Jean Jacques Rousseau in his 'Confessions' says that if he cannot walk, he cannot think. To walk is to think. All artists need to think; to clear the mind of the mundane, the present, the pressing matters. Somehow walking gets one away from the crowding in of thoughts that stifle the creative mind.
According to Herbert Read, writing in 1964 in Studio International, he says that the first Principle of six, in the Chinese philosophy of art, is to do with a unifying, spiritual energy, flowing through all things, uniting them in harmony. He says that it seems that the first canon of painting is fundamentally metaphysical.
How do we interpret this? Do we think about it as a perfection of everything involved in a painting? The idea, the method, the interpretation? The oneness of the artist with her culture?
The second principle is interpreted as 'the bone' of the work. Herbert Read says this is to do with the structural strength of the brushstroke, the 'skeleton' of the work. My feeling is that it is to do with the skill of the artist being at one with the artist. It is unity and therefore strength given thereby. It has to do with fluency and the well practised becoming instinctive.
The third principle is to do with appropriate form. 'A correspondence between subject and form'. I think, idea and form. Again, they are one, united, perfect unity.
The fourth principle is about colour. I guess, the right colour. Again a total appropriateness to the subject and the feel to be given.
The fifth principle is about composition - everything in its place and a place for everything. This might include perspective. It includes giving importance to the subject matter in where it is in relation to other elements. It is good composition, which is in the trained and experienced eye of the practitioner.
The sixth principle is about 'copying'. I wonder if this means, not copying nature, or copying a face but more to do with interpretation, with all the previous elements in their perfect state; ' copying' the influences that went into the inspiration in the first place; a 'picking up' by the artist of the elements in the culture that flow through the artist's hands to have a perfect expression outwards, of what went inwards.
I was talking to a young man from a far Eastern culture the other day and he asked what I did. I replied that I am a sculptor and immediately his manner totally changed. By anyone in our culture, I have never been treated like this. I was speechless and utterly humbled. He said 'Oh gosh! It is an honour to be in the presence of a real artist'. This brought back feelings of my early ambition. It felt, then, like an honour and a privilege, and a responsibility, when I was young and setting off on my grand journey. Since then, the reality of the day to day; the links of art and leisure; the continual need to justify oneself when talking to acquaintances; makes the early ambition pale into a disappearing shade. Where would society be without art? It is our humanity. What is culture? Look at what we have produced in this country by way of art, literature, music,poetry, dance, sport, science, engineering. These are all creative and require ideas, development, skill, time and public support. The whole world has contributed. Our creativity abounds.