I worked on learning the strokes of these characters for weeks. First, on a small scale in Kaisho style where the strokes are distinctive and the character is square in form. Then progressing to Gyosho, a style that is more cursive, and finally Sosho, this is fast and uses only a few movements. Sosho allows for artistic interpretation, abbreviating the strokes and incorporating, nijimi, the intial heavy blot of an ink-laden brush and kasure, when the brush is running dry. The variation is considered beautiful.
The pictures are my final pieces. Working in Sosho style is a one-shot deal. One starts with a heavily loaded brush and goes. It takes multiple attempts to get in the zone and find the flow of the characters. With each attempt, one assesses style, shape, balance, as well as the nijimi and kasure.
To be a master of shodo takes decades of practice and my short stay was merely an introduction, yet my progress was visible. By the end, Sensei commented that I wrote just like a Japanese person, which is a great compliment.
I want to thank the Municipal Art Society and Graduate Studies for making this extraordinary experience possible through the Henry Walters Traveling Fellowship. 有難う 御座います (Thank you very much).