Pu Hui Painting: Wang Shu Hua 王树花
Artist At Work

Pu hui paintings differ from woodblock prints in that all painting is done by hand. Also, woodblocks are limited to five colors, whereas pu hui paintings may contain many more. The artist uses burnt willow twigs to draw the outline of the painting and then presses it against stacked sheets of paper to make six to eight copies of the outline. Wang make her copies vertically, taping the papers to a wooden frame or wall. The burnt willow twig has been used since ancient times, before pens and pencils, and is effective because it is both dark and erasable. After the image is drawn onto the stacked papers, the artist brushes away remaining ashes with a feather-duster. The artist paints in each color, one at a time, on the resulting copies of the outlines. Before painting the next color, each color must dry. Wang stores her paint in recycled plastic cups and has special brushes for each technique. To paint a flower, for example, she uses a large fan brush. For very small details, like human irises, Wang simply uses q-tips. When repetition is necessary, Wang uses cork stamps carved with flower and tree leaf designs.

While pu hui techniques are generally the same, they differ from artist to artist regarding subject matter and style.