Using Wisdom and Intelligence as an Artist

Simple landscape composition developed in four stages. It is featured in the book The What and How of Chinese Painting by Annie Chen.

What is Intelligence and What is Wisdom?

There are differing definitions for both of these words but before we launch into a discussion, it is useful present definitions.

Intelligence is often connected to knowledge. It is the ability to acquire knowledge and to apply knowledge to create a benefit.

Wisdom has more dimensions when compared to intelligence. Rather than knowledge, wisdom implies a broader understanding that places knowledge in context and couples it with an emotional intelligence that knows when to apply the right knowledge at the right time.

There is also a sense of peace that is associated with wisdom that is not always associated with intelligence. In fact, often times in my life, I've observed that the higher someone's intelligence, the more difficult it was for them to find peace. I've often noted that the amount of misery in one's life is linked to the degree by which their intelligence level exceeds their level of wisdom.

Modern life has provided such easy ways to acquire knowledge. With the advent of the internet, it is almost as if you have instant access to everything that has ever been thought by anyone at any time on any topic. At the same time, true understanding and development of the type of wisdom that both increases your power and increases your sense of peace seems rare.

Developing Intelligence and Wisdom as a Chinese Brush Painter or Calligrapher

Developing Your Chinese Painting Intelligence

Chinese Brush Painting and Calligraphy come with a unique set of techniques and materials. Much of this is foreign for artists with no previous exposure to the artform. It pays to develop your knowledge of these basic materials and how they are used.

Learn the difference between hard brushes like Happy Dot and Orchid Bamboo, combinations brushes like Flow and Double Happiness, and specialty brushes like BIFF and Mountain Horse Brushes. Discover the difference between, raw, semi-sized, and sized paper.

These are really simple concepts but understanding them is important and often times the volume of new information at the beginning can be overwhelming.

Developing Your Chinese Painting Wisdom

Initially memorizing things by rote seems like the fastest way to learn but often times the path to wisdom is about understanding that there are simple principles that can be applied to many different situations to increase understanding and confidence. Thinking about these principles in Chinese Painting inspired us to create the Chinese Brush Painting Mastery Steps. Studying and learning to apply these principles is the fastest way to a lasting feeling of confidence while painting.

Understand and embrace the cultural and philsophical differences between the East and the West. Many artists who were raised with the cultural ideas of the West sense a need for balance in the Western point of view. Eastern ideas offer that balance. Where the Western eye sees conflict and struggle, the Eastern eye looks for harmony and the path of least resistance. What the Western eye labels as a mistake, the Eastern eye sees as a "happy accident."

Above all, have patience and encouragement when speaking to yourself. Realize that life is a journey back to your true self. The ebb and flow of life is a constant separation and reunion between you and your larger self. Both of these are evolving, growing, separating and reuniting in a beautiful dance. Life is learning who you really are and growing in appreciation of who you are.

We, your OAS Family, are here to offer our support, encouragement, tools/materials, and the backdrop of our 500 year family tradition in Chinese Brush Painting.

Simple orchid painting from Magic of the Brush by Kai-Yu Hsu and Catherine Woo. Click here to see a larger version.

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