Remembering the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake

It is now ten years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011. We wish to send our warm wishes to all those still very much affected in the Tohoku area and in other parts of Japan – our hearts and thoughts are with you. May you be happy and may you be well.

This sketch is a soft inky piece I made while travelling in Japan (using sumi ink and fude brush and pens), I was enjoying the presence and curves of the Sanjunoto three level Buddhist towers.

透明観 tōmeikan – photography project

透 – tō – to be transparent, leave gap, hold light
明 – mei – bright/ illumination
観 – kan observation meditation; perceive

transparent and moving, perceiving interpenetrating and making space, like the bird shape of Kannon 観音 soaring, seeing and feeling

My series of abstracted photographs has been expanding in the last couple of years and I have been rethinking their scope, and combining with the meditative activities I do. 透明観 – toumeikan – is my new title for the project.

These are three recent photographs taken at Traprain.

Breathing spaces and balance – Japanese & Chinese seal engraving

It was great to have the time to work on 篆刻 tenkoku seal engraving for hansetsu sized calligraphy paper. These hakubun and shubun white and red letter 印 stamps have a face of 2cm square.

After designing the two stamps with a combination of my surname, calligraphy and zen name, and painting on the kanji (in the tensho style) onto the stones which takes care and a steady hand at times, I then spent a while into the deep dark night enjoying the carving.

Twisting branches, fading spaces – sumi-e ink painting

I worked outside in the North of Glasgow with my friend artist Margaret Kerr, painting in my large sketchbook a 水墨画 suibokuga ink painting (style is also called sumi-e) of silver birch trees.

It was comfy kneeling on my picnic mat with my suzuri inkwell and bowls and fude brushes all laid out, and very peaceful with Margaret and the chirping small birds 😊 and great to experiment with some of the suibokuga techniques which use very different methods of using brushes such as holding the fude brushes, adding sumi ink in certain ways, and the numerous types of strokes.

Deciding where to stamp the ink painting of the trees fading into the forest 🌳 was fun, being careful though not to cut off the flow of movement in the artwork though✨


Carving seals and stamping onto calligraphy and artwork

Here is an example of stamped calligraphy (this is kokotsubun shell and bone style). You can stamp on your shodo calligraphy, artwork, poetry or sutra copying, or anything else you fancy 😊

This example is of stamped artwork by Blair was inspired by the dynamic skyline of Tokyo, using Japanese gansai pigments.

To join our stamp making online by zoom, you only need pencil and paper to get started. Enjoy and practice working with traditional tenkoku 篆刻 materials or the simpler keshigomu eraser to carve your very own hanko はんこ stamp.

In this video Blair has fun stamping a few papers, using the L shape to guide the alignment of stamps for shodo (very handy!), whilst going for a more squinty off angle approach on the artwork, and stamping in the middle of an enso circle.

Stamping is such fun, the physical pressing down and moment of suspense to see the stamp impression. After first designing the 印 – such as name or artist name, then carving or cutting into stone or eraser. It is enjoyable to work on each part of the process.

Blair is carving his zen name, using the insho clamp and into cutter. He can help you translate and choose suitable katakana Japanese or Chinese characters for your own name 😊

This picture is of some reisho 隷書 calligraphy Blair was stamping a few days ago✨

Please have a look at upcoming Tenkoku event.