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Horses with Tien Chang - February 9th, 2008

Horses have been painted for as long as artists have been painting. The beauty and power of the horse and the association of the horse with independence has captivated people's attention for centuries. Painting horses, however, is challenging. Our workshop featured an instructor and artist known for painting horses: Tien Chang.

Tien Chang began with practice brush strokes. Tien practiced a horizontal stroke that ended with a press and another stroke that ended with a hook.

Tien Chang practiced these strokes many times.

Tien made these brush strokes quickly in one continuous movement.

Tien Chang explained to the workshop participants that he also liked to write before starting to paint.

Tien thought of a poem he knew and began his calligraphy.

Tien created the characters with the upright brush similar to his earlier horizontal and hook strokes.

The calligraphy continued.

And continued.

At the end, Tien Chang explained the poem. An elderly man is called back into service by the king. The elderly man realizes that he is still a useful citizen and his knowledge is valued by those in authority and this reminds him that his life continues to have a purpose.

Tien Chang next turned to the subject of fish. The initial stroke for the mouth was similar to the earlier horizontal and hook strokes.

The body and tail fin followed in a few bold strokes.

Then the remaining fins were added.

Tien Chang signed the work.

The completed painting of the fish had a dynamic, lifelike quality.

Tien chatted with the workshop attendees as he worked. He told us that his seal means half monk, half vulgar. Like the monk he has a spiritual side but unlike the monk he likes to eat meat and enjoy wine. Tien also sings in the Chinese opera.

Like the fish, Tien Chang started the painting of the horse near the mouth.

The head of the horse followed.

Then the neck was painted in a continuous line.

The front legs appeared next.

The hooves were added.

Tien Chang added the body that flowed from the initial head and front legs.

Then came the hind legs giving the horse a prancing or jumping look.

Using a drier brush, Tien added the mane.

Tien painted quickly and dramatically. When too much ink was on the paper, he pressed a paper towel on it to remove the ink.

Using a dry brush, he added more flying, wind-blown hair to the tail.

Tien answered questions as he finished the work. Tien told the workshop participants that he will sometimes throw away many paintings before he gets the effect that he wants.

He signed the painting.

And added his seal.

Then it was our turn. It always looks so easy when the instructor does it! Fortunately, we also had some refreshments from Linda Nakatsu and Dianne Kitazaki.

Tien Chang helped us out individually.

Tien also signed copies of his book about horses, Ancient Path Western Trend.

The complete painting looked like it was about to leap out of the room.

Even those who had never visited a ranch went away with a love of these wild and free animals as expressed by Tien Chang. We also learned a few techniques to try and capture that spirit.