Creative Process:
Behind the Brushstrokes

Meredith W. McPherson

 

Behind the brushstrokes of Chinese calligraphy is a creative process conceived in respect for the ancient symbols Chinese characters represent within the collective psyche of mankind. Brushing a simple character in black ink on white paper requires a dynamic balance between the artist filling up with knowledge and then releasing all control of the process. Filling and releasing, filling and releasing until the artist becomes the image and the image reflects the artist. To create a Chinese calligraphy character, the artist will:

Research:

Investigate the cultural and historical symbolism of the character.

Etymology:

Trace the evolution of the character from its ancient origins through contemporary usage.

Strokes:

Study the strokes comprising the character and the order in which the strokes are written.

Practice:

Copy the ancient masters' artworks over and over until one's muscles have memorized the masters' writing techniques.

Emptiness:

Empty one's mind clutter to invite the sacred images to fill the empty space.

Composition:

Distill the character's essence and envision its Yin and Yang: the positive black ink image on the negative white space of the paper.

Transcendence:

Transcend all the years of studying and copying the masters to release that knowledge and control.

Animate the character with personal energy and entrust the brush to dance across the paper, leaving traces of ink reflecting not only the artist but also the collective psyche of mankind.

Finally, release the sacred images to the custody of the viewers who will reinterpret the images through their own psyches.