Linda Halcomb's Blog

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February 12, 2012 February 13, 2012

Filed under: Daily Post,Sumi-e — lindahalcombfineart @ 7:25 am
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I have been struggling a bit with motivation lately. A fellow docent gave me a small book, Painting Chinese, and it came to me at the right time. It was written by a college professor living in San Francisco who had just lost funding for his program. He was 70, saw death approaching, and needed to find a way forward. He frequently walked through China Town and on a whim enrolled in a painting class at a Chinese art school. He started as the only adult in a class of beginners (5-8 year olds!). The book talks about how the practice and mediative nature of Chinese painting provided the solace, comfort and mental release necessary to help him find a new life and face death (he was not sick, just slowly decaying like all of us!) This book and a small volume I found at the library titled Art & Fear have been nudging me forward.

Last week I began practicing my Sumi-e brush strokes and working on mixing the different colors of ink. I seem to have forgotten everything I ever knew and have struggled, struggled, struggled. I worked on strokes for four days before I even tried a painting and then my paintings were over crowded and full of smudges. I also couldn’t seem to get the ink colors right in order to show depth.  I am still struggling but did finish one piece – not perfect but an improvement. I have to remember that less is more when it comes to composition!

Bamboo 1 (2012)



12 Responses to “February 12, 2012”

  1. Harriett Smith Says:

    This really started me thinking. What art is to you….writing is to me. I refer to the matter of facing death…or any other transition in the life cycle. What I so respect is your courage to step into new areas of your craft and experiment. Your blog is an inspiration to me. Perhaps today is the day i finally face into the winds of poetry.

  2. Nuno Says:

    The book Art & Fear was recommended recently by other of my usual blogs (in fact one of my favorite ones). I was browsing it on-line and surely I will buy in the e-book version. I think I saw the other one in a local library. Lately I am very interested on ukiyo-e paintings (usually all the Asian art books are in the same zone).

    Nice painting!

  3. Very nice painting. I used a sumi brush for years. It definitely incourages some spontaneity when painting. I used big fat ones and when I began painting on aceos I switched to standard brushes. Your post has kindled my interest in sumi. It takes some practice, but the results are rewarding.

  4. Thank you Gretchen. I love Asian brush painting and the discipline of Chinese calligraphy. I finally figured out yesterday that I was not loading my brush with enough ink. That solved some of my problems…

  5. Linda, thank you for your kind comment about my drawings, via Barry. I’m sorry to learn about your loss and inspired by your creative response. I think your sumi-e painting is magnificent! And, seeing the photo of Art and Fear you posted has reminded me to dig out my copy. All the best, Aleda

  6. ruthsartwork Says:

    i may have to get these books, Linda. I bought a cheapy set of inks, brushes, and a book at B&N a while ago and haven’t tried it out yet. I go through periods needing to try something different but not knowing what I really want. You are right – it is just a piece of paper and I have plenty. The bamboo is lovely. Do you use different color inks? Where did you get the chop? It adds just that little bit of extra something.

    • Linda Halcomb Says:

      Hi Ruth, I am still really struggling and am trying to get my second work to post. Maybe I will post today’s failure as a learning experience! I do ink two ways. I mix my own and have two mixing stones. One came in a cheap sumi-e set I bought at Michael’s or United Arts. I also have a nicer, heavier level stone that I bought years ago. I also purchased a bottle of oriental ink and use a medicine dropper and a porcelain chrysanthemem palette to mix inks. My husband bought the chop for me a year ago as a Christmas present. We found it through the National Geographic catalog. They work with a Chinese expert to take your name and find a close Chinese equivalent. I want to post info on the chop on my next post if I ever get a painting that deserves to be “chopped”.

  7. Stacia Says:

    Thanks for sharing this new beginning with us. I’ve always loved sumi-e, but never took the time to learn about the process. I like that I can experience this growth proccess vicariously through you!

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