Sumi-e Paintings

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Sumi-e
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A style of painting that is traditionally Asian. Sumi-e is specifically Japanese brush painting created with ink. Depicts a scene or object.
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Calligraphy
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is the graceful, artistic representation of written characters, using ink and brush
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The Four Treasures
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This refers to the must-haves of Sumi-e: *An ink stone *An ink stick *A brush *Paper
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Ink Stone
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is a stone with a shallow depression carved into it; it is used to prepare and hold the ink for the painter.
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Ink Stick
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is a black stick composed of pine soot, bound into a hardened form with resin. It is typically molded in cylinders or rectangles with a lavishly decorated bas relief, such as dragons, on the surface.
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Brushes in Sumi-e
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are usually wolf- hair in bamboo – ‘wolf hair’ can actually be horsehair, boar bristle or other animal hair. The brush’s ability to hold and retain a point is critical to a Sumi-e painter, since one brush is used to create the widest and thinnest of lines.
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Paper
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Paper is very important; it must be absorbent without being too absorbent. Rice paper is the traditional paper used in Sumi-e.
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The Four Gentlemen
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The paint strokes out of which most paintings can be made are called the Four Gentlemen; these are the bamboo, the orchid, the chrysanthemum and the plum tree.
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The Red Seal
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A Sumi-e painting is often accented with a red seal. The seal can represent the artist, or some message or theme the artist wants to incorporate. While many Sumi-e artists add color to their painting, in its purest form, black ink on white paper is thought to be sufficient to convey the qi (‘chi’)– the essence or spirit of the thing.
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Seals are used in Sumi-e paintings to complete a composition
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• give added meaning • viewers’ eye is drawn to the bright red color • provides contrast against the rest of the painting • identify the artist • create a balance in the composition • used to embellish and enliven paintings • used like a spice to enhance the painting
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Size of the Red Seal
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• Sometimes small but visually powerful- giving the painting balance • Early name seals were usually small, about 2.5 cm square • Imperial seals were very large requiring 2 men to make the impression
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Red Seals are made of
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• The red paste used for seal ink and impressing is made from finely pulverized cinnabar • mixed with a seed oil from tea (the best) or caster oil, which has been exposed to the sun for three years, then added to the finely ground cinnabar • This is just one of many formulas.
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Designs of the Red Seals
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• carved in an assortment of shapes and animals/Calligraphy • dragons, hares, lions, elephants, turtles, fish and figures

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