what is sumi painting?
For me, Sumi-e is both a creative and mindfulness practice. Sumi means ink in Japanese. The materials are fairly minimal (brush, ink stick, ink stone, paper). An ink stick primarily made of soot is rubbed on a stone with water which produces sumi ink. Once one masters the skill of the stroke, the hope is for the skill to fall away along with all thought creating space for both clarity and spontaneity. The brushstroke cannot be altered or erased so each stroke guides the next. Rather than bringing an idea into reality, the process is guided by the present moment.
I paint for the brief moments when the eye, hand, and brush move together without the mind and when letting go allows something else to move through. What does this look like? First it looks like a lot of time spent rubbing an ink stick onto a stone. Admittedly it looks tedious from the outside. Why not just use pre-made ink? The grinding of the ink sloughs off the crusty chatter of my mind. Then a slow slide into stillness and when I get lucky, a little clarity and then I am out of my own way.
I often walked past an unassuming artist's studio on the corner of Houston and MacDougal street in New York City. Koho Yamamoto's work is powerful, graceful and it brought me such inspiration that i decided to study this medium through her teaching.