Sumi Ink: Creating Marks and Textures | Jessica Matier | Skillshare

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Sumi Ink: Creating Marks and Textures

teacher avatar Jessica Matier, mixed media artist

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

    • 1.

      What To Expect


    • 2.

      Supplies You'll Need


    • 3.

      Creating Your Mark and Texture Library


    • 4.

      Putting Your Marks and Texture Together - Creating Your First (and Second) Painting


    • 5.

      Painting on Yupo Paper


    • 6.

      Adding Color


    • 7.

      End Notes


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About This Class

Learn how Jessica Matier, a mixed media artist, creates her emotional abstract paintings using Sumi ink, acrylic, and pastel. You will uncover the many ways you can use Sumi ink to create a variety of marks and textures that will transform into your own abstract paintings. This class is great for graphic designers, illustrators, hobbyists, or any creative person interested in painting.

What to Expect...

We will explore the materiality Sumi ink along with acyrlic and pastels.

In this class you will leave with 4 original paintings. I am an abstract artist so I will be sticking to what I know, but feel free to use this class to build representational paintings or any image that is relevant to your practice.


Supply List for Video 2

*If you want to hang your paintings together I would advise you to use the same size. Yupo generally comes in 9x12 inches.

*I strongly recommend you buy a hake brush. If you want to purchase only one I recommend buying a medium size with a short handle in order to achieve those “special” brush strokes.

*You can buy white hand towels from Ikea for 50 cents.

Optional items

  • acrylic paint (I like Golden.)
  • palette knife
  • acrylic brushes
  • a palette or palette paper
  • soft pastels (I use Sennelier.)

*I know I mentioned that the Hake brush is not 100% necessary...but it actually is.  You'll miss too many opportunities to create beautiful marks without it!

NOTE: In video 3 you will see that I opt to use the back of an old painting to create my mark library. Feel free to save some used paper and do the same! Just make sure the type of paper you use is similar to the one you will use to create your paintings in videos 5 and 6.


Video 3

Creating your mark and texture library.

In this video, we will create a "library" of marks and textures that will serve as a visual reference later on. I recommend hanging this in your workspace while you create your paintings in the next video.

You will need a hake brush, a medium watercolor brush, Sumi ink, paper, a water vessel, and any other tools you wish to use to create marks.


Video 4

Creating your first and second painting on watercolor paper.

Please allow solid 1-2 hours to complete this video.  Be gentle with yourself and please don't give up on your painting and start over.  There have been many paintings I've made that I hated. I still shared them and was surprised by the response.  Don't let your self-criticism rob the world of your work.

Please share your paintings (regardless of how ugly you think they are) in the project gallery, on Instagram (Don't forget to tag me and add #SumiInk101 to your post.), or email them to me at

These are ROUGH drafts. No one is expecting perfection!


Video 5

Painting on yupo paper.

The two paintings you'll create in this video will be on yupo paper.  Please allow plenty of time for them to dry. To get the most out of this lesson it is best to begin painting a large black shape and create most of the image by wiping the ink away using a paper or regular towel. Yupo is also great to disply the fluidity of water based materials.  Do not be timid with your marks on yupo.

Please share your paintings (regardless of how ugly you think they are) in the project gallery, on Instagram (Don't forget to tag me and add #SumiInk101 to your post.), or email them to me at

These are ROUGH drafts. No one is expecting perfection!


Video 6

Adding color to your black and white paintings.

As I've mentioned in the previous videos this lesson is completely optional. However, I do recommend taking a look to see all of the wonderful possibilities that adding color has to offer.  You can choose to add color to half of your paintings, experiment with one, or none at all!

There is a considerable amount of footage that has been sped up. Please take your time to pause the video if you need to follow along with me while you paint.

