Tai Chi Y4D26: a sketch, not a painting

im getting plenty of exercise here in Montreal, so it’s easy to preface this “boohoo, I didn’t do a full half-hour of tai chi post” with a reminder that I’ve walked at least 2-3 miles daily since we came here.  I’m doing ok on the exercise front, even while eating like a king,

Yesterday my lady and I went to the Musee des Beaux-Artes, and saw an exhibit on Benjamin Constant and he Orientalistm movement in art, about 1820-1880 or so.  The paintings were wonderful, but I was equally impressed by the “stage set” which was constructed around the paintings — the slash of white tile and bright light into an otherwise darkened room; the use of screens of pierced metal screens to showcase the decorative arts of Islam; the placement of small tables and couches. Everything was quite elegant.

It’s relevant to tai chi today because today was really only a sketch of a tai chi form, rather than a painting.  A painting can take dozens or hundreds of hours, particularly one with fabulous drapery and elaborate hangings and geometrical carpets and oadalisques and so on.

In tai chi, we can compare that level of precision to the exacting standards of inverse breathwork, and moving through water, and deliberate footwork, and managing the speed precisely right, and correct limb placement and so on.  Sometimes the work is going to build up to that.

But there was a whole case on display yesterday of sketches and preliminary studies of various sizes, everything from thumbnails to small paintings, everything from grayscale watercolors and sienna crayons to partially colored pencil sketches.  And this is how artists work.

And we are martial artists. Some days the practice is going to be a sketch. Some days it’s a full scale painting.  The goal of the professional of course is to produce more and more full scale paintings.

But even the master needs to sketch once in a while.

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