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✨
At Zen Brush we worked with the graceful eight strokes of eternal eijihappoh 永字八法, also known as the eight principles of yong – getting a feel for them and having some fun with the flow of the brush.
Inspired by some Japanese haiku and old waka poetry we brushed 永平 eihei – meaning eternal peace – also the name of Master Dogen and his Zen temple Eiheiji- which is such a lovely combination of kanji characters.
It was great to see the participants on zoom enjoying the shodo calligraphy practice, and embracing the two styles this month – kaisho and the fun reisho which comes from the cliff faces of China. Many thanks to some of the participants for sharing images of their calligraphy below.
With a buzzing cry A bee shifts on the bloom sought By a butterfly Taigi
At the last Zen Brush calligraphy group on zoom we were inspired by the two well known characters dou 道 (Way/ road/path) and shin or kokoro 心 (heart/mind/spirit).
Brushing them in the kaisho as well as the sousho ‘grass writing’ styles, we explored their meanings, as well as their combined poetic meaning when written together – inspired by poet, calligrapher and Zen master Dogen who wrote about Doushin 道心 as the spirit of the way.
His waka poem (translated by Heine) conveys this mood beautifully:
Seeking the Way Amid the deepest mountain paths The retreat I find None other than My primordial home: satori!
It was great to see the group enjoying the flow of the brush, particularly with the movement of the sousho calligraphy, and finding balance in their own way.
Folk worked with different sized brushes, ink and papers but were all absorbed by the strokes, shapes and feeling of the kanji 🙂
At our recent Zen Brush shodo group – our first online 🙂 – we enjoyed brushing the character 禅 Zen in four very different styles, which were developed over centuries. It was really intriguing to explore the meanings of the different parts of the kanji character and how this can be understood with the reading of it as zen and the connections with awareness, coming partly from the translation of dhyana.
After some loose marks and practice of horizontal and vertical strokes, we worked with kaisho style first, before going on to the sosho. We were inspired by the Chinese calligrapher Chiei with both these styles. He wrote these in his 千字文 Senjimon or Qiānzì Wén- Thousand Character Classic – a beautiful work.
Then we had some fun with the wider reisho and the taller more linear tensho , both fascinating styles to brush, which use a different technique from the previous two styles.
Some of us had large fude brushes and liquid ink, and some of us used smaller brushes or fudepen or brushpens, or solid ink, but we all had enough materials and time to appreciate the kanji and each stroke.
We talked a bit about how to practice shodo calligraphy to get a feel for the kanji zen, and also how to work on it more meditatively. Also we discussed how and where to write our name on the paper. So we covered a fair bit in this group, and had some fun too!
Inspiring video by participant AlanBlair writing Zen in the old Tensho, which was originally carvedBlair showing the fun contrast of method of two styles
At our Zen Brush 🖌 calligraphy group coming up on Monday the group will be working from the varied styles and strokes of the mysterious and graceful character 禅 for Zen. And we will explore the multi layered meanings within the kanji character itself. It can be brushed as a meditation too! 🙂
Try out writing spring (or vernal) equinox – Shunbun 春分 – using Japanese Shodo calligraphy, or in your own style in any language!
These two kanji on their own literally mean spring and segment/part/share.
March Equinox – this is the time equal day and night, when the sun is directly above the Equator. In the Northern Hemisphere it is the Spring Equinox, and it’s called the Autumnal Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere.
Laura, thanks so much for writing spring equinox, your piece looks great and we can see how much you’re enjoying the mizu de kaku water paper – you did well to photograph it before the watery brushstrokes disappeared into the mists! Love the poem, it is so tranquil and soothing 🍃🌱🦆
Nice one Ken thank you for sending your image to us by email, great idea to try out using the procreate app on your ipad, that’s interesting you told me you used abstract ‘Triangulum’ brush on the app, it gives a 3D marky feel 🥰
More of us are being at home now, so we are bringing you some regular fun and relaxing activities – Creative Time – to encourage you to have some creative enjoyment and stay in touch!
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. post on our Facebook page or 2. email us your image.
the heavens and earth are dark and yellow the universe and time boundless
Senjimon 千字文 thousand character classic
We continued to work from the Thousand Character Classic 千字文 – Senjimon this time at the last Zen Heart Brush, working with genkou 玄黄, partly inspired by the delightful calligraphy of Chiei 智永. It was intriguing seeing how the shapes together with meanings of the characters originated and having fun with the very varied styles.