Wednesday morning I practiced etegami. The subject of etegami is whatever you can have in front of you, so I gathered some vegetables and fruits from the kitchen: garlic, yam potatoes, oranges, onions.
Etegami was invented in 1960s by Kunio Koike a calligrapher from Japan. He was frustrated that art was only made by professional artists, such as the art printed on New Year’s greetings postcards that were sold in Japan. He invented the principles of etegami so people can make and share their own art.
All you need for etegami is ink, watercolour, and rice paper. To make etegami, you hold the brush at the tip, with two or three fingers. You don’t have control of the brush so, as you move very slowly, the lines are squiggly, imperfect, and there are blotches, but it’s okay. In etegami, they say the lines are ‘alive’.
Once the artwork is done you have to add a short sentence, or greeting. I tried to be spontaneous.
I enjoyed adding watercolour. It added a new dimension to the artwork.
Today I used large sheets or rice paper to practice. Next time, I’ll use a small brush and postcards-size paper. etegami means imagee (e) and letter (tegami). It’s not etegami until you mail it, so I’m hoping to send some for New Year’s.
I’m grateful to instructor Darlene Dihel, assisted by Dorothy Matthews and Melinda Brottem who gave a workshop at Seabeck Haiku Getaway and introduced me to etegami. It was a lot of fun, not having to stress about the quality of the final product, but to simply enjoy the process. This allowed me to make art again.
My favorite part of the process was just focusing on the line and the breath. To be present. In the moment.
In the next coming weeks, I’ll learn to make a seal out of an eraser so I can sign the artwork. This should be fun too.