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The Art of Sumi-E


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About the Author

Naomi Okamoto was born near Tokyo, Japan in 1951 and is a Member of the Federal Association of Artists (BBK). She studied painting, calligraphy, aesthetics, history of art and literature in Tokyo and moved to Germany in 1976. Naomi has studied under famous Japanese and Chinese masters of ink painting and works in various techniques from both the West and the East. She has exhibited in Tokyo, Kyoto, Westerland/Sylt, Hamburg, Dortmund, Bonn, Cologne, Mannheim, Saarbrucken, Stuttgart, Munich and Munster, and she teaches numerous courses in Germany, ink painting in Germany and the USA, and also under the pseudonym of Emi Akamatsu.


Artist and educator Okamoto's guide explores sumi-e, a type of Japanese ink drawing done exclusively with brushes and ink washes that combines calligraphic lines and blank space in subtle drawings and paintings. In this quiet, restrained art form related to Zen Buddhism, reality is conveyed through suggestion and simplification rather than through detail or precision. Numbered, sequenced drawings guide the reader's hand in projects presented step-by-step. Lots of written description accompanies these designs for a gentle introduction to the technique. Materials, special techniques, composition, and color are discussed. Subject matter includes still life, landscapes, figures, flowers, and animals. VERDICT Artistically inclined readers hoping to try something different will find many possibilities in this volume.

* Library Journal USA *

August 2015

The Art of Sumi-e by artist Naomi Okamoto, describes the traditional painting technique that uses only ink, white space and simple brushstrokes. It aims to capture the essence of its subject based on spiritual processes within the artist: simplifying what is in front of you then using your won intuitive expression. There's plenty of good advice on the materials and supports you will need to get you started. The author then describes how to use the ink and brush, showing clearly how to adjust the pressure to make the marks you want, and inviting you to copy originals to familiarise yourself with the techniques. Themed exercises follow, including still life, landscapes and figures before moving on to colour in Japanese ink painting, flowers animals and landscapes. The book closes with ideas of motifs for cards and stationery plus that all-important seal to personalise your work.

The book makes an ideal introduction to the art of Sumi-e with a systematic approach and simple exercises and is well illustrated throughout.

* Leisure Painter, The *

July 2015

Sumi-E is what we generally regard as the classic Japanese art of ink painting that uses a simple medium, the white of the paper, and carefully crafted and placed brushstrokes to create an image. The essence of it is just that, the essence of the subject, which is usually a natural form. This is a complete guide that includes advice on materials - particularly the specialised brushes and papers - as well as instruction in the basics of painting with ink, both black and colour. From here, a series of exercises gets you practising with shapes - a fish with a single stroke for instance. Naomi also includes the philosophical aspects of Japanese painting, which is as much a state of mind as a technical exercise. In the foregoing example, for instance, it is she, not the imagined fish, that feels the touch of the water. It's a hard concept to convey, but she does it rather well. As your skills and confidence (and you need to be confident to achieve the single-stroke structure) develop, you'll move on to flowers, animals, landscapes and even figures. These last are perhaps the most rewarding as they turn the whole idea of figurative work on its head, with less becoming more and detail only barely hinted at. This is as comprehensive a guide as you could wish to a fascinating and absorbing art form.

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