A Quick Look at Sumi-e, or 墨絵

Posted: 4th November 2014 by Alice Meyering in Tips & Interests
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Community Education is  excited to introduce a new class in the upcoming winter semester, to add to our already vibrant  selection of art classes.  In a bygone era in China and Japan, the art of Sumi-e is considered a pastime worthy of undertaking by a cultured gentleman or gentlewoman.  

Sherry Davis, whose many accomplishments include being an Educational Docent at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) for the past 14 years, has offered this quick look into Sumi-e and a little bit of what she will be offering in her class, scheduled for 5 Saturdays starting January 10, 2015.

Capture the essence of nature through the “spirit of the brush.”  Learn the fundamentals of the ancient art of Japanese Sumi-e painting.

Sumi is the word for ink in Japanese and Sumi-e literally means “ink picture.” This form of painting is immediate. To keep the spirit of Sumi-e fresh and exciting each stroke you paint is the final one.

When Sumi-e was introduced into Japan, the Zen Buddhist priests used it in their teaching programs as a Zen exercise. They valued the absence of color, using only black ink. They emphasized line, shading and tone, and in addition to the black ink the white space is an essential part of this technique.

The ancient Chinese said, “When you have ink, you have color.” Let your “chi” lead you on a journey of understanding and creating Eastern inspired art. Even if you have never done this type of painting before, or you are not familiar with this technique, once I teach you the basic strokes you won’t believe how easily they flow from your mind and your brush creating a beautiful masterpiece.

I will also show you some contemporary ideas that you can easily incorporate into traditional Sumi-e paintings. Sumi-e is not only a personal art form, but it is a language in itself and one definitely worth exploring.


  1. Alex Lang says:

    Hi There,

    Will you be offering this Sumi-e class again next term? I am very interested in it, but just learned of the class.



    • Alice Meyering says:


      Thanks for your inquiry. We will be offering Sumi-e again in the summer, 5 Fridays 7/10-8/7, 1-3pm. And you hear it first here on our blog!


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