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Thursday, 8 April 2010

seduced by Japanese ink painting

cherry blossom (Japanese ink on rice paper 12"x6")

When I started learning Japanese 15 years ago I used to stay up until the early hours of the morning in the college library copying characters from an old dictionary, dipping my brush in juicy ink, sweeping it across the rice paper and marvelling at the words that spilt out. Such a beautiful script, each word a picture in itself. The therapeutic quiet rhythm of shaping the text belied the speed at which each piece was created.

Although sometimes it is good to work on a creation for days, weeks, months even, there is something fundamentally satisfying about finishing a piece in under a minute. I took out my old brushes again yesterday and tried this with sumi-e (Japanese ink painting) with a little help from Takumasa Ono.  As the ink flowed through the bristles the memories flooded back.

heron (Japanese ink on rice paper 9"x9")

girl (Japanese ink on rice paper 12"x9")


  1. How wonderful Beth that you picked up the brush again... I just adore the girl sitting on her knees overlooking the water.

    What an amazing language you have learned...A whole other world that you are able to appreciate, articulate and share with us. Thank-you so much! Keep painting! xox

  2. BETH!!!
    these are AMAZING! i am enamored with japanese ink, but have yet to try it.
    you are always pulling out some new tidbit of wonderfulness to impress me with.
    keep it SO FUN to watch.

  3. Just gorgeous Beth. And yes, sometimes quick is so good.

  4. I've just discovered sumi-e ink and love playing it with it. I "paint" big words in my journal and it forces me to be more open and loose instead of tensing up and trying to make a perfect page.

  5. My husband has a little area set up for sumi-e painting downstairs. I gave him a class with a local japanese artist as a present one year for Christmas and he really loves it.


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