Tiffany Zhu, The Drawing Mystery

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The Drawing Mystery
I still remembered the conversation, about the feeling and painting, with Tiffany in her studio two years ago when we first met. She said:”Sometimes when I turn to my painting, not knowing what was next, and hesitated. As I try to listen inside, a feeling led me to pick up a marker, I draw a curved line inside a mysterious shape, then I was responding from inside. sensing the color and the shape from moment to moment, being vulnerable, open to possibilities. Within minutes my drawing took on a new life: images appears, details grew. My body moved with presence. Breaking from all the roles, I was able to taste true creation and I did not need to to know how to do it anymore.”
Viewing Tiffany’s drawings, her lines are full of confidence and power without fear to break all the rules. As a painter myself, I know from my own experience to be without guidelines can be very scary, because the trust in our creative power is so week. To create you need to free your power from inside, not from outside. If you depend on a trick or a crutch, you won’t develop the inner strength that it takes to create, you won’t learn to rely solely upon your own resources. To create is to work on the level of the soul.There might be a little spurt of newness, but the water will soon dry up again. Even if a trick was working for a while, you would then depend on it and lose your freedom.
Henry Miller once said:” The great majority of artists are throwing themselves in with life-preservers around their necks, and more often than not it is the life-preserver which sinks them.”
It is true that different techniques will bring about different results. Manipulating your environment or using materials in an unorthodox way may influence the work, but it will be just that—influenced. What is of most interest creatively is that which is influenced, that which comes directly from inside when you do thing in your natural way. Although Tiffany is without the formal training in painting, , she can use of basic tools without the distraction of novel approaches. Then, when a need for a new direction or deeper contract arises, there are no sanctioned avenues of escape, either by altering her way of working or choosing a different medium. Then she don’t rely on tricks or crutches- she carry her creativity inside her.
Tiffany often uses her drawing as color draft for her larger oil painting later on. She can see the color and demotion in her black and white drawing. I asked her once:” Do you have an image before you start?” She answered:” It is all right, but the point is not to portray what you already know. It is not a matter of painting your feelings, it is about feeling and painting. They are very different things. If you paint your feeling, there is a middleman involved: first you must know the feeling, then you have to come up with an image to translate the feeling, and the you have to execute. That is work, not creation. To feel and paint means to let the feeling sink deep into your bones, and then to start from that feeling without having to think about it. Feeling paints itself. When you feel in your body, you are living the feeling rather than trying to portray it. The the feeling finds its own expression without the help of your conscious mind. And it will open other direction that you would never have connected with the original feeling.”
She shows me one of her drawing while she recalled the experience:” As an image arises and it stimulates response in the body- my stomach lurches, my breathing get rapid, I experience a myriad of strange sensations. I do not know what to think and just keep paint until the movement itself takes over. I did not no how many hours pass by, because I have no goal and therefore nothing to compare it to. The unfolding of the unexpected become the energy that drives me. I discover how thirsty I am for exploration without analysis. That is the state of truly creating.”
Her strongly response is like a reflection of Zen’s poem:” Scoop up the water and the moon is in your hands; Hold the flowers and your clothes are scented with them.” It is the reason that I like her drawings, nature and creative.

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