Improving Your Brush Confidence & Agility | Jill Poyerd | Skillshare

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Improving Your Brush Confidence & Agility

teacher avatar Jill Poyerd, Professional Fine Artist & Educator

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (1h 48m)
    • 1. Introduction & History

    • 2. Supplies & Set Up

    • 3. Ink Basics

    • 4. Object Practice

    • 5. Applying the Brushwork

    • 6. Interpreting Scenes

    • 7. Adding a Single Color

    • 8. Other Painting Mediums

    • 9. Implementation

    • 10. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Using the principles of ink wash painting to refine and enhance your painting skills.

This skill-building course uses the permanence of ink and the fast absorption of unsized paper to teach students how to paint more confidently and to use their brush in a more creative, strategic way. Although working with ink throughout most of the class, students can then translate the information learned to their chosen painting medium.

The course begins with an overview of ink and how it performs on rice paper. Students then practice painting forms using the least amount of brushstrokes and then mimic simple paintings, where they learn about the use of white space in a composition. Next, students interpret photographs, add a single color, and then apply what they learned to their own primary painting medium.




At the end of this course, students should notice an improvement in their brush handling, feel more confident when they stroke the brush, be better able to eliminate unnecessary details, and more aptly simplify forms.

This is a hands-on training class for artists working in any medium.

2 hours of lecture; 26 student activities

*There are no prerequisites for this class, although general painting knowledge is helpful.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Jill Poyerd

Professional Fine Artist & Educator


Jill Poyerd, NWS, is a contemporary realist known for her tranquil subject matter and unique painting style. Her award-winning work can be found in private collections both nationally and internationally. She has been featured in national publications, is the author of the portrait painting book Fearless Portraits, and is a signature member of several prestigious art societies, including the National Watercolor Society. Jill works in both watermedia and oil paints and has exhibited extensively throughout the Mid-Atlantic region as well as in national shows.

In addition to her work as an artist, Jill is an active member of the arts community. She has curated many multi-medium group shows, and is the founder of the Fine Art Professionals of Northern Virginia. Additionally... See full profile

