Artistic Excellence: the Definition of a Master in the Tradition of Chinese Calligraphy
Even a cursory study of Chinese Art, both in painting and calligraphy, must at some point deal with the personalities who shaped artistic values across history. The styles of individual artists have been central to the traditional arts of China since the Han, and as a result, personal style and emulation have been more important in China than they were in the West. While antique styles have endured in the West, in China these styles can be traced back far more readily to individual persons than to more abstract aesthetic principles.
The Role of Chinese Calligraphy as a Literary Art in Poetry
While most of the articles on this website focus on calligraphy as a visual art, it is also a literary art. The words chosen for a calligraphic work are just as important as the excellence of their realization. While short propitious phrases, tracts from philosophical or religious texts, essays, and even personal letters have all been cites of calligraphic work, poetry is perhaps the most common focus of calligraphy.
When we think of traditional Chinese arts, whether we think of Calligraphy or Painting, images in stark black and white may often come to mind. Indeed, for much of history, the Chinese art tradition has relied on a very limited set of materials and tools in order to realize artistic visions. With only four elements, the Chinese calligrapher or painter is able to evoke innumerable images and concepts. These elements collectively are known as the Four Treasures of the Studio.
Ever since the Chinese began writing with Ink and Brush, scholars and artists have ground their own Ink. Although many beginners may choose pre-prepared liquid Ink (link: online store prepared Ink) due to its consistency, ready availability and cheapness, experienced and novice calligraphers alike take pride in grinding their own Ink Sticks (link: online store Ink Sticks) (墨/ Mo). Not only is the grinding of Ink a great way to prepare the mind and wrist for the forthcoming writing, but it is also the best way to get a variety of Ink effects.