Drawing and Painting Studio - create + relax + enjoy

D+P Studio News

Here is a wee bit of news from the D+P Studio!

Cutting and carving stones for Japanese and Chinese stamps

8 November 2020

At the November 篆刻 tenkoku (seal engraving) group meeting online by zoom, Blair gave an in depth demonstration of carving techniques to directly guide participants and give them tips on this exciting part of the process!

Japanese and Chinese Seal Engraving – Tenkoku

This covered how to handle and work with each of the traditional materials including the stones, clamp, and cutters of varied sizes.

We also looked at the layout of stamp compositions and tips on how to have enough breathing space and balance, depending on the style.

Japanese and Chinese Seal Engraving – Tenkoku
Japanese and Chinese Seal Engraving – Tenkoku

He also helped advise folk with their kanji or names and their designs for stamps. Lots of great ideas from folk (thanks for your photos) and very varied 印  stamps, including ookami wolf 🐺, a Zen name, and an English first and last name converted by Blair into four kanji for a white letter 白文stamp 🙂

Cutting and carving stones for Japanese and Chinese stamps

Our next session↓😉

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Relaxing and immersing ourselves in autumnal lines

8 November 2020

Relaxing and immersing ourselves in autumnal lines

At our De-stress drawing group on zoom we enjoyed a slow paced, peaceful doodling time with a loose autumn theme. To start we relaxed with doodling zig zags and curves, before taking a moment to notice the pattern and feel of the changing season 😊 

destress drawing Blair Thomson D+P Studio
destress drawing 2 Blair Thomson D+P Studio

We loosely sketched some leafy shapes, inspired by simple outlines and curves, points of leaves, and also took in some different hues of autumn  🍂

Relaxing and immersing ourselves in autumnal lines
Relaxing and immersing ourselves in autumnal lines

Bringing in a meditative and mindful approach with a light heart, and a little poetry too for inspiration, we could find some freedom and ease in the drawing without having any worry about what the result would be. And of course we had time to explore and work on anything we fancied which was fun. Thanks for sending your images. ✨

Relaxing and immersing ourselves in autumnal lines

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Shakyo 写経 copying the sutra of boundless awareness and life

8 November 2020

At our Shakyo group, co-hosted with Glasgow Zen Group, we enjoyed peacefully copying the Boundless Life Ten Phrase Kannon Sutra 延命十句観音経.

Shakyo - bringing the Sutra to life with each brush stroke and pen mark
Shakyo 写経 copying the sutra of boundless awareness and life
Some of the many possibilities to write or brush the shakyo, if you don’t have the shakyo brush (second on the right), such as fudepen or brushpen, pen or pencil, or even a bamboo takepen or a twig!

It felt right to trace it at this time, being a sutra that has been close to people’s hearts over the centuries and considered by many as one that helps wellbeing in times of sickness or difficulty. It is short – spread over just four full lines including the title – but a sutra of vitality, full of energy.  

It was a nice group of people who joined the practice –  Blair let folk know about his experience of shakyo in Japanese temples, as well as the history of it in China and Japan, and how to practice it. He demonstrated how to use the traditional materials as well as how to copy or trace with easy to find materials such as a brush pen, pen or even a simple pencil, and how to find a suitable posture and breathing so the practice can be meditative, embodied and comfortable.

We talked a bit about tracing, writing freehand, adding a wish, and writing in Japanese and English. And without too much detail Blair went through each line of the sutra and how the ten phrases can be understood and translated.

We were energised by our tea and snack and after the sound of the large bell and the rhythm of the chanting of this sutra, we had time to trace or copy at our own pace. Thanks to the participants for sending images of their sutra copies below, and thanks to folks for taking part 🙂

Shakyo 写経 copying the sutra of boundless awareness and life
Shakyo 写経 copying the sutra of boundless awareness and life
Shakyo 写経 copying the sutra of boundless awareness and life
Shakyo 写経 copying the sutra of boundless awareness and life

Our next session↓😉

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Opening your heart to 愛 Ai Love in Shodo

8 November 2020

Opening your heart to 愛 Ai Love in Shodo

We brushed 愛 Ai – Love, care, affection, craving/ attachment – at our Monday online Zen brush Shodo calligraphy 書道 group in October. It was inspiring to work with this single kanji (Chinese character) as it is so delightful to brush in the shodo styles.

Please have a look at our videos📹 of Blair brushing Ai.

