Posts Tagged ‘Xie He’

Turn the Page, and Draw

January 1, 2022
Studio Eidolons, morning of January 1, 2022

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance

On the morning of December 15, I awoke and lay in bed quietly for nearly an hour. It was still dark. I didn’t care what time it was, but knew I was close to dawn. And yet the mental dawn had already occurred. A series of visions had visited me in my half-sleep and by the time I was fully awake, I knew what I was going to do as soon as I finished the college semester, the watercolor commissions, the trip to St. Louis, Christmas, and the return to The Gallery at Redlands to set up the January show for Deanna Pickett Frye.

Now it is the first day of 2022, more than two weeks after the pre-dawn visitation, and I am finally taking up the project that knocked on my visual door. Last night before the New Year dawned, I commenced sketching and journaling.

New Years Eve Musings
First sketch of Jan 1, 2022

Rising this morning, I decided I wanted to follow up on what I reviewed last night in my Studio Eidolons regarding the sixth-century Canons of Chinese painter Xie He. I am absorbed with this idea of qi that is translated as “breath, vapor, spirit” and was believed by the Daoists to be the vital force animating life and art. This is discussed in the First Canon. The Second one discusses the “bone method” and focuses on the strokes of the pencil or brush that enable the composition to breathe.

2nd Sketch of Jan. 1, 2022

I have posted a few of the sketches that grew out of this discovery, and I have finally begun watercolor sketching to see if I can transfer this “bone method” to the point of my brush. This first day of the New Year is proving to be fascinating to me.

More later. Thanks for reading.

Three Fly Patterns Completed and Packaged

September 1, 2020
Working in Studio Eidolons
Elk Hair Caddis
Royal Wulff
Parachute Adams

I have happily drawn this commission project to a close–three fly patterns, all of them 8 x 10″. For over ten years, I have had the desire to attempt these subjects in watercolor, but was always too timid to try. Once this commission “made” me take the plunge, I found out how enjoyable such an endeavor can be. The nature of the hackles forced me to develop more sensitivity with brushstrokes. In the midst of the project I returned to the Six Canons of Painting by the Sixth-Century Chinese painter Xie He. I really needed this reminder about the “bone method” in the second principle which calls attention to the integrity of the individual brushstrokes. I believe I’m going to take the next step and see if I can market such images in the future. Already I’m thinking about creating greeting cards with these images on the front and boxing them in sets to sell.

More jobs await. Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Plein Air Painting and Thoughts from an Ancient Chinese Canon

March 25, 2015

Winter Tree Study in Stovall Park

Winter Tree Study in Stovall Park

The artist should not only paint what he sees before him, but also what he sees within him. If he does not see anything within him, he should give up painting what he sees before him.

Caspar David Friedrich

Though we travel the world to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today, while re-reading the Six Canons from Xie He, a sixth-century critique of art from a Chinese thinker, I thought upon the first canon: Engender a sense of movement through spirit consonance. One interpreter renders the final item “spirit resonance” or “vitality.” It was said that the Chinese critics thought if a work of art did not contain “spirit resonance”, then there was no reason to spend any more time looking at it. I decided to ponder this while taking my exercise walk tonight, and take my supplies with me just in case. As I strolled Stovall Park, I came across this bare-bones winter tree waving in the rising winds signaling a possible storm. I set up an easel, the storm moved around me, though there was some drizzle (it’s watercolor, so no bother), and after thirty minutes I decided to stop with what I had. Just as last weekend, when I gazed into the tree tops at Richard Greene Linear Park, I found myself attracted to the movement of the limbs in the crown of the trees, gently dancing in the high winds. This is a study I want to pursue further, as I have never been satisfied with my tree studies in paintings. For most of my life, I have admired the anatomy of trees in winter, with all their contours exposed, and wished to capture them on paper. Finally I’m getting around to trying more than just once or twice. I cannot explain my connection with nature, but I’ve always been moved by Emerson’s words from his first book Nature:

The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming over me, when I deemed I was thinking justly or doing right.

Stopping after 30 Minutes

Stopping after 30 Minutes

I am not a horse person. I do not ride. But I’m always amused that when I set up an easel adjacent to an empty pasture, it doesn’t stay empty very long. I don’t pretend to know horse psychology, don’t know if they expect me to feed them, reach out to them, or if they’re just curious at the new side show. But I do love their company, and think few animals are more magnificent than horses.

One Should Never Paint Alone

One Should Never Paint Alone

Thanks for reading. It’s been another good day and night.

I paint in order to understand.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

A Quick Start on Some Galveston Palm Trees en Plein Air

November 14, 2011

Galveston Palm Tree outside Moody Gardens

I took a break between classes during the Texas Art Educators Association annual conference in Galveston.  Moody Gardens was surrounded in beauty with all the palm trees.  I found a shaded patio area and went to work on these palm trees before me, using my Winsor & Newton field box of watercolor cakes.  I found the palm-size watercolor kit very convenient for this 30-minute experiment.  The masking has successfully left me some areas to work on the highlighted stalks and palm fronds.  Hopefully I can get back to this study later in the week, once I catch up on all the school work neglected while I was in Galveston last week.  I do like the freshness of this sketch, and think I’ll review the canons of Xie He (early 6th century).  His first canon is resonating with me as I look at this: “Engender a sense of movement through spirit consonance.”  I think that is a timely word for a watercolorist as “anal” as I have been throughout my career.  It’s time to let the uptightness melt away.

Thanks always for reading.  I do appreciate your attention and feedback.