Have you ever practiced shodo, writing calligraphy with a brush dipped in black ink on delicate rice paper?
Recently, I attended a shodo exhibition and participated in the calligraphy workshop that was held in conjunction with the exhibition. The workshop was led by the artist whose work was being exhibited, and pictured above.
I arrived to the workshop empty. My hands held no equipment, and my head was void of expectations and any ideas of what I’d be doing apart from knowing that I’d be holding a brush and applying it onto paper with black ink.
The workshop was lighthearted and fun. We were encouraged to be expressive and free on paper rather than follow strict rules or any set format with our calligraphy.
My calligraphy is not perfect, as you can see from these images.
It is okay to be imperfect at times, and to accept ourselves a such.
At this workshop, I was just happy to be present and to participate in the creative process. I was also able to laugh and engage with other workshop participants and with the workshop facilitator.
The sound of our laughter remains embedded into the images that I created on paper.
After a series of warm-up activities with our brush, paper and ink, we ended up with numerous sheets of paper inked with images and script that we had created ourselves. With remnants of kimonos and pieces of wood that had been provided, we assembled one chosen image into a wall hanging.
I chose a circle that I had drawn for my assemblage. If you look closely at the image, the circle is not completely centered on the background paper.
The workshop facilitator had pointed this out and said that this is what makes the image interesting – that maybe there is a story behind this? She further stated that, in calligraphy, while it is good to center an image on a page, it is sometimes equally fine to create an image that is not completely centered.
I think that this reflects the reality of our lives. Life is not perfect. There are moments of perfection and sometimes you can create images that reflect perfection on paper, but life is not perfect. So, this image of calligraphy that I created today is a reflection of life as I know it and experience it.
Everything is a work in progress in life, I think, including life itself, our work, our writing, our relationships, our calligraphy and our own human development.
This is the end product of my participation in the calligraphy workshop.
The result of the afternoon was surprise, laughter, connection and greater learning for me. Most of all, however, I walked away with reflection and more acceptance of my imperfection, of myself living my imperfect life.