Shodo, or the art of Japanese calligraphy, is an ancient art separate from any other creative work. It differs in that its main focuses are; simplicity, beauty, and, most importantly, a mind-body connection. However, despite its differences from what most individuals would define as art; true calligraphy is achieved by applying the elements of art specifically; line, shape and space.
In producing any piece of Japanese calligraphy, mastering the element of Line is an absolute essential. The shape of the line assists in displaying the desired effect of the artwork. Often the line is drawn with a specific focus such as love, determination, or positivity. These feelings can often dictate the type of line that follows (e.g., whether it is wavy, straight, or curved). The tension of the line can also be created in this fashion.
In conjunction with Line, mastering Shape is also an important aspect in producing any Japanese symbol because calligraphy is achieved with dragging, pressing, and sweeping techniques and no outlining or drawing is ever used. In creating art other than symbols, especially in Chinese calligraphy, nature is a prominent theme. Organic shapes such as trees, leaves and flowers are common subjects for Chinese or Japanese artists. As the culture behind calligraphy is continually focused on the beauty and wonder of nature, inorganic shapes such as geometric figures or human-made objects are seldom painted.
Furthermore, the element of Space is essential in creating a beautiful calligraphy piece. It is crucial that the artist remain aware of the placement of each line, especially in more complicated symbols. Often, the artist is required to visualize where each line will start, stop and meet before he even touches the brush to the paper. Without undivided attention to spacing, the finished symbol will fail to appear as desired, even with the most perfect lines and shapes. Presentation and careful placement is one of the aspects that help in giving Japanese calligraphy its distinct beauty.
In summary, Japanese calligraphy, to the common eye, may seem uncomplicated or even bland. However, the creation of such a simplistic piece involves the knowledge of several difficult skills, and the mastery of all the elements of art, specifically those described.