One of my pleasures these last few years has been learning taiko. It is a Japanese drumming practice which spans thousands of years. Not only are the taiko, or drums, beautifully crafted generation after generation in Japan, this style of drumming is an art. It not only requires great technique but an insight into Japanese aesthetics because taiko playing is a very visual form of music making. It is one instrument that is for the eyes as much as the ears.
So in Sydney we are lucky to have TaikOz, an established Australian taiko music company, who tours nationally and internationally performing predominantly taiko music, both original written and traditional pieces. They have student classes every week and several students are members of an off-shoot group called Taiko No Wa. It is made up of advanced students who want to take their taiko playing to the next level which includes composing music and performing publicly.
Taiko No Wa achieved great success last year when they performed and won a taiko contest in Japan. Which is no mean feat for an Aussie team to win a traditional Japanese music contest in its land of origin. Anyway, they were invited back to Japan to perform in a “Best of” concert with other past winners. So they put on a small concert in Sydney to iron out any kinks before they headed off.
I love drawing live taiko playing, so this concert was a great opportunity to do some more. Taiko drumming isn’t always loud and frenetic, even so, it is the most exciting to draw. It’s very similar to 15-30 second life drawing exercises. They move so fast you have no time to think or get finicky with lines being in the wrong place, it allows you to capture the essence of the movement and its energy.
For my materials I grabbed a couple of brush pens. A friend gave me a couple of disposable pens from a recent trip to China. Initially I didnt take to them because they required a lightness of touch which I do not have. You only have to look at them and a line would appear on your page. But I thought this would be a good opportunity to use them. I also took a Pentel waterbrush filled mostly with Indian ink and a touch of water. I was scared the ink would clog up so I watered it down a bit.
The disposable pen was made for this kind of drawing! They allowed my hand to flow over the page and replicate the movements of the musicians. And the flexibility of the brush going from thin to thick was great in capturing the turns and shifting of weight as they moved.
The Pentel brush was good too. I’ve only ever put water in it but the ink was pretty fluid coming out. However, it did take a few days of soaking the brush section in water to get rid of all the ink residue.
Anyway, I’m not sure how many people will get the chance to draw taiko players BUT if anyone likes life drawing or drawing quick moving objects like animals for instance, I would recommend trying a pen with a brush tip. It has a very exciting feeling and result.