We are still in the middle of moving, renovations etc so painting has taken a backseat to other things lately. Very much looking forward to being settled and in a space where I can get back at it!
Here is a pig to welcome the Chinese New Year – health, wealth and happiness to all! I was inspired by the traditional Chinese paper cut art which often includes flowers…
Tom wrote a poem to honour this pig …and this year!
Glitter glowing over mud
a touch of sunlight dapples
a brow enjoying springlike floods
of sunlight. Soon the apples
will be afruiting in the trees
abuzz with busy worker bees
while below the pigs will root
and wallow with great ease. Bring boots
if you’d cavort with happy swine
for they’ve been known to splash and spatter
anyone they want to flatter
with the last and best of wine!
The good brown earth makes hearth and floor
for the happy sow and boar!
Well, after struggling the previous day with the mid section of the mandala this final third felt like a gift. As I was meditating, the image arose in my mind of lotus leaves forming a canopy over this world. I love the whimsical, surreal sense it gives the whole. Hope you do too!
Here is Tom’s response as the final third of this mandala series narrative experiment. Love this!
Rising high above the mountains
lotus blossoms spread their leaves
catching water from the fountains
of the scudding Hyades
as from rain-wracked winter skies
cataracts fall on the wise
who avert all-seeing eyes
from an army on the rise
until the warriors of home
meet in battle cruel invaders
as the king upon his throne
commits his great dissuader:
Art unfolding on the plain
sends attackers home again.
But wait! there’s more!! Tom so enjoyed the final image that he wanted to write a separate poem for the image as stand alone. This poem is less action packed and more meditative. There is one more version of this mandala planned …what will Tom’s poetic response be after it’s painted?!
curving round horizon near
a world within a pond
ancient garden, absent fear
embracing lotus fronds
little mountains rising small
weighty, deep, and dense
dragons hide in clouds too tall
beyond the garden fence
here within this perfect world
wisdom sits and waits
in the sky the curlews skirl
above the open gates
though none may leave and none may enter
all are drawn into the centre
Well, I have to admit I got a bit “in my head” with this one – not as meditative as an approach as I try to bring to mandala drawing. But after reading Tom’s poem for the first part, this is how I continued the mandala. The scene unfolds with bridges, people and stylized Chinese clouds with dragons lurking …and Tom followed with the next poem for the series.
All across the Middle Kingdom
gossips gather in the streets
“Will the Emperor’s dominion
yield to rude invader’s feet?”
“Of course the Throne is will never fall
to the horsemen of the steppes!
Our warriors will give their all
to keep the raiders from our steps!”
On the walls the mages conjure
summoning the dragon-clouds
to ward the kingdom from its danger:
up they rise so fierce and proud!
While the sentinels beyond
huddle ‘neath the lotus fronds.
Time to think about a new painting for my class – even though I won’t have time to complete it before the end of the course next week.
This idea came to me when a friend was describing a painting she had seen. The strong image in my head turned out to be very different from the actual painting and I decided that it would be an interesting project to try to make my image into reality.
This one is called “the poet” but is meant to be an imaginary portrait of Li Bai, one of the most – if not the most – famous Chinese poet. Perhaps he is looking too studious… Anyway, it is not an exercise in historical accuracy!
UPDATE: New poem from Tom perfectly captures the mood of the scene and even a bit of the flavour of Li Bai’s poetry!!
Walnut writing desk
rice-wine close at hand
I look down… wondering.
What name evokes “immortal”
yet completes the poet’s rhyme:
“moon’s reflection cold and white”?
Before flying back to Canada, I had a few days in Beijing staying in a lovely small courtyard hotel in the Drum and Bell district again. Because of a strong rain the night before, the air was actually quite pleasant and the sky was blue that morning!
The hutongs (the traditional alleys of Beijing) have their own busy-ness but it is not like the regular traffic jams of the larger streets. Everything is at a smaller scale – even the vehicles.
…and after a flight of 12 hours and one night’s sleep, the seemingly surreal beauty of Vancouver, British Columbia as we cruised slowly out of the harbour. (It is great to have a friend with a boat!)
Although the winds were too light at this point to actually sail, the day was beautiful and enjoying the scenery from the shade cast by the sail cover was just about perfect… the word “awesome” got slightly but justifiably overused during these few days 🙂
Sunset the first evening after managing to prepare a pretty delicious meal in the galley – or maybe sailing makes you hungry 😉
Pirates Cove Marine Provincial Park had some nice hiking around and through the point of an island.
Fantastical rock forms…
Fascinating tidal pools… the very first one I saw had the most diverse inhabitants.
There she is, still afloat!
A beautiful day in Nanaimo…
Strong winds made for a quick trip back to Vancouver and sadly the end of an amazing trip.
Our intention was to head back to Tunxi and then catch a bus to some interesting villages slightly to the east. However, we just missed a bus and would have had to wait 3 hours for the next one so… quick change of plans and we were off (without delay) to Nanping instead. Far fewer tourists and generally more rustic, the village has been the backdrop for many a Chinese period film.
