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.


Credit

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_Portrait_Yuan2.jpg

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


The lotus flowers were extracted from this picture:

lotus.jpg


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 🙂

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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.

An Art Adventure

Yesterday I promised to blog more on WordPress, and so here I am, with another blog that I posted on Steemit a couple of months ago.

Steem is a crytpocurrency, and Steemit is the social networking platform that uses Steem as a form of rewards. That’s a nice incentive to blog, but as you can see from the post below, I put far more effort into my blogs on Steemit than the small reward merits. This post was written for one of the many contests that you can find on the Steemit platform. The contest is very special for me, because I’m not an artist and yet I get to play around with art. The name of the contest is Let’s Make a Collage (LMAC). Each week (most weeks, anyway) the contest sponsor, @shaka gives the community an original photo to play with. Out of that photo we are supposed to make a collage, using only copyright-free elements. Most of the people who participate are graphic artists. Not me. I failed art in the eighth grade, but @shaka welcomes my participation anyway.

Without further ado, please enjoy (!) my evident enthusiasm below. If you follow the link, you can see what others did in this edition of LMAC.


Garden of Magic and Wonder

Let’s Make a Collage

shangri la 16 gif.gif

This is the photo @shaka gave us to work with

shaka march8.jpg


When I began to imagine ideas that might work in this picture, I recalled the early sixteenth-century triptych, Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch. Every inch of Bosch’s painting is filled with phantasmagorical details. The three panels that make up the piece tell a story: creation, fall from grace, and damnation.


wizard light.jpg

The Garden of Earthly Delights

Heronimus Bosch

Panel One, Upper Left Portion

heronimus bosch uppper left panel.jpg

Here we see the Garden of Eden. This is only the upper half of Panel One. The lower half shows God introducing Adam to Even. The theme is innocence. Light and beauty prevail.



Panel Two

Once again, only the upper portion of the panel is shown here. This is the largest of the three panels. Bosch does not spare us. He shows humanity depraved, insatiable, consumed by vice. Confusion and corruption prevail.



Panel Three



When I look at this panel (only the upper portion is shown here) I think of Dante’s Inferno. This is hell. It seems the damned are consumed by the appetites that drove them in life. Hell’s residents prey upon each other. Darkness and chaos prevail.

One well-known image from the lower portion of this panel is of a pig wearing a nun’s veil.



bosch pig nun.jpg


Trivia



Source for the following information is My Modern Met

The Painting
  1. 7′ by 13′
  2. Oil on oak
  3. When the panels are closed, there’s a picture of earth.
The Artist
  1. Year of birth is uncertain, although it is known he lived in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.
  2. He was born in the Netherlands
  3. About twenty-five of his pictures remain.
  4. He was well-known in his lifetime.
  5. None of his writings have survived, so art critics can only guess at the meaning of his art.



My collage took shape in these steps:

shangri-la-326126_640.jpg

I downloaded a picture from Pixabay (credit: mariamichelle).

shaka march8 plu shangri-la.jpg

and connected that picture to @shaka‘s.

Then I went to Paint 3d and looked for greenery and magical images.

shangri la small gif.gif

Finally, I took that blended picture and headed over to GIMP, where I added lighting effects, and turned the whole thing into a GIF.