Oracle bone script is the oldest officially recognized Chinese calligraphy script, and it goes back all the way to Shang dynasty, starting around 1600 BCE. It appeared on animal bones (mostly ox shoulder blades) and turtle shells. It was used by priest diviners who were acting as oracles, and also were responsible for recording important state events. Texts were carved onto the bones and then heated up in fire until they cracked. Those cracks, their shape, and the way they visually interacted with the text were considered and interpreted as signs of the gods.
Oracle bone script is often seen as pictographic writing but only a small percentage of characters that have been deciphered are actually of pictographic nature. You can read about this in greater details in my article on oracle bone script here. This is the first time I actually wrote oracle bone script on skin. I have been studying it a few years ago during master classes organized by a Grand Master Kajita Esshu of the All Japan Calligraphy and Literature Association, who happens to be my calligraphy teacher. It was a small group for those who wish to go beyond regular studies of Chinese calligraphy. It was a great experience to actually translated some of this ancient writing and find out more about ancient Chinese civilization.
Oracle bone script, and any type of great seal script really, requires patience. Writing should imitate chiseled characters with fairly sharp lines well defined strokes. It should appear raw and unpolished, irregular yet harmonious. Writing on skin imposes many challenges. Skin is uneven, it stretches too especially when model changes her pose. Writing itself is quite tiring because positions I have to write in are uncomfortable. Models lay down for the most part of it, first reason is that it is comfortable for them (in fact it is so comfortable and relaxing that literally all of them fall asleep in a process) and second is that it minimizes body movement and heaving. Calligraphy that you see on pictures took me about 3h to finish.
We had a great two days shoot with Naomi, who flew all the way from Kyushu to Tokyo. This type of shoot requires lot of preparations, especially on my side, and also photo retouching is not as easy. Skin retouching is time consuming and one needs a lot of patience for it, but skin covered in writing is on entirely different level. It is not just down to splitting tones and textures in photoshop via frequency separation, but also separating tones from one another and lots of fine tuning and very local and taxing dodging and burning, etc. Nude photography is unforgiving as there is no chance to hide body language imperfections with clothing. There is no fancy dress that will draw attention away from the model like in fashion photography. Working with flashes that offer no modelling light one has to know how light works and predict its effect. Low key dramatic photos are based on shapes of shadows, light fall off is usually quite dramatic so shadows are well defined and rapid. A centimeter of movement can ruin or improve a photo. Last but not least, if the model does not trust the artist it will show in the photos clear as day, just like a lack of skill and knowledge shows in writing of a Chinese or Japanese calligrapher who has not mastered his art yet.
Models interested in Chinese or Japanese calligraphy body art please message me directly. You can find my portfolio here.
Contact me directly for one-to-one online photoshop tutorials via desktop sharing.
Portrait photography service, Tokyo - website
Photography workshops in Tokyo: http://www.ryuurui.com/photography-workshops.html
Hire a photographer in Tokyo: http://www.ryuurui.com/hire-a-photographer-in-tokyo.html
Photo blog: http://www.japan-in-photography.com/
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Ponte Ryuurui (品天龍涙)