I have been struggling a bit with motivation lately. A fellow docent gave me a small book, Painting Chinese, and it came to me at the right time. It was written by a college professor living in San Francisco who had just lost funding for his program. He was 70, saw death approaching, and needed to find a way forward. He frequently walked through China Town and on a whim enrolled in a painting class at a Chinese art school. He started as the only adult in a class of beginners (5-8 year olds!). The book talks about how the practice and mediative nature of Chinese painting provided the solace, comfort and mental release necessary to help him find a new life and face death (he was not sick, just slowly decaying like all of us!) This book and a small volume I found at the library titled Art & Fear have been nudging me forward.
Last week I began practicing my Sumi-e brush strokes and working on mixing the different colors of ink. I seem to have forgotten everything I ever knew and have struggled, struggled, struggled. I worked on strokes for four days before I even tried a painting and then my paintings were over crowded and full of smudges. I also couldn’t seem to get the ink colors right in order to show depth. I am still struggling but did finish one piece – not perfect but an improvement. I have to remember that less is more when it comes to composition!