One of my watercolor class students wants to learn Sumi-E, which is

And he wants some real Japanese Sumi-E brushes. I have never used around $100 Japanese brush before. So I asked Dr.Shozo Sato who teaches Japanese traditional culture including Sumi-E at the Illinoi University.

I was lucky that he was at home in Fort Bragg CA. He invited me to his studio and explained and showed me real good brushes.

It’s amazing Japanese really craftsmanship of brush making.

And Dr. Shozo taught me how to wash Japanese brushes. They have to wash through the bottom very well. Other wise over the years Sumi stay bottom of the brush and glued, so end up you can paint only tip of the brush.

I washed my oil painting brush like he washed Japanese brush, brush’s hair got tangle up and it wouldn’t get back to the shape. I mean that I ruined the brush. But even you abuse Japanese brush, it goes back to the shape.

And he told me that if it’s a good brush inside they put strong hair, so the brush has springy.  So when you paint a peddle of flower by one stroke, at the end, the tip of the peddle is very thin, pointed.

Dr. Shozo wants us to read the book is written about spiritual of Sumi-E. One is written in English for my student and other is for me in Japanese. The title of the book is “The Way of Chinese Painting” By Mai-mai Sze.


The next day I painted these painting with Sumi on Arches watercolor paper.

544. Pine at Jug Handle Beach

544. Pine at Jug Handle Beach in Sumi on Watercolor paper by Mariko Irie


545.Peace at Jug Handle Beach

545.Peace at Jug Handle Beach in Sumi on Watercolor paper by Mariko Irie


One of these paintings, “Peace at Jug Handle Beach” was one of Facebook picks of the day on Dec.3rd.

I’m so happy that somebody can see the value of Sumi-E/Ink Wash painting!!!!


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