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D+P Studio News

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

Currently browsing Tag: Shodo calligraphy

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

1 March 2019

In January Blair visited Japan as part of a project kindly funded by the GB Sasakawa Foundation. He had an exciting packed schedule learning about various Shodo calligraphy styles of Japanese calligraphy with Shodo masters in Tokyo, and investigating mindful meditation practices with different teachers and monks in Tokyo and the Hokuriku area.

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

He met respected Japanese Zazen meditation (Zen) teachers to investigate connections between mindful meditation practice for calm and well-being, Japanese harmony with the environment and Shakyo practice. Shakyo is a peaceful, meditative method of tracing the Japanese and Chinese kanji characters of sutras such as the Heart Sutra. His teachers introduced him to Ganshinkei’s (Yan Zhenqing) calligraphy being exhibited at Tokyo National Museum.

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

 

It was a fun trip for Blair and he was able to stay in an old Soto Shu temple as well as learn from masters like Issho Fujita who are knowledgeable about many Japanese practices related to Buddhism and mindfulness. He also visited Natadera temple and caves, an old Shingon temple dating to the 8th century – he found connections there between the sacred earth and nature worship of Shinto, Hakusan mountain reverance and Buddhist meditative practice.

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

There were many mysteries and places he would have liked to spend more time delving into, but he couldn’t stop too long before hopping on the next bus or shinkansen train to reach a new Zazen meeting or Shodo workshop! Blair is very thankful for all the support he received in Japan, from many kind and helpful individuals as well as teachers and monks.

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

From March to May we are running a series of free workshops in the Glasgow area exploring the themes mentioned above.

7th March 2019
Ruchill After School P4-P7 Shodo Japanese Calligraphy

8th March 2019
Maryhill 12+ Shodo Japanese Calligraphy

9th March 2019
Maryhill Breakfast Club Shodo Japanese Calligraphy

25th April 2019
Maryhill Art Group – Japanese calligraphy night

28th April 2019
Introduction to Japanese Sho Calligraphy

4th May 2019
Introduction to Shakyo – Tracing the Sutras

We will have fun trying out and discussing Japanese Shodo calligraphy, meditation and mindful awareness, and investigate how these practices can help us connect with our environment through markmaking. Also we will look for shared cultural connections for instance with Celtic and Pictish symbols and pictograms. There is very little knowledge about mindful Shakyo practice, which is a calming and activity aiding wellbeing and awareness, this is a new practice for people in the UK.

Winter clarity and creative exploration in Japan

The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Kindly supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

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Arts and culture project – calligraphy, meditation and Shakyo

3 January 2019

Mushin and Unsui calligraphy at Heart Brush

Supported by the Sasakawa Foundation, we will be running some free workshops in the North, West and central areas of Glasgow for young people and adults to discuss, explore and have fun trying out Japanese Shodo calligraphy, with some meditation and mindful awareness, such as the peaceful and meditative practice of Shakyo. Look out for dates in late Winter and Spring 2019! We will announce which groups are free to join (please note Zen Heart Brush is not part of this project).

Tracing the Sutras – Shakyo Peaceful practice following the Heart SutraTracing the Sutras – Shakyo Peaceful practice following the Heart Sutra

We hope to inspire people in and beyond Glasgow to connect with their environment through markmaking and look for shared cultural connections between Japan and Scotland, for instance with Celtic and Pictish symbols and pictograms.

Mushin and Unsui calligraphy at Heart Brush

Skybrush Earthbrush

 

The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

 

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Exploring the calligraphy of the great earth at Heart Brush

21 December 2018

In this last session of the year, we talked about the meanings of Daichi 大地, great earth or vast earth, and the various styles that could be used for both these characters.

Exploring the calligraphy of the great earth at Heart Brush

We especially looked at the possible styles for Dai – 大, a kanji – Chinese character – meaning big, large or great, which appears so simply with its three strokes, but has quite a balance to it. The symmetry of this character can change a lot depending on how it is brushed, and if using the tensho, kaisho, gyosho or sosho styles. It is interesting how the original pictogram of a person changed into the meaning of large or great.

