Chou Wen-chung



Concept and action involved in the traditional principles regarding calligraphy

  1. Structural principles of calligraphy
    1. Contrast/compare. That is counterpoint. (Indeed there is counterpoint within itself when the line moves.
    2. Correlating stroke components. Namely, texture in music.
    3. Meter/rhythm. Exactly the same as in music.
  2. Basic strokes
    1. Principal strokes. Principal modal tones — initials and dominants.
    2. Connecting strokes. Auxiliary modal tones — those connecting principal tones.
  3. Progression of strokes
    1. Continuing strokes
    2. Transforming strokes
    3. Rise and fall strokes
    4. Crossing strokes
  4. Characters of cursive strokes

    The following two items will be of interest in understanding the techniques of cursive calligraphy. And you will notice that almost all of them can be found in Windswept Peaks.

    1. Sparse/dense
    2. Deliberate/swift deliberate
    3. Delicate/stressed
    4. Straight/slanted
    5. Thick/attenuated
    6. Face-to-face/back-to-back
    7. Feint/solid
    8. Rise/fall
    9. Vertical/horizontal
  5. Types of cursive strokes
    1. Simplified
    2. Borrowed
    3. Linked
    4. Abbreviated
    5. Relocated
    6. Halved
    7. Combined
    8. Reverted

    All of the above should be instructive in analyzing the musical phrases which are usually a complete modal progression (in one direction only), but sometimes a segment of such a mode. The following, however, would be equivalent in music to, in terms of physical relations among the musicians, what you call gestures. Although, I still do not have a proper translation of this aspect.

  6. The relation between calligraphic principles and brush techniques

    Calligraphic principles result in principles of hand movement, which in turn determine the movement in the use of the brush, which then results in the deposit of ink on paper.

  7. Principles on space

    The shape of an ideogram or, sometimes, a single stroke determines the space between ideograms and strokes, which in turn creates the overall spatial balance in the completed calligraphy.

  8. Calligraphic movements

    The way the brush is held between the fingers controls the deposit of ink, but the finger movement is controlled in turn by the wrist movement, which is further controlled by the elbow movement. This, in turn, as required in certain types of calligraphy, is controlled by the movement of the shoulder. All of which are naturally controlled by the mind. The reversal of the order from the mind to the tip of the brush is actually responsible for the production of the stroke.

  9. Conclusion

    The production of brush work is controlled by the summation of all these movements. In other words, the mind visualizes the next stroke and initiates the necessary combination of all of these movements to create the exact expression of the stroke as visualized. The relation among the strokes as the calligraphy progresses represents a chain of such combinations of movements. Such movements may involve miniscule pauses of various parts of the body and brush, expecially when a space is desired. The relation between fluid and continuous action, and pauses is also an important artistic decision on the part of the mind.

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