shodo: breath of the brush

 

"The brush is not suited to form precise geometric shapes such as straight lines, squares, circles, or arches. Rather, it has been developed to form organic shapes. When a line is alive, you always feel the breath of an artist as well as the breath of the brush."

 

"In the European tradition, masterpieces are often associated with struggle, suffering, and tragedy. In East Asia, creative people are supposed to be totally relaxed."

"When you set up an easel in a museum and copy a Western painting you try to get the composition exactly right, as well as shapes, colors, and texture. You want your product to be as close as possible to the original.

When you copy an Oriental piece of art, you attempt to copy the process -- the posture, the way of holding the brush, the order of strokes, the way of putting pressure on paper, the brush moving in the air, the breathing, feeling, and thinking."

 

"In brushwork of the East Asian tradition no one can make exactly the same stroke twice, as the bristle of a brush is made of many soft and long strands of hair, and has a life of its own. Every stroke is unique." 

 

 

"You can't hide anything in a line. You are there whatever line you draw. And you will stay there, even when you go somewhere else. If your personality is interesting enough, the line will be interesting. To do this, you have to be fearless." 

Kzauaki Tanahashi, Brush Mind

Kazuaki Tanahashi, 1933, is a japanese calligrapher, painter, author, teacher and peace activist. He practices zen in monasteries of california and new york.