*I apologize for the shakiness during parts of the video. I tend to press down hard and my work table is on wheels.*

Please share your paintings (regardless of how ugly you think they are) in the project gallery, on Instagram (Don't forget to tag me and add #SumiInkWithJessica to your post.), or email them to me at

Please support your #SumiInk101 community and leave feedback for two other students. If you run into any trouble throughout the class please email me at Thanks for joining me in my first Skillshare class and good luck!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Jessica Matier

mixed media artist


Hello, I'm Jessica. A mixed-media artist based in New Jersey.

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Level: Beginner

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1. What To Expect: Hi, everyone. I'm Jessica and we're in my studio. In case you haven't come to me for my instagram profile, you are a few examples of my work and in this skill share class, my 1st 1 I'm going to teach you how to build different textures and marks using Sumi eight . This class is intended for artists and illustrators and graphic designers. Anybody who wants to create whimsical and fluid images that a liquid medium like Sumi ache allows. In the next video, we will go over all of the materials that you will need to create our 46 paintings that you'll have at the end of the course. And I strongly recommend that if you especially are beginner to watch each video first. So you have a good idea off where we're going and then replayed and work directly alongside me in built time. And we can accomplish our paintings together. So until next time 2. Supplies You'll Need: everyone here. So today I'm going to show you all the materials you need to get started. So first water vessel. I've used the same one for 15 years, and I like Theo grooves on the bottom That helps get the brush is really see me easy to find by the green bottle. I, um I'm fairly certain this is a pretty high quality, very easy to find. Here is my very fancies and me Inc older. What's nice about using a dish like this is, uh you can just add a little bit of water and get like a good dark right without actually having to pour more in. So good way, toe save money. He ha k G brushes for pronounced fall three ways. This is the smallest size that you can get one inch. And, uh, here's a very large one. And here's a new one. So you using both, um, class some regular watercolor brushes you're going to need, um, a tavel to wipe away from the paintings and to dry your brushes. If you're a super clean worker like you don't like any possibility of wind ending up on your painting, then don't use this to wipe away use a paper towel mentioned earlier that we're going to add other types of mediums to our painting. So here's an acrylic that I like to use. It's all very liquidy, and you could pour it right on the painting if you wish. Here's another kind of acrylic that like and you're are the more Miss Kiss ones to This doesn't really matter. Whatever you have lying around will work just fine. I also like, um, to use these pastels there. Cinelli A soft, not oil. So again, totally optional. You don't have to use thes, but if you like to, um at, like different kinds of, like marks and lines to your work strongly recommend, please. We're going to need something to pay on, which is where watercolor paper comes in. This is a hot press what I call a paper. So it's super smooth. Um, just really beautiful toe work on, especially if you're gonna be smudging pastels. It creates a very nice, cloudy effect. The U boat paper and this is not made of trees is a very special material. Uh, when you put little puddles of liquid, it will dry as and look as if it is still wet. So it creates off very fluid, watery images, which is really nice. And it's also very easy to wipe away from. And we will get into that, um, later on. So what else? Oh, how about if you need that, Especially if you're going to be using acrylic in your paintings and to hang them up Some artists tape. What's good about this tape is it will not tear your paper, which is very important. So I strongly recommend getting this. It comes in all different widths. Yeah, so I think that's it. And, uh, I wanted to mention that on these special brushes create these special marks so you can see kind of what you're in for. You don't have to buy these brushes if it is a huge inconvenience. But I do strongly recommend, um, that you give them a shot. A jar? You could also use this weird thing. Um, it's biological attacks. I found it at a not storing this. Another mark making tool. You could also use toothpicks. You could use leaves. You could use anything that you want to make, Mark. So it's really up to you and, uh, whatever you have and be like using, So I'll see you next time. Okay, 3. Creating Your Mark and Texture Library: Hi, everyone. Today we're here, um, to start learning how to build textures and marks without water color. Oh, to start with. Ah, a little bit of Sumi ink. You really only need very, very small Now even that's probably