Born May 25, 1934, in Tokyo. Died Sept. 15, 2010, in Ottawa of
complications from sarcoma, aged 76.
While Tomoko Kodama was in high school, she discovered a love of the
arts through her first art teacher, who became a mentor.
The youngest of three children of Gentaro and Ume Maekawa, Tomoko was
16 when her mother died of a stroke. Her sister Yasuko, who was living in
the United States, encouraged Tomoko to continue doing what she loved. So
she specialized in nihon-ga (Japanese-style painting) and calligraphy,
receiving her bachelor of fine arts in Tokyo in 1957.
While participating in local church youth activities, Tomoko met
Hideomi Kodama. They married in 1959. After he finished his PhD, they
moved to Canada in 1962 for what was supposed to be a two-year posting.
But when he was offered a permanent federal position, they stayed in
Ottawa and raised a daughter and two sons: Sakie, Tohru and Jun.
After her youngest child was born, Tomoko began teaching sumi-e
(Japanese brush painting) and calligraphy part-time at the Ottawa School
of Art, along with a seniors' class at the Ottawa Japanese Cultural
Centre. Early in her career, she taught her students the way she herself
had been taught, by watching and copying the master's work. Every week,
she would bring a plant or a flower from her garden or a fruit with a leaf
still attached for students to paint. However, these students challenged
Tomoko in her classes by asking questions, which was not done in Japan.
With her limited English, she would try to find the best way to explain
the technique. Out of this experience grew her signature 3B (body, breath
and brush) method.