Jean led us through a very mindful exercise of setting up a page and materials with a partner with a focus on "us" thinking. What can we create, one stroke or mark at a time, with an intention of sharing and creating?
One doesn’t expect a Chinese Master brush painter to be named Bob Schmitt. But one of the things Bob emphasized in his lecture/demo was to be open to following the unexpected. And he made it very easy to follow him to new creative places. Here is a list of phrases pulled from his presentation:
Practice, practice, practice (Zen tradition)
Be easy with what comes
The best things you’ll learn are in the mistakes you make
It’s about energy
Reproduce the spirit of the work you emulate
Work with the materials
Work with and in the now
Use both dominant and non-dominant hands
After explaining his own call and long practice of brush painting, Bob started talking about materials. He pulled the tools back to their essentials: rock, bark, soot, stick, animal fat, and animal hair. The paper is made from mulberry bark and used in its raw form, with no sizing. (Most of the commercial brush painting paper you buy is sized. Bob is a local source for unsized paper.) The ink stick is made of wood soot and animal fat. The brush is a stick with animal hair attached. All the basic tools are made from natural items. He paints on a felt pad of 100% wool; as students we used pads of about 30% wool. The wool content is needed to absorb moisture.
During the workshop, participants worked on a one-stroke enso. Enso is the Japanese word for circle. A single circle is full of infinite possibilities. In cultures around the world the circle stands for many different things; sun, moon, face, infinity, life, etc. I think it safe to say, none of the colleagues circles looked the same—perhaps similar, but not the same. Bob showed us samples of how he matches text to an enso, ensuring that both expressed the same spirit and/or meaning. The atmosphere buzzed with concentration and joy and each person took home at least four completed circles and some inky fingers.
For those interested in learning more from Bob, contact him at Laughing Waters Studio in Minneapolis.
Website: www.laughingwatersstudio.com or call him at 612-333-1881.
September gave us a unique opportunity to view our letters as more than words.
The Colleagues were privileged to take in an inspiring presentation by artist Kristen Doty who was visiting Minneapolis from the Seattle area.
We were all treated to a wonderful event with Gloria Cooper.
In “Looking Back to Looking Forward” Gemma illuminated the fascinating history of calligraphy and other writing systems, from the early Egyptians to the 21st century.
Read Alex Glowka’s review of Diane von Arx’s presentation on design and layout for calligraphers at the April 2017 Colleagues of Calligraphy program.
Georgia Greeley taught how to make a sculptural accordion book of her own design.
Discover the inspirational learning that took place at the Colleagues of Calligraphy Mini Workshops 2017
Maura Lynch presented her learnings from her year-long studies as the 2015 beneficiary of the Jo White Scholarship. Her talk was entitled, "Follow the Lead of Your Teacher and Other Lessons from a Year of Intensive Calligraphy Study."
We were enriched, once again, by a broad (pen) stroke of workshop summaries and revelations from classes and workshop that fall outside our regular monthly meetings.