chénɡ zhú yú xiōnɡ 成竹于胸
Have a Complete Image of the Bamboo Before Drawing It / Have a Fully Formed Picture in the Mind’s Eye
This term means to have an image of the art in one’s mind prior to artistic creation. It describes the use of mental imagery in the course of artistic creation, and also sets a requirement for both artistic creation and for design in craftsmanship. For the creator of an artwork, concepts, feelings, intentions and objects should be integrated in the mind to form an aesthetic image. After this artistic conceptualization is completed, technique is used in conjunction with physical materials to form a tangible work. For a craft designer, the emphasis would be more on rational thinking, and revisions would be permissible. Having a fully formed picture in advance is an ideal state.
Thus when drawing bamboo, you must first have a complete image of the bamboo in your mind’s eye. First hold the pen while carefully observing the bamboo; only then will the bamboo you wish to draw appear in your mind’s eye. Then, as quickly as a leaping hare or a swooping raptor, you must wield your pen and capture this image in one go. The slightest letup and the image of the bamboo will be lost. (Su Shi: An Essay on Wen Yuke’s drawing “The Valley of Bamboos”)
When Wen Yuke draws bamboo, he already has a complete image of the bamboo in his mind. When Zheng Banqiao draws bamboo, he does not have a complete image of the bamboo in his mind. The colors of his bamboo might be dark or pale; the leaves might be dense or sparse, the stems might be short or long, thick or slender – they are all drawn spontaneously, assuming a form of their own and fully displaying their own textures and charms. (Zheng Banqiao: Remarks on “Drawing Bamboos”)