Monday, 28 October 2013


I am home after my few days in West Dean in West Sussex. It was Japanese week so now I know a little about Shibori, and Sashiko, what beautiful sounding words. The course I was doing was Sumi-e, Japanese ink painting. I don't have alot to show after my 3 days but I have a good grasp of the basic techniques and this art is considered a form of meditation, so perhaps that is why my output was limited, the preparing and doing were as important as the results. We also made our own brush from bamboo as well as carving a seal from soapstone. So now with this new found knowledge all I have to do is practice, practice and then practice some more.
Below are a few images, we were mostly imitating the marks made by our tutor Takumasa 
This red seal above means "Happy", the seal below  I made and was to have the first letter in my name but it ended up nothing like it. Adding ones name in Japanese and the red seal made all the difference to the overall balance of the picture. It gave it authenticity.
 These are "Lovebirds" you would not believe how difficult the short tail feathers were to make, I have still not perfected them.
 The flowers we did from still life, we were treated to a Japanese flower arranging demonstration, they were so beautiful, the simplicity of their aesthetics is so pure and everything has its origins in nature.
Takumasa Ono our tutor knelt on the ground to drew, we were all relieved that we did not have to do that too.
Here you can see some of the equipment we used, I loved how it was all so traditional and little had changed in centuries.
Here you can Takumasa showing Susan how to mount her finished piece, a complicated and wet process but very useful to know. The Japanese paper is so thin one really has to mount it and the whiteness of the mounting board shows through the paper and changes and enhances the painting.

 I have to give you a glimpse at West Dean, once again it did not disappoint. Lovely surroundings, good food and friendly/interesting company. I can see how people keep returning, I met some serial course goers, mostly women, is there something gender based that women want to keep learning regardless of age? We were so fortunate with the weather compared to the storms hitting the U.K. this week. thanks to Pam I also had a nice afternoon exploring the nearby town of Chichester which is adorable, full of interesting history and cute shops.

So now my new goal is to visit Japan, the countryside rather than the big cities, I have started researching already and have got some interesting links from Carol, another West Dean Japanese enthusiasts.
And a final word to my sumi-e class mates, keep painting.

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