Tuesday, 15 August 2017

"Zen of Calligraphy in Sumi-e Painting" Facebook Group

Before I begin, I would like to remind you that there are only 2 days left (until  August 19) for the introductory special of my “The Way of Calligraphy in Shodo or Sumi-e Painting” course where I teach the mindful way of writing the Japanese/Chinese calligraphic characters and apply the process in creating expressive calligraphic art (shodo) and/or vibrant sumi-e paintings.
Now, I am very pleased to announce that I have started a Facebook group to support my students in learning. It is a private group for those who are learning or have learned with me the mindful way of sumi-e painting, using the sensibilities of calligraphic strokes.
If you are interested to learn more about the method I teach and use in my art, then you can enrol  in my "Sumi-e Painting of a Rooster: Method Overview" mini course, which is an overview/demonstration of the process.
To learn in depth this mindful way of seeing and painting, I invite you to my school and start with the "Essentials for Learning Sumi-e Painting" and continue in the order presented. 
Recently I have changed the name of my online school from "Zen of Creating with Mindful Presence" to "Zen of Calligraphy in Sumi-e Painting".
Originally my intention was to teach the application of this mindful process not only to sumi-e painting but also to other forms of art creating (drawing, painting...). I invite you to visit the "Drawings" gallery of my website and see what I mean; bringing out the essence, rather than the detail, sharing the experience, rather than the description, using the white space, applying the living/breathing line.... the same spirit and principles as in sumi-e painting.
I still intend to teach this but I decided to make the name more specific to what I am teaching now. And there is still so much more cover:

- the use of the white space (yohaku)
- the use of colour
- the application of the stamp/seal to finish the artwork
- how to see with senses
 and of course, work with various subject matters and calligraphic characters or just abstract shapes.

So the new name is of my school and the Facebook group is the same - "Zen of Calligraphy in Sumi-e Painting"

It is the student's learning platform to:

-- post  work for sharing or critique
-- post works in progress... lines, strokes .... mindful accidents
-- ask questions
-- post and learn from the relevant links and information
-- exchange ideas
-- share insights and struggles…
Hope to see you in my school and learn to create mindfully....meditate with Oriental brush.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Way of Calligraphy in Shodo or Sumi-e Painting

I am very happy to announce that I have just launched my “The Way of Calligraphy in Shodo or Sumi-e Painting” course. It indeed took a lot of energy and time, but now I am pleased with the result.

There is no other Chinese/Japanese calligraphy course that can give you so much creative personal power, as this course.

Unlike how Chinese/Japanese calligraphy is taught by demonstrating the structures of individual stroke shapes (and there are many) and then putting them together, in this course, you will learn a unique mindful way of creating any shape, stroke or a character that possess vitality- expressive energy and flow.   

The advantage of learning and applying my method is that it gives you the autonomy to create the shapes desired without having to memorise them. This unique method also gives you the power - a personal language to paint traditional oriental motives as well as any other images with Oriental sensibilities, coming from your senses and vision, rather than depending on pre-learned shapes.

I will be starting a Facebook group for my students/courses within a week. You will be able to post the experiences, strokes, lines and images or course related thoughts and questions. This way we/you can learn, work, grow and advance together, yet at your own speed.

The beauty of learning from my school is that you can access the course anytime and as frequently, as you wish. This way you can practice whenever you find the time for or the desire to have a mindful creative break in your busy day. 

If you don't have any experience in Oriental ink and brush painting, you will find in my school courses that will teach you from the beginning. However, if you have some experience, then the "Meditation With The Brush"  would give you all the meditative tools to apply in painting or to other creative practices.... including life.

The launching special price for $40 will be valid for one week only so  I am looking forward to seeing you there before August 19.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Upcoming Shodo (Oriental Calligraphy) Course

After a long haul my next and in my opinion the most important course will be published within a couple of weeks. It is a course on Oriental calligraphy. It took me quite a while to accomplish this as I wanted it to be as accessible as possible. Also, I was not sure as to how far to take this course and how it will be accepted or understood especially by those who are only interested in sumi-e painting.

