Learning Sumi-e Part I

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For this new year I have decided to learn new techniques to incorporated into my designs, I want to design more collections that are hand draw using water color or ink, I learnt how to do pattern design in Illustrator using vectors , and now I think is the time to discover new ways to express myself, is been a long time I haven’t paint, I love Chinese painting and would love to create florals in that style.

And I thought would be great to start by learning the art of Sumi-e.

Sumi-e is a mono chromatic ink technique from the Japanese painting School, it’s a Zen technique it is the now and the moment, it doesn’t allow retouches, so the brush technique is permanent.You try to capture the essence of the subject, the ephimeral , the moment.

You learn about yourself, you create a meditative space , you have to be present, it is a communion of mind, body and spirit , then you try to cpature the spirit of the subject, there’s four classical subjects, call the four noble gentlemen, Bamboo, wild orchid, chrysanthemum and branches of the plum tree . Every motive teaches us a new stroke of the brush and all the forms of the Universe.

So I search for courses and I found a course in Haiku a Japanese store in the Gracia neighborhood, the course is divided in two classes done in two days, the first is an introduction to the art and you learn how to paint Bamboo, the second day you learn how to paint a cherry blossom.

I arrive to the class, we were a small group of six, we start practicing how to prepare the ink, and start painting on newspaper, first squares and then circles to free the hand, then we learnt to create the Bamboo shape, is nerve wracking to try in one movement wothout being able to retouch to create the Bamboo, it was libarating and the need of practice so in order to not waste paper the practice at home will be made on old newspapers. The teacher was very inspiring not only taught us the technique but the spirituality behind Sumi-e, and I’m going to practice sumi-e as a meditation technique also.