Thursday, April 29, 2010

Practice Shiqi Tie 运开:临摹《十七帖》

Having been practising Wang Xizhi’s ‘Shiqi Tie’ for about four months, I now have a better understanding on the meaning on ‘sheng-shu-sheng’ stages of learning Chinese calligraphy.
The Chinese word ‘sheng’ has many meanings. In the first stage of learning Chinese calligraphy, it refers to the stage of unfamiliarity. While there are a number of things one should pay attention to at this stage, I think two things are most important on getting one familiar with writing the words: the number of strokes that form the words and the sequence of writing the strokes. After one has a better idea of these two aspects of writing, one can proceed to work other things: how and when to start a stroke, when to use finger or wrist to turn the brush, when to use various techniques of brush-turning, the correct space between the strokes, the position of the start and end of strokes, etc.
The second stage refers to the skilled or proficient (shu) stage, this is when you can start to work on the relationship between the words and the composition of the calligraphy. At this stage, one should almost be able to memorise the shape and methods of writing the strokes of the words so that one can focus on the placing the words at the right positions. The aim of this stage is to be able to write the whole piece in a way that the words and composition are flow smoothly.
The first two stages are what we called the methods (fa) of Chinese art. The last stage of ‘sheng’ reflects the very important concepts of ‘vivid’ and ‘lively’ in Chinese aesthetics. How to be vivid and lively? The only way to achieve that is that art work must be natural. The unity of methods and naturalness reflects the traditional aesthetic ideal of a great work of art as a living and organic pattern. Most of us may not be able to achieve such high level of art in our life time.
Shown here is a piece of my practice work.

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