From some of your comments, I have realized that the concept of utilising calligraphy in the painting process is foreign and ununderstood. The reason is that many if not all have been introduced or taught Chinese/Japanese painting through patterns and shapes, rather than by utilisation of the way the calligraphic strokes and characters are created.

Historically the traditional oriental painting was also based on those strokes but unfortunately, through the centuries the understanding of it got forgotten and the teaching became more and more based on patterns and shapes to be copied by the students (almost like painting by number), thus limiting the new artist's self-expression.

To stay true to the authentic way of painting and the vision of my late teacher, Tomoko Kodama, I have decided to create the course. In her teachings, which were geared towards teaching the westerners, she initially would start with the Roman alphabet and then move to the Oriental calligraphy but throughout my teaching years, I have realized that the students learn faster diving right into Oriental calligraphy. In my future courses, I might explain/demonstrate the concept of the use of the Roman alphabet though.

To make it clear, it not the calligraphy (the meaning of the symbols or the recognition of it) per se that we need for sumi-e, but the way it is executed. The method I teach it is mainly if not only focused on that (the execution), but those who want to pursue or to experience the art of calligraphy (shodo) can easily implement it. athis method will make the art of shodo much more accessible.

Much more on this in the course. Follow me if you haven't already and stay tuned for the announcement of the course's publication. 

I invite you to visit my school  "Zen of Creating Art with Mindful Presence" and see the courses I am offering at this time. 

As for a beginner I would recommend  to start with the "Essentials for Learning Sumi-e Painting" and "Meditation With The Brush" courses first. I have bundled those two courses together in the "Beginners Bundle"

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Update On My Online Sumi-e School

It has been a while since my last post, so I thought I should give you an update on where my Sumi-e school stands now and the direction that I am taking it to.

Here are the courses that I have created so farand are now available through my school:

1. Sumi-e Painting of a Rooster Using Its Calligraphy - The free overview course which I created for the Chinese New Year. This short course is, in a nutshell, the way I paint and teach.

2. Sumi-e Painting of Clover Leaf Using Its Calligraphy  I couldn't resist creating another overview course which demonstrates various approaches to painting the clover leaf, using the Chinese/Japanese calligraphy of “luck”.

There are many advantages to my method over what I have seen being taught elsewhere. I have dealt with the topic in many of my blog posts. Through this link you will get a general idea, but feel free to check out my other blog posts to get more insights.

Of course, to be able to paint, one needs to learn the basics. Thus I have started creating courses to teach this method from the beginning.

3. Essentials for Learning  Sumi-e Painting   I have created this as a complete course for beginners, where I give historical, comparative and practical information, introduce the materials and the use of them. The highlight of this course is the demonstration of the control of the brush and the ink, since students often struggle with that.

I find that the meditative aspect is essential to learning sumi-e painting, but very few (if any) instructions are given in most sumi-e classes (as far as I know) - online or otherwise. I address this in this blog post.

4. Meditation With The Brush  is the second beginner's course in my school where I teach the meditative and practical tools for cultivating and accelerating the mind and body unity and developing the focus and presence needed to create in Zen spirit.

I am presently working on a course to teach Chinese/Japanese calligraphy - the structure, rules and applications. It took me a while to decide if I would start teaching calligraphy using the Roman alphabet, as my teacher did, to facilitate the westerner’s learning, but personally, I have always enjoyed the use of oriental calligraphy. After all, this art form is based on it. I will create a chapter showing how the way of writing Chinese/Japanese calligraphy can be applied to the Roman alphabet and how it can be used in sumi-e painting.

I am pondering now as to how far to take the Calligraphy course. There is an art form called Shodo (the art of calligraphy), where the emphasis is on the expression of the character, rather than the detail which demonstrates the energy of the subject it represents. My priority is to teach the application of calligraphy in painting Sumi-e. So maybe I should create a separate course on Shodo alone – please let me know if you would you be interested in this type of course.

