Sumi-e is a Japanese word that means “Ink picture”. The process is very challenging. Traditionally, the ink is ground into water from an ink stick on a grinding stone.  Once liquid and dark the ink is permanent and cannot be changed once it is put down on paper. Also traditional, is use of rice papers. Different rice papers are idiosyncratic and have their own ideas about how the ink should be absorbed. Most rice papers are also very fragile and rip easily especially when using washes. I love experimenting with different kinds of rice papers and painting techniques.

Because of the issues with materials the painting style becomes very loose and spontaneous. The energy of the artist contributes to the looser feel of the painting. The artist is painting the inner spirit. The aim of sumi-e painting is to be very understated, leaving out details such as shadows, lighting and the illusion of perspective, depending on the brushstrokes for strength and character.

I started doing Sumi-e  to learn how to handle a brush. As I worked with sumi-e I fell in love with this technique of painting with its simplicity, as well as it’s complexity.  Now I am applying the sumi-e techniques for brush work to my landscapes and life drawings.

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