Blogging | Anything and Everything on Snuff Bottles
Wang Xi San and His Teacher, Cao Ke Jia – 王习三雨夜拜名师
Inside painted snuff bottle traditionally had very limited subjects. The most common themes seen are: Landscape, Still Life, Insects, folklore and portrait.
Wang Xi San wanted to broaden the themes and began to experiment with painting cats, his favor animal. However, with a traditional bamboo pen, the painting tip was too hard for painting fur with soft texture. Wang tried to solve the problem by splitting the tip of bamboo pen into finer nibs, he also tried to tie a few pig bristles on the tip of the bamboo pen, but the effect was not satisfactory.
Finding the Right Mentor
In the summer of 1959, Wang Xi San seek the advice of Master Yang Shi Hui, an ivory-carving teacher. Master Yang pondered for a moment and said to Wang: “I think I knew of a man that could help you. His name is Cao Ke Jia. He is a knowledgeable art teacher and is best known for painting furry animal, especially cats. “Wang Xi San listened with excitement and begged Master Yang to introduce him to Master Cao Ke Jia.
The next day, Master Yang contacted Master Cao and set up an appointment for Wang Xi San:
“I contacted Mr. Cao. He will be waiting for you at home this coming Sunday.” He then gave Wang a detailed map to Master Cao’s home.
Braving the Storm
On that Sunday afternoon, the weather changed suddenly and a storm started. Despite the bad weather, Wang Xi San decided to brave the storm for this important appointment.
Master Cao Ke Jia, on the other hand, saw that the thunderstorm was not going to stop and thought that it was impossible for Wang to visit him. He was just going to start on his new painting when suddenly, the doorbell rang. He opened the door and in front of him was young Wang Xi San soaked wet by the heavy downpour.
“My name is Wang Xi San, from the Beijing Institute of Arts and crafts, I am here to see Mr. Cao. ” Wang said respectfully.
“Come in quickly.” Mr. Cao was very pleased to see the determine young artist and warmly said:
The Master’s Notes
Wang Xi San explained the intention of his visit and showed Master Cao his painted bottles with themes of animals with furry hair. Impressed with Wang determination and eagerness to learn, Master Cao immediately took out his notes and shared his technique of painting animals’ fur. Wang Xi San was impressed with the extraordinary skill that Master Cao had, especially his skill of drawing the cats fur and eyes. Master Cao’s cat was almost photo like and captured every detail of the playful animal.
Master Cao’s notes fascinated Wang Xi San. He wanted to borrow it home to study carefully but felt inappropriate to ask. Master Cao understood what was on Wang mind and smiling said: “If you like, you can borrow the notes for a few days.”
“Thank you, Master Cao, your works were fantastic and exactly what I needed. I will borrow your notes and returned them within three days.” The delighted and gratefully Wang said
Master Cao nodded with a smile and bid farewell to Wang Xi San.
Wang Xi San could not believe his luck. He has met a master that could help him with a breakthrough in his painting career.
Three days later, Wang Xi San returned the original notes to Master Cao and brought along his own copy of the note. Master Cao look through Wang work and was very impressed with Wang painting ability and tenacity to learn. He turned around and took a book that he had written on the technique of paint and told Wang Xi San: “I will accept you as a student if you are willing.”
Wang Xi did not expect Master Cao to take him in as a student. He immediately stood up respectfully and bowed to Master Cao. Master Cao was also delighted to have such a talented student and shared whole heartedly his painting techniques to Wang, include the secret of painting the animal fur and eyes.
With what he had learn from Master Cao as the foundation. Wang Xi San developed a new painting technique that could realistically paint the fur of animals like cats and wolves in snuff bottles.
Master Cao Ke Jia
Cao Ke Jia was born on April 1906 in Beijing, alias Ru Xian. He specializes in Chinese painting, particularly detailed painting of cats.
He used to be a teacher of the Central Academy of Arts and Crafts, a cadre of arts and crafts companies under the Ministry of Light Industry and a member of the Chinese Artists Association.
In 1924 Cao Ke Jia graduated from the Shanghai Zhong Hua Vocational School. He also graduated from the National Peking Art Academy school of Chinese painting in 1933. Cao Ke Jia became a professional painter in 1937
Cao learn from many master like Chen Shi Zeng, Wang Meng Bai, Qi Bai Shi, Chen Ban Ding Zhu. He is especially fond of cats, and is most famous for his painting of life like felines. Cao Ke Jia is the author of two books: “how to draw a cat” and “Song porcelain pattern”.