First Attempts at Sumie

Below are my first attempts at Sumie painting. I attended a workshop conducted by Gerard Menzel on Sunday, the 14th of February. I have messed about with brush and ink in the past so I appreciated the opportunity to receive some formal instruction in the Sumie style of ink painting.


My first marks




Then on to the first of the four treasures of Sumie – bamboo. Previously, I used western style brushes so the eastern ink brushes were a revelation – so flexible and expressive. Gerard said it can take two years of practice to paint a bamboo leaf with one stroke of the brush.




The next treasure was the orchid. The traditional Sumie way is to hold an image of the subject in one’s head and convey the image onto the paper. I found this a challenge as I tend to work from direct observation of the subject. On the day, we were re-interpreting paintings which Gerard made to demonstrate the techniques of creating the subject. Luckily, I had studied and drawn orchids in the past and felt more comfortable with making these paintings.


Previous paintings were done on butchers paper whilst rice paper was used for these final two paintings.


Making paintings of two treasures was enough for one day. The chrysanthemum and plum blossom await another day.


11 Responses

  1. How lovely. I had never heard of this form of art before.

    • Hi, I am glad I have introduced something new to you. This style of Japanese painting had its origins in a radical school of Chinese painting.

  2. Interesting that you have your plan of the image in your head, where in my pieces they are never plane google search bing bada boom image created..

    i see that you dropped by for a read!

    i thank you..


    • Thanks for dropping by, Chris.

      • With a heart avatar, whom won’t!


  3. Just beautiful, Margaret!

    • Thank you, Lori. I am glad you enjoyed these paintings.

  4. I had heard that Sumie painting takes a lot of practice. I think you’ve done well to get that lovely flowing look in such a short time. My favourites are the bamboo and leaves. Thank you for sharing them!

    • Thank you, Jane. Yes, to obtain the classic Sumie look takes a lot of practice. However, it is certainly possible to create something pleasing in a short time.

  5. What beautiful images you created, I loved them.

    • Thank you, Susan. The paintings are made quickly. I enjoyed their expressiveness.

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