On the hottest day of the year I had booked a sumi-e painting workshop. I arrived over half an hour late, with a phone that had decided to overheat and stop working (I was relying on the GPS to get to Valeria’s house.) I was very hot and bothered. This was not ideal as sumi-e requires a lot of concentration, which at first was very difficult.
Sumi-e is the Japanese version of ink painting and traditionally painters would paint bamboo, orchids, plum blossoms and Chrysanthemum. Today we were learning how to paint bamboo under the guidance of Valeria Viscardi, who was trained by Sumi-e master and Zen monk Beppe Mokuza Signoritti.
She started me off on some simple brush strokes so I could get used to holding the brush correctly which was much more difficult than I anticipated. My mind goes back to when I was at school studying art – there was no talk of posture, a correct way to hold a brush, or concentrating particularly, and Sumi-e incorporates all of these things. At first I kept moving my fingers into a more comfortable position, but it soon became second nature to hold it in the correct position.
As my brush strokes improved and I had managed to get the basic bamboo stick (and my fingers were covered with ink), Valeria moved me on to branches.
Next we learnt how to do the leaves, which I think were my favourite part as the movement was far easier for me to pick up.
Then we were ready to paint the final composition, which Valeria demonstrated. It incorporated everything that we had learnt through the afternoon. We also had the opportunity to do the composition on rice paper which was much more difficult as it was far more absorbent than the paper we were using. I was a bit disappointed with my results (see picture) as I kept pressing the brush down too hard, but I think that comes with experience.
It was a really fun afternoon and I can really recommend it as something different to do. It was €38 for a 2 and a half hour session. For more information on sumi-e classes with Valeria Viscardi please click here