Literati Painting: A Synthesis of Art and Meditation

This is a digitally constructed collage. I put together pieces from different classic Chinese paintings and tried to mimic the style of a fourteen-century literati artist.

I’ve done research on China in the past, especially Chinese traditional art, and have written about it here and here. This week I decided to start writing a new book about China. I will use art as a reference point and bracket that reference between two centuries–the fourteenth and twentieth. And I will focus my attention on one city that just happens to straddle the Yangzte River: Chongqing.


It was Chongqing that became the last stronghold of the free Chinese in WWII (Second Sino-Japanese War). And it was there that fierce resistance by the Southern Song Dynasty held invading Mongols off for years.

Why art? Because in China, art has been a vessel for culture and tradition. Through conquest and revolution, art has endured. I find that to be especially true in the literati tradition.

A Word About the Picture at the Top of the Page

The picture was prompted by a contest on Steemit, which I enter every time it’s open. In the contest we are challenged by a fellow Steemian, @shaka, to make a collage from one of his photos. Rank amateurs (like me) and graphic artists participate. Sometimes a good idea prevails over skill…that gives me hope. However, I don’t enter to win. I enter to have fun.

Here’s @shaka’s photo, as it appeared before I made the collage:

Here are the elements that went into my collage:

[By the way, emulating, or even copying an artist is considered to be an homage, in the literati tradition]

The tree was extracted from this picture:

Wu Zhen Fishermen section.steemit 2,5x562,2cm._ca._1340._Freer.public.jpg

Fishermen, by Wu Zhen. China, fourteenth century. Public domain.

The meditating gentleman was extracted from this picture:


Ni_Zan_Portrai_Yuan, unknown author. China, Yuan Dynasty (approximately fourteenth century). Public domain

The lotus flowers were extracted from this picture:


Pink and White Lotus, unknown artist. China, Yuan Dynasty. Public domain.

The birds were taken from this picture:

Loquats steemit and_Mountain_Bird anonymous public.jpg

Loquats and Mountain Bird, by anonymous. China, fourteenth century. Public domain.

The ducks, reeds and characters were taken from this picture:

Ducks_steemit and_Reeds_MET_47_18_19.jpg

Ducks and Reeds, by Lin Liang. China, fifteenth century. Public domain.

The hint of chrysanthemum was extracted from this picture:

chrysanthemum steemit public Xian'e_Changchun_Album_08.jpg

Xian’e Changchun Album 08, by Guiseppe Castilione. Between 1722-1725. Public domain.

If you’d like to see the blog that accompanied this collage, you can find it on Steemit. It’s called The Brain: Meditation, Flow and Literati Art.

I’ll try to post a new chapter for my book once a week. That’s going to be a challenge, but I might as well aim high 🙂


Making GIFs

A couple of months ago I decided I wanted to learn how to make a GIF. I know you can download just about any GIF from the Internet, but that would not express exactly what I wanted to say. Anyway, it irked me that I didn’t know how to do this. So I learned how to make the most rudimentary GIF.

I used a simple, open source image manipulation program, GIMP. I do this whenever I make a GIF, or create any picture. GIMP is wonderful, although I still can’t use many of its functions. That’s changing. Now at least I can make a GIF. And I can sort of extract a picture from a background. But there’s a lot more to learn.

If you’re not familiar with GIMP, take a look at it. The program may not be as sophisticated as Photoshop, but if you have patience you can do just about anything with it.

Right now, on the spur of the moment, I’ll make a tree, blossoming. Let’s see how that works out.

I just picked a couple of generic images from Paint 3D (flower and tree) and made a few successive frames.

What I find is that when I blog, inserting a GIF sometimes adds interest. People like action. I even did this to a brain diagram earlier today. I ended up not using the brain GIF, because I thought it was a little creepy. Still sometimes this may come in handy.

Here’s the before and after on the brain diagram (this is a public domain image, NIH produced)

I was writing a blog about functional connectivity–neuroplasticity–so I thought the pulsating brain might be interesting. It was more annoying than interesting, though 🙂

Anyway, just thought I’d drop a note about making GIFs since I made a few in the last couple of days. Actually, I enjoy doing it.

Who Has Time to Be Bored?

Not me.  In the last week I’ve come across so many interesting ideas that can be turned into books, that should be turned into books.  But where is the time?   I sit here now with my eyes closing, heavy with a threatening sleep.  But no! I want to write this.  I want to read and explore.  Time runs out it seems, every day.

I guess it’s a warning, that time is always running out, that I should use my precious portion with great care.  That doesn’t mean I have to use every moment to produce something material, but every moment should matter. 

That’s all.  I wanted to share that with you, as I sip my juice and read about horses and how they continue to change the lives of people today.  Just another idea, waiting for development.