Carpe Diem #1155 – Sumi-e, the Japanese way of painting

Carpe Diem #1155 –  Sumi-e, the Japanese way of painting

This month at Carpe Diem I’m exploring the “Motherland” of haiku, Japan.

Today we are taking a look at  Sumi-e, the Japanese way of painting.

What is Sumi-e?

Ink wash painting, also known as literati painting is an East Asian type of brush painting of Chinese origin that uses black ink.

For centuries, this most prestigious form of Chinese art was practiced by highly educated scholar-gentlemen.

Names used in the cultures concerned include: in Chinese shuǐ mò huà, in Japanese sumi-e.

Sumi-e painting does not mean to represent anything special, it merely exists.

Ink wash painting uses tonality and shading achieved by varying the ink density,

both by differential grinding of the ink stick in water and by varying the ink load and pressure within a single brushstroke.


Photo Credit    Autumn Landscape (Shūkei-sansui). Sesshū Tōyō (1420-1506), Japanese

Sesshu ToyoOda Toyo since 1431, also known as Toyo, Unkoku, or Bikeisai; 1420 – 26 August 1506) was the most prominent Japanese master of ink and wash painting from the middle Muromachi period.

He was born into the samurai Oda family, then brought up and educated to become a Rinzai Zen Buddhist priest.

However, early in life he displayed a talent for visual arts, and eventually became one of the greatest Japanese artists of his time, widely revered throughout Japan and China.

My Tanka based on the Sumi-e

japanese art work

sumi-e ink wash painting

its pure and simple 

any one could paint like this

if given the right tools



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