108 Flowers - Book 4

108 Flowers - Book 4

In mathematics, 108 is considered an "abundant" yet only "semi-perfect" number. Since I am not good in math, I do not know what these terms actually imply. They sound great to me. There are 108 heroes in the famed Chinese classic, "The Outlaws of the Marsh." Hindu deities have 108 names. Zen monks wear a string of 108 prayer beads to represent 108 mental states. Many Buddhist temples have 108 steps and their bells chime 108 times to welcome the New Year. It is said, each step and chime represent an earthly temptation one must overcome (I thought there was only one, and I could not overcome).

In our case, it is one lesson at a time. We have managed to climb all the steps and hear all the chimes. The temptation is still with us, stronger than ever. This is why the prayer beads connect into a circle. We are back to one again. We have experienced semi-perfection (so cool). A new beginning awaits.

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108 Flowers - Book 4
  • Peony

    Peony, the 'King' of all flowers, is the floral representative of good fortune and material well-being. The ancient Chinese city of Luoyang has the reputation for being the cultivation center of the finest peonies in China. Dozens of peony exhibitions and shows are held there annually.

    Ning emb...

  • Persimmon

    Persimmon is the whole package and is a great subject to paint. It is a precious floral subject from top to bottom! The Persimmon's fruit, besides being tasty, is used to make wine, vinegar, sugar, paint, and, herbal medicine. Its tree trunk is a good wood for making fine furniture. The Chinese e...

  • Plum Blossom

    Chinese brush painting begins with the study of the Four Gentlemen: Plum, Orchid, Bamboo and Chrysanthemum, the floral representations of the four seasons.

    Plum leads the way, representing winter. Since that is the season when the flower blooms, it also represents the spirit of resiliency. Lear...

  • Poinsettia

    "I am sure, Pepita, even the most humble gift, if given in love, will be accepted in His eyes," said Pedro. Suddenly the bouquet of weeds burst into blooms of brilliant red that became known as the Flores de Noche Buena, or Flowers of the Holy Night."

    From the legend, one can gather that poinset...

  • Promegranate

    In the shadows of the pagodas in Xian, I saw the pomegranates hanging proudly.

    Along with other treasures, the pomegranate came to the Chinese by way of the Silk Road. It is a fruit of many seeds and, therefore, symbolizes many children. It also is a fruit of Buddhist teaching. It is rock solid,...

  • Poppy

    Lady Yu was the wife of Hsiang Yu, a mighty warrior of the south. Her spirit exemplified loyalty and endearing, everlasting love.

    Poised, the flower emulates Lady Yu in her silk dress, dancing with a sword in the wind.

  • Primrose

    I began this series of lessons with small flowers. I had just finished teaching plum and thought it would be fun to do a few other small flowers. I selected only a handful, including primrose.

    Chinese have this word Yuán meaning "things and people come together in mysterious ways." I had no idea...

  • Protea

    I learned about protea 40 years ago. One lady was very excited to be a member of the Protea Society and wanted to recruit me as a member.

    Protea? "It is the most unbelievable flower." She went to her kitchen and brought out her prized collection. "How interesting!" It was a dry, hairy, odd ball....

  • Pumpkin

    I have trouble differentiating between gourd, squash, and melon. Chinese call pumpkin "Melon of the South." The English dictionary states that pumpkin is a gourd-like squash. The word pumpkin originates from the word pepon, which is Greek for "large melon."

    Pumpkins vary greatly in shape, rangin...

  • Ranunculus

    Around our area, folks have beds of poppies here and there. In the same bed, there are also clusters of ranunculus. For a long time, I did not know the name of this flower.

    This is the very first attempt for me to work on this flower. Anytime we begin something new, we have already overcome the ...

  • Rose

    As brush artists, we study carefully the anatomy of a subject. We try to find characteristics - both physical and spiritual. When we paint, the subject is internalized. We do not need to see the real flower. The flower and artist become one.

    Once the strokes begin, the mind and the hand take ove...

  • Shrimp Plant

    My family specialized in horse painting for generations. I enjoy doing creatures of all kinds. A few years back, I did an animal painting series on PBS. The little shrimp was among other creatures like tiger, horse, crane, and panda bear. It is a fantastic brush painting subject. Some Chinese art...

  • Silk Gourd

    I walked around my class one day smelling like melon. I discovered the shampoo I picked up at the two-for-one sale was "watermelon scented."

    When we were in grade school, melon head meant being a total idiot. It was very hard to get rid of the scent.

    Silk gourd is, however, an exception. It has...

  • Snap Dragon

    This (snapdragon) is one of the best names for a plant. It is clever. It is playful. It is actually more Chinese than its Chinese name.

    "Why is this plant called the snapdragon?" I asked a lady.
    "Because it snaps," the lady responded with her fingers gesturing nipping or squeezing the petal. By ...

  • Strawberry

    "Ning, we need you to do a strawberry painting that shows the freshest strawberries." A request came to me awhile back. It was for an advertisement about how well the boxes are made in preserving the freshness of fruits during shipping.

    Brush painting delivers vivid vitality and freshness more s...

  • Sunflower

    In the budding stage, sunflowers turn their faces toward the east at sunrise and follow the sun to the west through the course of the day. Mysteriously, they return to face eastward at night eagerly anticipating the sunrise again. Once in full bloom, the flower does not move with the sun anymore....

  • Tiger Lily

    A feisty name for a feisty flower. Tiger Lily indeed has the appearance of marking its territory and being ready to launch an attack. In reality, the presence of flowers tends to calm aggressive tendencies in people.

  • Torch Ginger

    Torch Ginger is a spectacular flower. I am reminded of the 2008 Olympic Torch.

    I have traveled to China countless times and I feel the warmth of the land and the people. I was born in China but I grew up in Taiwan. Communist China was our enemy. I think Torch Ginger is a good name to reflect the...

  • Touch Me Not

    "What flower are you doing?" My daughter leaned over my shoulder and asked. "Touch-Me-Not." She quickly withdrew her hands.

    I like the Chinese names of this plant. Han Xiu describes the soft, gentle, shy attitude of young maidens. Ge Huan is the ecstasy of joyful union. I like the idea of the le...

  • Trumpet Creeper

    Líng Xiāo, or leaping higher than the highest sky, is a powerful expression of one's desire to achieve. I love this name. Chinese also refer to the flower as firecrackers. As buds, they form a long series of turning sticks like the firecrackers.

    I took out this plant from my backyard but flowers...

  • Tulip

    The word Yù is intriguing. On the one hand, it means cheerful, abundant growth. On the other hand, it means feeling pent-up, despondent. The golden fragrance of the tulip can be cheerful or despondent.

  • Water Lily

    Chinese adore lotus. Compared to lotus, water lily is small and its shape is monotonous. The leaves of the lotus rise above the water. The leaves of water lily float and drift.

    Lotus is compared to a regal court lady, while tiny water lily is a country maiden, in private homage. Let's have fun w...

  • Watermelon

    Taiwan has the best pineapples and watermelon. They were a big part of my childhood summer memories.

    The lesson is really not about watermelon. It is about the spontaneous blending of multiple colors and the expression and energy of brush strokes.

    You will love it.

  • Whale Flower

    A young man used to ask about painting marine life. There is a unique void of sea creatures in brush painting. But before tackling the great white shark, let us study this little whale flower first.

    One has to start somewhere.