With demos from Blair, we explored the kaisho 楷書 style as well as the faster gyosho 行書 and the very flowing sosho 草書 style. 

Opening your heart to 愛 Ai Love in Shodo

Exploring the older tensho 篆書 style and the fascinating meanings of each part of the kanji and also as a whole, how the kanji changed over time with the claw shape, the connection to heart – shin or kokoro ❤️ which is within the kanji, this helped us engage with it more deeply and bring understanding to each stroke and stroke order. 

Opening your heart to 愛 Ai Love in Shodo

The three parts of the kanji combined has a connotation of heartrending as well heartfulness. The varied meanings, type of strokes and movement in this popular kanji make it a great one to practice shodo with and also a nice gift for someone you care for.

The group enjoyed how the kaisho more boxy style moved into the gyosho style followed by the sosho grass style. The sosho is looser and makes sense to be brushed this way after getting a feel for the other styles. Thanks to the group for sending us some of their images including a bonus picture from Laura of her enchanting Daruma dolls, the legendary founder of Chan and Zen.

Opening your heart to 愛 Ai Love in Shodo

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Love 愛 Ai in Shodo calligraphy

18 October 2020

Brushing Love 愛 ai in the old tensho style of Japanese and Chinese calligraphy with deep orange-red sumi 🙂

Ai is also fun to brush in the more flowing sosho grass style of shodo calligraphy, in a much more simplified form.

As well as love or affection or care, it can also mean craving or attachment.

We will find out more about this famous kanji character at our Zen Brush shodo group.

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Dynamic lines at Tenkoku seal engraving

12 October 2020

It was an easygoing and peaceful 篆刻 tenkoku (seal engraving) group where we each worked on designs for stamps (in 印) or worked on our stones or erasers (the keshigomu method). Thanks for taking part 🙏

There was some time to look at the very varied and quirky versions of styles possible to carve for the single kanji character 山 san – mountain. 

Tenkoku styles Blair Thomson D+P Studio

So many fascinating styles. Blair showed how to match kanji styles for different kanji also, which makes it possible to combine characters harmonically in a stamp design.

Joan try2

Above Joan’s stamp in progress combines kuu and shu for emptiness/sky and hand – working with a small eraser, craft knife and lino cutter, excellent work!

We enjoyed some stamp cutting techniques for the main two types of stamps with a demo from Blair using a seidenseki stone and other traditional materials.

Tenkoku stamps 11-20

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Creative time – delighting in autumn colours

12 October 2020

On the West Coast of Scotland here in Glasgow the autumnal colours have been rich and changing from day to day.  🍂

Creative time - delighting in autumn colours

For this fun creative time challenge we photographed some of the colours and shapes near us.🍁 Please send us any photographs, poetry and haiku, or artworks that have an autumn feeling. Many thanks for sending to us!

As we walk through the North of the city there are so many different trees expressing themselves with their colourful leaves blowing in the breeze. The whispering foliage stirs in the wind as we stop and listen and watch – the greens almost turning yellow and gold in front of us.

Creative time - delighting in autumn colours

Here is a translation (by Blair with the kind help of Kokuu) of Dogen’s joyful waka five line poem:

on September’s
crimson leaves
the falling snow
who among us
would not be moved to song?

Creative time - delighting in autumn colours

Joan’s photos of maple leaves from British Columbia, the colours are so vivid with the blue sky peeking through.


Northern Glasgow captured by Elaine with wonderful reflections, water and open spaces 🙂


Dominika has kindly shared her deep red and orange painting, and inspiring and spacious piece which takes us into a different world, soaring with the birds.

https://www.instagram.com/dominikanomed/

Creative time - delighting in autumn colours

An expressive and warm feeling haiku poem by Laura, surrounded by lovely drawings of leaves and horse chestnut.

Creative time - delighting in autumn colours
Creative time - delighting in autumn colours

Complementary colours animate Ken’s strikingly visual and light filled short haiku poems.

Creative time - delighting in autumn colours
Creative time - delighting in autumn colours

Mark has sent us photos from the West Coast of Scotland – Benmore Botanical Gardens in Argyll – and also the waterfall at Rouken Glen. A delightful balance of greens, reds and yellows.


this rushing wind
with nowhere to go
I pour another
bowl of tea
and listen to the rain

Kokuu


Have fun, doodle or come up with some creative words at our free online art community. Our regular relaxing activities – Creative Time – encourage you to have some creative enjoyment and keep in touch with us and find inspiration from other participants in Scotland and beyond!

