a look at the other suppliers mentioned on our Supplier page.

Gold Paper

It is hard to find the ideal gold paper.
It can be quite tricky to paint on because the ink & colours do not stick well.  So you need to experiment. to see what works for you.
When Qu Leilei taught green-gold landscape recently he suggested a paper from Falkiners but it was quite hard to use and the colour did not stick well to it.
You can make it yourself – get western gold colour (eg gouache) & paint on the paper you want to use.
You might find ready-mounted boards, though of course these are limited in size.

We found some other metallic papers, but we  have no idea whether these would be suitable: Etsy,   Papermill.  If you try them, let us know how you get on.

Advice from member Chris G:  I am sure most art suppliers would have available gold paper of some description but I found that A4 gold paper is also available on Amazon (what isn’t?!) (120gsm, a pack of 10 sheets costs £4.95)
There are slightly different shades on offer, “Gold Colour Pearlescent” and “Mellow Gold Shimmer Pearlescent” for example
Amazon also sell some heavier duty gold card/paper up to 250 gsm but beware of the very shiny varieties that do not look good as a painting background.With any of the metallic finished papers I would advise mounting them on a firm back prior to painting. They are not absorbent and will buckle and curl when wet with ink or paint, neither of which will spread as it would on any of the customary Chinese papers
Initial practice on a spare piece is highly recommended and I would also suggest that thicker than normal ink and paint are used as this will aid adherence to the paper and give improved coverage (if anyone managed to obtain some of the gold paper he had suggested, those who attended Qu Lei Lei’s on-line workshop last year of blue, green and gold landscapes, will understand what I mean)Depending on what effect is required, for one of the paintings I used letter paper, printed with an antique effect rather than gold, eg “Motif Letter Paper – Antique and History” again available on Amazon. There are several different colour options and effects available but, once again, really need to be pre-backed before being put to use for paintingThe alternative to using ready made gold paper is to apply a coat of gold paint to a sheet of Chinese paper that the artist would normally use, and then letting it dry completely before adding any artwork. This can have a couple of drawbacks, the gold is inclined to rub off, and it can affect the texture and/or the absorbency of the paper’s surface. However I have seen this method used with some degree of success

Cake Colours

Many members remember Teppachi colours, but the original brand Inscribe no longer make them.  Teppachi refers to the round shape of the dishes.  Gansai is the term for traditional Japanese watercolour, and comes in small rectangular dishes.
A set of teppachi is available from ChoosingKeeping, but is not cheap.  They have other Japanese colour sets also.
Jackson’s Art has individual colour gansai.    There are gansai sets on Ebay.
Metallic teppachi from Cornelisson – very expensive!
There are Chinese equivalents but not readily available at the moment.  Inkston has blue, cinnabar,  red and white pans.

Natural Pigments

I was reminded that artist Fu Hua sometimes used pigments made from rocks that he found in Australia, and given to him by Indigenous Australian artists, when I saw an article about Polly Bennet in the SAA magazine, and looked at her intriguing sources of pigments.


Looking Peaky

Zhang Daqian Pouring Ink Landscape

Mountains are a major feature of Chinese landscape, real and painted.  Some are sacred.In the Wuling mountain range in southwestern China, ancient temples and a chasm.

Tianmen Mountain National Park, Zhangjiajie, Stairway to Heaven and very winding roads.

Huashan Plank Walk – no thank you!

Snowy Laojun mountain  could inspire a painting.

Yellow Mountains

Lectures on Landscape painter Wang Hui.

Contrasting contemporary landscape painters Wan Shanhong and Zeng Sankai.

A very speculative article on the influence of Chinese landscape on Western painting.

Chinese landscapes in the  Met.  Exploring a handscroll part 1 and part 2.

Minneapolis Institute of Art has a Jade mountainPodcast about how it came to the museum.

Interesting- looking exhibition, but my German is not up to the introductory video.   Charming naif handscroll video (you may be able to turn on English captions).  Short sections in English part 1 & part 2.  Related book.

Fantastic Foxes

Fox by Mystic Fire by Shibata Zeshin (Met Museum)

Chinese mythology tells of nine-tailed foxes. Once you start looking they crop up everywhere – even detective fiction and tattoos!

More about mythic foxes.

Younger readers might like the fantasy quest The MountainSea Scrolls & The 9 Tailed Fox.  It is influenced by the Chinese Classic of Mountains and Seas.

Science fiction novel Strange Beasts of China gets a good review.

Hokusai’s fox.  Kuniyoshi’s  fox spirit.  Kawanabe Kyosai’s fox catching an unlucky bird .


Sharing CBP

He Weimin, the printmaker who gave a talk at our 2022 AGM, is exhibiting at Bankside Gallery 21 November – 3 December.

CBPS Member and teacher Desmond Chung taking part in the Lloyds Art Group Winter exhibition 4 – 8  December.
Why not combine it with some Christmas shopping!
The exhibition will be held in the Lloyd’s building in the City: Lloyd’s of London, One Lime Street, EC3M 7HA.  It is a secure building and visitors have to come in by pre-booking a ticket: Free tickets.
Landscape by Desmond Chung

History and Myth

Old CBPS badges.

There is a new animated film of the life of ultra-famous poet Li Bai.  You can read this review and watch the Chinese trailers 1 & 2.  I hope they do an English version.  The film’s title is Chang ‘An, the capital of Tang China.  Li Bai wrote A Poem of Chang ‘An about a wife’s yearning for her distant husband.  Interesting discussion of another translation.

The Old Hag of the Lonely House, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, Minneapolis Institute of Art

Rather less historically accurate, the Investiture of the Gods story is pretty bizarre, featuring many Daoist adepts with supernatural powers, plus the appalling tyrant King Zhou – he of the “Wine Pool and Meat Forest”.  I have been listening to this tale in the appealing Chinese Lore podcast, and there is also a film of it.

Interesting article on the role of mythology in Chinese culture.

Japanese mythology is also very colourful: podcast about artist Yoshitoshi‘s illustrations of heroes and ghosts.


Go Figure

(c) Fan Zeng

To complement the freehand figures in our July 2023 Newsletter, Peng has shared a few videos featuring contemporary figure painter Fan Zeng 范曾.

  • Some of his paintings.
  • Videos 1, 2, 3 .
  • Fan Zeng’s painting of Laozi – and a connection to Stephen Hawking!
  • Interview and a portrait of Einstein!  Plus an insight into how Rong Bao Zhai recreates paintings by woodblock printing.  They seem to have published at least one book of his work.
Sixth Patriarch by Liang Kai

Figures are often depicted in gardens – lovely ladies by characterful rocks or scholars at an elegant gathering.    On gardens:

Liang Kai (Song dynasty)  painted the Sixth Chan Patriarch Chopping Bamboo – wonderfully expressive brushwork!  Strangely, the sound of chopping bamboo is a thing on the internet, including two whole hours of it!  Different sounds of bamboo – bamboo musical instruments worldwide.

Note: when accessing any links given, take notice of warnings from your virus-checking/ security programme as CBPS cannot take any responsibility for problems with web addresses given in good faith.