Cultivation Of A Polished Rune

Aoi & Her Work

~ INTRO ~

After calling Aoi and three text messages later we’d decided to meet up at the Lake Merritt area of Oakland because it’s a fairly easy landmark to locate. Originally built in 1953, the lake is described as “a focal point, it stands as the jewel of Oakland, even crowned with lights” by oaklandnet.com. Sun setting behind the lake provided a spectacular backdrop to capture some photos of Aoi’s calligraphy work. Tons of people were jogging by and we even had to ask a couple people for help to hold some of her larger work.

Following the ‘photo shoot,’ we headed towards a nearby area to escape the encroaching dark cold air. At first thought the local Starbucks appeared a solid location to conduct an interview. Closer inspection revealed it rank with chatter. Across the street, Colonial Donuts proved a more hospitable interview environment. After ogling the pastry selections we both settled on apple turnovers, with she an Earl Grey tea and I a ‘Milk Chug’ to wash it down. We sat down in the middle of the shop snacking on the goodies while discussing what calligraphy entails for her.

~ BACKGROUND ~

Moments Of Truth ~ Today is Thursday, October 18TH, 2007 and I’m here with Aoi Yamaguchi. Please describe your main mode or medium of creative expression.

Aoi Yamaguchi ~ Primarily, I do Japanese calligraphy. I’ve been doing this since I was six years old.

MOT ~ Are there specific differences for Japanese calligraphy in comparison to say Chinese or Western forms?

AY ~ The Japanese form is really unique, based on traditional culture. I use special brushes and papers. Like if I was just to draw the alphabet, it’s very simple lines, while there’s a lot of curves and three different styles of characters [in Japan], hiragana, katakana and kanji. Kanji is the most complicated one and consists of [a] bunch of strokes. It’s really hard to write, but that’s what really makes me want to do it and learn it because it’s hard. If it’s easy, I can be more creative, it takes time to learn it but we need patience to develop the skill.

Any of the three characters can be used, but we don’t use katakana that much. It’s more for foreign words, like English, to describe the sounds. The kanji has the Continue reading

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Stacked & Finished?

Stacked & Finished?

After watching the months of August and September melt away into shorter days, autumn colors, and impending winter weather it does not take much to know it is time to hit the road. Another Portland night, summers usual pleasant humid stickiness has turned to a crisp fall coolness. Still not completely secure in what items to pack and what to leave, I throw my hands up in frustration, not wanting to begin yet also wanting to set sail. Inevitably, I force myself out the door making some calls over the weekend to schedule appointments for the coming Monday September 17th; one in Salem and a couple in Eugene.

Well, being the laggard that I can be, come Monday, I’m still debating what items to leave in and what to leave out until I just bite the bullet and cram in what fits. In my anxious state, caught up in my thoughts and potential adventures that lay ahead, I start out in the wrong direction wasting at least a half hour road time. By the time I make it to the first location, paths have already been crossed and the meeting has to be postponed until the return trip. It’s straight on to Eugene to sit down with painter John Holdway.

John Holdway,
http://www.johnholdway.blogspot.com

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Background:

“Mainly I do painting, in oils, but sometimes acrylics. Maybe lean a little into sculpture, especially when I’m working on some paintings in still life because I might build my own props. Sometimes I do think of my paintings more like sculpture, objects. I also do printmaking, block print, monotype.”

MOT ~ What do you think it is that draws you toward painting?

JH ~ It’s hard to say, I’ve been painting for a long time, it becomes somewhat habitual. It’s a little weird that way, so I find it hard to think about it, why do I do it. Why can’t I stop doing it might be a better question.

There are a lot of practical things that are nice about painting. If you have paintings, you can hang them on your own wall. In college I did some steel sculpture, but there are problems with that. You need lots of tools, a big pile of junk in your yard, a yard, if you don’t, well… and now I do have a yard, but I’m married and have a wife. She’d probably be pretty unhappy with that.

So I would like to do some steel sculpture again. I like doing all kinds of stuff. With painting, you don’t use your muscles as much. If you spend time building your own canvases or something that might be the extent of it. I like to be a little tired after, more active instead of just all in your head. It’d be nice to have a little of that. I remember that about steel sculpture that there’s a physical-ness not necessarily there in the same way when painting. It entails forging, hammering, cutting, using all kinds of different tools. With painting you have your brushes and your knives. It might be that [brushes] are so natural to me know that I don’t even think of them as tools.

MOT ~ So where did you grow up?

JH ~ I grew up in Maryland outside of DC, College Park, pretty close to the University of Maryland.

MOT ~ Do other members of your family also do creative types of activities?

JH ~ Yea, well my dad’s always been an artist on the side, a print-maker, doing etchings and those kinds of things. He often drew and has done some Continue reading