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October 2008
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corvi [userpic]

I can make this one public, because Random won't have a chance to see it before he arrives here. Calligraphy + sumi-e:


  • The poem is vertical, which was a stylistic choice to go with the whole 'heights' theme. Originally, I'd wanted the poem to sort-of suggest mist rising around the mountain, but I failed to take into account the difference in ink darkness, and the end result is something close to a mountain spun of mist and sunlight, lurking behind the poem. It reads:
    noborishi Fuji noI climbed Mount Fuji and
    itadaki nias my legs trembled
    ashi wananakiteon its peak
    yume samen to suawoke

    Written by Masaoka Shiki, 1941. The translation given here is from the Japanese Text Initiative, which is a great and wonderful thing.

  • The calligraphy was hard. Balancing the characters, trying to run them into one flow, and the fact that they're about a third (linear, not area) of the size I usually work at - maybe I need a smaller brush? There are two types of characters in this piece: kanji, which are pictographic, and something I'm almost starting to get good at, and hiregana, which are syllabic, and much simpler. All the complicated ones are kanji, and I think they look cramped and uneasy - just too tiny. Something to work on. I do, however, like how graceful the hiregana came out.

    I tried to make the characters thinner, and more graceful, so that they looked less like a herd of cats all self-absorbed, and a little more like falling rain. I think I suceeded, but this is something I need more practice at.

  • The crinkles are because the rice paper does not lie flat in the scanner, and they're a lot less obvious in the original.

  • I bought rice paper and several blank fans to paint on at Uwajimaya today. Er, yesterday. (I'm still up from last night, what with inkpainting and working on the robot and reading and cleaning.) The smallest fans are a great size for two kanji in my usual style. The largest one, I will probably try to paint a scene on. I'm also thinking I'd like to eventually (!) tackle painting a large screen. Will probably have to have the screen custom-built, though, to do what I want.

  • I just yawned hard enough to make my eyes water, and the tear that rolled down my cheek was black with ink. I'm still trying to figure out how I manage to get so much ink on myself. None on my forehead, this time, but there's a smear on my nose that somewhat resembles a pine cone.

Comments? Does anyone else want one? I'm going to need lots of practice at this... :)
And now, to bed with me. 'm rather tired. May your day be as enjoyable as mine has been so far.

Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: Siam Shade - Junjou Na Kanjou

Hm, I just remembered my scanner is broken. I wonder how I scanned that, then?
Ah, the things you can do when you forget they're impossible.

you're very weird. but this is really cool.

(i just wish i knew enough kanji to understand the text in japanese... someday!)

I guess the problem, which is in the drivers that operate the scanner, must be on-and-off instead of always a problem.
I just tried to use the scanner again, and it's back to not working. Wierd.


magic? maybe its true. magic *is* all around us.

A couple of comments from a technical point of view. First, vertical Japanese is always written right to left; I jumped right in and started reading and it confused me until I read the poem and realized it was left-to-right. There's a subtle ambiguity when you're writing something that has one character per "line" -- should that be considered "vertical" writing and go r-l, or one long horizontal string, and go l-r? Older calligraphy takes the first view, newer varies betweent the first and second.

Second, have you seen a chart of which kanji the various hiragana were adapted from? If not, there's a decent one in the back of the NTC New Japanese-English Character Dictionary and an excellent one buried in Earnshaw's Sho: Japanese Calligraphy. I mention this because it might address your concern about the balance of the kanji and kana. The hiragana re comes from the grass form of rei, courtesy, which always helps me keep the proportion of re when it's written next to kanji.

I always have trouble writing small, because it engages finer muscle-control than large sweeping characters do. A smaller brush and lots of wrist-action are the key, when I get it right...

>First, vertical Japanese is always written right to left
Thankyouthankyouthankyou! This is exactly the sort of feedback I need. I will confess that I had not noticed this despite seeing some vertical calligraphy; I'm completely unable to distuinguish right and left, and have to do kanji layouts by computer beforehand to make sure I don't put any of the characters on backwards.

