Monday, July 15, 2013

Japanese Brush Painting

I was at the cottage all of last week taking an art course at the Haliburton School of the Arts.  It was the perfect combination of visiting my parents, enjoying cottage life, and doing some art. The weather was lovely so I got in swimming a few times and we enjoyed walking through my Mother's garden. 

I took a Japanese brush painting course, which was held in the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School. It was fun to see how different schools are in cottage country.  

Where else could you look out the classroom window and see a deer (and her two fawns hiding in the woods just past her) walking around the edge of the forest?

And where else would you find bear awareness posters all over the school?

And where else would you get a view like this from the school?  Gorgeous, right!

Japanese brush painting, also called sumi-e, is beautiful and rewarding when the strokes are done correctly, but very challenging as well.

Sumi-e (pronounced soo- mee-eh) is an ancient Asian art form that originated in China, but is now done mostly in Japan.  You use a little black ink stick (that you can see resting on the edge of the square stone in the photo below) to mix with a few drops of water in the stone.  You use one brush in different ways to make thin, thick, and rough lines. 

We completed many different exercises to learn the different strokes needed to form leaves, flowers, needles, pine cones, bark, bamboo, and even scenery.  Although they don't look too difficult, trust me they are very hard to do.  There is no room for error as you only make one stroke for every leaf or branch and you can't go back and correct it.  Practice makes perfect though - or better anyway - and by the end of each day we had always managed to make a few reasonable paintings.

Bamboo and pine boughs were my favourite - especially loved doing the trunks.  I have to confess, though, that I found plum blossoms excruciatingly difficult to do. I want to try using sumi-e to paint some Canadian scenes - I think it would be a nice art fusion.


  1. lovely paintings!

  2. Wow, wow WOW~ I love these, Grace. I hope you frame these and start a home gallery. They are lovely!

    The bear posters in the school are frightening!


  3. Very pretty! I have seen the bear posters and in the outlying Sudbury areas there were moose in the school yard.

  4. I tried to post a comment several times when I was using my ipad, but alas, user error, I suspect.
    I think your paintings are wonderful. I particularly like the one of the bamboo.