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Avril's Visit to Denman College
Denman Chinese Brush Painting Course 16th - 18th September 2019
I used to live about 9 miles away from Denman in Marcham, Oxfordshire but not being a member of a WI then I didn't know much about it, apart from the fact that it looked an impressive building from the outside, set in lovely gardens. So I was very pleased when I won the Denman bursary and got to see it up close.
Once I'd registered on the Monday afternoon I sat and chatted with fellow attendees and shared tea and delicious homemade cakes. A very good start! I was in the Nottinghamshire room which I shared with Robin Hood, at least a small painting of Mr Hood. It is a pretty, comfortable room with several examples of beautiful Nottingham lace. My course was Chinese brush painting using the traditional equipment of Chinese ink, paper and brushes. We would also be painting on a round silk fan.
After dinner on the first evening we were given a brief introduction to the course and we chose a composition for our fan. We would use the Gongbi, meaning 'meticulous' technique, for our fan. The next day we traced the composition on our fan and added the shading and colour. I painted a water lily and dragonfly. We also painted free-style a peony and butterfly. At the evening session, which didn't end until a quarter to ten, we watched a DVD of Chinese brush painting in Chinese with no English sub-titles! It was a long, intense day but fortunately there had been an hour's free time in the afternoon and since it was a lovely sunny day I relaxed in the herb garden with a good book!
On the final morning we again painted free style some plum blossom and little birds. It was a very interesting course as the tutor also told us a little about the history and ritual associated with Chinese brush painting. I had a fantastic time and can highly recommend Denman, so if you have never entered the Denman bursary draw give it go, you'll definitely enjoy a stay at Denman in addition to learning a new skill.
The photos are of the fans and peony paintings. My fan is bottom left and my peony is bottom right.
(Avril Butler September 2019)