Sunday, 16 August 2015

Re-aligning through the mediums of water and paint

Here's the thing, I haven't been able to carve for over two years now - carvers block.  There are personal reasons for this, too personal to air in public, but also I'm living away from the sea, and the sea and the flotsam and jetsam that rolls up on the shore, are my inspiration. It may be a while before I find myself living in the right place for me to start carving again, and this is something that I've not fought, just accepted, that for the time being I won't be producing any carvings.  At some point this will change, but I'm not going to force that, it just is the way it is.

But there has to be an instead right?! 

For over a year I haven't once picked up my camera, plugged in my printer, checked my website.  I've been in a kind of stasis.  Shocked at the loss of the sea, shocked at the grey, drab, muddy mess that the Cotswolds become during Autumn and Winter. A year ago, I picked up the Christmas present my parents gave me from a few years back, a set of Chinese paintbrushes, books and inks, and this started a shift in my creativity, it lasted for a while, but the cold of the winter took hold and I stopped.  

Then this new year, I finally got my camera out, dusted it down, plugged in the battery, and even downloaded the few photos I had on there onto my laptop.  I went to Cornwall for New Years with Pip, and the beauty of that landscape caught me. My camera, however continued to disappoint, I just couldn't capture the views I wanted to.  

Fast forward to this summer, and a trip up to Scotland, Anstruther.  I took up with me a small sketchbook and pencils, a sketchbook I hadn't opened for over three years.  It was a bit of a revelation to see sketches I had forgotten, some pretty good.  So while in Scotland, with my annoying camera, I started to think about capturing the beauty in a different way. And I came across this amazing bookshop in St Andrews.  A bookshop where they offer you free coffee, a bookshop so rammed full of books, I thought I'd never leave. And there I found a book which made me feel excited, it made me feel something again about being creative, it made me plan for setting up.

Friday, 14 August 2015

The Magic Paintbrush

A few days ago I was reminded of a book I read as a child about a Chinese man who painted pictures that came to life.  I remembered these amazing pictures of birds and dragons, and the key to the story, that the paintings only came to life when the last brush stroke left the paper.  The story touched me at the time, it sounded enigmatic to me while I remembered it. 

So my Google search took me first to Wu Daozi an artist of the Chinese Tang Dynasty:

"Wu traveled widely and created murals in Buddhist and Daoist temples. Wu also drew mountains, rivers, flowers, birds. No authentic works are extant, though some exist in later copies or stone carvings."

His name came up in a search because he was such an accomplished painter, there are legends of his paintings coming to life. One such story is about a dragon or group of dragons that were so lifelike they looked like they moved around on the paper. Wu Daozi was said to have painted in the style of Chang Seng Yu, whose dragons also came to life. Both Chang Seng Yu and Wu Daozi along with Ku K'ai-chih and Lu T'an-wei are said to be the four great masters of Chinese Painting.

Wu Daozi's painting of a dragon comes to life.

Next to come up in my search was, Han Gan, again of the Tang Dynasty.  His legend surrounds that of his horse paintings coming to life, such was their beauty and spirit. 

Night-Shining White

 These legends were alluding to the story I had read, they were close, but none of them were children's stories! Then I came across the Chinese story of Ma Liang and the Magic Paint Bush, I felt like I was getting closer, but this story didn't mention the paintings coming to life after the last brush stroke, and I was sure this was part of the story.

Finally I struck on Magic Paint Brush gold with an image search, and here were the images I remembered from my childhood, but what was the book?  Ha ha ... chuckle I did!

The Magic Paintbrush