Keep the spirit on wing

I’m writing about your loss, Dan.

A long time ago, when I was in college, and studying chinese painting, there was a teacher, a mentor — and surely, spiritual advisor: Wing Leong, a student of the master, Chiang Yee.

And he taught about the idea that when you paint, it’s not about the realism, it’s about the spirit of the rendering — it’s finding the ch’i, vital force, that enlivens the rendering. Chiang Yee talked about the ancient principles of painting. From Hsien Ho, a 6th century scholar — who spoke of the rhythm of heaven, in capturing spirit in painting.

I always look for that: resonance, heaven rhythm, mist of the offering > ch’i.

So for a long time, I’ve sent this out to friends, where there has been a passage, from one plane to another. It’s about, in our living, as well as our painting, the idea of keeping the spirit alive, the rendering on wing, aloft –the form, the gesture — empowered.

Vladmir Nabokov speaks of the bird in the context of spirit and memory — that while the bird is the spirit of that which is recalled, it’s the spirit — soaring; we are still bound on earth, looking skyward — the shadows of those sailing forms.

So, to either level of metaphor, the bird is the spirit — the emblem of ch’i, the character of that which has passed.

And we stand by, still earthbound.

Love | all ways —

tg | d e c a t u r i s l a n d

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