Closeup Big Brush Red Stroke

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?

Photo Big Brush Stroke

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.

Big Brush Stroke

And complicated like a m#$&%*er 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.

Big Brush

And then I remember 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.

Rolling out paper for Big Brush Stroke

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.

Big Brush

The Moving Line : Handwriting, Drawing & Brushwork as Embodied Practice

And so on July 25, 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.

BIg Brush

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.

Barbara Bash Big Brush

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

Big Brush

Photographs in this Blog

were taken at the weeklong Big Brush Workshop held at Skylake Retreat Center in Rosendale New York July 2015.

BIg Brush

This was a brush and sword workshop led by Barbara Bash and Bob WingThe big brush strokes were done by instructors and participants during the last day of the session.

Barbara Bash and Bob WIng: Big Brush and Sword
Barbara Bash and Bob Wing

© 2005 All Rights Reserved Barbara Kristaponis. If you wish to use any of these images, email me the specifics at Most (but not all) are available under a Creative Commons license for non-commercial use.

7 thoughts on “Digital Type and the Brush

  1. 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 !


  2. 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!


  3. 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.


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