Monday, September 7, 2009

Handwriting & Brush Painting

Max brush painting with water on Sumi-e Board, also known as Japanese Magic Paper. Appearing as ink on the board, the image disappears as the water evaporates, for easy clean-up and lots of use.

Growing up, I loved forming each letter with great care and practiced often, looking forward to developing a handwriting-style of my own. So, among many surprises of motherhood, was the fact that my son does not like handwriting. The only part he seems to enjoy is sharpening the pencils -- which he does with his jack-knife -- and I am often surprised at how much character training occurs for both of us in our 5-10 minutes of daily handwriting.

Max thoroughly enjoys the process of mixing the ink with a grinding stone.

While studying a timetable* from a Parents' Union School, I was intrigued to see that Charlotte Mason combined brush-painting with either printing or writing twice a week for Class I, (our Grades 1-3). Though the PU School would have used watercolors for their brush drawing, we have incorporated ink painting which seems to afford my son a bit more spontaneity and relaxation.
Working on brush strokes - the brush is held lightly and perpendicular to the paper.

The view in a Charlotte Mason education is that handwork will not only improve manual dexterity but will serve to improve head work. Though technique is important in our brush painting sessions, exact duplication of an image is not. Our brush painting sets are kept especially for school time and their appearance is greeted with exuberance. Once everything is put away, a pot of green tea and a haiku await.

*The daily schedules can be accessed at Ambleside Online, The Parents Review, Vol. 19, 1908, or found on p. 117 of SCM's Planning Your Charlotte Mason Education, if you happen to have it on your shelf.


Sue said...

How wonderful that you found a unique way to make writing fun for your son. My kids and I enjoyed the photos, and were impressed that he is holding the brush perpendicular to the paper, and not holding it like a pencil!

Jeanne said...

I'm starting to think I might need to buy this book. Do you regard it as a 'must have'? I've printed off the exerpt and will have a good look tonight before I decide. I seem to hobble along without any how-to book, but the things you write about it are intriguing!

Love the calligraphy, by the way.

amy said...

I found your blog through one of your comments on Simply Charlotte Mason. I have never seen the sumi e boards, but I may have to get one. They look really interested and I know my kids would love it!

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

I would love for you to submit this blog entry to the Hands On Homeschool Blog Carnival.
Here is the link:

The deadline is Sunday....thanks for sharing your project.
Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Renelle said...

Thanks so much for these suggestions I'm going to read on the AO site and the schedules etc. I will give it a go. I don't think I am creative enough so you have inspired me to try something new. This has to be a regular part of our week, I'm feeling very excited now. thanks,

Amy in Peru said...

hey there,
does the paper alone work the same as the board?

amy in peru

Richele said...

Yes, Amy, you can simply mount the paper in a plastic (or otherwise waterproof) frame to hold the paper still.

You don't need any special backing, just the cardboard backing from the frame should be fine. You just don't want to oversaturate the paper.

Cindy K. said...

What do you have the kids paint with the brush painting or Sumi-e ink painting? Are there specific strokes to practice or shapes to create or do you just have them do their own thing? I don't think my boys would do anything if told to just create whatever they want. With copywork or handwriting practice, there are specific things they copy or practice.

Richele said...

Hi Cindy, I found some very basic Sumi-e technique tutorials online and read/watched them myself. On the first day I showed the boys how to hold the brush, mix the ink and basic strokes.

I was able to get a lot of ideas by looking at images of Susan Morningstar's sumi-e illustrations.

This is definitely a low key, relaxed exercise. We alternate between the water and the ink on different days.

If you try it, do let me know how it goes!

Melissa said...

i know this is an old entry...but it reminded me of how brilliant you are and how much i adore you!

Richele said...

Well, that's like a scratch behind the ears!

I'd best leave off with this quote:

"It is not that 'we' are persons of peculiar genius; it is that, like Paley's man who found the watch, "we have chanced on a good thing."
-CM, Vol. 6, p. 9