too much that I just bored how you start with our magical hate brush. As you can see, I've already been painting with it. So if you, um, have a brand new one, don't get it wet just yet because, uh, this first mark is best with done with a dry brush. So also, before we get started, if you, uh, enjoy a certain amount of order, um, I would divide the paper using the pencil in some, uh, squares so you can keep your library somewhat organized. But me, as you can see what little slob and don't care about that, So I'm just gonna go right. So we're gonna start by taking the corner of her hate brush, and we're going toe ever so gently Poinar into the just the corner. And we're only going to use the weight of the brush, not at any pressure with our hands. So, And be sure to star, um, on this side or if you're left handed the side. So you're not going us much in your work as you go along here. So so gently raising the paper. What's nice about only using the quarter is you have all of these clean Purcell's then that have just touches of gray from them, complete with that so can create feathery kind of saying, sometimes I'd like to push this down is to get that great part every the cash months to make some crazy marks. Okay, now we're gonna go back in and add a little bit more, as you can see. Kind of really depicted in her. Just the corner, though. Not the whole bush. No treats. Had more solid line. You want a wife a little bit away Can get something in between this. This And for the next round, we're gonna get it pretty doused this time in just the corner. And this time, make sure you leave a little bit of ink on the surface of your paper because I'm gonna show you have a, uh, pleaded out. Make a nice, radiant. It's get a clean brush with clean water not dripping wet. But you know what enough. And then you're going to just raise the corner of that solid mark and say you didn't like that. How little I appreciate like the way why, So you get we're looking for here. You just added more again. And in Greece, the edge of that gray we went out. No. Notice that all of the young marks that I was making while I was pulling away um, there's still on paper, so he really leave a history behind every brush stroke made Europe process another more cleaner looking. Why treating this type of sure is to start with so clean water, then taking it is not you just carve into the edge of where you water on the beach. That creates a nice soft Yes. Then again, if you want to pull away or if you don't, you just want get up, see where it goes on its own and then noticed how we still have the brush strokes. You don't like that? Just God, water to the bottom there and start really building a picture. You see that? How caught on the edge of my first mark and now it's even doctor number, this tool, you know just Doggett in our Inc. Yeah. Now, if you don't have this tool, um, you could always just get some toothpicks abandoned, get a similar off that no years round rash. Just play around the dots, starting to paint in my little pool four. And now let's it's completely saturate our brush and have it maybe even take a little bit of water. Do you really have a little pool of Sumi ink water going on in there? Now you can use a pen like a calligraphy pen, or I have this thing that I totally kept from you last time around, and then you can just start X and Y could use that least and just artfully lines out. You can even dip it in, get some really nice lines, and, um, that's pretty much it. I, uh, generally keep my mark making limited to these that we have here. Uh, take this time now to maybe start a new piece of paper and keep building your mark. Library or not, it's totally up to you. So in the next video off, we'll see you back here with a clean piece of watercolor paper, and we couldn't begin putting all these marks together and creating our first victim So until next 4. Putting Your Marks and Texture Together - Creating Your First (and Second) Painting: So when this video we're going to be putting all of our marks and textures together, you might feel a little bit of anxiety staring at the blank page. But trust me, it is really not a big deal. If you get nervous, you can always just pick alongside me and, um, copy exactly what I do in the first picture. And then in the second painting, maybe you can, you know, use a little bit of wisdom from the first experience to create something a little more original that's more specific to what you are looking to achieve in the class. So whether it's, you know, an environment, you can start painting a forest or sky, or you can just stick to, um, purely abstract images, which is what I will be doing. I encourage you to stick it out and not get in the habit of just starting over and over again, because that's exactly what will happen is you'll just end up going through a lot of paper and wasting some time. And I think the best thing about sticking with the first page is you start to build a problem visually, and then you get the opportunity to solve it, which is a great experience. And it's one of the joys about painting abstract