Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Mustard Seed Manual

Death haunts us but Life also continuously calls us to observe and celebrate the mystery of our mostly-conscious existence. I celebrate some of that by drawing pictures of what I can see and have experienced. Lately, I've been drawing with ink with a variety of brushes.

Klaus von Mirbach reminded me of "The Mustard Seed Manual" the other day and I'm almost sorry I looked at it again after so many years. The Mustard Seed Manual or Chieh Tzu Yuan Hua Chuan, 芥子園畫傳 "Manual of the Mustard Seed Garden" (facsimile) is an illustrated text of some of the methods and attributes of Chinese painting. It was compiled and printed in the late 1600's.

My use of it is superficial at best. If you like Asian painting and calligraphy or you are an artist, I recommend that you check it out. However, even a cursory viewing will affect how you paint. What happens next is your own story.

Education of any type is like a rock thrown into a river, it makes a big splash but soon the current incorporates the disturbance into its larger identity. Our job is to appreciate and nurture that identity. Making Art helps with me do this job. You could call it one's life work. 


  1. Education of any type is like a rock thrown into a river.....well said, a beautiful picture, I feel the same. When I was working with the mustard seed garden books, I never got comfortabel with the ink and the brush, not even with a original chinese brush. so I continued with the pencil, a graphite pencil, a thick pen, like a chalk, without these wooden shell, and more and more I got the feeling, that pencil is my brush. When I do this drawings in my garden, the ones without color, without the intention to color it after drawing, just drawing, I always think of that mustard seed garden books. I am very pleased that you also know these books, I know here in my area no one heard of these books, isnt it a wonderful coincidence?

  2. We're always burrowing our own path between honesty and artifice. And sometimes, artifice is a form of honesty. It's called poetry or irony.
    It's all a big stew now: we pick and choose our examples and teachers. Where will this lead? Too much to think about; I'd rather make pictures!


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