My mother was an incredibly talented artist. For most of my life, she made here living teaching private students, and getting them ready for entry into art colleges.
Once upon a time a student of hers got her a present. It was a Horse-hair calligraphy brush, a solid ink stick (add water and rub), and an instructional book on Chinese calligraphy.
She was very worried about giving the gift though. She didn’t want to instruct a teacher she greatly respected by giving her an introductory how-to book. But it was a gift from the heart, and one she believed my mother would enjoy.
My mother was a master of all the traditional western fine-arts media: oils, pencils, sculpture… but she had no direct experience with Chinese calligraphy, and I suspect they’d had had a discussion about it during one of their lessons.
It was one of the most precious gifts she ever received. It taught her something, and meant all the more because of the students courage in giving it. She gradually worked through that ink stick, playing with calligraphic brush lines, and remembering who gave it to her.
She never let ego get in the way of learning, and it was a lesson I’ll never forget.
There’s always more to learn, and sometimes, it comes from unexpected places. Always welcome it with open arms.