7/14/13 jiyu creek 48x72" / by Philip Tarlow

following a 24 hour trip to denver, i'm back in the studio with new, refreshed energy and have begun work on jiyu creek. outside, intense thunderstorms with very heavy rain approach crestone, and the distant rumble of thunder can be heard. we're hoping for some good rain to further alleviate the drought.


jiyu, in chinese means "nearly." painter/calligrapher/poet zhao mengfu (1254-1322) was the leading calligrapher of his time. the word jiyu appears in the last of 4 anecdotes from the life wang xizhi (303-361)., a "calligraphic sage" he deeply admired. 

the context is the phrase "nearly confused what is authentic,"  which occurs in the anecdote. in it, zhao tells the story of how xizhi, who loved geese, agreed to transcribe 2 chapters of laozi's daodejing, a text on daoist philosophy, in exchange for a flock of geese owned by a monk, which he wanted very badly.

those were the monk's terms. after spending half a day writing out the chapters, the monk was delighted to have had the greatest living calligrapher transcribe his favorite passage.

upon completing his transcription, xizhi immediately caged the geese & returned home, thrilled that he had managed to aquire them from the reluctant monk.

DAY 1, STAGE 1: jiyu creek  48x72"

acrylic on canvas

 "jiyu" as it appears in zhao mengfu's anecdote. his brush was fully loaded with ink when he created this character, and so appears denser than other characters in the text.