Linda Halcomb's Blog

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March 9, 2010 March 10, 2010

Filed under: Daily Post — lindahalcombfineart @ 7:03 am
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I recently had a revelation and realized that to make art a routine part of my life I need a routine. As you all know life interfers with our best intentions. I want to use Mondays to learn and practice Sumi-e and Fridays or Sundays to draw, draw, draw. Painting, exploring materials, doodling will be part of the schedule any day, any where, any time. I just need to set aside some specific time for Sumi-e and drawing which I see as major skill builders. Well, of course, life stepped in and Monday we ran errands and worked outside and played with the dogs in the sunshine. Since my Tuesday drawing class with Irina is over, yesterday became Sumi-e day. Using newsprint and lamp black and charcoal watercolor (I was almost out of ink) I practiced the curving strokes needed to make dots, dashes, flower petals. I have four small prints that I bought from a catalog years ago. They sit at the top of my stairs to greet visitors and are of Chinese calligraphy for words like laughter and friendship. I looked at these and decided that two were too difficult for me to copy but that two had potential for my current learners skill level. I practiced and practiced. I am not sure if I am making all the strokes appropriately but here is my last attempt.


I also worked on the painting of an orchid. The orchid is part of the Four Gentlemen that are used to teach the basic strokes. The four are bamboo, orchid, chrysanthemum, and plum blossom (preview of things to come!).

Orchid #2

Now the neat thing is that my order from Oriental Art Supply was delivered late yesterday so I was able to use better paper for my final practice. Both of these paintings were done using double shuen practice paper, Black Magic ink and charcoal watercolor. The book I am using is The Chinese Painting Handbook edited by Viv Foster that I bought at Barnes & Noble.


7 Responses to “March 9, 2010”

  1. I love your paintings – There is such delicacy and sereneness in them.

  2. lesliepaints Says:

    Looks good to me. I know nothing about these techniques and admire you for giving it a go. Sumi-e on!

  3. Amanda Says:

    Nice. I studied Calligraphy while I was living in Japan. Definitely a challenge but well worth the effort.

  4. artimagica Says:

    Wow. Though I’m no sumi-e expert, these look beautiful to me. And I agree. It’s so important to schedule your art in to make it happen. Life so easily gets in the way of our best intentions!

  5. Naomi Says:

    Things are looking pretty good! A couple of hints that have helped me with sumi-e is practicing Japanese and Chinese calligraphy. Also, practice making strokes as if you are an airplane – begin your stroke up in the air, then land, and take off. Other things which will help are an absorbent paper, such as you got at OAS. Another useful practice stroke is to slowly land on your paper, smoosh the brush down for a second – take a pause – and then lift up, or twist, or glide away. Also practice doing this while you turn a corner with your brush, or roll it in between your fingers.

    Loading your brush with different ink shades is also important. Try a light ink, a medium ink, and then a tip of dark, or even just a side area of the brush with dark. Then, practice bamboo leaves and you will see how beautifully the ink can add expression to a single stroke.

    A couple of books I would recommend are by Susan Frame and Naomi Okamoto for sumi painting. For calligraphy try “An introduction to Japanese Calligraphy” by Yuuko Suzuki, and “The Simple Art of Chinese Calligraphy” by Lei Lei Qu. Suzuki’s book shows calligraphy for kanji and hiragana. Qu’s book shows you many different strokes and the methods they are made – good for those smooshy strokes and turns, as well as when you double back onto your stroke.

    Keep up the good work!

  6. Naomi Says:

    Oh! Another good book – a classic – is “The Mustard Seed Garden” which has been pretty much continuously in print in China, Japan and the West since the 1600s or earlier – at least in Asia for that date!

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