There are other aspects that are involved in learning to create vibrant sumi-e paintings. One of them is seeing - yes, actually seeing (with the senses). I think I will be creating a separate course on this....

So what do you want to learn? What do you want to see next?

Friday, 5 May 2017

Essentials For Learning Sumi-e Painting

My online Sumi- e school is alive and active now. My first  and second courses were demonstrations of my painting process.

My method is unique. It is based on my late teacher Tomoko Kodama's method, which was developed to facilitate the western students to paint Sumi-e. As a westerner myself with a Western art education (BFA),  I have modified it further incorporating elements based on my initial Sumi-e learning experiences and observations and comments from my students.

The modern world regardless of the location is becoming more and more westernised. My method is aimed but not limited to people with western upbringing.

Here is a short YouTube video that I created to give an overview of what is covered in the first introductory course.

Besides demonstrating the tools and the materials needed for learning Sumi-e,
this is a very valuable course, as it explains the reasons for the difficulties the western students face in understanding the concepts and the subtle and obvious cultural differences on which this form of art creating is based.

Another important chapter is helping the students to understand and control of the ink and the brush handling; the beginner's first struggles.
On this course, I am and will be building and taking the students further and deeper into the application and mastery of this beautiful and mindful form of art.

My next one, called "Meditation With The Brush" already published,  is teaching the meditative aspects and practices involved. I will be making an overview  YouTube video for it as well

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Sumi-e Painting of Clover Leaf Using "Luck" Calligraphy

In this short Youtube video I am showing my process of Sumi-e painting of four leaf clover, using Chinese/Japanese calligraphic character of “Luck”.

If creating in this style/spirit inspires you, I invite you to visit my website and follow me. I will send you a detailed video with the explanations and directions.


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

How Important is Meditation in Sumi-e Painting?

A modern upbringing, regardless if it is of Western or Eastern origin, is heavily outcome oriented. When we start any endeavour, regardless of what it is, we already envision and strive for a specific product/result. This applies to creating art as well. There are countless art books and lessons, teaching the techniques for achieving a specific goal.

In Sumi-e as in all Zen-inspired arts, there is a dichotomy. In Zen arts, like in any art creation process, intensive practice is required by the artist, but the self, the logical conscious control of the artist, is not encouraged. If the intellect gets involved, then due to the mind's discriminative thinking, the painting becomes nothing more than a watercolour painting. One needs the physical proficiency but must be able to go beyond the confines of the intellect to paint in Sumi-e in Zen style and spirit.

So how does one go beyond the habitual discerning thinking?

Have you noticed how when faced with challenges, one's mind goes super active? One needs to develop the skill, the technique and the practical aspects of painting so that it becomes effortless and thus easier to take the mind out of the process. Next but most importantly, one needs to find a way of going beyond the intellectual self.

Each individual is different in their ability to “disconnect”. It all depends on the individual's familiarity with their own space of mindfulness. Artists tend to call it being “in the zone”. While in the zone, one has a heightened sense of perception and awareness which are the faculties most important for Sumi-e painting.

There are various tools included in my “Breathing Brush” course* which will help you achieve the meditative state. One of them is following the guided meditation provided. Another tool for meditation is grounding the ink; the process of grinding the ink stick on the ink stone with mindfulness. The repetitive stroke creation with the breath and the body are also a means of meditation. With practice, meditation will become intuitive every time one picks up the brush to paint.

The focus or purpose of Sumi-e/Zen painting is not the outcome but the process of creating while in the state of heightened intuition and of sensory awareness. Being in a meditative state is the only way of tapping into one's unrestricted spontaneity and creativity. The painting which is the outcome of this practice is a by-product only. This is something that is hard for the mind to conceive. If one is more mindful and less preoccupied with the depiction, the result (the by-product) will surprise with its vibrancy and its transcendental quality.

*The course will be published very soon. Follow my blog or my website to get notified.