Sumi-e On A Saturday

A good way to have a good time? Spend a Saturday at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, in a classroom full of sunshine and students eager to try their hands at sumi-e painting.

The instructor, petite and gracious Louise Kikuchi, told us a little sumi-e lore – about the indelible ink and how it is made, about absorbent paper and brush strokes: “the only stroke you can make at this moment.”

On large pieces of newsprint we copied each introduced character, beginning with the symbols for one, two, three, graduating to horse, cat, willow tree. We finished the day with a landscape.

Each time after we did our best effort on a piece of rice paper (often not so interesting as practice marks), Kikuchi would hold up our offerings and gently comment, describing her impressions of our lines: lively, fierce, graceful.

I loved having a brush in hand all day – making me realize yet again how important it is to focus, devote time, and have materials ready. So if I fix these lacks, posting results will bring some color to February.

And I will use color, because luckily I haven’t a sumi-e ink bar, or I would get sidetracked grinding the bar and making ink rich and dark like Kukichi’s.

Sumi paintings