Thursday, December 13, 2007

First Stroke

I've been thinking about this post all day. Now it's ten o'clock and I've just come across Shih-T'ao. I think that I will spread out over the next few days what I was going to try to cram into this one post which is a much better approach because the content requires reflection.

These posts are all related to my concern and intention as a painter and artist and ultimately as a human being. to leave things to their course and accept the beauty of the natural flow of events without trying to control the outcome. This was not always my concern or intention. I've spent an inordinate amount of time in my life trying to get things just right and in the process often overworking or otherwise ruining a thing or situation. I see my students worrying drawings and paintings to death, then see myself in them at another time, then try to coax them into learning when to put down the pen or brush.

Over the next few days, I will let some of our wiser predecessors consider the primary impulse that moves through us as conduits and through our implements onto the paper or canvas or what-have-you.

This is a photograph from my bulletin board of Kobun Chino Roshi who was a Zen meditation master renowned for his mastery of the calligraphic art. As an artist and teacher he played with the synchronization of body, mind and brush. Some days, it's enough for me to look at this photo to remember the best approach.
"In the broadest cosmological sense, the Holistic Brushstroke is later described as even beyond the dimensions of artistic practice. It has a metaphysical status which preexists painting and calligraphy and is likened to the generative role of an ancestor The process of bringing the world into being by the marking of a single line is a early myth related to the cosmology of The Book of Changes. The legendary Sage-King Fu-hsi was often credited with drawing the first stroke from which the elements of reality emerged through a sequence of parturitions. Shih Junchang (1618-1683), a writer who was a friend of Shih-t'ao, restated this view:
The numbers all begin with one. When "one" is obtained, then the Two Primal Forces, the Four Images, and the Eight Trigrams become set. Altogether, the three-hundred and eighty-four commentaries on the lines of the Hexagrams all derive from this "one." Thus, ever since Fu-hsi drew the first line, and revealed the Changes to mankind, there was nothing more that needed to be said. This is what is meant by "in obtaining one, the ten thousand things are completed."
Richard E. Strassberg
Enlightening Remarks on Painting by Shih-T'Ao
Pacific Asia Museum Monographs Number 1 1989
See my paintings at Landscape into Art.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

But is it so in the life, that we have to learn at first an ordering, then we can let ourselves to go,flow
and fly?
I am happy to know you even only virtually.
I wish you happy weekend, Suzanne!