One thing I have grown to appreciate and absolutely love about learning Chinese language is the structure.
Today, I learned that Chinese traditional painting has an equally useful structural starting point.
Take a look at the picture above. What do you see in each of these elements?
From top to bottom these traditional Chinese artistic building blocks represent the most basic patterns in nature – waves, tree leaves, rivers/streams, pine needles, clouds, mountains, rocks…
No, they are not all perfect, this is just practice.
But it’s by practicing these basic patterns, with a healthy amount of consulting the dictionary of brush strokes, that early students learn to follow the rules.
And the next step? Painting a classic landscape with all the important elements.
So what makes me so excited about this?
First, I think the elements are beautiful. And the color is quite nice, too.
But, what I love even more is the idea that structure gives way to focus. And focus means freedom.
Though we may start with a full set of constraints, slowly and ever so surely, a mastery of these brush strokes, these elements, these rules, will allow the artist to ultimately find their own voice and style.
Welcome to the ultimate form of freedom.