Li like How I dio If you have a large black blob and you feel like there's no way around it, I would really encourage you to just stick with it anyway. Like I just said. And in the not the next video but the following video, we will go in and you can cut into it with some acrylic and pastels and cover the entire thing up if you want. So let's get started painting. So let's begin now. This video is going to speed up. So if you need Teoh, just go ahead and pause it from time to time to catch up. If you are going to work alongside me and essentially copy what I'm doing, I want you to know that I have no plan and I want to prove to You really don't need one. You just kind of let one mark lead to another and see where he went up. And just like I said before, you will have an opportunity to fix it in a later video. If you're not happy with, um, the way things turn out, Let's do it. Todo is the hole version And then I lifted it up. I said what I love. So I think this is a good place to stop. Um, I'm gonna go ahead and let this dry. And if you copied exactly what I did this time, now is your chance to go create a second painting and, um, figure it out. You know, just make your favorite mark and build on to it, and eventually, you know you'll create something. And if you don't like the way it looks, we can always alter it in video six. So don't worry about it. Don't put any pressure on yourself. Just have fun. And, um, I see it as a exercising, creating marks, not building of painting. Maybe that'll take the edge off. So once you're finished, hang them up and, um, I'll blow them Teoh Instagram. Or you can email me at Jessica Emma tear at gmail dot com. I have my email in the notes for the class, and please, if you upload them on Instagram to tag me, um, with, uh, the at just come a tear and you can use the class hashtag as well. So I will see you in our next class where we will finally use the U boat paper and create two more paintings. So until next time 5. Painting on Yupo Paper: Hi, guys. So we're here with our youthful paper. And this is when the Aitken start looking very fluid, watery, ethereal and, um, a little ghostly at times. Once you start layering, the best part about using this kind of paper is the INC will dry very close to the way it appears while it's wet, so it doesn't actually get absorbed into the paper. So let's start I using dropping a tiny bit of ANC into her dish. You have my paper travel, and I have a regular tavel not going to dampen. Make rush. You start by making ah, black sheet on the paper again. Don't be afraid. Just kind of let it go again. You can always just copy what I'm doing. You feel a little overwhelmed. It's better just toe dive in and get started. Then worry about the sheep too much because remember, we're gonna be wiping it away. So now I'm gonna take my towel. I'm just gonna cut into it and you can see that it creates a similar brushstroke to, um, hate brushes that we used in our last video in a damp in the towel here somewhere, essentially cleaning. Thank very artfully off bounce the paper. Let me show you what the paper towel looks like. You can always do a little dat dat dab you like that if you don't like that can wipe it away. And if it's not liking away enough to your liking, you can really life it away See how easy that is, how easily it just comes up. You remember, Just find a clean spot and you can really just get that white back. You see that happy little marquee name in just playing with it? Or you can really just start painting with your towel. So I think that's it for May. Um, if you want to keep working on yours, feel free. There's no time limit. And don't forget, um, we can add paint to this not a little bit of color in the next video. If you're not totally happy with ah, what you have and don't forget to try and go ahead and make a second painting with this paper all on your own, you just let one stroke and mark lead to another and see what you come up with. Please upload them to instagram or email them to me. Ah, all of the details will be in the class notes. So I look forward to seeing your paintings, and in the next video, we're going to add a acrylic pastel, and I'll even give you the option if you want to add some water color and we can, you know at the finishing touches to our paintings. And if you're totally satisfied with your black and white paintings, then you can go ahead and skip the next video and just pop yours into a frame and begin enjoying them, so I will see you in the next video. 