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1. Introduction & History: Welcome to "Improving your Brush Confidence and Agility". A few years ago, I was visiting an art museum with my family when we came across a special exhibit on Japanese art. I was so taken in by the artwork and felt there was something about the artistic style that I could benefit from learning. And not just me, perhaps my students as well. A few things jumped out at me. The agility of the Asian painters. Their unique and peaceful compositions. And, in some cases, the beauty conveyed with a very limited palette. It got me thinking. I decided to do some research, and that's how the course was born. I could see that the ink wash form of painting could be used by painters of any medium to improve their overall painting skills. For students who have taken my "Mastering Brushstrokes" class, think bravura brushwork. The single stroke, confident brushstrokes used by masters such as John Singer Sargent. Students who've taken my "Landscape Composition" class will remember the importance of eliminating unnecessary details in a landscape. That's a strong part of Sumi-e painting. And compositionally, you'll also notice and the use of symmetrical and asymmetrical balance in the way that they use their white space. A side benefit of this class will be to improve our working knowledge of values, since much of the course involves painting with black ink, forcing the artist to maximize the influence of value in their work. I mentioned that students will improve their confidence in brushwork. And that's partly because we'll be working with black ink, and ink is normally permanent. In addition, the preferred paper for this class will be unsized or partially sized, meaning absorption is immediate or near immediate. When you combine fast absorption with the permanence of ink, it means that we're going to push our brains to simplify forms and execute accurately. Another benefit is the way we use the brush. One of the reasons I chose Sumi-e painting is because experienced Asian ink painters are extremely agile brush handlers. They utilize their brushes in ways that other painting genres don't often consider, snd it's something that every artist can benefit from, regardless of painting medium. So, for us, it'll mean excellent brush and hand training as well. But don't let all this scare you. Believe it or not, this form of painting is intended to be relaxing, peaceful. In fact, if you like to paint with music in the background, you're encouraged to select music that is relaxing to you. Set up your workspace in a spot that's pleasing; where you feel restful. Now let me clarify at this point that this is not an actual Sumi-e class, and I'm not a professional Sumi-e painter. But I am a professional artist, I work in watercolor and oil paints, and I've taken quite a bit of time to study Sumi-e principles in order to develop this class. So let's begin. First, let's define what Sumi-e, or ink wash painting, is. Sumi-e, also called Suibokuga, or ink wash painting, is a form of Japanese monochromatic ink painting that derives from first-century Chinese calligraphy, where words were conveyed through characters painted in black ink. Their natural fluid forms eventually gave way to black ink landscape and figure paintings, where single stroke movements were used to build forms. Paintings were simple, natural, and focused on line and value. Sumi-e was typically executed in a peaceful setting with a quiet, calm mindset. White space was used as a form itself. It wasn't seen as empty space to be filled, but rather as part of the painting. The idea was to eliminate detail, to focus on the core of the object or element being painted, and to do it using only a range of black tones and eventually a little bit of color. In fact, "Sumi" is a Japanese word that means black ink and the "E" at the end means painting. During the 13th and 14th centuries, this form of painting was brought to Japan by Buddhist monks, where it caught on and has remained an important part of both cultures ever since. Let's look at some examples from history. You'll notice that calligraphy remained an important part of ink painting, as poetry was often painted alongside the artwork in order to enhance what the artist was trying to communicate in the piece. Unimportant details are eliminated, lines are soft and color is minimal, fulfilling the saying that more can be expressed with less. Think balance, open space, and single movements. Now that we have a basic understanding of what Sumi-e is, let's take some time to review the supplies that you'll need, as well as how to set up your workspace. 2. Supplies & Set Up: Before we can begin the hands-on training, we need to discuss the supplies we'll be using. The three primary supplies you'll need for this class are black ink, rice paper, and a medium round Sumi-e brush. If you have supplies from some kind of water media paint such as watercolor or acrylic, you might be able to get away with using these. But it's not ideal. There are some supplies I recommend in order to get the most out of this class. It's preferred that you work with black India ink or China ink. This is because these inks are normally permanent, and once a stroke is laid down, it's there for good. You'll see why this is important once we begin. Even if you opt to use alternative supplies, such as watercolor paper, I would still suggest that you primarily use permanent black ink. India ink or China ink have been used for centuries. And the black pigment used to create its color is a form of black carbon, such as soot. Ink is very similar to watercolor painting in performance, but the pigment is ground more finely and the binder is normally a small amount of shellac or a form of glue. Ink is more staining and remains permanent once it dries, but it does flow and it can be applied much like watercolor. There are dye-based and pigment-based stinks. I suggest the pigment-based inks, as dye-based is much more susceptible to fading. Now, initially will only be working with black ink, but later in the course you'll want to add at least one color. These additional colors can be in the form of colored ink or a water media paint. If you really want an authentic Sumi experience, you can purchase an Asian ink stone and ink stick to make your ink on the spot. I actually really enjoyed doing this. It felt very organic to create your own ink as they have for centuries. In Asian painting, the process of creating your ink with an inkstone is considered relaxing, peaceful. The inkstone and stick are much less expensive than you may think. And surprisingly easy to clean. But if you can't use ink, for whatever reason, no worries. The next best thing would be black water media paint or a very dark neutral paints such as Payne's gray. Water media paints include watercolor, gouache, acrylic, or egg tempera. Another supply you're gonna need is paper. Here again, there are some options. The paper I recommend for this class is traditional rice paper. Now just for clarification, the paper isn't actually made of rice. It's produced from various plants found in Asia. But in earlier times rice, straw, or husk was sometimes added to save money. Even though rice paper is paper, it's quite different from many of the art papers used in typical painting. For one thing, it's often translucent, meaning light can shine through it. It's also not as sized as other papers. In this way, it performs much differently. The texture of rice paper is usually very smooth, closer to a hot-pressed watercolor paper. And some forms show the fiber texture. Basic rice paper is quite inexpensive compared to watercolor paper, but there are many forms, colors, and quality levels. Importantly, there is sized, semi-sized, and unsized. There are also practice papers, and then there are sturdier, more finished papers. I suggest you use the practice papers as you will go through it quickly. Save the better paper for formal work should you decide to continue working with rice paper. So I'd like you to get unsized or partially-sized practice rice paper. And if possible, it might be good for you to get both because they perform a little bit differently. For simplicity's sake, I'll list the papers I use in the class on the handout. But really most rice papers will serve the purpose for this course. Do you have to use rice paper? It's not absolutely necessary, but it is ideal. The next best thing, in my opinion, would be blotter paper. Some people recommend newsprint, but I think blotter paper is a better option because it's more archival and it won't fall apart when wet. You'll also need at least one Sumi-e brush. The ideal brush would be a natural hair pointed round, made specifically for Sumi-e or calligraphy. But if you need to save money and if you have a pointed round made of squirrel hair or a similar mop brush from water media painting, you can probably use that instead. Again, it's not ideal, but it might work. Can you use a regular watercolor brush? Yes and no. The two most important things are that the brush head is round and that the bristles be made with natural fibers. Let me explain. Natural hair is an important part of Sumi-e painting. The reason natural hair is best is that natural fibers hold more liquid than synthetic, and they're a bit more pliable. Goat hair brushes, in particular, have a special place in ink painting because the fibers are very soft. Now when they lose their load of liquid, they tend to lose their shape, becoming floppy and awkward. Now watercolorists would quickly reload their brush when it got to that point, but Sumi-e painters utilize it, and that's one of the many things we could benefit from learning. Stiff bristle brushes such as horse, badger, or ox maintain their shape a little better. A mix of soft and stiff bristles is often recommended, especially for beginners, so that you can get the qualities of both bristle types. But if you're only to get one brush, I'd recommend a goat-hair brush. For animal lovers, there aren't a lot of synthetic Sumi-e or calligraphy brushes out there. There are a few, but you could try using a pointed synthetic squirrel-hair mop brush. And believe it or not, I find that some synthetic round makeup brushes aren't too bad for certain effects. As for the brush size, I would recommend a medium large and if you can, a small brush as well. There are pointed and rounded brushes, but I think the pointed will give you the most stroke variety. There are several other supplies that you'll need. Items you may have on hand actually. The first is the surface cover of some kind. Since we're using ink, which stains, you'll want to protect delicate surfaces. Here's what I did. I first covered my workspace with some plastic and then laid black felt over top. Black felt is a common surface for ink painting. I was actually amazed at how much I liked working on it. Being that it's black, any ink and that seeps through the paper (and it will) is absorbed into the felt and is invisible to the eye. Another reason I like working with this surface is that the black acts as a direct contrast with the crisp white of the paper, giving my I complete value extremes for reference. The only problem I've encountered is that as soon as you wet the paper, the black tone underneath shows through, sometimes causing me to think I had more ink on my brush than in