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Sumi-e

Sumi-e (sometimes spelled sumii-e) is a form of Japanese ink painting that developed from the practice of Japanese calligraphy. The name means "black ink" in Japanese, reflecting the traditional idea that colors could be implied using only black ink of various concentrations.

In sumi-e, the artist grinds her own ink using an ink stick and a grinding stone. Ink sticks are generally made of densely packed ash from Asian pine trees and a little glue. The artist puts a few drops of water on the inkstone and grinds the ink stick in a circular motion until a smooth, black ink is made of the desired concentration.

Sumi-e brushes are traditionally made from bamboo and goat, ox, horse, or wolf hair. The hair is tapered down to a very fine point, a feature vital to the sumi-e painting style.

There are four main types of brush strokes to learn in sumi-e, called the "Four Gentlemen". There are the Bamboo Stroke, the Wild Orchid Stroke, the Chrysanthemum Stroke, and the Plum Branch Stroke. The strokes used to paint these four simple plants are the basis for everything painted in sumi-e.



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