Welcome to the next installment of my Japanese Calligraphy 101 blog series: Warming Up!
It's worth remembering that as much as shodo is a mental exercise, requiring consideration and focus, it is also a physical exercise that requires a lot precision - the ability to control your speed, pressure, brush angle, and so on. As with any physical activity, it's important to warm up a bit before you begin.
This is the warm up my instructor, Seikou Kaneko, taught me when I started taking lessons with her, 5 years ago, and is still the warm up I use at the beginning of each practice. For the whole warmup, focus on maintaining even pressure and constant speed.
1. Starting on the top left, draw horizontal lines across a piece of scratch paper until you fill the page.
2. Starting on the top right, then alternating (left, right, left), draw vertical lines down the page, working from the outer edges toward the middle.
3. Starting on the top left, draw a diagonal line to the bottom right. Then draw a line diagonally from the top right to the bottom left. Continue alternating, left to right and right to left, until you fill up the page.
4. Finally, draw the largest circle you can fit on the page, starting at the bottom center of the circle. Draw smaller concentric circles inside it.
With that, you're warmed up and ready to begin! Next week, I'll show you how to practice - what to pay attention to as you look over the piece you're copying, corrections and adjustments, and practicing difficult characters or strokes.