reality. It's just something to be aware of as you work. If it bothers you or if you don't want black, you can always opt for a neutral gray felt or perhaps white. Now let me show you my workspace where I'll point out a few other items that you'll need for painting purposes. Here is how I have my work area set up for ink wash painting. Yours can look different of course, but this'll give you some general guidance. I have my paper in the center of my workspace and I have two cleaned stones from my yard to act as paperweights. To the right, because I'm right-handed, I have my brushes for easy access. And I have this chopstick holder to support my brushes when they're wet, but you could use plastic or just a dish. I usually have scrapped watercolor paper nearby to test my paint dilutions. And I have paper towels for lightening my brush load. A critical item. On the left, I have my mixing dishes, just some simple shallow ceramic dishes. And I have my inkstone and ink stick. Now, I normally use either the inkstone or the pre-prepared bottled ink. If bottled, then the mixing dishes are a necessity. Notice the dishes have a flat area surrounded by a rim. You need a rim to keep the ink contained. And I usually put the prepared ink in this smaller cup and then mix my dilutions in the larger one. Now water is another necessity. I found this nice pot in a discount store, but you could use almost anything. A non-sustaining container may be best. I use the large one for cleaning my brushes and then I have this small one for clean water. This is actually just a washed-out yogurt container. And I have an eyedropper to transfer the clean water to my mixing space, but you could also use a spoon. This setup allows me to access all of my tools from one spot. So let's get started. The first thing we'll do is get familiar with diluting and working with ink. 3. Ink Basics: In this lecture, I'm going to teach you how to prepare your ink and some application basics. Whether you're working with an inkstone or pre-prepared liquid ink. First, I'm gonna put some protective gloves on. You don't have to. I wear gloves because I liked to protect the painting surface, as a general health precaution, and for aesthetic purposes. I'll gently shake my ink container to make sure the pigment distributes. For most of this class, I'm going to use pre-prepared liquid ink. It's quicker and easier than the inkstone when I'm teaching. And I'll use my eyedropper to place one to two teaspoons of ink into my shallow porcelain cup. Then I'll load the eyedropper with water and place that ink and water mix in my mixing dish. It results in a lightly diluted ink. Then I'll clean my eyedropper so I can use it for clean water. I'm going to place the ink dishes on the paper for now for videotaping, but they're normally on the side. Now that I have some ink ready to go, I'll wet my brush to moisten the bristles and stroke. You can see that the paper becomes even more transparent when it's wet. This is just water, not ink. The black fell underneath shines through a little bit, making it look as if I have ink on the brush, but I don't. So this is something that you have to take into consideration if you're using a darker colored felt. Values appear darker than they really are. Now, I'll pick up a tiny bit of ink with the very tip of my brush and stroke on the paper. This time you can see that the mark is a little bit darker. That's using a fairly diluted ink. So now I'll pick up some of the pure ink and stroke. This time you can see the mark is extremely dark. And notice that I rinse out my bristles after each dilution level. So this is how you get your values. You simply dilute according to how dark you want the mark. The more water in the mix, the lighter the value. Now the amount of liquid in your brush is also important. The bristles soak up liquid and the point where they can't soak up any more would be considered a fully loaded this here. When you place it on the paper, there's a lot of ink released. What can't be absorbed will eventually spread. Can you see how much liquid is on there? It'll soak through the paper as well, as you can see. To lighten your load, you just have to tap your fully-loaded brush onto the side of the dish or on a paper towel, and that releases some of the brush load into the paper towel or back into your reserve, resulting in what we call a lighter brush load. Now when I stroke on the paper, there's less liquid; less ink mix. If I only take off a little of the load, the result will be a slightly heavier brush load. So the more you take off, the lighter the brush load. The amount of liquid in your bristles and the amount of dilution are two factors that determine the width of the mark and the value depth. Less liquid will make the brush point more narrow as well. Notice here that as I keep lightening the load, the mark gets thinner and lighter in value. A fully loaded brush can sometimes result in feathering along the edge of your mark. This happens when there's more liquid than the painted line can hold. The ink has to go somewhere so it pushes out, resulting in a feathering look. Notice how severe the feathering is on this one. And here's a dried example of a section of rice paper with an overabundance of ink and one with a regular amount of ink. You can see how it could be used to advantage or not, depending on the form you're creating. And this is true whether you have unsized or partially-sized paper. Another factor to consider is brush pressure. The amount of pressure that you put on the brush will determine how wide or thin your mark will be. You can see here that the resulting line varies according to the pressure I put on the brush. Students who've taken my Mechanics class will recognize this concept. Brush angle also matters. Notice the change in the mark as I change the brush angle, Sumi-e painters take advantage of these variations in order to achieve the right look in their marks. Now speed is another factor. The faster you stroke, the less time the brush will have to release the liquid. So a thinner, lighter line will result. If you stay in one spot, the brush will continue to release liquid into that spot. Can you see it spreading here? Whereas if I use the same pressure, but speed along the surface, the line is thinner and a little bit lighter. The brush didn't have time to release that much paint in one spot. Yet another factor is brush size. The larger the brush, the more bristles, and therefore the more liquid it can hold. As a grouping, they can also spread wider giving you a larger mark. Now, a large brush can still give you thin marks if you lighten your pressure. Most Sumi-e brushes come to a point. But with pressure, the larger the brush the larger the mark. Another thing you can do to manipulate the mark is clean your brush and only dip part of the brush and ink. Now when you stroke, you'll get a gradient line depending on where the ink was placed. If on the tip, and you do a basic stroke, the line will go from dark to light. If you do the same thing but lay the brush on its side a bit, you can see the gradient is more horizontal resulting in an interesting almost dimensional mark. So these are some of the ways you can manipulate the resulting mark. So far we've only been working with pre-prepared ink. But what about an inkstone? Well, let me show you how it works. First, notice that the stone has a well; a deeper area with sides around it. This is where you place the water. A few teaspoons perhaps. And you can use an eyedropper or a small spoon to transfer the water. If I squeeze out some water in the middle, you can see that the water runs downward toward the well base. That's because it's slanted. The base is where your water goes and the top is where you mix. Once you have some water in there, you take your ink stick and use it to bring up some of the water to the top part. Then you rub the stick on the wet stone, usually in a circular motion. This makes ink. The longer you rub it, the denser the ink. Basically, the binder used to form the stick slowly dissolves in the water, leaving a water-ink mixture for painting. Here you can see the base reserve is water. If I pick up some of the liquid from the top with my brush, you can see that it's now ink. If I soak up a little water from the reserve and then pick up some ink from the top, we get a more diluted ink. Can you see that? Again, the longer I stir the top part, the darker the ink. And those who really the basics of using the inkstone. Now it's your turn. I'd like you to spend some time getting used to working with ink and unsized paper. See the handout titled INK BASICS and play around with all the variations in application. When you finish your painting session, make sure you clean your brushes as well as the stone, if you used one. Just rinse them with water and then lay your brushes flat to dry or hang them bristle-side down, if you have a hanger. The stone can just be dried with paper towels. And now we can move on to the next lecture where we learned about brush movements. 4. Object Practice: Once you feel comfortable with the nature of ink and rice paper and how they work together, we can move on and practice using the brushes. Remember, Sumi-e involves using as few brushstrokes as you can to depict a form. So if we were painting this image of leaves on a branch, we would break it down into the main branch, twigs that come off of that branch, and individual leaves. You have to see each one as a simple shape. And then manipulate your brush in such a way that you convey that shape in as few strokes as possible. In this lecture, we're going to loosely copy multiple objects. I'll demonstrate some ways that you can approach painting the shapes, and after each brief demo you can try it yourself. You're encouraged to think of other ways to work the brush and depict the image. Push your mind a little bit. How many ways can you think of to depict the same shape and to do it with only a few brush movements? This is really good practice for both brush agility and learning how to simplify forms. So let's get started. We'll begin the object paintings by painting grapes, a circular form, and in this case a cluster of grapes. You can see that I have the same setup as you saw earlier. And I'm doing these exercises with unsized rice paper. My image is on my iPad, but I'll also put it on the screen for your reference. You have a selection of images to choose from. And you can either print them out or use them on a digital device. You can also opt to use your own image or perhaps an object from your home. Just try to keep the desired shape in mind. So in this case, a circular object. First, prepare your ink. You can use whatever dilution you want at this point, because we're just practicing making shapes. Now when working on this kind of paper, I find that a lighter brush load is better. So be prepared to really lighten your load. I'm gonna use my smaller brush because the forms are relatively small. I could use the larger brush as well. It would simply mean using less pressure or making larger grapes. I'll pick up a load of ink and lighten it. Think about how you can best imply or capture the grapes. Asian artists would say they try to capture the essence of the form. Well, because we're not working with color, you can set your mind to focus only on shape and value. So in the case of our first object, the grapes, I