Serenity / ink and color painting 恬静（彩墨）
I remember that when I was in high school (in the general teaching section of Hualien Normal High School), our art teacher, Mr. Chao Shan-kuei (nicknamed “Lingnan Whiskers”; a graduate of Hangzhou College of Art and a student of Lin Fengmian), wanted us to buy the book “Collected Paintings of the Mustard Field” (published by Tainan Chingwei Bookstore, 16-size, 1,000 pages), read the text, and copy the paintings in it. Some of my classmates were too lazy to do the paintings, but I made copies of many of them.
During that period of copying, I came to the conclusion that one should learn calligraphy from ancient calligraphers, but should learn painting from modern painters.
The best calligraphy done by any modern people can’t be as good as that of people in ancient time. Every single day, people in ancient time used writing brushes to write words, letters, invitations, contracts, and memorials to the throne. They grew up with writing brushes and built up solid brush skills from a very early age. In contrast, how many people today use writing brushes on a daily basis? There is no environment for it any more. Because the calligraphy of people nowadays can’t equal that of the ancients, and people today also find it difficult to innovate, they can only try to imitate old examples.
As for painting, people in ancient times didn’t have much information about the world and seldom had chances to see paintings done by foreigners. Confined by their limited knowledge, artists merely passed on what they had learned to the following generation. They had no opportunities to see and learn as widely as people today. Nowadays we can absorb many different painting styles and forms, employ foreign pigments, and thereby produce much more varied and colorful paintings. So as for paintings, modern people far outshine people in ancient time. ＠