Actually, I became interested in Sumi-e in 2004 when I was visiting Hawaii and was introduced to the art form by my Japanese daughter-in-law, Mamie.  She has some beautiful Sumi-e that she had brought from Japan and I was fascinated by the techniques used.  I bought some rice paper and inks plus a box of Japanese Characters and started following the instructions.  Well, that didn't last very long as soon I was into my "own thing" although that was guided by the instructions so all was not completely lost.  


I chose flowers and bamboo as my subjects as I love both.  However, I hope to expand to mountains and trees.  Sumi-e is all about balance, just as in Buddhism, it should reflect the harmony that exists in all life and the deep respect of the artist for nature.  It was while my friend Pat Ashley, a wonderful artist in her own right, was visiting that I discovered the joys of painting on paper towels.  The absorbtion rate is so complete that you get a really wonderful pattern of various thicknesses.  Although I now have many different Sumi-e papers, I still prefer paper towels - VIVA is the only type that will do as it has no design and the absorbtion rate, for the watercolors, is just right.  I keep my Sumi-e supplies in a cloth bag so that I can pick them up, on a moments notice, and tote them off to wherever we happen to be anchored.  I also love to work in our cockpit as it is cool and I can be quite messy, which I am.


The philosophy  . . .


The goal of the Sumi-e artist is contrast and harmony, expressing simple beauty and elegance. The perfectly balanced interchange of the two dynamically opposed forces of the Universe. Chinese brush painting employs these principles of nature's vitality in its design and execution. The balance and integration of these forces and the eternal interaction of Yin/ Yang are the ultimate goal of Sumi-e. The art of brush painting, aims to depict the spirit, rather than the semblance of the object. In creating a picture the artist must grasp the spirit of the subject. Sumi-e attempts to capture the Chi or "life spirit" of the subject, painting in metaphor, the language of the spirit. Balance, rhythm and harmony are the qualities the artist strives for by developing patience, self-discipline and concentration. The goal of the brush painter is to use the brush with both vitality and restraint.  I hope that through the years I may achieve this goal.  Thank you, Nancy




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Sumie Collage - painting on tissue paper, torn and pasted together