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Magpies on Plum Blossoms with Baoxing Zhang - January 12th, 2013

Plum blossoms make a striking painting especially when complemented with birds. Baoxing Zhang's Magpies on Plum Blossoms demonstrated how this classic subject with birds, branches, and bright plum blossoms leads to a dynamic painting. Baoxing began with the calligraphy for a plum blossom which interestingly in sound is like the words happy eyebrows.

You can paint the plum blossoms several ways, Baoxing Zhang explained. One way is to draw the outline and then add details like the stamens. You can create the base of the plum, the calyx, and then add the petals. You can also start with drops of paint.

Filling in the plum blossom requires mixing red and white ink and a touch of black ink to get the correct pink shade.

Using drops of ink splattered on the paper needs skill so that the effect comes close to looking like a real plum blossom.

Baoxing Zhang added branches and the drops of pink ink became a vivid plum blossom.

The contrast of the black branches with the pink blossoms are what bring the subject to life.

Branches can be thought of as the horns of a deer with some branches crossing behind others.

Branches that pair into a branch heading one way and another branch heading another way can be like a goat's horns.

When painting branches, you should vary the brush stroke so that a natural-looking branch is created.

To create an older, larger branch, Baoxing Zhang used a large brush with less ink.

The magpie began with the eye.

The body was added. The underside of the magpie is white and the magpie has long legs.

Branches filled out the painting.

Baoxing Zhang added the plum blossoms.

Details like the stamens and calyx were added to finish the painting.

Baoxing Zhang painted some magpies in different positions.

The tail feathers were painted from the outside towards the bird.

Then it was our turn to work on our own plum blossoms and magpies.

Baoxing Zhang provided the workshop participants with lots of examples.

He also came around to help each of us out including demonstrating how to get an effect using one's fingers.

Mostly Baoxing Zhang showed us how to turn the plum blossoms subject into a simple, elegant statement of natural beauty.

It was the year of the snake and Baoxing Zhang took a few minutes to show how to paint the snake in a long, curving stroke.

A few more brush strokes created the coiled body.

Plum blossoms turned the snake into an almost likeable subject.

Another variation on the snake showed it slithering up a branch.

You can learn more about Baoxing Zhang in the links section. He has also written many books on painting that are listed in the books section.