Exploring the calligraphy of the great earth at Heart Brush

Exploring the calligraphy of the great earth at Heart Brush

Exploring the calligraphy of the great earth at Heart Brush

Participants experimented with smaller characters using fudepen 筆ペン brush pens, as well as takepen 竹ペン bamboo pens ( handmade and not that easy to find in Japan, very beautiful marks) and noticed the different feel and style of the marks from the larger and softer fude brushes. Towards the end some folk tried the two kanji of Daichi together.

Exploring the calligraphy of the great earth at Heart Brush

Exploring the calligraphy of the great earth at Heart Brush

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Mushin and Unsui calligraphy at Heart Brush

8 December 2018

The old tensho character for mu – nothing – is actually a pictogram, either of a person dancing, or holding ceremonial pieces of wood, so it is really interesting to work on.

Mushin and Unsui calligraphy at Heart Brush

The more complicated tensho has a strong balance and the kaisho style of mu we worked with has a lighter feel to work with the shin – heart-mind.

Mushin and Unsui calligraphy at Heart Brush

無心 mushin has zen meaning which we chatted about (could be translated a carefree and unfixed heart-mind), as does unsui 雲水 – clouds and water, which can also mean zen practitioners such as monks and nuns.

Mushin and Unsui calligraphy at Heart Brush

Mushin and Unsui calligraphy at Heart Brush

Sui being one of the five elements, and un (or kumo) being cloud, with it’s rain shapes like tears or dots of water falling from the sky..

Mushin and Unsui calligraphy at Heart Brush

It was nice to experiment with the different styles and have some freedom on the full page of the hanshi paper.

Mushin and Unsui calligraphy at Heart Brush

Mushin and Unsui calligraphy at Heart Brush

Mushin and Unsui calligraphy at Heart Brush

Mushin and Unsui calligraphy at Heart Brush

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Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

29 November 2018

It was a peaceful journey to Lenzie along the quiet paths and roads. When we arrived we found inspiring examples by Margaret of ink markmaking using a branch or twig from each of the varied types of trees in the grounds. Birch, Plum, Alder, Rowan, Larch, Fir, Hawthorn… and many other beautiful trees with their different character and textures.

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

After settling in, we began with a chat about the day with the theme of being with the transition of autumn into winter, the feeling of form and also space, and looked at examples of ancient markmaking such as Pictish symbols and runes from Scotland alongside the Chinese and Japanese characters. These were Kouyou 紅葉 – Autumn colours, literally crimson leaves – and Toukou 冬光 – Winter light. The tree runes shape from Maeshowe in Orkney was very similar to the oldest leaf shapes from ancient China.

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

We meditated sitting outside by the energetic fire, guided by Margaret, and were aware of the earthy form of the autumn leaves on the ground, the seasonal colours, the heat from the fire, the blue grey smoke and the way we could see through the flames in a flickering changing image. It started to drizzle and we headed back to the cozy workshop with some leaves, twigs and pine cones we had gathered.

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Our markmaking with the Japanese fude brushes helped us loosen up, working with vertical and horizontals and noticing the different feeling in our body and core as we did this. Then we used the beautiful autumnal natural objects to make some marks, being amazed by the variety of textures possible, before trying out some of the styles of calligraphy, from the oldest methods carved into bone or later stone, Blair guiding some demos from different versions of the leaf and red characters.

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

We found it helpful to notice the very different ways of working using the brushes and natural objects, and how they related to the more modern styles such as kaisho or the more ancient styles such as tensho, which we found had more in common with other ancient marks.

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

After a tasty, heart warming lunch we had a short rest, then headed back outside into the west woods this time to meditate being aware of the winter light – standing by the trees. We noticed the light framed by the fragmented lines of branches while looking up through the trees, or through our hands, and the colour of the sky and the temperature of the space and air. It was noticeably cooling down as we were out! With the soft sounds of the bell we walked back together, picking up one or two more things to experiment with, some were just ideal for using!

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Tealights were lit and these helped us be aware of the darkening cooler light outside and emerging warmth and intimacy inside the space. There was a final moment of radiant golden sunset light coming through the examples on the windows into the workshop.

