For more than 35 years, Chinese brush painting artist and former Yuba College instructor Gisela Embree has been wowing the public with her talent. The audience at her Crossing Borders presentation held Tuesday, March 8 at the Marysville campus, listened intently as Embree spoke of the delicate art.
“You find that you can do many things with one stroke. You are painting out of your own energy,” said Embree. “Spirituality in painting comes from within.”
As a young student, Embree first learned the art of Chinese brush painting in the late 1960s when she took the class at Yuba College. The courses she had originally intended to take had been full to capacity, but she quickly fell in love with the art then taught by the late Yuba College Professor Shiou-Jang Hsieh.
“He was a very good artist. Without him I wouldn’t do anything,” said Embree.
During the fifty-minute presentation, Embree gave her audience a quick but wonderful lesson in Chinese Brush painting. Working with a deft and skilled hand, Embree was able to produce a wonderful painting of bamboo shoots and leaves for the pleasure of those attending the presentation.
“First, you have to anchor it into the earth,” said Embree of her first stroke of the bamboo shoots on paper. “Then grow it piece by piece, segment by segment. Then grow the leaves. Before you can paint bamboo, you must first grow it in your innermost heart.”
Embree does not use conventional water colors and papers but rich inks and rice paper for deeper hues and a more lasting, authentic effect.
As any beginning artist, Embree admitted to making mistakes. She soon grasped the concept, however, and with many years of practice behind her is now able to make magnificent pictures. Calligraphy was a large part of her learning experience.
“You start with calligraphy,” she said. “Without calligraphy, you’re just like a one armed person.
According to Embree, Chinese brush painting is sacred, an art that requires dedication and commitment. She even spent ten years of her life living and meditating in the Santa Cruz Mountains, rarely going out and dedicating a great amount of her time to her painting.
Embree has the honor of being this year’s artist for the 2005 Year of the Rooster Bok Kai Festival posters. Some of her work is also displayed in the Marysville Campus Library until March 31, and is available for purchase.
Embree donated the painting made at the presentation to be raffled off for the benefit of the Crossing Borders Program.