SHODO-The art of black and white Apr08

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SHODO-The art of black and white

I have always loved calligraphy– bold black strokes on a pure white background. Even before I knew what the characters meant, I was fascinated by this art created in one moment in time. Where the western calligrapher expresses creativity, individuality and depth of personality. Just as in other traditional arts such as Chado (the Way of Tea), Kado (the Way of Flowers) and kendo (the Way of the Sword), the long term effect of shodo (the Way of the Brush), is to calm, focus and strengthen the mind and bring about mental, emotional and physical balance. This is accomplished through a disciplined and meticulous practice leading to mastery of ancient techniques.

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Calligraphy cannot be learned from a book. The process needs continuous guidance and correction from a teacher. Because the bristles of the calligraphy brush are extremely soft, controlling it is very difficult. It is such a delicate process that applying force is useless. The sensitivity and responsiveness of the brush causes anything that is written to reflect the attitude of the painter. The brush is so flexible that it accurately mirrors both the painter's physical as well as mental / emotional attitude. According to American author, Aikido master and celligrapher William Reed, "..to control [the brush] well requires .. a versatility of spirit which allows one to lead the brush rather than follow it."

Reed further wrote, "Calligraphy is like music. Both can be enjoyed without learning to play the instrument. Each has a long tradition, including official, religious, classical, folk and jazz styles. Both music and calligraphy involve reading and interpreting a score. Either can be enjoyed in recorded form or in a live performance. Both involve a sense of rhythm, and depend on emotional expression as well as techniques for their appeal. Calligraphy does for the eye and imagination what music does for the ear and the soul."