June 16, 2014 | Sumi-e, TAO Teaching for Artists, Blog
Holding a cup and overfilling it
Cannot be as good as stopping short
Pounding a blade and sharpening it
Cannot be kept for long
Gold and jade fill up the room
No one is able to protect them
Wealth and position bring arrogance
And leave disasters upon oneself
When achievement is completed, fame is attained
This is the Tao of Heaven
In this verse, Lao Tzu makes one reflect on the meaning of moderation and modesty. For an artist, it can apply to how the artwork is executed, and also to the artist’s self-conduct.
When it comes to artwork, it is the knowing when to stop. This is something of great importance of all forms of Arts. It is recognizing when enough has been said and if there is anything more added, then the message, the artist was trying to convey, will lose it’s power.
In Artist’s life these days, fame and recognition have become something of a great importance, an occupation that is taking over the creativity itself. Of course, to make living through art, one’s works have to be visible, but here as well one needs to recognize the limitations of excessive self-promotion.
“When achievement is completed, fame is attained…”. The reward lies in creating in peace and harmony of the mind/heart and Nature… the Tao.
* I am using Translation by Derek Lin as examples of verses, but there are many different translations with different nuances and sensibilities of the translators.
These is my understanding of this verse at least at this moment of my life…Please share your thoughts, insights.