Inspired by one of Chinese poet Han Shan’s Cold Mountain poems, we brushed the characters for autumn moon – shūgetsu 秋月, at our online Shodo group Zen Brush. Some of us were lucky to catch a glimpse of the waxing crescent moon in the early evening above the horizon glowing yellow or orange 🌙 before quickly sinking into a blanket of clouds!
First Blair talked about the two kanji characters and their background and styles, fascinating to see how the shape of the pictogram for moon 月 had changed over thousands of years, and within the older kanji for autumn 秋 the fire and light of the sun on the grain as well as the insect too in some versions.
After some demos we worked on each kanji in the more boxy kaisho style and then the fluid curvy sōsho ‘grass’ style which simplifies and connects many of the strokes. The style that Blair demonstrated of the sōsho is based upon the master Chiei from the 7th Century Sui dynasty. His work is often copied by Japanese calligraphers.
It was delightful connecting deeply with this thought provoking short zen poem by Han Shan, looking at calligraphy inpired by it, and then writing part of it in shodo ourselves.
Please see some examples by participants in these photos.
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!
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.
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 🙂
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 😊
We loosely sketched some leafy shapes, inspired by simple outlines and curves, points of leaves, and also took in some different hues of autumn 🍂
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. ✨
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
On the West Coast of Scotland here in Glasgow the autumnal colours have been rich and changing from day to day. 🍂
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.
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?
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.
An expressive and warm feeling haiku poem by Laura, surrounded by lovely drawings of leaves and horse chestnut.
Complementary colours animate Ken’s strikingly visual and light filled short haiku poems.
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
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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✨