Friday, July 30, 2010

The Beginning Strokes, "Dots"

I'm going to “begin” this “instruction” project, with the brushing of the “Dot's”. These are the “little” strokes that are common within many of the kanji that student's will be practicing. To the average “observer”, they (can) appear to “all be the same”. For the Shodoka, there is a clear distinction between each of them. The “First” (and arguably, the most “important”) is the “Mother Dot”. This stroke, is used at the beginning of virtually “every” stroke.
The “Mother Dot”(hence the “name”). It is neither “complicated”, nor “difficult” to brush. None the less, mastery of this stroke is mandatory to beginning to perform/learn “Shodo”. The stroke begins with placement of the “tip” of the brush against the paper, then a lowering, and placement of the body of the brush at (an approximate) 45º angle, to the lower right of the beginning placement. The angle is not “actually” a 45º (it's closer to a 50-60º), but it seems to be “simpler” for student's to remember a 45º(?). As the student becomes more comfortable, they can “correct” this minor difference in “description”. As the brush is lowered(at the “end”) one can/will apply a light “bounce”(to create the “clean” rounded end of the stroke). It is fairly common for the “bottom” of the “dot” to become “flattened”. This is usually the result of excessive “pressure” (against the brush), which “flattens” the bristles (creating a “flattened” end of the stroke upon the paper). The “bounce”, should be performed without “lifting” the brush from the paper, the “tip” maintains constant contact, and is never lifted/removed from it. There will be various strokes that also utilize this “bounce”, so the understanding, and execution of it should become “second nature” to the student.

The “Profile” (dot) is next, it is one of the most recognized strokes (by both “shodoka” and Shodo “admirer's” alike). The Profile is commonly located “on top” of a kanji. The stroke is began with the mother dot, but instead of “lifting”(and “re-setting”) it remains “down”, and “drags”(slightly) downward (to the Right), it then is “shifted”(again “slightly”) upward and to the Right. The brush is then lifted, leaving only the “tip” in contact with the center of the dot. The brush should then be motioned “downward” to the Left, and lifted simultaneously (which will leave the slight “tail”).

The “Dragon Claw” (at first “glance”) would “appear” to be the same as the “Profile”(dot). Upon closer observation, it can be seen to have distinct “differences”. Those differences are readily apparent when one begins to “make” the actual “stroke”. Once the beginning “dot” is placed, the brush is drawn downward, and to the Right, The example provided illustrates that the “tip” of the brush is drawn downward, and to the right, then is moved to the Left and downward. As it motions to the Left, it is “lifted”(leaving the pointed “tail”). The example drawing (by observation of the inserted “line”) illustrates the path that the “tip” of the brush will take during the brushing of the kanji (“dot”).

The “Apricot Seed” is the next “dot”. This dot can be utilized in varying lengths, and placements. The basic form of the stroke, is began with the placement of the mother dot. Once placed, the brush is drawn downward, and slightly to the left. Once the stroke reaches the desired “length”, the “bounce” is commonly applied (to “clean” the end of the stroke).

The “Plumb Stone” is used in many kanji, and is frequently applied during the creation of “Gyosho” style kanji.To make the stroke, the tip of the brush is placed, then drawn downward and to the Right, when the brush reaches the desired distance, the brush is pulled “slightly” to the Right, and “re-set” (by way of a vertical “bounce”).

The “Turtle Head” dot is most commonly seen on top of the stroke called “The Crown”. It is began by the placement of the dot, then the brush is “swept” to the Right, then is pulled straight down and “finished” with an abbreviated “bounce”.

The last of the “Dot's”, is the “Hatchi” (contraction). These are used in unison and can be seen in various kanji (very commonly in “Gyosho” versions). The dot to the Left, is brushed first, and similar to the “Profile”, and the “Dragon Claw”, this “set” utilizes a “tail”(at the finishing motion of each individual “dot” in the pair). It should be noted, that the “tail”(from the first dot) “points” to the “tip placement” of the second dot. As the second dot is completed, “it's” tail, points towards the bottom of the First dot (creating a “Yin/Yang” sort of feeling to the strokes). 

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