The Chinese character for “fan” 扇 (shàn) depicts a door with feathers. In fact, early forms of the Chinese fan were large, long handled devices made of plant leaves, tough silk, or feathers and attached to carriages for weather protection or decoration. It was not until the Zhou Dynasty that the rigid hand-held fan was used for cooling people. During the Song Dynasty, fans became fashionable and took many shapes—round or moon-shaped, oval, square, hexagonal, and blossom-shaped. While writing or painting on fans was done as early as the Han Dynasty, it was during the Song Dynasty that painting on silk or decorative paper fans rose to an independent art form. Considered treasured works of art, fan paintings were often mounted and displayed as album leaves.
Inspired by an exhibit of fan paintings on a recent trip to China, Ning brought back some wonderful fan-shaped paper. In this 3-part video, Ning demonstrates the basics of color preparation, brush loading, composition, and brush work to complete a beautiful Cherry Blossom painting on fan paper. Refer to the attached handout for materials, diagrams, color preparation, and steps.