would look at the most basic shape I can see. In this case, they appear circular. The grapes that are partially covered are partially circular and will require an adjustment of the brush. And lastly we'll convey the shape of the cluster on a whole. Look at each object in terms of shape, and then think about how your brush can convey it. So in this case, I'm going to lay the brush on the paper, push down so the bristles are laying on the surface, and then twist my brush in a half-circle. This will actually take two strokes, but it can also be done in one. I just have to turn my hand in a full circle. This may take practice, but it'll eventually improve your agility. Take your time with this until you find one method that you like. And then try painting the cluster. I'm going to try using the one or two-stroke circle motion. I'll start with a grape that's whole, and we'll do partial turns to depict those that are partially covered. Now, this is my way, but you can use whatever works best for you. The half-turn is working decently. Now you're not aiming at perfection. This is training, not a formal painting. Just relax and allow yourself some freedom when you do it. I'll do it a second time, trying to really get that circle in one to two swipes each time. Now I'm going to think if there's a new way to convey this. Perhaps a little more this. Drawing circles in one long stroke. That's kind of fun actually. But you get the idea. Now you try it. And perhaps think of a different way to paint them. Push your mind a bit. Try varying the different factors, such as taking a clean brush and just dipping the very tip of it in the ink. See what effect you get. Our next object is a grouping of branches. Now, I'm just going to make them up in my head. But here's a reference image through your referral. This shape is a long but somewhat broken line. Asian painters often paint objects like tree branches with choppy motions, but I'd like you to try several methods for painting them. Try long single lines as well as a broken kind of stroke. These are short, quick marks. You can vary their lengths, but the idea is confident quick movements. If you have more than one brush size, try the same movement with each, as well as varied pressure. Go ahead and try your hand at painting branching marks, or basically long as well as broken, thin as well as thick branching lines. Work at it until you feel comfortable. Now we'll try a similar form, but it involves more refined movement. I'm referring to a type of evergreen that has groupings of really thin needles. These are relatively uniform, thin lines that burst from a single spot on the branch. One way to depict this form is to use the very tip of your brush; the point. The action will require controlled pressure using the very tip. Let me show you. It should barely touch the surface. Plus, you have to be fairly consistent in your stroking. If you start to push down, it'll thicken in the mark. Notice how I try to keep the brush itself even and that changing the pressure changes the mark. This is a great practice exercise for brush control. Now you can make the lines using your fingers, your hand, or your entire arm. I find that the whole arm with a quick motion is often best. And you can use different dilutions. Here's a less diluted ink. See how the value deepened? It's the same motion though. Now let me add the branch. Those are the branching strokes that we worked on. Look closely at the structure of the form. Do you see how the needle groupings burst from one area like I said? Simplify the shape, take it one line at a time, and remember it doesn't have to look exactly like the image. And if you need to, just stop and do a whole series of lines. Pause the lecture and go ahead and give this a try. Our next object is bamboo, a common subject in Sumi-e or Asian painting. For us, it's a good opportunity to practice very wide lines using a fun Sumi-e technique and thicker bravura lines to depict the leaves. I'll mix up a mild dilution of ink, plus we'll have the straight ink. And we'll begin with the stalk. This stroke is common to Sumi-e and I love it. What you do is use a moderate to lightly loaded brush, lay it on its side, and produce one long, partially broken stroke. They use the sloppiness of soft bristles that have become less loaded. As the brush loses its form, the bristles lose their shape. But this dryer, misshapen form can create really neat, unusual marks. It's something I feel all artists can benefit from trying. And it doesn't matter if the paper is unsized or partially-sized. The mark tends to come out the same. It's a version of dry brushing really. The bristles in Sumi-e brushes, in particular, are great for this kind of motion and angle. And you can vary the dilution to change the effect. One of the things I love about using ink for training is that once it's down, it's permanent. It helps you learn to accept when things don't come out as planned and to simply work with it. To depict the leaves, just apply the brush... push down gently as you swipe... and then lift with a quick upward movement. Be sure you relax though. This is actually a fun mark. So it's down, you push, and you move and lift. It's just a very fluid mark. It's a fairly fast mark that once you feel comfortable with the motion, it can be done with confidence. As with all the objects and forms, notice the paler more diluted strokes recede, while the bolder ones come forward. That's part of learning about values and value placement. Your lights, mediums, and darks. Now you'll notice that I'm not using a photograph, but rather we're copying a Sumi-e painting. That's because I didn't see one that I liked enough. And this piece was just right. All that matters here is, did we capture the form with few strokes? And I think we did. So try your hand at doing a bamboo stalk. You can use this one or you can find an image of your own. The next form, I think, is another fun one. We're gonna paint wheat. Wheat is built from an initial long line, like what we learned earlier. And then it finishes off with a series of very short strokes, like dashes for those who took my Brushstrokes class. The short dashes veer right and left, alternating. But you should paint it as you see it. How would you break down the form in its simplest terms? Remember to reload your ink supply when needed. I usually make two dilution levels plus the pure ink. And I'll start by painting some basic lines with diluted paint as background stems. These are like the pine needles, but longer and with more brush pressure. Now I'll use less diluted paint for a more dominant stalk. Where the spike starts, I'll paint tiny versions of the bamboo leaves veering off to the left and to the right, as you can see. Now when you do it, perhaps you'll see or sense those little fine needle-like parts of the spike. You could work that in if you want. The touch is fairly light. And I'm trying to capture the arching form, which to me is part of its essence. Let's look at the motion in slow speed, so you can better see the brush action that I used. Practice your interpretation of the wheat spikes. Is there another way to capture the plant while limiting your strokes? Experiment. See what you can come up with. Go ahead and give this a try. Once you have the hang of the short motion of the wheat, it's time to challenge ourselves a little. This exercise requires us to interpret these fan-shaped leaves using our brushes. But first we'll paint the stems using the branching line that we practiced earlier. Here, I'm going to go with the choppier broken stroke lines that we learned, as I want a bravura confident feel to this object. As for the leaves, you'll have to figure out if you can find a better way, but the way I found to paint them is to lay my moderately loaded brush on the surface, pushed down, and keeping the handle in that one spot I turn the brush so that the bristles spread along the paper; just to the point of creating the fan shape. Here's a close-up look. Notice the brush motion. I'm trying to keep the bottom of the bristles in one place while turning the tips of the bristles. I'm both sliding them and twisting them on the paper. This is another great exercise for increasing brush agility. Now, as I said, this is a little tricky, so I would suggest you practice creating this shape on a separate piece of paper. Once you find a method that works for you, then try finishing the branches on your main sheet by adding the leaves. To get the smaller sized leaves, I have to ease up on the pressure and use the upper part of the bristles. Boy, some of these angles are tricky. One variation you may want to try is dipping the very tip of your brush in the ink... and then stroking. I mentioned this earlier. This can give you a pretty nice gradient effect. Here's a close-up view. You can see the brush motion I'm using. But as I said, you may be able to come up with your own method. So go ahead and try this yourself. This is still training, so don't look for perfection. It's just a learning experience. Be easy on yourself. Our next object is a grouping of large layered leaves. This is a bulkier shape compared to what we've been painting. And notice I've refreshed my ink supply. It may need two strokes to capture it, but let's take a look. I'm going to try several ways to paint this. I'm trying to think about how I can convey it. First, I'll try a two-stroke effort. Not bad. I can make side angle leaves with one stroke as you can see here, but I want to do the larger ones with one stroke if possible. How can I move the brush to do this? Here's a close-up. As you add pressure to the brush, the bristles spread out, widening the mark. And you can use this, varying your pressure as well as brush angle. Can you see how I'm manipulating the brush? It seems like most of my efforts need at least one more small stroke. As the leaves dry, you can go back with your brush and a less diluted paint, and just use the very tip of your brush to paint a few veins. You don't have to do this...only if you want to. You're just trying to paint enough to capture the essence of the object. Keep practicing; experimenting. Practice individual leaves as well as the grouping. Really work your hand. So now it's your turn. Fill a few pages with leaves. Practice individual leaves as well as a grouping, and vary your dilution, brush angle, etc... This next shape uses the branching lines plus larger shapes like we did in the last object. This is a magnolia bud and part of its branch. First practice painting the bud shape on a separate piece of rice paper. When you think you have a method that you like, you can try the full image. When you're ready, use Sumi-e branching strokes to create the branch, bending it as you see in the image. You can add some bravura marks to enhance the branch, as you see here. Now for the bud, I find that I could do it in about four to five strokes. Remember to try to lay each stroke down once. Don't double-stroke. If you mess up, work with it or start over. Notice how I'm kind of squishing the brush intentionally in certain ways. And you'll notice I took artistic license by changing the placement of the leaves, but you can do that as well. There's freedom. Your objective, like I keep saying, is to capture the object as you see it. So go ahead and give this shape a try and then we'll move on to an even more challenging form. Now