Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Too tight, too cluttered, too complicated is how my watercolor paintings are looking. In an effort to loosen up and simplify--
I dug out my oriental watercolor brushes and my sumi ink. I know. I know. This kind of art takes a serious investment of effort, time, training and discipline. All of which I have very little or none. But I love the beauty of those fluid lines done so effortlessly.
Here is what I wish I could do. This is a masterpiece by Jean Kigel. With a minimum of effort and a maximum of skill she produces the power of a horse. “Ma dao cheng gong.” “Where there are horses, there is success.”

I would be pleased to just produce a bird and some leaves like this without wobbling. But noOo.

So I Amazoned a book by Yolanda Mayhall,
got an extra supply of that luscious ink and started on the most simple of simples: bamboo.

I have done this all before---badly. I know I am supposed to learn to focus my Chi. Think steady with the mind and fluid with the body so I can “produce a stream of wind at the tip of the brush.” Who am I kidding? My balance is so poor I can’t even stand on one foot in tree position. (Although I like to blame that lack of ability on chubby thighs.)

Still, I try and try to paint those effortless strokes. I hold the brushes vertical with that calligraphy grip. I try to move freely with my whole arm and follow through with that twist that makes the point on the leaves. My efforts end in disaster. I fold the failures into paper cranes. (DH calls them magpies.)
I understand if you make a thousand cranes your wish will come true.

This is gonna take a while. >:P


Jill said...

My Chinese calligraphy brushes, ink and paper remain sadly unused - like you I lifted my brush in anticipation of a delicate bamboo leaf and what happened was a clumsy blot - and pages of practice did not help. I'm afraid I haven't the patience needed so there they sit.

Woman in a Window said...

Ha! Considering my chi just makes me sneeze! AT first I thought that horse was yours, but are those leaves in the third? They are very pretty to me.

(I thought of you when I changed my header. I grabbed the blue of that photo and thought, I hope this makes Leenie happy. Yes, I am waking.)

Linda Sue said...

I SO know what you mean...I took two classes back in the "CHI" days. A two year old chinese kid could do so much better than I (and did) I gave up- but still have my ink stone and my bar of ink and some paper - hoping that one day i will calm down enough to make it work or at least practice, that's what it's about I guess. I am into instant gratification at this point! I don't think I have the time left on this earth required to achieve a proper stroke.Good thing there are other things to do...like eat.

Laura said...

I haven't tapped into my Chi at least that I know of, but for about a year I did do some tole painting. But you know what, I love your paper cranes! Those in themselves are a wonderful masterpiece. Just think of the sculpture you can make once you reach the 1000 crane! It will be awesome!!!

Anonymous said...

Ah Chi! I know it well. I have finally "got it", the understanding of it, after 6 years of constant tai chi, and still learning - you never stop learning.So I guess it's about the patience thing - being unable to hurry the path of progress.I thought the horse was yours too, and gasped "My GOD"...,nothing would suprise me though Leenie!Your work is always beautiful, and this will be another arrow to your artistic bow.

Anonymous said...

I can't even align my chakras, so I've no hope of sorting out my chi!! Sometimes we just have to accept that we can't do in reality the things we can do in our heads, and focus instead on the things we can do.

Elizabeth said...

Now I want to do water colors again immediately!!!
So very very beautiful.
I have been a bit out of the blog loop with good family stuff so missed your post below until today.
You actually met Linda Sue!
I love her and Dexter.
Hoping you are well and cheerful?
Buster sends his best wishes....

DayPhoto said...

I would think if you could stay with something to make 1,000 of it you would either be super sloppy or get really good at it.

Lovely art!


jeanie said...

Oh I have to show my daughter that beautiful horse picture - she will be in love.

I love the cranes, so would have no problem with "mistakes".

susanna said...

I think your cranes are terrific. Very modern, very cool!