Sumo-e (Japanese) or shuimo (Chinese) quick stroke painting is based on Chinese calligraphy and the focus of Virginia Lloyd-Davies new book Mindful Artist Sumi-e Painting. It is a fascinating and beautiful art form. I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the various examples of it within the book, it’s visually gorgeous!

I particularly appreciated the simplification of form in the insects and birds, such motion and beauty reflected in so few lines. It is a challenge to emulate that refinement but worth striving for. Each creation is carefully explained to help the reader get the strokes and composition correct and it’s easy to follow.

In addition to the artistic guidance, focus is put on the meditative nature of art creation and how quietening one’s mind is beneficial to both the work and artist. Not correcting the form or spending time planning the artwork is central to this form and part of why it is so relaxing.

The materials required to make this kind of art aren’t easy to find locally or to imitate so if you are looking to try it, be sure to source these items first. Because of this, I couldn’t execute the exercises given accurately but in my attempts, with watercolours and paintbrushes, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and found it really relaxing.

If you are looking to understand this art form or give it a try yourself, this is a great book to pick up. It’s five out of five on the en-JOY-ment scale and highly recommended.

From the back cover:

Mindful Artist: Sumi-e Painting teaches you to create your own beautiful, Japanese-inspired ink wash paintings while cultivating a mindful approach to making art.

Centuries ago, Buddhist monks used black ink and brushes to practice mindfulness and create gorgeously harmonious works of art called “sumi-e paintings.” The popularity of sumi-e, or ink wash painting, continues to this day. Mindfulness remains an essential element of sumi-e painting, allowing artists to focus on their surroundings, live in the moment, and feel present—thereby reducing their stress.

Walter Foster’s new Mindful Artist series encourages you to enjoy working in your favorite media to create art from a reflective point of view—an inspiring, relaxing experience that emphasizes the creative process, rather than the end result. These books are designed to help you move past creative obstacles, like a perfectionist attitude toward making art or self-defeating concerns about your personal talent and abilities. These guides will not only help you stay mindful throughout the process, but also to find personal meaning in the artwork you create.

Mindful Artist: Sumi-e Painting opens with an introduction explaining the links between mindfulness and sumi-e and how they enhance one another. Sections on “The Four Treasures,” as the tools needed for sumi-e painting are called; brushstrokes and painting techniques; and “The Four Gentlemen,” or the most common subjects in sumi-e painting, ensure that you have a solid background before getting started on the simple, approachable step-by-step painting projects. Throughout the book you can find stunning full-page artwork, tips for remaining mindful while you work, creative prompts and exercises, inspirational ideas, and suggestions on how to add color to black ink pieces.

Learn to practice mindfulness while you master the popular art of ink wash painting with this inspiring and supportive guide.

I received a complimentary copy of the book from Walter Foster through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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