Some of my foreign friends are leaving Chengdu soon and I was wondering what gift I should give them. The gift should be traditional and significant. After thinking it over, I decided to draw some Chinese water and ink paintings for them by myself. I made this decision for three reasons: firstly, I cannot think of any other gifts like traditional Chinese water and ink paintings that can symbolize our ancient and splendid culture. Secondly, I cannot afford the thousands of RMB needed to buy an authentic creation of well-known masters of the art. Last but not least, a paining drawn by myself contains the most sincere wishes that I want to express and it is much more meaningful. Besides, although I am an amateur painter, my drawing skill is not too shabby, so this is also a chance to display it.
I have drawn over ten paintings for my friends for the occasion of their departures. These paintings were drawn either on empty scrolls or fans. Since I’m good at drawing birds and flowers, most of these pictures contained typical plant and animal scenes. For example, the “Four Gentlemen” among flowers——bamboo, chrysanthemum, plum blossoms and orchid, and others like lotus, pine, peacocks, pandas and so on. Each of them has a special connotation. The “Four Gentlemen” are like real gentlemen with a lofty spirit. They show their beauty in the most severe environment regardless of competition with other flowers in a warm and cozy season. Thus, in a hard winter, we can see red, yellow or white plum blossoms decorating the pure white snow, and different chrysanthemums continue to show their beauty after most other flowers have withered. The cloud-kissing bamboos grow one row after another; they are straight and remain green all the year round. A Song Chinese poet, Su Dongpo, once wrote: “we can eat without mean, but we cannot live without bamboo; the scarcity of meat might make us skinny, however, the absence of bamboo will make us tacky”. Orchid gains its popularity from its fragrance. Most poets and scholars of ancient China also speak highly of the lotus. It grows in the mud, but presents us with pure white or light pink beauty. It symbolizes a person who stays upright and true in spite of the environment surrounding him.
Just like most famous ancient scholars who lived in seclusion and were indifferent to fame and fortune, I love painting, but do not wish to regard it as a means to make money or a job that I have to do everyday. When I’m seized with a sudden impulse or feel uneasy or motivated, I’ll take up a painting brush and devote myself to the fascinating world of painting. I find peace while drawing and feel like I am transported to a world that dates back hundreds of years. William Shakespeare once wrote in Twelfth Night：“If music be the food of love, play on.” I want to change it into: “Even if painting is not the food of life, draw on,” to encourage myself to continue this hobby.