Sumi = Ink
Sumi-e = Ink Painting
Ink and wash painting is an East Asian type of brush painting also known as
wash painting or by its Japanese name sumi-e (墨絵). Ink and wash painting is also known by its Chinese name shui-mo
hua (水墨畫, Japanese suibokuga (水墨画 ), Korean sumukhwa). Only black ink , the
same as used in East Asian calligraphy is used, in various concentrations.
painting developed in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Wang Wei is generally credited as the painter who applied color
to existing ink and wash paintings. The art was further developed into a more polished style during the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
It was introduced to Korea shortly after China's discovery of the ink. Then, the Korean missionaries in Japan, in helping
the Japanese establish a civilized settlement introduced it to Japan in the mid-14th century.
In ink paintings, as in calligraphy, artists usually grind their own inkstick (Japanese: sumi) over an inkstone
to obtain ink, but prepared inks are also available. Most inksticks are made of either pine or oil soot combined with animal
glue (Japanese: nikawa). An artist puts a few drops of water on an inkstone and grinds the inkstick in a circular motion until
a smooth, black ink of the desired concentration is made. Prepared inks are usually of much lower quality. Sumi themselves
are sometimes ornately decorated with landscapes or flowers in bas-relief and some are highlighted with gold.
From the Artist:
As a Sumi-e painter, for me, the grinding and preparation of the ink is a wonderful meditation before I begin
my painting. I prepare my work in the traditional way. However, my Sumi-e style is 'Contemporary Sumi-e' reaching
beyond the limits of traditional ink painting.