SHODO CALLIGRAPHY

Shodo is the Japanese art of calligraphy. It dates back hundreds of years and originated in China. In shodo what you write is as important as what you don't so there is a lot of emphasis on the empty space on the page.

We all got to write our names in kanji. Part of the art of shodo is choosing which characters to use. The symbols add so much meaning to the name, and the syllables can be made with many different symbols. Taeka had selected fabulous kanji letters for us - we felt they were all very deeply intuitive.

Everything in shodo is very specific, the paper, the paintbrush, the felt, the paperweights, the ink. This rigorous setting allows for the perfect freedom of the individual brush strokes.

 

 

We started by feeling the paper. It is very thin, and the coarse side is the back. The painting side is very smooth.  The bamboo scroll holds the special paintbrush.

We started by feeling the paper. It is very thin, and the coarse side is the back. The painting side is very smooth.  The bamboo scroll holds the special paintbrush.

The shodo paper gets folded twice before starting. The creases help visualize the axis of the sheet for composition and balance. The newspaper protects the table, the black felt keeps the paper yielding to accept  the brushstroke and the horse is a paperweight for the top of the sheet.

The shodo paper gets folded twice before starting. The creases help visualize the axis of the sheet for composition and balance. The newspaper protects the table, the black felt keeps the paper yielding to accept  the brushstroke and the horse is a paperweight for the top of the sheet.

Taeka showing us her graceful technique with creating Dante's name. Important hints: hold the paintbrush vertical, and keep your left hand on top of the sheet to steady it. 

Taeka showing us her graceful technique with creating Dante's name. Important hints: hold the paintbrush vertical, and keep your left hand on top of the sheet to steady it. 

And coming to a very balanced composition.

And coming to a very balanced composition.

Then Dante went for it - with great concentration.  The symbols Taeka chose for him are 'Tokubetsu Te' which mean 'Special Hand'. How perfect for an artist.

Then Dante went for it - with great concentration.  The symbols Taeka chose for him are 'Tokubetsu Te' which mean 'Special Hand'. How perfect for an artist.

Then it was Lili's turn. The calligraphy paintbrush is made of horsehair, but the best ones are made of human child hair. It is customary in Japan to make a paintbrush of a child's hair in the family. 

Then it was Lili's turn. The calligraphy paintbrush is made of horsehair, but the best ones are made of human child hair. It is customary in Japan to make a paintbrush of a child's hair in the family. 

Done! Lili's characters are 'Sato Seikakuna' which translate as 'Relaxed country village home'. This works well for a girl who wants to have a farm with animals. 

Done! Lili's characters are 'Sato Seikakuna' which translate as 'Relaxed country village home'. This works well for a girl who wants to have a farm with animals. 

And here is mine: 'Kuru Utyuu Mukau' - 'Come Reach the Cosmos' - wow.

And here is mine: 'Kuru Utyuu Mukau' - 'Come Reach the Cosmos' - wow.