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Study of Tree and Chinese Calligraphy

The other day I was drawing in a park, I saw two trees nestled together. They grew very close, leaning on each other, like dancers. I immediately felt how arrogant I was to anthropomorphize them so easily. They are their own entities, and I shouldn't personify them so readily. I wonder: how would trees view themselves? From the perspective of a tree.

Trees have their own patterns of growth, with branches intertwining like human veins, like streams joining the sea, resembling the shape of rivers. There's a fascinating natural phenomenon scientifically called "crown shyness," which refers to certain tree species maintaining a respectful distance between their canopies even in crowded spaces. There is interaction, conflict, and avoidance between trees.

I seem to catch a clue to some order, everything in nature follows some kind of rule, which is also reflected in their visual forms. There are Chinese idioms, such as "see the macro through the micro," implying that the laws of the universe and life can be observed from minor things. And in Buddhism, "a flower one world, a tree one Buddha," from a single flower or tree, one can comprehend everything.

Trees, humans, and all things in the world share the same origin. How to integrate my empathy for trees and my contemplation of the laws of the universe into a visual form? How to blend the microscopic and the macroscopic together? The first thing that comes to my mind is Chinese characters.

In Chinese, "tree," "wood," "forest," and "woods" can all represent trees.

A single tree is represented by "木" (wood). Wood expresses nature, and in Chinese, "木" has also been endowed with the meaning of "simplicity and honesty."

Two trees form "林" (forest), leading to the saying, "a single tree does not make a forest." In Chinese, "林" has come to mean "a place of retreat."

Three "木" make "森" (woods), indicating a multitude of trees. When there are many trees, sunlight is blocked, and "森" has also come to mean something dark and gloomy.

Chinese characters are pictographs, transformed from images into visual symbols, from oracle bone scripts to clerical scripts to today's simplified Chinese. I hope to combine the shape of trees and the symbol of "tree" in Chinese characters into an original visual symbol, integrating my understanding of the world while still retaining the essence of painting.


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