It would be great if you would like to send us an image of anything you make, for us to show online if possible, please either 1. email us your image, 2. post to instagram with this tag #dandpstudio_creativetime or 3. post on our Facebook page.

Creative Time

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Shodo – Brushing the wonderful with Myouhou 

12 October 2020

妙法 Myouhou – all life and things wondrous – was captivating to brush in the kaisho and sousho styles of Shodo calligraphy 書道. On its own myou means mystery, or excellent, strange or wonderful and hou can mean method, teachings, dharma, or process ✨

It was a lovely group of folk at our Monday Zen Brush online group. As well as some relaxing marks to get used to the fude brush and some stroke practice, we looked into the inspiring origins and meanings of myou and hou. 

Myoho kaisho and sosho Blair Thomson D+P Studio

The curious sheep god shape in the old kinbun metal engraving of hou was fascinating, one participant remarked that it looked like a climbing sheep 🙂

Myohou origins and styles Blair Thomson D+P Studio

The group enjoyed the sousho grass style which is very free and open after the defined strokes of the kaisho. Thanks to the participants for sending us some of their images.

Myoho appears in the poetic Lotus Sutra, which has inspired so much calligraphy and ink painting in China and Japan, here is an example from the text full of beautiful natural imagery.

Shodo - Brushing the wonderful with Myouhou

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Carving seals and stamping onto calligraphy and artwork

5 October 2020

Here is an example of stamped calligraphy (this is kokotsubun shell and bone style). You can stamp on your shodo calligraphy, artwork, poetry or sutra copying, or anything else you fancy 😊

This example is of stamped artwork by Blair was inspired by the dynamic skyline of Tokyo, using Japanese gansai pigments.

To join our stamp making online by zoom, you only need pencil and paper to get started. Enjoy and practice working with traditional tenkoku 篆刻 materials or the simpler keshigomu eraser to carve your very own hanko はんこ stamp.

In this video Blair has fun stamping a few papers, using the L shape to guide the alignment of stamps for shodo (very handy!), whilst going for a more squinty off angle approach on the artwork, and stamping in the middle of an enso circle.

Stamping is such fun, the physical pressing down and moment of suspense to see the stamp impression. After first designing the 印 – such as name or artist name, then carving or cutting into stone or eraser. It is enjoyable to work on each part of the process.

Blair is carving his zen name, using the insho clamp and into cutter. He can help you translate and choose suitable katakana Japanese or Chinese characters for your own name 😊

This picture is of some reisho 隷書 calligraphy Blair was stamping a few days ago✨

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Exploring vast spaces through small stamp designs

17 September 2020

At our first regular 篆刻 tenkoku (seal engraving) group on zoom we had fun pioneering Japanese and Chinese stamp making online! This time we mainly worked on designs for our in 印 stamps.

Exploring vast spaces through small stamp designs

After a short intro by Blair to the practice, his experience of it in Japan, and the history of it in China, we learned how to take our initial ideas and then work with kanji characters, and combine in certain ways using the old styles.

He showed some of his stamps he has made over the years, ones with his name in Katakana, Bu-re-a, others with artist name or his zen dharma name.

The designing is such an enjoyable and fascinating part of the process when you can engage with kanji Chinese characters that are thousands of years old, and discover their varied styles and choose which ones, adjusting the sizes and shapes to suit your personal design. And some stamps can use simpler Japanese script, or English, or images, so the options are really boundless.

Exploring vast spaces through small stamp designs

It was fascinating to see how different each person’s designs were – with characters for mountain, sky/ emptiness, fish, crow, and hand there was a lot of images coming through the tensho style of characters and the other stamp styles.

So we swam together through deep waters and soared over peaceful fields towards distant hills 🙂

Towards the end Blair gave a short demo about how to use traditional materials – stones and cutter – as well as the alternative and popular ‘Keshigomu hanko’ method cutting an eraser with craft knife.

Exploring vast spaces through small stamp designs

At this group participants work at their own pace and Blair guides them, so each person will design or carve or press their stamps – the ‘try not to hold your breath’ moment 🙂 –  at different times. It is an easygoing and supportive group.

Exploring vast spaces through small stamp designs
Exploring vast spaces through small stamp designs
Exploring vast spaces through small stamp designs
Exploring vast spaces through small stamp designs

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