Qi and the energy of the strokes in Calligraphy

By milen1st   Wed, 06/12/2019 - 02:10
qi strokes

Milen: Can You write a little bit more info about this Qi of the lines?

Rainer: Qi means energy, we have Qi in our body and can learn to work with it. In Calligraphy we can learn to put it into our strokes. It does not mean pressure or speed, or use a ruler. Let me get help by giving some pictures to imagine.

calligraphy by Loredana Zega

For example a plant: we can see leaves hanging down weak and dry, looking tired? or feel the power, tention, may be stronger colours, the plant looks "happy", getting enough water, right temperature. We can see it in the shape of the form, but it is something inside, good flowing, the plant looks healthy. It is the same with letters and lines.

In western Calligraphy we like sharp outlines. The brush of eastern Calligraphy is more working with the strukture, the wet and dry brush helps to see lines inside of the strokes, mostly without the sharp outlines because of the traditional ricepaper.

I have learnt the technic of the flat "dry brush" in a workshop of Loredana Zega last year and like it so much because of the possibilities to see more, inside and outside!

qi strokes

It is not the power of muscles or to be very speedy. You have to find it in feeling. Compare with music: not too fast, not too slow. Of course it suits very good that Loredana is dancing and singing, she has a very good natural feeling. She does not think about, it just comes out in the right way.

We can try to explain, but Qi is to feel. Not to think too much about the design; try to work with breathing, being calm and relaxed but concentrated brings us to the Qi in the lines.

This is another way of learning and teaching Calligraphy, to begin with the Qi, in the body and in the lines. 

loredana zega

For this I often train just strokes, like the "I" of the Roman Capitals, or "minimum" for Chancery and Anglaise.

From outside it may look as boring as seeing somebody making Yoga, Qi Gong or Tai Ji. Or You learn to see the outside form AND the Qi. It is one more dimension.

You like to try? Imagine a blade of grass. 

In spring, sunshine, enought water, healthy, powerful: make this line.

Then make the same blade of grass again, but cold, in the shadow, dry, tired. 


This can help to see.

Teaching Calligraphy for me Qi has got one of the basics to explain. To feel it in the body and to feel it in the line.