Chinese Brush Painting Classes Singapore

The Philosophy of Chinese Brush Painting

Chinese Brush Painting is an art form that started thousands of years ago. It refers to the application of paint on rice paper or also called Xuan Paper (宣纸). Wood barks with formulas that contain rice (later also on mulberry) to absorb then release the ink makes up the rice paper.

The art of Chinese Brush Painting typically embodies philosophical concepts. Like many other Chinese traditions, the art classifies into a variety of styles concerning, subject, and technique.

It is very easy to discern a Chinese brush painting from its western counterparts – whenever you see black ink on paper, you can almost be certain that it is one. However, they also vary. Visually, some are strictly black and white while some are colorful. Thematically, some artist paints a quiet scene while others depict a story, which might have a side poem. Style-wise, some can be purely pictorial perfection, but others are more focused on their symbolic values.

The purpose of Chinese brush painting is to pursue an ephemeral state of mind relentlessly. Whether it is a flower, architecture, a range of mountains, or an insect, all common subjects. Pictorial values only exist when contents strike a balance and reach simplicity with the entire painting.


Western paintings sometimes boast precision and accurate space relation. Chinese paintings, on the other hand, pay a lot more attention to the overall surroundings in the works. Many Chinese painters are also outstanding calligraphers for it is mandatory that they master control over the paintbrush, and possess remarkable command over the paper. Usually, a central image, one or more poems (albeit not always), and the artist’s seal can be found on a Chinese brush painting.

Throughout the course of history, a variety of factors has impacted Chinese art. For example, temples and religious murals (which often entailed a Zen taste) became reappearing objects after the introduction of Buddhism to China in the 1st century. Fast forward a century later; the Song Dynasty saw the initiation of literati paintings which emphasized the cultivation of the artist, as opposed to secular works by craftsmen being commissioned by the imperial court. In addition to style, different techniques are used to create works.

Styles and Techniques

Gongbi (工笔)is the strict discipline that produces life-like content, which can be further broken down into baimiao (白描) meaning ‘ink only’ and chongcai (重彩) meaning ‘with color pigments’ layered on top of ink. Xieyi (写意), on the other hand, pays more attention to the ambiance, with the artist often adding poetry to the composite picture.

Artist from the Song and Qing Dynasties

Some famous brush painting masters include Fan Kuan (范寬) from the Song Dynasty period, whose take on mountains is so impressive that he made it to Life Magazine’s “100 People Who Made the Millennium” list. Shi Tao (石涛) from the Qing Dynasty period, was pioneering in capturing nature; and Qi Baishi (齊白石) whose work spanned the Qing Dynasty to the modern period, was a prolific genius whose whimsical objects traveled from the figurative to the abstract.

Contemporary Chinese Art

Contemporary Chinese painting divides into roughly two categories – antique, which inherits earlier practice, and new or modern literati. Contemporary Chinese art is an evolving force pushing the limits and possibilities of traditional ink paintings.

Artists that belong to the contemporary literati are two-fold. Some artists integrate Western concepts of art and see brush and ink only as their media; and, there are those who follow traditional training but are playful with experiments. Some well-established present-time artists include Zhang Yu (张羽), who appeals to ink and his fingerprint for his works; Xu Bing (徐冰), who deconstructs Chinese characters and re-assemble them into paintings and even videos; and Liu Guosong (刘国松), whose refreshingly brisk interpretation of landscape leaves a print-like impression. With an incredible diversity of style and ideology behind it, it is safe to say that Chinese brush painting is and perhaps has never been a regular art form.

Perhaps an essential idea about Chinese brush painting is that there are no definite borders between paradigms. A xieyi piece could be carried out by court artists or an ordinary citizen. Landscapes are sometimes figurative with refined details, yet other times finished with symbolic and bold strokes. To put it another way, critique and acknowledgment of each work recognizing its unique context and expressions are vital. Because after all, that is what Chinese Brush Painting is all about.

About Chinese Brush Painting Classes at Heartroom Gallery

Our adult Chinese Brush Painting classes at Heartroom Gallery are open classes that are for both beginners to intermediate students. Open classes mean that you can attend classes and learn something new all the time rather than having to attend fixed classes. Open classes are suited for busy people who do not want to follow a fixed class.

our Kids' classes are grouped by age. Contact us at for more info on available kids' classes.

The fees for the Chinese Brush painting classes are for 4 sessions. Each session is 2 hours each.

Starter kits are available at Heartroom Gallery for your Chinese Brush Painting class. The starter kit contains everything you need to start you on your journey to learn Chinese Brush Painting.

Students will learn the basics from ink to paper and brush strokes. Students will learn about how to hold the brush properly and how to apply the right techniques to achieve the results that are what we think of as Chinese Brush Painting.

Our classes are taught by a master artist that is able to converse in English and Chinese. You do not need to understand Chinese to take the class.

You can register for classes from the link below. Payment can be made online.

If you're not sure about the class and have more questions, contact us at

Book Your Chinese Brush Painting Class

[ameliabooking category=6]