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Taking the two characters winter and light as our guide we continued calligraphy, and also had some fun playing with the materials and ink, the leaves and pine cones were just perfect for some direct printmaking! One of the participants had a winter squirrel named Syril who kindly supervised the last part of the day!

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

Being with the season changing – Autumn into Winter

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Meditation and calm at Brushing Fire

8 September 2018

We started the day at Lenzie with a chat about the shared cultural connections around the five elements, particularly through the Himalayan area, from India, Tibet to China and Japan. We looked at the variety of meanings as well as the different approaches of the Godai Buddhist five elements, Bon and the Gogyo Chinese Five Phases.

Looking at the shamanic origins of the Chinese characters and the curvy Tensho calligraphy style was helpful to connect to the elements in a deeper way.

Margaret had prepared a fire for us to all enjoy sitting with, so we sat in meditation by it. The wind funneled the flames and smoke with real speed and energy but it was still calm sitting there by the trees.

Experimenting with inks and holding the Japanese fude brushes, we made some marks to explore our feeling and experience of being with fire.

The wood burning stove also helped us stay in the mood and continue the relationship to fire from outdoors. When we moved onto the character for wind, kaze, we had some extra inspiration from the Shakuhachi flute!

Larger brushes, paper and orange sumi ink were used to play around with some large versions of fire and wind 🙂

After a quiet lunch with hearty sweet potato soup and riceballs, we had a short break then walked to a small river to peacefully engage with the water and space elements, helped by Margaret. It was really peaceful sitting by the water and contemplating the flow, sometimes fast or slow, looking at the sense of edge at the banks, and being surrounded by the greens of river reeds and plants.

It began to rain softly which enlivened the colours and helped make us more aware of the space element on the way back. We made some watery flowing marks then worked on the kanji characters (with both kaisho and tensho styles) for water – sui, space/ sky/ emptiness – ku, and earth – chi.

We then had some time to try out more of the tensho style or go for it and combine all five characters together on a single sheet of washi paper.

 

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Painting brave diamonds at Zen Heart Brush

2 July 2018

On a hot Monday evening we enjoyed some Shodo calligraphy in the refreshingly cool Kagyu Samye Dzong building.

Painting brave diamonds at Zen Heart Brush

We wrote or painted (in Japanese the verb kaku means both to write, draw, paint) the word Kongo 金剛 which means literally metal/ gold and brave/ sturdy. Together this can mean diamond, or vajra, indestructible truth, or thunderbold!

We looked at the older bone carvings and tensho styles and their meanings, before trying these and the kaisho style. We also explored some of the basic calligraphy strokes in these characters.

Painting brave diamonds at Zen Heart Brush

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Having fun with metal and diamond!

23 June 2018

Having fun with the shodo calligraphy characters we will work with on Monday! Kin metal, gold, one of the Chinese 5 elements, kongo diamond, as well as tamashii, spirit. The meanings and variety of visuals in each of these is fascinating 😀

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Shodo calligraphy – in the middle of a dream

15 June 2018

We had fun with trying out both the curved older Tensho style as well as the more stylized Kaisho style at the last session. First we worked with with Ki 木 – tree, experimenting with the branch like strokes, and then Yume – dream/ illusion, along with Naka – inside/ centre.

Shodo calligraphy - In the middle of a dream

Shodo calligraphy - In the middle of a dream

Shodo calligraphy - In the middle of a dream

Shodo calligraphy - In the middle of a dream

So we had some time to try out these last two Chinese kanji characters together – muchu 夢中, which can mean really into something, or in a dream world.

Shodo calligraphy - In the middle of a dream

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Life force and lightning Shodo calligraphy

5 June 2018

At Zen Brush Heart we worked from some inspiring characters related to life and the elements, such as tsuchi 土 – earth /soil, mei 命 – core, destiny, life, and jinzu 神通 – spiritual/ soul power.

Life force and lightning Shodo calligraphy

Life force and lightning Shodo calligraphy

To get a fuller understanding and feel about these we looked at the older meanings and visuals from China such as the jin which is related to thunder and lightning. So a crackling set of characters to experiment with!

Life force and lightning Shodo calligraphy

Life force and lightning Shodo calligraphy

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