Welcome to the Sumi-e Gallery featuring beautiful ink paintings by Chris Paschke and a brief history of the art of sumi-e.
Historically, sumi-e refers to Japanese ink painting using only black ink and shades of grey in various concentrations to complete a painting. Ink is called sumi, and with the "-e" placed on the end it becomes sumi-e meaning "ink picture." Ink painting developed in China around 300 A.D. with landscape ink painting fully developing during the 10th century as traveling Zen monks brought the art to Japan and Korea by 1300 A.D. Japanese sumi-e painting today allows for the use of black ink, tones of grey and one additional color. In Western thought, the term refers to ink painting done with or without color, but always painted on rice paper or silk.
Sumi-e painting is an art form that requires a great deal of involvement from the artist and selected materials often dictate the style. The ink, rice paper and silk are rather unforgiving with as ink is permanent and cannot be removed once applied. The paper is fragile, rips easily when wet and cannot be manipulated as watercolor papers can, so errors must always be integrated into an intential portion of the painting. The artist paints from his soul allowing the inner spirit of the subject to come forth. Sumi-e painting minimalizes the details leaving out all unncessary elements such as time of day, lighting and shadows allowing for the essence of the subject to come through, as seen in Paschke's "Waterfall Essence I and II."
In sumi-e, as in Asian calligraphy, the artist traditionally grinds their own ink using an ink stick and grinding stone, but prepared inks are commercially available. Ink sticks are of higher quality and generally preferred for works that may be scroll mounted or displayed in Western framing styles. Ink sticks are made of densely packed charcoal ash from bamboo or pine soot. A few drops of water are dripped onto the inkstone and the sticks are ground in a circular motion until a smooth, black ink is made of the desired concentration. This preparation is a quiet time for the artist to meditate on the imagery that is to be painted. Sumi-e brushes are traditionally made from bamboo with bristle hair of goat, ox, horse, or wolf.
The Four Gentlemen is a term used to refer to four specific flowers--orchid, bamboo, plum blossom, chrysanthemum--each focusing on a different brush stroke and technique. They also represent the four seasons and four desirable personality traits. The plum blossom represents spring with only only the white blossoms representing strong character; the orchid represents summer and noble virtue; the chrysanthemum is autumn and modesty or loyalty; and the bamboo symbolizes winter and strength or integrity.
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