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When Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche once said, "It is possible to make a brushstroke that expresses one's whole life" I took that to mean a very LARGE brushstroke. This was the beginning of my Big Brush practice.

I had worked for many years as a calligrapher, studying the alphabets in use from Roman times to the Renaissance, learning the precision of the broad-edged pen. When I came in contact with Tibetan Buddhism, I was standing on on this solid base of tradition and discipline, longing to leap.

Over the past twenty years the big brushwork has woven through my life, each time inviting that same terrifying , exhilarating leap. Because it requires large rooms, great lengths of paper, gallons of ink, and big clean-up efforts, I have frequently made the strokes in performance, inviting the world to witness. Because the whole process is so magnified, the mind opens, and anyone watching gets invited in.

I have experimented with a variety of approaches in the making of these strokes. Sitting practice is always part of the path - a simple connection with open space. From there I have sometimes proceeded with no pre-conceived plan and just let the brush take me along. At other times I have let my mind play within the realm of possibilities until one form arises and calls to me. In this case, the experience is like planning a particular high dive off the board, pausing on tiptoes (while I let the excess ink drip off the brush) taking the jump onto the paper, and then seeing how my intention plays out.

For me it's important to work very precise and detailed and very large and loose. These two ends of the creative spectrum touch and speak to each other inside me. This dialogue helps my precise book illustration work stay open and wide in scope, while the loose brushwork keeps a core of structure and precision deep inside. Life has its ways of balancing.



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