A5: How to Choose a Chinese Calligraphy Teacher
to Choose a Teacher?
who master in only one calligraphy style are One-Style Teachers.
who abide in only a calligrapher’s method are Self-Biased Teachers.
3. Those who master several styles are Multi-Stylists. (Note 1)
who are knowledgeable of many calligraphers’
methods are Teachers of
who are good at teaching skills are Teachers of Calligraphy.
who are good at interpreting theories are Teachers of Theories.
who are good at transmitting mental methodologies are Masters of Heart.
master who is good at all the last five qualifications is a Master of Chinese
Calligraphy, Tao, and Zen. He is also a Master of Enlightenment. However, every master
is qualified for his own specialty. We may learn different specialties from them by paying
Choosing to Be A Multi-Style Chinese Calligrapher
one ever chooses to be a multi-stylist in Chinese calligraphy, one has
to realize “technique” is the most essential requirement for one's goal.
night when Liszt and Chopin were invited to play at a salon, the
audiences liked their styles – Liszt had a superb technique and Chopin
was very, very poetic. So they decided to let both masters play again
with the candles off. After they played, almost everybody agreed Chopin
Liszt then added a comment, “Chopin plays like Chopin; Liszt plays like Liszt and he can also play like Chopin!” Moriz Rothensal, one of Liszt’s top student and a giant in piano history, wrote, “my master can illustrate anything – “anything” on the piano.”
wrote that “technique” is the best “bank account” a pianist can
Likewise, Rachmaninoff said, "technique, technique, and
Likewise, Rachmaninoff said, "technique, technique, and technique!"
Chinese calligraphy history, say Wang Hsi-Chih and Mi Fu, they mastered
many, many styles. However, the works they left to us are merely a
portion of their styles or writings. Even though art emphasizes on
“creating a personal style,” if we don’t absorb “humbly” the
best ingredients from different calligraphy styles, we never grow in
richness and essence of our calligraphy works. That why Lin Mo is
indispensable and may take up to several decades or lifetime.
easy to get distracted from emulating too many calligraphy masterpieces
given the constraint of our time, talent, and ability. If we don’t do
enough Lin Mo from ancient masterpieces, our styles that we create later
won’t be worthy! But if we do too much Lin Mo from too many
masterpieces, we may be criticized as “without personal style or
specialty” or a "calligraphy slave." However, from those two extremes one has make a good
balance for one self.
However, we need to remember that “technique” is still the most essential requirement. With adequate level of technique, we may decide how many styles or masterpieces we want to study and develop the effective and efficient ways to practice. Only after a broad study, one may “narrow down” and keep the “best ingredients” from other artists to create one's unique style. On the contrary, without enough technique one has no available funds to draw from his account!
“In my own development as
an artist, it has been made evident to me, time and time again, that success
comes from the careful observance of details.”
ancient masterpieces and you alone are your best lifetime Chinese calligraphy teachers!”
you choose to be a multi-stylist in Chinese calligraphy, I suggest that you
organize all Model Books, brushes, papers, and ink sticks systematically. You may
assign numbers to brushes, from the smallest to the largest ones for each Model
Book. And then write down the “satisfaction level” of each brush that fits
each individual Model Book, style, and size.
following is my personal way of assigning numbers to brushes for calligraphy and
000-050: small and extra fine brushes
051-100: brushes for small and medium sized characters
101-150: regular sized brushes that are most frequently used
501-600: brushes that are suitable for writing a character between 15" x 15" to 20"x 20"
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