What is calligraphy

Calligraphy is careful hand- lettering or handwriting, or the decorative art of lettering in an ornamental style using a broad-tipped brush. In Japan, 書道shodō, literally means ‘the way of writing’ which for centuries was essential to a person’s status and often meant the ability to write in Chinese, as well as Japanese syllabaries.

In Asia the arts of the brush are still believed to display a person’s character and cultivation. Using the humble tools of brush, ink and water an artist can achieve a range of effects.

In Zen Buddhism the arts of poetry, painting and calligraphy are central to cultivating a mind open to enlightenment. The relationship between the master and pupil is essential. The pursuit of enlightenment is personal and can be achieved through disciplined meditation, it can also happen in a moment's notice during mundane tasks like sweeping.

Nothingness (mu) was created c.1650 by Gesshū Sōko (1618–1696). Gesshū has chosen to emphasise the (calligraphic) character for emptiness or nothingness (mu) and reduced it to an abstract character, quickly written in three brushstrokes. Mu refers to a mind that is not fixed or occupied by rational thought or emotion, and thus open to all possibilities, including enlightenment.

What activities calm or slow your mind down?

Ensō (円相) means circle. In Zen Buddhism the painting of a circle is a form of meditation as it symbolises strength and Enlightenment. Where else have you seen artists paint circles? Find other examples where artists have used circles as the main feature in their work. Practice painting circles, did you find this process relaxing and meditative? Tip: Look at the work by Yayoi Kusama.

Using a broad tipped brush a ink practice writing words from Japanese language. Below are some short videos to help get you started