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On February 19th, 14 families joined the Calligratherapy for Family Introduction Workshop held at the Calgary Contemporary Art Gallery. With more than 30 adults and children in attendance, laughter and excitement filled the gallery.

The workshop began with an introduction to family portraits in zodiac animals. Each family acted as a team, forming a larger collective by sharing a table with other families. To lead the teams, each family nominated a captain and commander with special duties. Participants were then able to explore a treasure trove of calligraphy toolsets, learning about water-ground ink and how to use soft brushes on rice paper for brush stroke effects.

Next came a three-step journey towards a family portrait. First, participants tested out the paper, ink concentration and consistency, as well as the paper-brush interaction. Then came practice: each family was given practice paper to try out both calligraphy writing and ink art. Each member chose one zodiac animal to work on, while the commander led their group in designing their portrait composition and creating a story attached to it. Finally, families were presented with framed rice paper for their final design. Three primary colours of paint were available for adding an extra touch of colour to their artwork.

The two-hour workshop culminated in all teams proudly sharing their stories behind their finished portraits in a group huddle—and naturally followed by a group photo holding up their artwork! The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and families asked for information about upcoming workshops.

Here is a collection of photos taken during that day’s joyful experience!

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