>Second, have you seen a chart of which kanji the various hiragana were adapted from?
Yes, actually, but it didn't occur to me to work from it for balance. Very good idea.

>I always have trouble writing small, because it engages finer muscle-control than large sweeping characters do. A smaller brush and lots of wrist-action are the key, when I get it right...
Yeah, I think I need a much smaller brush. The mountain and the kanji were done with the same brush, and the mountain is a single stroke. I did well enough, considering, but the control given me by a smaller brush would be good.

Again, I cannot thank you enough for useful technical criticisms. My gratitude.

Oh, by the way, do you have any of your calligraphy online? If so, I'd like to see it.

I never thought of putting anything online, and though I have a bunch of practicework most of my finished pieces were done as gifts. But maybe I can get a picture of the wedding gift I wrote for a couple of my friends -- it's much too large to scan, though. I'll see if any of the practice pieces are worth putting up, too, but I wouldn't say they were anything special.

Wow, this is really stunning. The poem is gorgeous, amazing.

That.. is absolutely beautiful.

The addition of the characters does help it a lot. I'm amused that I can read the hiragana to get the sounds but I have no idea what I'm saying when I read it...

Wow. Just... wow.

It's funny, none of the artwork I happen to own in any ways resembles anything like this. But I like the elegance of it. I like the way this is boiled down to essence.

I would be honored to have a sumi-e (or caligraphy, or whatever artwork you are feeling inspired to do) from you, though I don't know what I would want, nor what you would see as appropriate for me.

Well, honestly, I would probably want to paint crows at some point, because they're an interesting shape, and they're the sort of thing that might work well in dark, cloudy ink and sweeping lines.

... and then I would want an appreciative audience.
You come to mind.


*grin* Most certainly. Matter of fact, there's a shameful lack of artwork featuring crows around my place.

It looks complete now.
Very lovely, especially for a first attempt.
Also, I would be thrilled and exuberant to have some other future effort.

  1. He'll love it.
  2. The framed artwork you gave me is now hanging on the wall of our bedroom, next to Pooh's sword. The mirror will be hung as soon as we can find a mounting kit for it.


1. I think he liked it, but I'm having a hard time telling.

2> I gave you a mounting kit, one of the ones that came with the mirrors. Do you want me to mail you another when I mail out the eclipse photo for Pooh?


You never gave it to me. I'm quite sure of this. You told me you only had one, and it was for ... um ... whomever the other mirror was for (vix?).

Oh. Hm. I still have one, so I must not have given it to anyone.

I actually thought the wrinkles were brush strokes until you pointed out that they weren't.

Please tell me that you have seen "The Pillow Book", the film directed by Peter Greenaway?
Assuming you have, this reminds me of some of the caligraphy in that film, you'll know what flattery that is. The shapes and flow are very familiar. If you have not seen this film allow me to recomend it to you as the film that most evokes my love of calligraphy. It is a sensual masterpiece. One of the main characters of the film can be seen here, I believe (http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/japanese/sei/makura/SeiMaku.html)

I have a favorite piece of a poem that is the english translation from french. Perhaps you would considder attempting a translation for esencial meaning into japanese and tell me if the caligraphy would be worth doing? It is as follows, let me know if it inspires you.

"Come to the edge" he said
they said "we are afraid"
"Come to the edge" he said
They came
he pushed them
and they flew

I always think of the meaning behind this to be the about the person who knows what it is to fly and to soar (in the sense of accomplishment or spiritual enlightenment) and gives others that little shove that helps them to soar as well.

> Please tell me that you have seen "The Pillow Book"
Afraid not. I'm woefully ignorant with regards to movies. It sounds interesting, though. I'll make an effort to watch it.

As for that neat poem, I'll try translating it, though I'm not very good at that. Each language has a sort of feeling to it, and I have a hard time working through the differences in language texture. But it is certainly a neat image, and it would be fun to calligraphy, if I could get a translation I liked.