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Published: Monday January 27, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday January 27, 2014 MYT 9:19:48 AM

Veteran artist shows students of all ages to paint animals calligraphy style

Samples of Master Kerk’s calligraphy paintings on display at the Gan Association shoplot, depicting different styles such as those emulating Han/Tang dynasty animals, to those that are more natural looking.

Samples of Master Kerk’s calligraphy paintings on display at the Gan Association shoplot, depicting different styles such as those emulating Han/Tang dynasty animals, to those that are more natural looking.

THE smell of black ink permeated the Mo Dian Cultural Centre, located at the Gan Association Selangor in Klang, as more than 40 participants tried their hand at calligraphy painting with a New Year theme.

Led by veteran artist Kerk Won Hoo, the students, ranging from ages seven to 75, learnt to paint horses, in keeping with the upcoming Chinese zodiac animal, via calligraphy painting.

The students were led through a short talk on the history of the Chinese character for the horse, before being shown four methods with which to paint horses.

One of these was a “basic” style, simplified even further by Kerk into a mnemonic style by terming different body parts of the horse with numbers or alphabets, due to the similarity in shape.

For instance, one started off with an “O”, followed by a minus sign, a “v”, a “c” and another minus sign to result in a horse head with an open mouth.

Master Kerk teaching students to draw horse. Rep: Vincent Tan
Master Kerk taking his students through a short history on the evolution of the Chinese pictogram for horse, which evolved from oracle- bone scratchings depicting the animal, to the current Traditional and Simplified characters. 

Whereas a mane could be drawn by starting either with an “I”, C” or “2”, followed by a series of smaller “C”s to simulate a flowing mane and different neck positions.

Another method was termed by Kerk as a “calligraphy” style, where the traditional character to depict a horse is written, followed by additional strokes to denote an open head and galloping or rearing legs.

For Kok Hai Song, 75, this was an opportunity to indulge in his hobbies, calligraphy and painting.

“After retirement, I finally had the time to do something I have always had an interest in, and also learn the simpler painting methods, which are easier to remember,” said Kok.

The class was not just a learning experience, but also for families to bond and youngsters such as Tan Guan Hua, 12, to learn about their Chinese heritage.

Master Kerk teaching students to draw horse. Rep: Vincent Tan
Yong Hao Yuan, 7, (left), and his elder sister Li Ling (second from left), 10, drawing their horses using the ‘simplified’ style or mnemonics method developed by Kerk.

“I mainly learnt how to write only the simplified Chinese characters at school, so this is quite new to me,” said Tan, while his artist mother Joyce Koo wanted to learn more about calligraphy styles, as she worked mostly with oil paints.

In addition to learning how to paint and draw, the students and other visitors also got a chance to look at some of Kerk’s horse-themed Chinese paintings.

These ranged from Tang and Han-style animals with stylised jaws, plump necks and bodies in gallop, to more “natural” calligraphy brush painting, including one with over 300 horses over a plain.

Tags / Keywords: Central Region, Family & Community, Chinese New Year 2014; calligraphy painting; Kerk Won Hoo

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