for our challenging shape, We're going to paint a swan. Maybe this will come easy for you, but for me it was one that took a good amount of practice. This gives us practice with curving lines and feathered strokes. There are several ways you can approach this shape. One way is you can begin at the neck, curve down, and across the body. And then use separate feathered strokes for the wings. Or you can try to do it all in one long abstract line, where you zigzag down this shape to imply the form. I'll try the first version, creating a whole form with only three to four strokes is tough, but fun and very good agility practice. I'll use a moderately loaded brush and paint a single stroke that curves downward. So I'll start at the beak... and notice how I'm moving my brush. Just sweeping down along the bottom and up. And then I'll finish the shape with feathered strokes, up and to the right. To do this, you apply the brush, stroke, and then the end motion is a quick sweep - upward and to the right. So you're kind of sweeping off the paper. Feathering uses a light brush load. And now repeat this over and over until you find a process that works for you. Try changing the direction of your stroke; maybe that will work better for your hand. Or change where you start or the end stroke. I was able to get it down to about four strokes. Now it's your turn. Don't be afraid to use several pages of paper. It may take some time to get it. Now, here's an object that uses large Sumi-e strokes seen in our Bamboo exercise, plus the fine needles of the evergreen. This is a bonsai tree and it should be a fun one to paint. I'll start with a lightly loaded brush, lay the bristles on the side, and stroke keeping my brush on the paper to create the trunk and primary branches. Of course, for the primary branches, you're lifting in doing the bravura marks. I'm trying to keep the brush movements clean and without going over them a second time. If a stroke is off, I'll just keep going. I'll work with it unless it's too bad. This exercise is great for training your eye to simplify forms. The greenery consists of what look like tight groupings of tiny needles. It would take forever to paint the needles with our individual fine lines, so I splay my bristles meaning I manually spread the bristles out when the brush is damp using my fingers, and then I dip them gently in fresh ink. Now, when I stroke, we get multiple fine lines with one stroke. It will produce groupings of needles. And as I repeat the movement, it begins to give the right look. As I work, I'll darken the needle value by using less diluted ink. You can try to come up with your own way of painting this form. I'm sure there are many ways, but you need to keep it simple. Yours may end up looking very different. It doesn't matter. It's how you see the object, as I've said before. Now I could keep going, but you get the idea. Go ahead and try painting a bonsai tree. Practice your strokes first if needed, and then we'll move on to painting mountains in a Sumi-e style. Well, at this point I'm hoping that you're getting the idea of this ink painting and increasing your agility. Now we're going to paint a larger form; mountains. And I'll show you two ways that you can approach it based on Asian ink methods. This will allow us to practice large movements and again, learn to break down forms. For the first version, I'm going to use a slightly larger brush so I can cover more surface area with each stroke. The forms we create will be very rough interpretations. The first method is to dip the very tip of a wet but clean brush in a moderately diluted ink, and then stroke with your brush laying angled on its side. As we learned, this creates a gradient where the ink is darkest at the tip of the brush and gradually lightens along the length of the bristles. This may take some practice as most strokes do. So don't be afraid to spend time working on it. After your initial stroke, you can quickly fill in the base of the mountain or add a second mountain range as you see here. And you can place small areas of ink in the wet area of the paper to imply landscape if you want to. The second method is a bit sketchier looking. This uses a combination of a wet application and dry brushing. You may want to begin with a brief outline of your mountain line. I used diluted ink and just the tip of my brush to do this. Once you have your guidelines, your basic shape, use a lightly loaded brush and stroke downward with sweeping motions. What we're doing is loosely mimicking the lines in the mountains. Can you see them in the photograph? So you're looking at areas of shadow, crevice lines, and areas of light. Try to forget that it's a mountain. Use your brush to portray them. And you can see where my brush is wetter, I have more of a brush load. That's how I convey the shadowed areas. For the darker areas or the darker lines, I dry off my brush and carefully pick up just a little bit of less or undiluted ink. This way I can still get a dry brush look, but it'll lay down a darker value. Again, notice this isn't a perfect rendition. I can take more time and make it a little more perfected, but as it's just training, I'm going more for the feel of the scene and practicing strokes. So don't be afraid to loosen up and take some artistic license in how you do this. Perhaps you can think of another way to paint it using simple strokes. Use single strokes, place them confidently, and part of the confidence comes from knowing that it doesn't have to be perfect. So go ahead and try painting mountains using each of the methods. Then we'll move on to mimicking actual Sumi-e paintings. At the end of the course, I provide additional images in case you'd like to try your hand at some other objects. 5. Applying the Brushwork: Now that we've learned some of the basics of working with ink on rice paper and interpreted objects as a way of practicing Sumi-e kind of brushwork, now we'll copy actual Sumi-e paintings as a way to both put the strokes into practice and learn how Sumi-e painters use whitespace in their compositions. The images we're using are all royalty-free, so we're fine to copy them as part of our training. Now although we have artistic freedom when we work, I would like you to try to stay close to the original image structure. This way you'll get a better feel for the design and how it was set up. For these exercises, I'm using a partially-sized rice paper. For the objects it was unsized. You might be able to see the difference. I personally like the way this paper feels (It's a little more like fabric) and how it takes the paint. Plus it gives me more physical space to complete the work. But unsized paper is perfectly fine to use as well. Here's our first image. Do you recognize the needles? except these groupings are more compact. Still the way we'll paint the needles will be the same as we did in our practice session. I also chose this image because of the nice branch design. We'll use our Sumi branch style to paint the main branch. So here we go. As before, the first thing I'm gonna do is mix up my ink, the different dilutions that I might need, and load the brush. For the main branch, I'm using a lightly to moderately-loaded brush with less diluted paint, giving me a darker but dry looking mark. Then I'll use direct painting with a moderately loaded brush to establish the side branches. One thing I like about Sumi-e painting is how they use white. Dry brushing leaves white, sporadic lines along the line which the artist uses for texture. The brain fills in the missing information and reads it as a complete image. Now for the needles. Again, notice how they form clumps that each have a single starting point. I'll try to mimic that. It's time-consuming, but it's also a lot of fun to paint this. Part of the appeal of Sumi-e work is the relaxation aspect. If music helps you relax, play it. Notice I'm using the very tip of the brush and trying to keep it level as I stroke, in order to get those thin straight lines. Changes in dilution like we saw before will bring those needles to the front while the pale ones will recede. I'll place a few more strokes here and there while it's still wet using a denser paint. Because it's still damp, the new lines will gently meld into the old, while leaving some spots with hard lines. I'm adding a few more of the needle clumps, but to save time, I won't make them quite as densely packed. Just enough to properly convey the form. And notice how peaceful and pleasant it is to have that balance of whitespace in the lower right half of the composition. It just feels like it can breathe. Now it's your turn. Try painting this needle-based Sumi-e painting. Just do the best you can. Practice ahead of time on a separate sheet of paper, and remember yours can look a little different. Our next scene is a waterfall. This is another popular Sumi-e subject, one that's fun to paint. To start this painting, I'm going to establish a center line. I'll use a moderate to light brush load and paint a vertical line to the right of the water. Then I'll base the rest of the image off of that. I'll start at the top and pull the brush in a downward direction. Notice the bristles are bent and out of shape, but it gives an interesting line. You have to use your brush shape to imply your forms. So here I'll use the point to portray the top of the pine tree and then work to the right. Here's a close-up of it. I re-load as needed. Since much of this section is full coverage, I use a pretty full brush load. As I work, I try to forget about what I'm painting and simply look at the shapes, as well as the texture and value - mimicking as I go. This teaches us about the construction of a Sumi-e painting in addition to other benefits. Now for the other side of the water. I'm proceeding the same way, leaving whitespace where the waterfall will be. And now the water. To convey this, you need to use a very dry brush. Dry meaning very little paint in your bristles. But the paint can be less diluted if you want darker marks. Lay your brush on the side and just create a few directional dry brush swipes. This implies the motion of falling water. Be careful not to overdo it. Many times, less is more. The water at the base will be painted with solid strokes of diluted ink. As mentioned, your brain will fill in the missing information. I'll finish it by painting a few of the objects at the base. And that's about it. The large areas of whitespace result in a very peaceful simplification. Now you give this one a try. Remember to think shape, texture, and value. Match the brush stroke to the objective. And remember to clean your brush between your exercises. Next, we'll paint another branch, but this time there's a bird sitting in the middle of it. This will offer a new challenge for us. Pay attention to how the composition is split in half by the strong diagonal line; the branch. It's a design concept that we discussed in my landscape composition class. Once again, I'll begin with the branch. You could certainly start with the bird. But I like to start with the branch. I'm using a moderate load and somewhat diluted ink. And I'll skip over the spot where the bird will eventually be placed. The twigs are roughly painted. I am taking some artistic license with this image, meaning it's not an exact duplicate. Don't be afraid to veer off of the original. Just maintain the overall composition