To Paint a Flower

Last weekend, browsing through the Docent/Guide Library at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, where I volunteer every month, I came across a secret key to the attitude embodied in Chinese nature paintings. Here it is:

‘The chrysanthemum is a flower of proud disposition; its color is beautiful, its fragrance lingers. To paint it, one must hold in his heart a conception of flower as whole and complete. Only in this way can that mysterious essence be transmitted in a painting.’

— p. 436, General Principles of composing the plant, The Mustard Seed Manual of Painting (translated from the Chinese and edited by Mai-mai Sze)


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