Sumi in Japanese means "ink" and e means "painting", together the two words describe an art form that arose centuries ago, probably in China, and that found its way to Japan sometime during the Kamakura period (1192 – 1333). Still very much alive in Japan in its original purity and freshness, sumi-e has begun to capture the interest not only of connoisseurs but of painters in the West as well – and with this broadening interest comes a desire for more knowledge about the techniques of the art.
Sumi-e demands of the student that he(she) master three basic techniques
· the ability to charge the brush with three shades of ink and so paint a simultaneous three tone line
· a knowledge of the three fundamental ways of holding the pen and brush
· the proper use of the arm to achieve freedom of movement
In addition, the understanding of the importance of blank space – for sumi-e does not employ background in the Western sense of the word. Paper of any size may be used, but most common perhaps are sheets of either postcard size or 10" x 12". Subjects may include almost anything in the world, from a simple flower, bit of bamboo to a complicated landscape or figure painting.
From Sumi-e Self-taught / Kohei Aida / Japan Publications
Japanese calligraphy (書道 shodō) is a form of calligraphy, or artistic writing, of the Japanese language.
Japanese calligraphy was influenced by, and influenced, Zen thought. For any particular piece of paper, the calligrapher has but one chance to create with the brush. The brush strokes cannot be corrected, and even a lack of confidence shows up in the work. The calligrapher must concentrate and be fluid in execution. The brush writes a statement about the calligrapher at a moment in time.