In the December 2012 issue of Watercolor Artist, Chizuru Morii Kaplan speaks about her childhood in Japan, the influence of a particular Marc Chagall painting and the rich meaning behind her architectural paintings. In this outtake from the interview, the artist describes how her experience with calligraphy prepared her for watercolor painting.
Chizuru Morii Kaplan: My father was very good at Chinese calligraphy, and when I was in elementary school, he taught me how to make strokes with sumi-e and a Chinese brush. Nowadays you can buy the ink ready-made, but at that time we had to make our own ink by grinding an ink stick against an ink stone, called a suzuri, with a bit a water. You have to know how much ink to grind in a specific amount of water to create the right thickness. Sometimes, the same stick could even produce different textures and variations of color, depending on how hard and how long you rubbed it. I had to learn all of these things before I make a stroke.
Watercolor Artist: So you learned how to predict how the pressure you used would affect the potency of the stroke and it’s character before you brought it to the paper.
Chizuru Morii Kaplan: Exactly! When you grind the ink stick, your arm gets tired. I realized that if you put too much water in the suzuri you have to grind a lot of ink to get the right thickness, so I learned to pour a little less water so I could get to mark-making part faster.
As time when on, I learned how the thickness of the ink could affect the results when I placed a stroke on the paper. If the ink is thick enough, I get a brushstroke, but if I have too much water, then I get an ink spread. Of course, in the process I also learned how to be creative take advantage of such mishaps when they happened. This early experience with ink was one of the reasons it was so natural for me to go into watercolor.
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