Last updated on November 4, 2020
Do you ever feel today the
call of the non-digital?
A desire for cunieform?
A hankering to learn the Tibetan Naxi Dongba script?
A regret that your handwriting has gone illegible?
This summer, I have been dedicating my non-earning-a-living days to learning HTML and CSS, the pixel world of the web. It is a world of grids and boxes-within-boxes and automatic wraps. Nice. Elegant.
And complicated like all get out once you get beyond the basics. Not that I do not love the logic of this; I do. The detective part of my brain finds it very satisfying. And it goes well with my love of Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and all things interactive.
We know That the Tail
of a Garamond or Times New Roman letter calls to mind the calligraphy brush. Serif letters are partly about the soft or hard landings of letter strokes. These landings link to the adjacent letterforms and are still believed by many to make for easier reading than sans-serif letters.
the more pixels I count during my HTML/CSS days, the more I want to escape the box confinement. The digital world we inhabit today was not born of rounded shapes, body shapes, cell shapes, or star shapes. I sometimes miss those shapes shut out of my screen world. Nature is not square.
Handwriting, Drawing & Brushwork
And so on July 25, 2005 I registered once again for a day working with Barbara Bash, well-known Big Brush calligrapher and Buddhist teacher. A remedial course for those of us still wanting to write, draw, or paint by hand.
Even though we love the digerati world, there can be something missing for us in days when we work only on digital devices. That something is working with the hand and pencil, hand and pen, hand and brush. I am not new to this path, having studied off and on with Bash since 2005, but I do forget and my handwriting is still illegible.
When Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche once said, ‘It is possible to make a brushstroke that expresses one’s whole life’ I took that to mean a very LARGE brushstroke. This was the beginning of my Big Brush practice.Barbara Bash, Big Brush The Journey
Photographs in this Article
were taken at the week-long Big Brush Workshop held at Skylake Retreat Center in Rosendale New York July 2005.
This was a brush and sword workshop led by Barbara Bash and Bob Wing. The big brush strokes were done by instructors and participants during the last day of the course.
Photographs from 2005 Big Brush Workshop held at Skylake Retreat Center in Rosendale New York © 2005 Barbara Kristaponis. All rights reserved.
- Barbara Bash bio from her website www.barbarabash.com : “Barbara Bash has been walking the calligraphic path for many years with an interest in Buddhist sensibility as expressed through western art forms. She was a longtime student of Chogyam Trungpa. More recently she has been studying Nonviolent Communication. She is intrigued to explore the combining of these two deep and rich communication disciplines.”
- For more information about the Big Brush Workshops, see https://www.barbarabash.com/big_brush.html, accessed 8/28/2020
- Bob Wing bio from his blog on the Naropa website https://www.enaropa.org/blog/tag/bob-wing/: “Bob Wing, founder and instructor of the Aikido program at Naropa University, teacher of the body-centered Gestalt Therapy, and guest faculty at the upcoming Authentic Leadership Program, shares how his practice of experiential traditions over the years has gifted him with the insight to become a better teacher.” Accessed 8/28/2020.
- Philip Ellis Foster bio at http://lawrencevillepubs.org/vsvsummer2015issue/news/philip-ellis-foster-56-talk-does-not-cook-rice/ Accessed 8/28/2020.
© Barbara Kristaponis 2014-2022. The Good Page.
7 thoughts on “Digital Type & the Brush”
Loves this! I want to rub my face in the wet ink.
So wonderful Barbara to gaze at this images from our workshop together and also take in your musings about hand and form and how we still long for the body shapes, the curves of nature . . . I feel it is possible to keeping finding ways to touch in, counterbalance, go deep onto the paper, into a conversation, into a moment. Thanks for your good thoughts about all this !
I love this Barbara, thanks for sharing! Especially the quote “It is possible to make a brushstroke that expresses one’s whole life” vs. the digital necessity of our daily lives. You’re right in that we inhabit round shapes and yet we’re taught about straight lines and boxes (and we most learn them to succeed!). This looks gorgeous and also fun!
Really enjoyed the beautiful graphics and calligraphy!
I love this page! I’m reminded when fingerprint was relevant. Tho we have gained some in the digital age . . . oh what we have lost!
I am reminded of the classes I sat in with Marshall McLuhan at the University of Toronto some years ago. Especially 2 frequent statements.
The media is the message. Hence different media, different messages.
The content of new media is old media. Hence the blog about brush strokes.
That huge calligraphy looks like a whole lot of fun!