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On My Painting Experience

On My Painting Experience

True painting penetrates straightly into the essence, the true image, of all things. To cultivate a state of oneness with the universe at the moment of painting, I always take a long time to purify myself before I paint. I begin by meditating. After sitting in calmness for sometime, there will arise in me a response of brightness and warmth as I enter the state of quietude and tranquility. Then many things may happen. Each happening is intimately related to my painting. The following are some of my experiences.

The Liberation of True Self
Everything within me begins to transform and expand. In an instant, the self is freed from the confines of the body and becomes weightless, luminous, and ethereal. The true self emerges and rises to an indescribable height. Leaving behind flesh and mind, I become one with the universe. I am in touch with the essence of beauty and nature. Paintings produced at these moments are graceful, full-bodied, and carefree. This state of beauty is absolute and self-contained, and cannot be attained through activities of the intellect. With the loss of this state, worldly thoughts, concerns, and desires would intrude. Paintings disturbed by these moments would be lacking in directness and sincerity and would have to be cast away. On the contrary, constant immersion in this state of beauty will bring upon the transformation of one's eyes. They will shine with brilliance. What they see will consequently be fresh and bright, unlike the habitual reflections of ordinary eyes. Be it flowers or trees, hills or streams, birds or beasts, their colours, shapes and forms will become fuller, healthier and livelier. All things will appear in their true images.

Fullness and Solidity
Or there will arise from within an infinite internal force with infinite weight, like a heavy, expanding metal ball that plunges into a bottomless abyss. I can feel the pull of gravity. This sense of fullness and solidity is the truth I impart to my paintings, their lines, their colours, and their composition. I paint when I have grasp of this reality. Otherwise, truthfulness would be lost to my brushstrokes as voice is lost to a singer.

Stillness and Motion
Stillness and motion are born out of each other in me. The state of quietude must not be mistaken for a state of inactivity. While there is no observable movement in this state, the body is open and unobstructed to the easy flow of blood and energy. There is motion within stillness, stillness within motion. This is the beauty of stillness, the beauty of motion. There is no contradiction between the two. Rather there is unity. It is as Yin and Yang are not opposites but two sides of one thing. I-Ching states this truth as: ''Yin by itself does not grow, Yang by itself does not live.'' At the instant when quietude and motion each come into being and interact, I can feel rapid pulsations that begin at the centre of energy between my eyebrows and spread to other centres in the body. Inspiration takes flight. Brushstrokes go as if assisted by spirits. The rhythmic interplay of stillness and motion is apparent in the brushstrokes...
No component of a painting should be the work of the intellect. As the painter ''thinks about'' them, he is no longer at one with them. Rather he is looking at them from the outside. He is alienated from them and has lost touch with their essence. Paintings thus produced would lack truthfulness. However, when every instance of painting is the transference of the instant of direct experience, the experience, the brushstroke hence ensued, the medium and the imagery will melt into one. It will be the truth within the artist.

Chan Ky-Yut