Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Reflection: Excerpt from Promise Me You Won't Go To Beirut Part 3 by George J. Thomas

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Nine years ago, I decided it would be interesting and challenging to paint pictures of some of my bonsais, however, in Chinese style using Xuan (rice) paper, Chinese inks and watercolors. On a visit to London’s China town, I purchased all the materials and instructional books I needed, from a Chinese art supplies shop. Back in Spain, I was dispirited to find it impossible to master the skill of painting in this medium without a teacher.

Nevertheless continuing my interest in oriental arts, I joined a class in Spain, to learn the techniques of ikebana - the stylized minimalist flower arranging art of Japan. Originally designed for Japanese Bushi (warlords) and Samurai (warriors), it is now practiced and appreciated by people the world over. During several visits to London, I had further tuition in the art of ikebana from Tomoko a Japanese woman, a sensei or teacher of the art.

George J.Thomas
To my surprise, I discovered that the ikebana teacher in Spain Kit Nicol was also an expert tutor in Chinese brush painting with more than 30 years’ experience. I then had some professional tuition from her over a period of months and grasped the essentials of the art. My teacher, who only visited Spain for a few months at a time, then returned to England and left me once again to my own devices.

On the internet, I came across the website of the UK based Chinese Brush Painters Society (CBPS). I became a member and was delighted to find that there were online tuition programs offered by several of the most experienced members of the society.

George J.Thomas
Over the course of four years, I had the most brilliant tuition from a very patient teacher - Marion. For example, she would send me by post, a bamboo painting project, with detailed technical instructions and ten copies of famous Chinese paintings of the topic. Then I would produce my attempts at the paintings, take photographs and email them to my tutor. She would do a detailed critique of my work, pointing out the mistakes and where I needed to improve; this sometimes meant producing second attempts.

George J.Thomas
Over the years, I worked through various projects such as, pine trees, landscapes, water, animals, figures, flowers, progressively improving until I eventually had the occasional painting published in the society’s quarterly magazine. Every year there is a competition for paintings to appear in the CBPS calendar, and to date I have had paintings in three years’ calendars. I have sold a few paintings, and participated in several local art exhibitions, but my prime interest is the pleasure of painting rather than having any serious commercial aspirations.

George J.Thomas

By chance one day, I was given a beautiful orchid plant to look after by a friend of my wife. As a keen gardener and bonsai addict, this was a new challenge as I knew nothing about orchids. Many years later I have more or less mastered the art of growing orchids and have quite a respectable collection.

Now the scene is set, all that remains is to stress my memory and try and dredge up long forgotten incidents and people before they disappear forever.


George  J. Thomas is an author/artist
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Originally, from Glasgow, Scotland, my business career enabled me to travel extensively internationally over many years, especially in Europe, Russia, the countries of the former Soviet Union and the Middle East.

Have lived in Saudi Arabia, the British Virgin Islands, Spain and the Czech Republic. Now I live in Xàbia, Spain.

                                                      -George J. Thomas

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