Another in a 2014 guest column series which builds on the one in 2009 where 50+ had written about how science /tech has evolved their hobby/interest.
This time it is Cindy Jutras, President of Mint Jutras, a firm which analyzes various aspects of the ERP software marketplace. Here she writes how her passion for oriental martial arts and painting is actually an antidote to the technology in her career
They say looks can be deceiving. That’s often the first thought that comes to mind when people I meet in a business setting learn that I am a martial artist. While it is actually not a topic that comes up often, Vinnie discovered this about me recently when we were looking at a mural on the wall of a conference room of a mutual client. I happened to mention I was an artist… a sumi-e artist to be more precise. Sumi is Japanese for “black ink” and the e on the end translates to “painting.” I hold dan (black belt) rank in three different styles of martial arts, and my early years of study focused on the destructive arts (punching and kicking). But my introduction to sumi-e came through my study of Kosho.
Kosho isn’t really a “style” of martial arts, but more a philosophy and an integrated study of natural movement. As such it encompasses many different fields of study, including healing arts, sword and cultural studies like brushwork. My work with the brush began with shodo, which is literally translated as “way of the brush,” but really refers to calligraphy. Kosho’s roots are in Japan, so in the study of shodo we learned to interpret and practiced Kanji characters. After undergoing a major reconstruction of my knee, I found myself drawn more and more to the brush, and being a rather “creative” type this led me to more expressive forms of brush work: sumi-e.
But as you progress in the arts you realize all of these studies are connected. Practicing with the brush improves your sword handling and your empty hand techniques because all are based on the flow of movement. I had found a way to preserve my skills and continue my practice of the arts without being restricted by my age or physical limitations.
So when Vinnie asked me to relate these studies to science and technology, one was easy and one was hard. The science part is easy. Study of movement and the human body is loaded with science and I am fascinated by the connection of seemingly unrelated movement. Yet one of the reasons I am drawn to the way of the brush is because it lets me escape from the technology that dominates my professional life. And it allows me to add some diversity that I can’t even think about allowing in my business, which is researching, writing and speaking about how technology impacts business.
You see, sumi painting is the polar opposite of technology research. This is quite apparent in contrasting western art with eastern art. Western art is about realistically representing the subject. Eastern art is about capturing the essence of it. A sumi painting is less about being an accurate depiction of reality and more about making a suggestion. In my business, I draw on decades of experience, but I must be precise and back up what I write with facts and data. In other words, I need to paint an accurate representation of reality. In my sumi paintings I can capture the spirit of the subject and inspire the imagination of the audience. The four “treasures” of sumi are simple: brush, ink, inkwell and paper. No technology required.