Nov 032014

Writing with brush and ink is my passion. I was drawn into this art about three decades ago, and the fascination never ever ceased. The very moment my ink loaded brush touches the paper I feel beyond time and space. Something occurs, but it is not me. Not me drawing a line, not me trying to produce a pleasant calligraphy.

Sometimes I feel all those artists whose work I had studied standing behind me, guiding my brush. Their breath, their hand, their vision is leaving it’s trace on the paper. After the calligraphy is completed, usually in one breath, I feel happy and exhausted … and looking at it, I hardly ever think it is “my work”.

Practising Hitsuzendo (Zen-Calligraphy).

Practising Hitsuzendo (Zen-Calligraphy).

I have always been lacking an appropriate expression to describe in a word or two what it feels for me to write calligraphy. Until a few days ago, when I read in my favourite book (1) about the artist Atsuko Watanabe. She is quoted therein to motivate her students in a workshop saying “書いてもらう” (kaite morau) … which can only approximately be translated by “let’s receive the painting/writing”.

Yes, 書いてもらいます! I receive the writing I then transfer to the paper with brush and ink. Only when the results looks awkwardly clumsy, I am to be blamed. That regularly happens when I want to write nicely.

If it comes out really well, it wasn’t me!

(1) A. Couturier, “A Different Kind of Luxury: Japanese Lessons in Simple Living and Inner Abundance”. If I had to name just one book illustrating how to live a happy and fulfilled life, it would be this one.