The workshop,“Text and Texture: Making Expressive Texture with Calligraphic Marks” with Yukimi Annand was held on October 12 and 13, 2013, in San Diego. If you ever have the opportunity to attend a workshop by this accomplished calligrapher/artist, you will not regret it nor forget it.
Yukimi started the morning with an inspiring slide show revealing how nature was her inspiration. In the process, her work really mirrored nature, not appearing man-made or calligraphic, in the usual sense. She started the lessons with spacing of words from left to right, right to left, and top to bottom of the page to create designs. We also experimented with spacing of individual letters, first spacing as usual with each letter separate and distinct, then slightly overlapping, then more overlap, until all letters eventually merged into designs—the letters becoming indistinguishable in the process. Also although calligraphers are accustomed to writing prose in lines, she challenged us to make random “arrangements” of letters. The variety of results created by all in the class were interesting and inspiring—almost a Zentangle effect with no spacing between letters. Our primary writing implement was a small, humble piece of balsa wood, inked with sumi. Black fingers and all, it was a wonderful partnership of ink and wood with striking results.
Each class member selected a meaningful mantra such as, “Look deeply into nature . . .” and was asked to use that same mantra in different exercises, in the process helping to internalize the mantra—also her objective, perhaps.
Yukimi had us put random marks or text on black Arches cover stock using a small squeeze bottle filled with Golden white acrylic paint with fine metal tips. We used a 3” wide piece of balsa wood to make patterns using sumi ink on inexpensive hanshi rice paper. These were left to dry overnight and then sealed together with diluted Golden brand matte medium, which resulted in wonderful patterns and shades of gray. These were turned into little 2”X2” masterpieces attached to cards.
One of the most freeing exercises she asked us to do was to use objects of nature to serve as our writing implement—stones, pine needles, branches, wisteria pods, dried palm fronds, even shells. (Some of our best lettering was done with these low tech items!). It harkened back to carefree childhood times of writing in the sand with a branch or perhaps using a seashell or a stone to write with. Yukimi encouraged us to ignore boundaries and long-standing rules of writing and just create with whatever tools we have, much like a young child might do, exploring with no preconceived notions.
She went around the room and spent time with each person, providing valuable, constructive suggestions. Throughout she encouraged us to, “Just have fun” so we would not be too critical of our efforts.
Indeed, by the end of the workshop, everyone had work to be proud of. It was an unforgettable and rewarding weekend. The valuable lessons learned from Yukimi—more than simply techniques or materials—were having a feel for the style of letters and the message the words conveyed and putting them to paper in such a unified way, as to make the end result much more powerful. Yukimi, in her gentle way, opened up to us such a world of possibilities, for which everyone was grateful.
By Janice Shigehara, photos by Yukimi Annand and used with permission