Japanese Black Ink Painting: Beginner's Bamboo

Michelle Wasabi, Trusting the Process

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10 Lessons (1h 7m)
    • 1. Konnichiwa: Introduction

    • 2. Gather Materials Needed

    • 3. Ink: Prep and Meditate

    • 4. Rinse and Repeat: Bamboo Stalk Prep

    • 5. Rinse and Repeat: Bamboo Bone Strokes

    • 6. Rinse and Repeat: Leaves Strokes

    • 7. The Branches

    • 8. The Pre-Project

    • 9. The Final Project

    • 10. Sayonara: Conclusion

17 students are watching this class

About This Class

Michelle Wasabi introduces her first installment of Japanese Black Ink Painting referred to in Japanese as SUMIE (pronounced: sue-me-ay) This lesson provides detailed instruction on how to paint a sumie bamboo.

Michelle will take you on a journey through all the sumie materials needed, a brief meditation/mindfulness exercise, and all the components to create a bamboo masterpiece. This is a beginner’s lesson plan for anyone who has never painted before.

Quick History Point: Sumi-e originated in China in the 8th century. It was later introduced by Buddhist monks to countries like Japan, Korea, and Malaysia.

Michelle landed herself in both sumie and nihon buyou (classical Japanese dance) classes while living in Japan for two years. She loves the natural and endearing aesthetic of the brushstrokes and the minimalism of the final product.


Class Outline:

Materials Needed

  1. Paper: Printer paper, watercolor paper, or rice paper
  2. Felt or Cloth
  3. Paper towels
  4. Water dishes
  5. Two Brushes
  6. Ink or Watercolor
  7. Optional Stamp
  8. Pinch of curiosity

 *Sumi ink stains clothing so dress appropriately.

Class Overview: 

Ink Prep and Meditate: Learn the traditional method of grinding ink and follow an optional meditation to promote living in the moment.

Rinse and Repeat: Bamboo Stalk Prep: Practice mixing ink, placing your brush, and preparing to learn the bamboo bone brushstroke in the follow-up lesson.

Rinse and Repeat: Bamboo Bone Strokes: Repeated practice of creating the bony foundation for your bamboo stalks. Yes! Your bamboo should look like bones. You will also learn more about nodes.

Rinse and Repeat: Leaves Strokes: Have some fun learning the narrow-wide-narrow stroke used to make leaves.

Branches: We will use the same bone stroke just smaller. Nodes are also added to connect each bone.

 The Pre-Project: A little confidence boost to prepare for your final project.

 Final Project: Creating your final masterpiece by combining all the bamboo elements you learned today. You will walk away with something you can admire for its minimalist qualities and depth of monochromatic color. Please share your projects and bask in the glory of your first of many bamboo paintings.