Even narrow alleys had interesting patterns in the stone.
There were three main family names in this village and each had a large ancestral hall for – family reunions?
These ancestral halls were quite elaborate and the courtyards and interior halls were grand and spacious.
Fire hydrants and electrical cables are fairly well tucked out or sight. Like the other villages, Nanping seemed to have most modern conveniences.
The colourful fabric still left from the filming of Ju Dou animates the courtyard and gives a small glimpse into the imagined past.
The doorways are deliberately staggered so that bad energy can’t rush into the house.
Now this kitchen that is really out of date! The house actually had four different eras of kitchens intact – above just the Ming dynasty part. Nanping was the only village we had a guide for and this was one of the interesting tidbits gleaned from her commentary .
Another alley curves off to somewhere…
Time to go. While heading out to the main road to catch the bus back to Tunxi, the view back shows Nanping’s beautiful setting with rice paddies and mountains.
Further along the road towards the slightly larger road… a water buffalo and her calf watch somewhat warily from the rice paddy as we pass by.
After lunch we hopped on a bus and went to another world heritage site village called Hongcun. The first view of the village across the small lake was stunning even in the rain!
We had booked a home stay for the night so first thing to do was find it and stow our packs. Much more enjoyable visiting the town with less on our backs. The room was simple but the setting just amazing.
At first the village seemed a confusing maze but it was true that the flow of the water was a constant reference to find the way.
This extensive house had a series of courtyards and interesting interiors.
What a pleasure to step from a small dark interior into a large courtyard… bright and open while still feeling private and intimate.
The intricate carving in the structural members would have been indicative that the family was particularly wealthy at the time the home was built.
This bridge was the backdrop for the opening scene of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon… so beautiful.
So I had to cross it too!
And over the top of the tiny bridge… lotus blossoms ahead!
The lotus is not just a beautiful flower but also a cultural and Buddhist symbol – while it grows out of the mud, it floats above it untouched and undisturbed…
The ancient villages of Southern Anhui province are considered a world heritage site. Among them, Xidi’s Ming dynasty charms along with the stunning setting were enough to make me promise myself another visit one day. These villages are living museums (you pay a fee to enter) with on the one hand ancient infrastructure and architecture and on the other, people going on about their daily lives in a perfectly modern way (in amongst all the tourists).
Xidi’s beautiful gate is the first monument you see when you enter the village and the last when you leave…
A charming gate leads back out of the village to a water garden and, across a narrow neck of land, vegetable plots.
Classic Ming dynasty roof top profiles… and communications towers.
Narrow curving lanes wander between the ancient buildings – there’s just enough space for scooters!
The residences still have traditional woodwork at the front courtyard. Often, the family still lives in the building. Tourists come and go freely but respecting that access is only if the gate is open and only to the front courtyard unless invited further.
Love these mossy gardens!
Caught on camera by my friend as I soaked up the ambience.
Many of the people living in the village clearly make their living in one way or another from the tourists. There are small shops selling handicrafts and local tea etc. Others will prepare a home cooked meal for your lunch at a reasonable price. The view above is from the roof top of such a home. After selecting what we wanted from the fresh local produce in her kitchen, our hostess encouraged us to enjoy the view from the roof while we waited for lunch to be ready.
These villages are great beauty spots in China and as such attract art students from all over the country. School was just over for the year so there were many taking advantage of the break or on group trips.
Southern Anhui province was love at almost first sight… it took a couple of tries to find this alley in Tunxi (also know as Huangshan Shi or Yellow Mountain City) where the hotel was located… The pedicab driver from the train station got lost!
The hotel was converted from two old homes so entering meant going through a series of courtyards complete with beautiful mossy planting, cat and puppy. Sorry, cat not caught on camera.
The hotel reception was all traditional wood detailing and art work… a pleasant place to wait in the rain…
Across from the reception another courtyard…
…and then stairs led to the room. I would have stayed here longer if I could have – it was lovely!
Caught here slightly off hours, Laojie was usually crowded with shoppers and shopkeepers. The most charming part of Tunxi.
Found a lovely two storey teashop the last day in Tunxi. Drank delicious green tea and nibbled on cookies prepared on site. An interesting confection filled with dried fruit and so strangely reminiscent of my mother’s mincemeat tarts.
And other fabulous food in Tunxi… we managed to order up some vegetarian feasts!
Aren’t they the cutest yin yang fish ever?! There is a significant tradition of using fish shapes to represent the yin yang symbol. Mine is a cute cartoon style version – so happy and cuddly!
I was just doodling and this is what happened – hope you enjoy 🙂
UPDATE: Cute and cuddly poem to match these fish – thanks Tom!!
When two fishies fall in love
they sometimes snuggle up
fin to fin and head to tail
like wine within a cup:
each touching all, conforming close
to contour and to form
smiling all the while: they know
they’ll never be forlorn!
In complementary shapes they make
a perfect pair ideal
their yin and yang in balanced smiles
revealing how they feel.