when you work. That helps to take the pressure off. And now for the bird. The goal is to convey it with as few strokes as possible. So here we go. I try to work quickly so I don't get hard lines in the middle of the form. It's tricky. I like how the original image uses diluted ink, so I tried to rinse my brush really quickly in order to use lighter values as well. And notice that I feathered out his tail using those feathered strokes that we learned. Now stop the video and you give it a try. Don't worry if the bird, in particular, isn't perfect. Just do the best you can. In fact, let me stop here for a minute and let you know that when I was practicing for this course, to learn Sumi-e, I used this piece as a learning tool. I loved the image, so it carried me through many, many, many redos. I repeated it over and over on purpose in order to help me get the hang of the techniques. And you can see here, I must have repainted at 20 times, but it's a fantastic way to learn. I would recommend doing the same. Find a simple Sumi-e painting that you love (preferably royalty-free), and practice it over and over again until you really get it. You'll find that you go through stages of joy, frustration, creative bursts, and then aha...success. It's worth the effort. Okay, back to our exercises. This next Sumi-e painting is a historic one. It actually dates back to the 1400s and is attributed to the Chinese artist Shubun. I've tweaked the color a bit and zoomed into the center area to make our activity easier. Before we proceed, notice the amount of white in the top half of the scroll. It balances out the weight of the image in the lower half. An interesting composition. To paint this mountain scene, you can see that it uses one of the methods we learned for painting mountains. The mix of dry and wet brush. I'll start with the tallest mountain in the distance and use that as a reference for the rest. The image has a very vertical feel to it, so much of the brushwork will be pulled in a downward direction. I try to limit my brushstrokes to as few as possible in order to get the right look. And I'll proceed to the left and establish the long, dominant cliffside with the bold values. That's an important spot, so let me knock that out. I need a good brush load to get that dark, solid coverage. The textured areas I'll convey with a drier brush and laying my brush on its side a little bit. Notice how often I pull my brush down. Where and how you move your brush determines the resulting mark. Again, I'm trying to think shape, texture, and value. And remember to relax. Have fun with this. I'll place a few more of the key shapes in. Now we need to add the very dark, directly painted marks along the mountain edge. I'm guessing these are trees and other foliage, and they're pretty bold. The marks should be bravura - painted with single stroke marks and confidence. Notice that I'm using very undiluted paint and the very tip of my brush. The only way, sometimes, to paint with confidence is to allow yourself artistic license. Allow your version to not be identical to what you see, and then you'll feel freer in your work. I say this as a recovering perfectionist. A few more dark values that I feel are important... and there we go. Now you give this a try. And don't be afraid to start over if needed. If you're unsure about any part of the scene, practice your idea on another piece of paper. When you're finished, we can move on to interpreting photographs of scenes. 6. Interpreting Scenes: Now that we've learned some basics and mimicked some actual Sumi-e paintings, our next step is to paint Sumi-e paintings from photographs or live objects, where we're the ones interpreting what we see. This is an excellent exercise in form simplification and eliminating unnecessary detail; something important, no matter what medium or style you work in. It'll also challenge you in putting together what you've learned so far. So let's get going. I'll show you a photograph and demonstrate my Sumi-e interpretation. After each demonstration, it'll be your turn to give it a try. The first image is a photograph of a house plant in a planter. It's more like an object, but it'll be good for warming us up. The way I'm going to approach this is I'm going to eliminate the wood in the background, simplify the pot, and drop the texture. Then I'll paint the leaves with loose, twisted turns of the brush according to the size of the leaf. What I'm really aiming to do is capture the flowing form that tapers in size. Think about what you want to capture. I have my three value mixes: undiluted, moderately diluted, and heavily diluted ink, and I'll begin with the pot. Why? I just want to establish it as my base form. My first strokes weren't dark enough, so I'll have to do one more stroke. I'm trying to keep each stroke separate. Did you notice that I used our technique of dipping the brush tip in darker paint? I wanted the gradation of the top. The rest of the pot is very loosely painted, leaving whitespace for lights. I'll paint the table with two or three loaded strokes, large ones with the brush on its side. Again, relaxation is one of the really nice secondary aspects of this painting style. Now I'll use almost undiluted ink and paint confident Sumi-e lines coming out from the planter to imply the plant stems. They would be shadowed and thus one of the darkest elements. And for the leaves, they're large, so I'll use the kind of stroke that we used for the large leaf exercise. This is where I load my brush, lay it on the paper, quickly twisting it in various directions to build the farm. I'm trying to vary the dilution a bit so the leaves have variation, but each leaf has to be painted swiftly and in one to two strokes so that we get the proper Sumi-e look. The shapes don't have to be exact representations, but they should communicate the overall feel of the form. Now if you remember, one main objective was to capture the tapering size. I've kept that in mind as I painted each leaf. So I lighten my stroke a little bit as I work. I need to connect to it a little more to the pot, so I'll add a few overlapping leaves...right about here. And that's about it. To me, it captures the feeling of the plant and it keeps to the general form. Remember not to overdo it. You don't have to have (and really shouldn't have) every detail. Take your time and try your hand at painting this planter. Or you can use an image of your own or even a live house plant. Then we'll move on to our next image. I've refreshed my supplies; fresh water and I cleaned up my mixing dish. Sometimes it's just nice to start fresh. This time we're going to stretch a little and try painting a simple landscape using our Sumi-e knowledge. Isn't this a beautiful image? I chose it because there are only a few elements and it has room for plenty of white space. My plan is to start with the fence line. It's a predominant diagonal that will help me keep my bearings. And then I'll carefully establish the more distant planes. Once they're in place, I'll paint the trees. To make it fit the Sumi-e style, I'll just paint a wash of thin, color to establish their overall forms. And then finish with some simple detail at the base of each tree. I'm going to play the music and just let you watch as I work through the piece. See if you can identify some of the brushwork that we learned. - music - Hopefully, you were able to see the simplification process, the use of values, and the use of minimal brushwork. Now let me walk you through the final example. But before we do that, try painting this simple landscape on your own. Your version will look different from mine, I'm sure, as we all have a unique perspective and interpretation. The last image for this section of the course is this simple, beautiful waterfall. Again, we'll need to simplify the elements that we see. It can also be tricky to think of the white water in terms of a gray tone. So let me demonstrate one way that it can be handled. Once I've mixed up my ink dilutions, I'm going to start by painting the flowing water with a dry brush. The last time we painted a waterfall, I painted the water near the end. This time, because it's the lightest value by far, I feel like I want to establish that first. So I'll use a dry brush and sweep the brush in a downward direction arching as I go. Here's a close-up look. Notice how my brush moves and how the paint looks. These are quick movements with my hand. I want the start of the stroke to be almost solid, but quickly becoming dry. In this way, it looks like foaming water. Then establish the boundaries of the water. Now I'll start placing my darker values. These are established with a fairly loaded brush and less diluted paint in order to make the marks dark enough. I'm making sure I see the overall shapes and trying to leave some white within the forms just for visual interest. I don't want it completely solid. Now that's a personal choice. Even these dark areas are painted with an awareness of direction. Can they complement the flow of the water? Also, am I minimizing the number of strokes? Those are the things I'm thinking about. Also, I need to stretch the composition to the right more, which I'll do by adding these few darks. This way, the whole composition takes on a triangulation, which I think is pleasing. I also need to add that rock at the base because it should help ground the scene. Now, I want to add some of the trees up there, both for texture and to help tell the story. So I'll use those Sumi lines that we worked on. And at the top, I'll add a little bit of scumbling for balance. That's where I'll stop. I feel like if I go any further, it's going to be overworked. So this is a good place to stop. Now it's your turn. Try your hand at painting this waterfall scene in a Sumi-e style. And after that, we'll move on to adding a little color to our work. 7. Adding a Single Color: By now, you hopefully feel like you understand the basics of ink wash painting and have relaxed into it a little bit. Up to this point, we've only been working with black ink because it's part of the traditional art form, and also so that we can remove colors a factor, and focus more on brushwork, form, and value. But now it's time to add a color. We're going to add one color to our standard Sumi-e practice. And to get used to the idea, the first activity would be to copy a formal Sumi-e painting - a floral, as they're the easiest to add a single color too. To use color, you should have a separate mixing dish. It can have one well or it can be split with two or three wells, like this one that I have here. You can use colored ink as I have here, or some kind of water media paint. Now, I'm placing two colors in the dish because I want to cool down my red. A touch of blue will be mixed with my red. And I'm adding a third color, green, for our final single color demo. Now, our image is not colored, as you can see. This is a black and white Sumi-e painting, but it's easy to interpret the flowers in color. I'll begin with the black ink and establish the stem of the plant. We've done this a few times now, so you should be pretty comfortable with this. But this time I'm not going to use as dry of a brush. I'm gonna go with a more solid line painted with bravura. Now I'll paint some of the leaves with a fairly diluted mix. I'm using a sideswipe that will build the leaf form with about three strokes. I