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An Inside Look at Paint & Calligraphy Papers April 25 2021

Character Appeal

Xuan - Super soft, absorbing ink consistently and evenly Pronounced "shwen," this paper provides a pristine surface for writing and painting. Handmade in historic, Anhui Province, China, Xuan has stood the test of time as the ink of ancient scrolls and paintings still retaining its vibrancy to this day. For all levels, this is a quality paper for practice and finished work and very affordable. Mini Xuan paper is a charming handmade paper for writing or incorporating mixed media. Made from recycled materials, including bamboo waste paper, here is a great paper for beginners. Economical and made to support hand/eye development for more solid practices. For all levels, this paper works widely for practice and finished work. Papers great for Asian-style calligraphy (shodō), sumi painting, and fish printing (gyotaku) A lovely assortment includes Kihosen Kana, handmade in Japan with a mix of mitsumata, bamboo, and kōzo fibers. This professional-grade sumi painting or calligraphy paper comes folded and may require a warm iron or just leave rolled for a few days. Currently we sell scroll-sized Kana paper in 10-sheet sets. Soonji made from white Korean mulberry paper (hanji) is also an excellent choice. There is no sizing which makes it absorbent and ideal for calligraphy, Sumi-e, and brush painting amongst other uses. Sunn is a very traditional paper developed in the 8th century for writing religious script and Persian miniature paintings. It is made from raw fermented and cooked hemp and then burnished by hand. The surface is coated with wheat starch, a sizing of egg-white, and alum, burnished with agate to provide a naturally sized surface with an incredible sheen. Yin Yang Dochim Hanji is a beautiful, heavyweight, and burnished mulberry paper. Fibers are compacted and "small-pored," making them great for applying ink with no bleeding. Rustic lokta papers from Nepal are not technically burnished but lokta fiber once made into a sheet is naturally small-pored. Japanese kōzo papers with a bit of internal sizing (sizing added to the vat before formation) are suitable for beginners to experts. If you are unsure what type of kōzo to use, start here for its versatility and price.
Rick Lowe brush painting on lokta paper.
Take a step toward further experimentation! These depicted here are some marvelous papers to explore.
Rona Conti wielding her calligraphy brush.

Sizing - Alum can be a key constituent of your work. When the paper is called "sized" there is usually alum involved. Traditional sizing or size is made with a recipe of animal skin glue and alum to create a barrier in or on the paper so ink does not absorb into the fibers. (Here's a vegan version to DIY sizing). Sized papers are less absorbent and more forgiving of water-based techniques, lending themselves to multiple paint and ink washes/modifications. In other words, sized papers "hold up" against liquids and pigments. Without sizing, paper can be highly absorbent and valued for depth and vividness, allowing painters and calligraphers further complexity to their imagery and characters. Professional brush painters look for the rate of ink absorption. Plus they look for a well-formed sheet which will have an even ink bleed no matter where you place your wet brush. Many of the pros use paper without sizing. Burnished, pressed, or "calendered" paper surfaces will often be sufficient to slow or stop paint from unwanted bleeding. You can bet that most papers from Asia are not sized. fricka-artist/writer/editor our papers help tell your story • want more?

Rick Lowe: Nature and Creation February 23 2021

Paper Connection was delighted to connect with Rick Lowe and chat about his Art & Soul.

Curiosity and Expression

Rick Lowe Soar
Rick defines his creative process, application, and technique as, “. . . varietal, depending on the reason. If I am trying something new for the fun of it, I may use totally different art media and, from that, develop another form of expression. Or if I have a show with a certain theme - that will dictate style and focus. My favorite pieces are often accidental."

Q+A

PCI: Rick, so wonderful to have this time with you. I know you've been super busy, so thank you! Can you talk a bit about your focus - for example, why this form of expression? Can you reflect within your work and beyond?
Fishing the Catacombs
RL: I love all things connected to nature and creation, therefore my favorite subjects are landscapes, the living, and calm. I'm part Asian and grew up within an art influence which helped me develop an appreciation for Chinese brushwork. I also create living art, which I call "Aqua Bonsai" consisting of handmade live plant structures and self-sustaining shrimp spheres. You can find many examples on aquabonsai.etsy.com, aquabonsaiaquarium.com, and instagram@aquabonsai. PCI: Love the diversification. RL: Thank you. PCI: How have your life experiences brought you to this point? RL: As kids, my brother and I watched cartoons and read comic books. Art was family-focused. We created our own characters, making full comic books with our own sets of characters and stories. That interest in creating keeps both of us focused to this day, my brother as a graphic designer and myself as a realizer of nature, art, landscapes, and calm. PCI: Nicely said. Can you talk about your online presence?
Rick Lowe Where are We Going
RL: Some work is be found on instagram@soloweart. My living art on aquabonsai.etsy.com, and aquabonsaiaquarium.com, & instagram@aquabonsai. PCI: Would you communicate specific features/interesting aspects of your process, design work? RL: For one of my pieces on *Pang Pi from Paper Connection (a limited edition offered "offline"), I needed a strong and firm bristle brush to complement the paper used for the Chinese brush painting. At the same time, my wife wanted a haircut ("With Her Locks"). I used her hair to make the brush which created the perfect desired effect I was looking for. PCI: Share insights regarding projects that have set you on a new path.
With Her Locks
RL: I recently started collecting molts (the skins/shells) from horseshoe crabs. I'm not sure . . . but the painting process is evolving. This may be a new direction. PCI: Which artists influenced you and in what way? RL: I love the old masters of Chinese brush paintings. Xia Gui (Hsia Kuei) is my favorite, also Ricardo Delgado as a comic book illustrator, and Hiroshige as a block printing artist. PCI: Can you describe the importance of paper in your work and what type of paper you use most? What kind of inks do you use?
Rick Lowe Zhangjiajie
RL: For my work, especially the Chinese brush paintings, I need quality Asian paper to work with. So far my favorite is Pang Pi (PCI, offline limited edition)*. I also like the traditional Chinese papers used for ink paintings sold by PCI. I use Chinese inks and watercolor paints.
Just a Little Longer
PCI: We'd love to direct our folks to current happenings. Do you have anything in mind? RL: Try https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT2mI41obt8 on Westford cable TV, for the latest show, which just ended, on westford.org/pca. PCI: Has Covid-19 had an effect on your art? RL: The way I source materials - in some instances for the better, and in others, I have stopped creating certain designs due to lack of materials. But for the most part, I have had more work, especially for my living art series since many are spending more time indoors and starved for nature. PCI: Bonus question: if you could have a conversation with any artist present or past, who would it be. Who and what would you like to ask/talk about? RL: If he was still alive I would love to learn under Xia Gui as he is the best Chinese brush artist in my opinion. I love his use of space (vastness) in his landscapes, his ax-cut brush technique is also amazing. PCI: Thank you so much for your time and thoughtfulness.

All images graciously shared by Rick Lowe

fricka - artist in residence - our papers help tell your story. want more? http://paperconnection.com/news/

* Pang Pi - pronounced "pahng pee" is an oversized mulberry paper from Anhui Province, China - 45x80 inches long and entirely made by hand. Because it is a limited edition stock, the price is $45.00/sheet. Looking for a whiter calligraphy paper? Try SoonJi , Xuan Clean Bark White with surface sizing and Bunkoshi . . . . these are a few of Lauren's suggestions. Please contact her, she would be happy to help you with your paper needs. A blog post on this subject coming soon! Email or call for more information. contactus@paperconnection.com or 401.454-1436