What happened when Todd Cornell’s watercolor award-winning artist friend Mr. Jiang Tie Cheng from Beijing, China rolled through Fort Collins after 25 years? Cornell put him on stage of course for a watercolor painting presentation, along with Beijing artist Mr. Kang Heng.
The Chinese art presentation is a one example of the kind of events that Cornell’s Cultur668 hosts. The evening event brimmed with artists, Mandarin speakers and other community members for a night to fulfill their artistic curiosity over drinks in the dimly lit room of the Fort Collins’ downtown Artery.
It turns out, the Chinese have a lot more going on than you might think when it comes to their paintings. Like Mindful Fort Collins, they realize everything is connected to the breath, especially art, with its philosophical roots in Daoism.
“When we’re relaxed and connected to what’s going on around us, we take in more of the detail of the world around us, and that we can better express in painting and artwork,” Cornell said on stage that evening. Cornell was standing beside the artists the entire event interpreting from Mandarin to English as the artists only spoke Mandarin.
The Chinese paint in pictographs, which are much different than American words – they’re a lot of words simplified in short sentences, and how Chinese people connect with the world around them and nature. Their paintings are all rooted in nature, even the materials like the Chinese paper is made from natural bamboo pulp and the inks of their unique watercolor brushes are created from burned soot and oil – its ink deemed as valuable as gold.
When Mr. Jiang Tie Cheng and Mr. Kang Heng demonstrated their watercolor art, a crowd circled around them, admiring their delicate strokes.
But if you try it out yourself, it takes some getting used to. “The brushes are complicated at first, like chopsticks,” Mr. Kang Heng, explained to the crowd, but with mindfulness and repetitive application, this unique art form can be mastered.
Todd Cornell is a local Fort Collins business owner of the Non-Profit Organization Mindful Fort Collins, the owner and operator of Get Less Stress and its Mindful Breath Program based on Cornell’s own experience and practices learned from the Venerable Kong Hai, his Buddhist monk teacher in Taiwan.
Cornell is also the owner and operator of Cultur668, where he helps businesses and people deal with Chinese relations.
Cornell has spent 20 years in China, speaks fluent Mandarin, and has such a deep understanding of the Chinese language and culture that the Chinese people would often say to him, “Being with you is like being with a Chinese person,” with the exception that he often knows more about their culture than many of the Chinese knew about it themselves! After 20 years of notoriety throughout China as a well-traveled linguist and interpreter, Cornell has brought all of his teachings back to Fort Collins to create a more mindful and culturally-aware community.