am copying the image, but it's very loosely interpreted. Even if I was working from a photograph, the leaves would vary in size. So I'm changing the size of my marks. And now for the color. I'm going to thin the red to make the flowers a bit on the pink side, leaving some of the red undiluted for more intense collar. The strokes I'm using for the flower are similar to the bamboo leaf strokes. I'm going to do a moderate load, place the brush on the paper, and then use a quick sweep, across and up. You see the movement? Here it is close up. It's also similar to the wheat stroke. Remember the spike? Just brief strokes. Students from my Brushstrokes class will remember dashes again, almost directional. When painting a form like this, you want to make sure that you leave some white space or there won't be enough definition. So be careful and think before each stroke. I'm looking at the overall shape of the flower, making sure I go wide enough and that each petal is painted sweeping in the right direction. Now we're copying a finished piece, but this gives us an opportunity to observe the composition and how color could be placed within it. Notice how the flowers line up, as well as the white space. And that little bud on the side is important for visual balance. Now I'm going to go back in with more of the intense color, the less diluted red, and just drop it in with a few strokes to give the upper flower a little more dimension. You could color your leaves instead of the flowers. In that case, you would add a touch of green or whatever color you wanted, the black in order to make a muted leaf color. Can you see the touching of green in these leaves? It's very subtle, but it's an option. And you could even go with boulder green if you wanted to. Now it's your turn. Try painting this floral Sumi-e using one color. It doesn't have to be red. You could make the flowers any color or you could opt to make the leaves colored. Then we'll try painting a floral Sumi-e from a photograph. Now that we tried mimicking a Sumi-e painting, let's try a single color floral painting from a photograph. This will force us to make our own interpretations and to solidify the design on our own. I've provided several images for you to choose from, but this is the one I'll be using. And I've added a touch of blue to the red to cool down the color. Not too much, or it'll be too dull. I'll start as I always do with Sumi-e lines. I'm using a moderate brush load and light dilution. Notice that I'm painting stem to one side of the paper. I want to retain a lot of white space in the upper right. I'll paint in a few leaves, loosely looking like those found on mums. And I'm using a good amount of dilution to keep it lighter. I'm also dipping the point in less diluted paint and using the shape of my brush, especially the tip, to create the form with just a few strokes. And now for the color. I mixed up a mostly red mix, thinned it down, and will use similar strokes to the last image. But this time they'll be a little bit longer. And notice my brushes larger. Do you see the movement of the brush? Again, notice I'm using a larger brush, but just the tip. It gives me the option of width if I want. So I can push down at the beginning of a stroke and then ease up to get a large to small brush line. Here's a second flower. It's tucked behind the first one so I'll have to connect, but very carefully. Not as much as I see in the image. And can you tell that I'm thinking through each stroke? I'll place the bud there. I like that. And now the flower all the way on the left. I'm watching where I place it; being very careful. While I lose my nice white area? No, I think it's okay there. For dimension and color impact, I'm going to drop in some pure red ink like I did previously, and let it flow into the pedals. I'll be selective where I place it. I don't want to overdo it. Again, be careful not to overdo things. A little black for the base of the buds. Ehh...I made this stem pink. I forgot for a moment that I didn't have black on my brush. I'll see if I can fix that with black later. I tried adding a leaf to cover the pink stem, but it's just not good. And I also don't like this other leaf, but ink on this pape? It's there for good. This is going to be a redo. I could have deleted this video, but I purposely wanted to leave it in so that you could see the thinking process and that sometimes you just have to redo things. It's normal. Here's how it dried and how it looks over another piece of paper, making it less transparent. That spot just isn't good enough. So sit back and let's speed through the redo. Notice that it's a little different this time, but there are no big errors so we can move on now. I'd like you to take your time, select a floral photograph (or even maybe use some live flowers), and try your interpretation of a floral in Sumi-e with one color. Then we'll do one more kind of flower. Now here's another kind of floral Sumi-e that I'd like you to try. I chose this piece because I wanted you to try your hand at those wonderful artistic grasses. To paint them, you simply start at the bottom left of your paper, use a fairly loaded brush, and use one long arching stroke, up and over. Notice how light the touch is; Very relaxed. Try to mimic the other lines for the grasses. And then end with some thin ones (remember less brush pressure?) for the floral stem. Now mix up your colored paint. I'm using more of a violet this time. Kind of like the image, but I'm allowing some color variation. The flowers are small movements, kind of like squat bamboo leaves. Just remember to vary your shapes and sizes. Now the fact that we used Sumi-e paper, which is a bit transparent, means the colors will look kind of dulled by the gray of the black felt. When I place a piece of paper underneath the painting, then you can see how vibrant it really is. Big difference. Go ahead and paint the grassy flowers. Or if you're tired of flowers, you can mimic the next demonstration. I wanted to show you another use for a single color in Sumi-e. In this painting, we're going to use the green a little more boldly than we did in the flower leaves by creating a bamboo image. I'll paint the stock and branches in gray, and then mix up a slightly muted green for the bamboo leaves. You can see that it's a nice alternative. And for those who would prefer not to pay another flower, you could opt for this kind of Sumi-e painting instead. I'm leaving out the bird and the other details here, but you can certainly add them if you wish. In the next lecture, I'm going to demonstrate painting a Sumi-e painting, a simple one, using watercolor paints and watercolor paper. And also give it a try in oi, just so you can see how we can translate it into our own mediums. 8. Other Painting Mediums: We've had a lot of practice working with ink to produce Sumi-e paintings as a way to train our minds and hands artistically. Now we're going to take what we learned and try it in our normal painting medium. So whatever paint you normally use, whether acrylic, watercolor, tempera, or even oil, it's time to translate some of the technique. You're going to plan and paint a simple Sumi-e painting in your chosen medium and on your normal surface. For example, if you normally paint with watercolors, then you would paint a Sumi-e painting in watercolor and on watercolor paper. If you use thick mediums, such as oil or heavy body acrylics, or if you paint on a nonabsorbent surface such as Yupo, you may need to think a little harder about the application. You may need extra time to think it through. But keep in mind that, again, this is training. Don't anticipate creating a masterpiece. It's more important to focus on mimicking Sumi-e brushwork, eliminating details, and using white space strategically. To help you envision this, let me demonstrate the exercises in both watercolor and oil paint. Now, I have to tell you, I'm going right from ink painting into this activity. I haven't practiced using either medium in a Sumi-e method because I want you to be able to see what I experience as I try to translate the knowledge into a different medium. In this way, it will prepare you for what you may experience...or you may not. But I think it'll be helpful. I'm going to use this image as a reference. You can paint the image in black tones, in single color, or if you feel confident enough in full color. I'm going to use black, red, and some warm neutrals. As far as planning, I'm creating a simple thumbnail sketch to help me think through the composition, but I'm not going to formally draw the image on the painting surfaces. I want it to be more spontaneous and have that fresh Sumi-e look. So let's get going. For the first exercise, I'm going to use a new Hahnemuhle, 140lb paper block. It's a new paper to me, but this will be an opportunity to give it a try. It's standard cold-pressed watercolor paper. And you can see I've squeezed out a few watercolors into the ceramic dishes that I used for ink. Now I've decided that I'm going to use a Sumi-e brush because before doing anything, you can see here I went ahead and tried using the watercolor brush (a medium round) to see what the Sumi-e capabilities would be and also to compare how fine of a point and I can get. And then I used the Sumi-e brush. I've found that the Sumi-e brush gave me more variety in my marks. So I'm going to use that one. And I'm going to begin with the blossoms because their placement is so important. Because this is watercolor paper, the paint won't absorb as quickly as with the rice paper. Let's see how it goes. Remember, I had mentioned unsized paper needs a much lighter brush load. Well, I've gotten used to that. So initially my brush load is too light. I need to pick up some more and retain more of the paint. Here's a close-up of the brush motion. I'm trying to paint the shapes with one stroke and to manipulate my brush to establish the shape design. But my mind is expecting it to absorb right in. It's really a tricky transition. However, since increasing the paint load on my brush, it is working a little better now. Notice that the value lightens as my brush load lightens. And I'm trying to think before each stroke to apply the paint in one shot, and to apply it with confidence. I find that the more comfortable I am with the rate of absorption, the easier that's getting. My paint was too diluted here. I wanted the buds to be darker, so I'm going to have to drop in some denser paint. A little break from the single-stroke goal. That's more like it. For this blossom, I'll use two strokes to make the initial pedal and then single strokes on the side. In this close-up side view, you can see how much slower the paint absorbs. Can you see that it's still kind of wet? That's due to the use of paper sizing, which is actually a desired quality when you work with watercolor, normally. Now I'm gonna drop in some much less diluted darks to establish the base of blossoms. Because the paint is still damp or wet, the dab should spread a little bit and meld. With the blossoms established, let me paint the branches. I'm going to use thinner paint and try to use the briefer Sumi-e kind of stroke. I have the brush kind of flattened to make a dry brush look. And I'm thinking through each stroke before I lay it down. I find myself battling to paint like I normally would with watercolor. This is a really good exercise for