6. Adding Color : Hi, guys. Hello. So we are finally at the last stage of our class. And this is kind of like bandied these because you're just, like, covering up your mistakes and just making it feel right. Um, so you can be really satisfied with your work before we get started. I would just like to note that when you start putting acrylic over your, um, Sumi ink, if you start pressing down and really working at end that you're going to add gray to the color. So, um, I would just be sure of your marks before hand. So you're not creating like, a muddy mess. And if it does begin which it inevitably does start to turn gray at some point, Um, and you want, like, a bright white, Then you can always go in and at a second coat of acrylic Teoh, keep the color the way that you want. So I'm going to start with this really old Russian college just a quick brush. And, um so this is looking a little blocky to me. So I'm gonna go ahead and make that into a more organic shape, See how everything kind of ends on this and you don't have to use why you can use, um any color you like. I tend to stick with us neutrals and pastels with the occasional read thrown in there. Um, but it's just a matter of aesthetics in your taste. So don't feel like you have tow use. You know, the same colors that I dio you could always have cut into this with a blue shape or whatever. So see how that is Starting to bleed through a little bit can always just have a little more if you want it to completely go away. Or you might like the, um the layers of images marks because you can hear my Children just intruded on us. They were told specifically, do not come in and they totally did. So I think No, I think that's pretty okay for me. Um, when you maybe add a little bit of yellow on the bottom here and then I'm not so crazy about that. But I don't want this like brush line e texture, because there's so much I want to soften it up. So I'm actually going to add some pastels, and I kind of like this green kind of like this. Your color. You know what it is? I'm just gonna I remember before I said about Thea Cold press versus the hot press. I ended up using cold press, so it gives you that rough texture. And sometimes I just feel like cold press paper makes angry. You're looking drawings for somebody's. And I know maybe it's just me and feel free to create, you know, moments where the eyes can just kind of rest because there's always a lot going on. So sometimes it's nice just to have a soft little area of color You don't wanna, you know, have a lot going on here and then a lot going on here. You want to kind of connect them so they're not competing with one another and add a little contrast year this soft pink, and then we're gonna add little blue up here. So what? Just gonna actually very slowly so I can really pay attention to what I'm dealing. Just be careful using your pastel with the, um what? Uh, acrylic More than you'll end up with little swatches of hard acrylic on your pastels. Just I try not to overthink color. I kind of just intuitively move through it and say, um, you know, you add a color and you're not so crazy about it, and you want to make it gonna neutralize that. You just take the complementary color and I kind of just smudge it in their kind of fixes itself if you don't know color theory. Uhm, quick blessing Red is the opposite of green. Blue is the opposite of orange. Yellow is the opposite of purple, so try to remember that if, uh, didn't know already helps a little something going on here. I think we're going to speed up the video because I'm sensing that this painting might need a little more work. Ah, Then you have the patients, does it in real time and watch me do it. So I'm gonna go ahead and get to it. Let's move on to the second painting. I did. And I know you have two of each, um, two on watercolor paper and two on your clothes. So you might wanna pause this video if you're copying what I'm going to do in the second painting and work on your your other watercolor paper painting. So this I'm not gonna alter that much so I think that's it. Sometimes less is more so. I cannot wait to see your finished paintings. Ah, please send them to me or share them with the entire class on Instagram. And I will see you in the next video where we will wrap things up. 7. End Notes: hello again. So we are in another slightly different angle. Uh, in studio, I, um, hope you guys had a great time making your paintings. And I hope you feel confident enough to begin incorporating Sumi ink into your practice. And, um, if I haven't covered something that you were expecting me to go over, please reach out. Please ask through an email or weaken message me on instagram and I will answer any question you have a zonas It's within my knowledge to do so. Um, keys, you need toe have a last gander. Here's Thea, um, finished product of the watercolor paper and you can see how many more marks I created using Ah, the acrylic and the pastel. And we even mixed some of the past Oh, with the acrylic, uh, and smudge some pastels to create new textures. On top of all of the other ones that we created, I would say that it's a pretty fair mixture off everything. We went over, Um and then here is the people paper and you can see on my instagram all of the other paintings that I made that just I left as black and white. And how it's OK to leave things black and white sometimes. Uh, don't feel like you had to. Um you have to at all of the mediums that I used every time. If you practice long enough, you'll definitely find a flow when hopefully new confidence, Uh, using Sumi ink. So I will see you in my next class that I hope to, uh, create very soon. So until next time Bye.