This is the Rocks brush. It represents the element of earth. Originally designed to render the highly detailed and stylised rocks and mountains found in Persian Safavid and Indian Mughal miniature painting, the brush can be used to render all parts of any exquisite painting. Rendering involves painting long and short strokes many hundreds of times in succession and results in a smooth surface glimmering with different colours.
Why rocks? Rocks are beautiful and alive. They are both caves and mountains. Caves are our oldest homes and I see painting as a continuing unbroken tradition since the time of the first cave paintings. Painting really started here. The brush logo is based on the ancient Chinese character – one of the oldest known characters – for Mountain (山shan).
Its ferrule is nickel-plated brass and the hair is the finest sable. Three times the price of gold, it is the best hair for creating the tiny, fine strokes for rendering in miniature painting. The handle is raw birch wood, which is lightest and easiest to hold and allows for the best grip, which in turn grants the most control. Since these brushes are specially designed by me, they are not standard sizes, although they are close to the European size 00000 (UK equivalent 000). It was my first brush and is therefore closest to my heart, as well as being the most universally useful.
I designed this brush because I was frustrated at having to constantly dip my brush into the paint, paint off the excess, and then finally apply the brush with the right amount to my painting. By the time I did so, half the paint in the bristles was already dry and then I would have to repeat the action only a few seconds later. Since the rendering in miniature paintings takes ages, and the rocks (and beards, which I also love to paint) are among the most time-consuming elements to render, I designed this brush with slightly longer bristles to hold more paint - not so long that it becomes unwieldy to handle, nor needing a learning curve like liner brushes for calligraphy and lettering, yet neither so short like standard watercolour brushes which involve recurrent dipping, which interrupts the flow.
This is the perfect brush for rendering. Although miniature painting is a slow process, it should be contemplative and I seek uninterrupted flow when I work. This brush helps me to achieve it.