there are no shortcuts to creativity
Post #328 • July 22, 2004, 3:05 PM • 3 Comments
William Reed, Shodo: The Art of Coordinating Mind, Body, and Brush:
Sonkatei (A.D. 648-703), one of the great Chinese masters of calligraphy, wrote at length on the process of creativity. He described three stages to learning the Way of the Brush. In the first stage you strive, like a baby, to learn shape, form, and position; and constantly have the feeling that you cannot quite get it right. In the second stage, you seek individuality and self-expression. At this level you have enough skill to have fun and be creative, but your artistic growth may be stunted by conceit. Stagnation eventually leads to a decline in ability. Only if you keep growing do you enter the third stage, where you are again as a small child, but now having overcome pride and bad habits. Indeed the work of some of the masters does have a childlike quality, spontaneous and free of pretense. The work of Zen Masters Hakuin and Ryokan both have this quality, and are very difficult to copy well. In fact, they do not make good tehon [models for copying] for the beginner. The person lacking in technical skill too easily confuses childlike with childish. Many adults fall into this trap, trying to recapture the lost spontaneity of childhood, instead of seeking a higher spontaneity on the other side of maturity. There are no shortcuts to creativity, and by going back, they only create a caricature of the child that they once were.
Update: Sun Guoting (Jp. Sonkatei) was the author of Shu Pu ("Discourse on Calligraphy"), which seems not to have been translated into English. I would like to be proven wrong about this.