stretching your thinking. While it's drying, I'm going back and adding some accents to the branches. And I'll try to vary the dilutions and therefore the values a little bit. Some of the accents that Sumi-e painters may add are brief lines to define the leaves and pedals. And I'm gonna do that here. I'm just going to place a few defining lines, aiming to keep it minimal. Remember, sometimes less is more. And I'll finish with a few side branches just to give some visual balance. That's about all I'll do. Notice I tried to keep a lot of the white space in the upper right and even some in the lower left. It gives the piece and open, peaceful feeling that we see in Sumi-e work. Overall, I'd say that this was a little bit rough, but it was a really good experience. Now let's see how it goes in oil. I'm guessing this will be a little tougher. Again, this is fresh with no prior practice so that you can experience it with me. The first thing I'll do is mix up my paint mixes. And I'm guessing that the paint will need to be thin to bit in order to skim across the surface. I'm making a nice rose-tone and a warm neutral from ultramarine blue, yellow ochre, burnt umber, and a touch of white. As I did with the watercolor, I'll begin by placing my blossoms. It's amazing how our brains get used to things. Even though I know oil is applied differently, my brain seems to be thinking like the ink application. So I need to adjust and I'm gonna switch to a filbert brush, which has more flexibility. Even though I think my paints a little bit, this transition is harder than I thought it would be. It seems to need two strokes so far - and even a third time. So with future strokes, as with the watercolor, I need to pick up more paint. Oil and heavy body acrylics work by smearing across the surface as opposed to absorbing and flowing like the thinner mediums. I'm still not getting enough on my brush. Plus I have to accept that there will be feathered edges at the end of many of my strokes. Okay, the additional paint is helping. And a single stroke with enough paint works for the flower buds. As I work, I'm definitely getting the feel for it. So as with everything else, it takes a little practice. But before you know it you'll readjust and you'll have more success. And now to add the branching. I'll try to use a semi-short stroke with a bit of a dry brush look, but it's just not going far. Oil paint is so viscous (or thick) that it results in too much drag on the surface. I'll need to thin the paint some more. That's better, but even with that thinning it needs two strokes to even make a dry brush line. I switched to a smaller bristle brush to paint the thinner twigs. Not bad in that I do want a rough look, but I could've used perhaps a little more thinning in order to get a little more coverage. But we'll continue. While I'm slowly getting that branching down, I'm trying to think of the white space, making sure that I don't interfere with the compositional design too much. It kind of has the Sumi-e look. I'm including a few final touches. It's again, a great exercise trying to translate the Sumi-e lesson into oil. One thing oil painters, in particular, could consider is applying a very thin layer of paint prior to the Sumi-e work. In this way, you're creating a slicker surface that the brush can slide across. So you can see here, I've applied a very thin layer of white paint in the corner of this canvas. And now when I stroke the paint, it travels farther. That, or you could thin your paint a little more than I had here. The takeaway for thicker paints will be primarily to think through your important strokes, think of the bristle brush movements, stroke with purpose, and consider your white space. In the next lecture, we're going to close out the course with a final project, which will be to complete a formal painting in your own style and your own medium, but applying some of what we learned in this course. 9. Implementation: Our final activity is to paint a formal painting using our normal supplies, but applying Sumi-e principles. So for example, I normally paint in oil or watercolor. So I'm going to paint a formal painting with watercolor paints. But as I paint, I'll explain how I'm applying the Sumi-e principles to help you understand. Then it'll be your turn. If you're brand new to painting, you can go ahead and use the ink supplies, but just make it a more formal looking painting. I'll begin my project by preparing my paper. Because I'll be working in watercolor, my surface will be watercolor paper. I'll tape it to the backing board, measure out some of the key lines in the scene, and then lightly sketch some of the forms. Before it can lay down any paint, I need to choose my colors. So I experiment with various mixes until I have one that's pleasing. I've decided on three to four colors. And so now we can begin painting. My first step is to establish the background. I usually do begin my paintings like this, with an initial wash or glaze. It establishes an overall color tone and begins to set the mood. Some of the ink wash painters do this as well. Now, this is a winter scene and I want it to feel cool, so I'm using a slightly muted violet - light at the top and darkening near the horizon. Doing this also helps me begin to place my elements. While it's still wet, I'll paint in some darker values in spots. These blurred lines will act as guidelines as I proceed. Notice I didn't apply paint in the area on the right. I wanted to preserve the pure white right there. Once the paint is fully dry, I'll use a wet scrubber brush and blur the edge where the pure paper meets the paint. And I'll use a dry brush stroke to apply less diluted paint in order to begin to create texture. This is similar to the Sumi stroke, using the side of the brush. I'll hint at a foggy, distant landscape by applying a glaze of color in this spot. And I'll define a few grasses there as well. Again, all of this is giving me my bearings; setting a foundation. Here, I'm using a form of scumbling with thinned paint in order to establish a shrub. At this point, I can say that I feel a little more confident than normal. I also find that I'm comfortable stroking a little more slowly when necessary. It's something I hadn't really thought about until working with ink the way we did. Now let me work on the tree trunk. This is where I knew I could use that Sumi-e sidestroke for the composition. It's one of the reasons I chose this image. I'm using the Sumi-e brush in order to get the right effect. And you can see I have a fairly loaded brush and I'm slowly stroking it on its side to get that broken appearance. In this case, some of the visible white space will act as snow on the bark. I've warmed up the color tone a bit to bring that feature forward, and to counter the cool violets; for visual interest and effect. This spot isn't quite as I would want it, but something that stuck with me from Sumi-e is to let it be and just work with it. Do you remember that? One or two strokes and then move on. I'm known as a tree painter, so it's not like I haven't painted branches and trunks before, but using some of the Sumi-e technique gives it a more artistic feeling to me. I've actually gotten the same effect in the past when painting in oils and using a palette knife, but it's nice to have the same look in watercolor. In order to taper the width of the trunk is I proceed up the tree, I'm changing the angle of my brush a little bit so that only the uppermost bristles run along the surface. And I'll add some of those short Sumi-e strokes while the brush is lightened in order to have a continuation of the broken look. Now, I'll do the same thing for the second tree. I'll speed up the video a little bit to save time. The path was another spot where I thought the Sumi-e side stroke would be handy. But as I work, I find that a combination of basic dry brushing and some Sumi-e mark's work best. Well, this is a start. The path will need tweaking, but let's let it dry for now. This spot in the tree trunk got a little too light when it dried, so I'll directly paint some darks right there. And I'll use the same paint and define the path a little bit more. Well, I'm not crazy about that, but we'll adjust it later. While that's drying, I'll darken the shrub on the side. By adding those darkly valued trees, I can now better gauge the values for other parts of the painting. This area of the shrub was just too light. What I'm doing here is just a small glaze of color kind of like what we did in that one Sumi-e landscape that we worked on. Now for the branches. I normally use my rigger brush for this task, but notice how it gives a different, more solid-looking mark. I'd like it to relate a little bit more to the dry Sumi-e lines, so I switched to my Sumi-e brush and try to use just the tip of the brush. The lines are still somewhat solid, but they seem to work better with the trunk and the thicker branches. I'll work around the tree, and as we learned in our lectures, try to paint only the lines that are needed, dropping unnecessary detail. Now, I'll bring the rigger back and apply sketchy thin lines, kind of like what we did with the pine needles. Periodically, I go back and apply more paint to the foreground texture as well. A couple of more strokes of less diluted dark paint with a dry brush; single strokes across the paper. Again, the Sumi-e work encourages me to do this in one to two swipes of the brush. I think through what I'm about to do and then do it. It builds confidence. And now to fill out the branching on the left. Now if you remember the Sumi-e brush that we splayed in our bonsai tree lesson, I'm going to use that same technique here at the very ends of the branches. But rather than conveying neat groupings of needles, I want this to be messier looking and kind of subtle. So I'll apply it in a wispy way. It's simply being used to trick the eye into thinking that there are many fine branches in these spots. Now, a quick thin glaze to hint at a higher horizon line in order to work with the path better. I'm keeping it very light so it doesn't interfere with that open white space that I'm trying to preserve. Remember, use white strategically. And that'll do it. I feel like this piece does show the influence of the class. But some of what I personally gained is something you wouldn't necessarily see in the piece. It's a comfort with the process and an easing in a way of the fear of making mistakes. Not that I wasn't confident before, but it's even more so. And that's a good thing. Now we'll take a few minutes to close out the course. 10. Final Thoughts: Congratulations on completing the course. I hope it's been a wonderful learning experience for you and that it's had a positive impact on your art. I, for one, plan to have a Sumi painting spot in my studio from now on as a warm-up routine and maybe even to produce formal paintings. If you do plan to pursue the ink wash form of painting and to increase your skill, you may want to look into the higher level rice papers that are available. And if you'd like to do additional practice, I've provided additional images, but you can certainly use your own photographs or items and scenes from around your home. If you have questions regarding this course, do feel free to message me or to submit your question in the discussion section of the course. And I wish you all the best in your painting.