Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Insight Calligraphy Method Update

As time has gone on attending the weekly Chinese Insight Calligraphy classes with Paul Wang, the mindful art of traditional Chinese calligraphy has become more tangible - especially how it links in with other traditional Chinese arts.

The brushes used are designed carefully so that they emulate the springy 'intention' of bamboo - something considered a property inherent within all living organisms - a key property of the 'spirit' of life itself. Some of the best brushes are made from weasel and goat hair in order to achieve this ideal, and the brush, coupled with the sensitivity to this natural, lively, springy intention within the master writer's heart, lays down an organic trace of wholesome spirit. This requires a whole-body awareness, since the writing arm is never fully resting on anything, and needs the body to be relaxed and stable in order for it to move freely, fluidly, and accurately.

Paul Wang indicated the depth of mindfulness required in the following way during one class, along with the relevant Chinese characters:

All of the above will influence, and be visible/apparent within each character one writes. If the fluidity of writing is hindered by judgemental thoughts, such as negative ideas causing one to tense up and lose momentum, or positive ideas causing one to become excited and lose stability, then one easily loses the life-affirming essence that one is attempting to convey.

Paul provided me with the following sentence, in the old cursive style, as a practice character 'set', since it requires one to write a great variety of strokes:

Each stroke has 'solid' and 'empty' parts to it, where the brush expresses the springy, lively 'intention'.

The following characters are the author's Chinese name, with the solid points emphasised with black dots. The solid and empty are not the same every time one writes the same character - they can shift depending on the context at the point of writing. These solid points are just made clear for this particular rendering of these characters:

And finally, here is a practice sheet from a class with Paul. The beginner's traditional grid practice paper is dispensed with after one gets a feel for the general structure of characters, so that one can be more  expressive and natural when practicing:

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