Izzy Pludwinski
Jerusalem, Israel

A40 — Calligraphy as Meditation
One-Day Class, Sunday, July 26
All Levels


Ready for a different type of workshop? In this class, we will concentrate on how we write, rather than what we write. This will be a no-technique, experiential class. We will be doing movement-awareness exercises, some mindfulness meditation, and a light form of energy-raising (ki) exercise. We will relate all this to the act of writing with the intent being to be able to write more efficiently and to put more of ourselves — mind and body — into our writing.

The Japanese/Chinese brush will be our main tool, as its sensitivity has the ability to reflect the inner self in a more obvious way than other writing instruments.

Prior to the class, participants will be asked to reflect on and choose a word or words they would like to render. (One option will be to experiment with Hebrew letterforms — no experience with Hebrew is necessary — in fact working with unfamiliar forms might very well be an advantage. For those wishing to try Hebrew I will provide each student with the Hebrew equivalent of his or her chosen word in several styles, of which students will choose one to work on and abstract. Those less daring can work on experimental Latin forms. In either case we will abstract the forms through specific writing exercises.

The final work of the class will be a large-brush piece to be written with maximum mindfulness. The idea of the workshop is to experience a way of writing that might also be applied to other areas of life. The outer form of this workshop will be somewhat based on a Zen calligraphy workshop I experienced under Sensei Terayama in his dojo in Mt. Tsukube, Japan.

Supply List

  • Small to medium size oriental brush (not too small; exact size not that important. If you already own different sizes, including large, bring them all!)
  • Bottle of liquid sumi ink or tube of black gouache
  • Palette or inkwell (large enough to fit your brush)
  • Plain white paper (photocopy, newsprint, layout pad), approximately 50 sheets, 8.5″ x 11″ size or larger
  • Comfortable, loose-fitting clothes
  • A raisin or other one-bite-sized food.

Supply fee: $5 for rice paper

izzy_pludwinskiIzzy Pludwinski has been working as a professional calligrapher since 1980, starting out as a certified religious scribe (Sofer STaM) and then branching out into calligraphy and design. He received his formal calligraphy training at Roehampton Institute’s calligraphy and bookbinding program, then under the direction of Ann Camp. His work has appeared many times in Letter Arts Review, and he authored the article: “The Experience of the Hebrew Scribe” for The Scribe. In 2004, Izzy was invited to Wales by Donald Jackson to work on the Hebrew for the St. John’s Bible.

Izzy has taught Hebrew calligraphy in Jerusalem for over 20 years and set up the Hebrew calligraphy course at the Spiro Institute in London. His recently published book, Mastering Hebrew Calligraphy, was chosen as a finalist for the National Jewish Book Awards in visual arts.

His present interest lies in the use of calligraphy as a meditative device for spiritual growth, believing that the act of writing should not be separated from the way we live our lives outside the studio. This led to an interest in movement awareness disciplines as well as Zen calligraphy. To experience the latter directly, Izzy traveled to Japan to attend a Zen calligraphy workshop given by Sensei Tanchu Terayama (author of Zen Brushwork and co-author of Zen and the Art of Calligraphy). This gave him a framework for a practice that he has since continued, using an abstract Hebrew alphabet he developed as a means to mindful writing.

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