by Karen Anne Baldauski


Wikipedia defines "sumi-e": 

There is "...a great emphasis on virtuoso brushwork and conveying the

perceived "spirit" or "essence" of a subject over direct imitation." ...  


"Salmon Pool", 2009, in possession of private collector




A note from the artist: 

Traditionally, sumi-e is created using a special black ink which is brushed on rice paper and often is diluted with water to achieve a range of tones in one brushstroke during the painting process. I am a contemporary sumi-e artist who uses both traditional means to achieve images with just black ink on rIce paper. Or, by expanding the media to include various paints such as oil or acrylics on various substrates...usually on paper or canvas...I have expanded the world of sumi-e to blend some western ways with the classic eastern ways as is common for many sumi-e artists today.  I use not only traditional sumi-e brushes, but also some i have invented for special effects which still rely on precision skills to guide the ink or paint to achieve an image. I love to create figurative images utilizing the sumi-e fundamentals I first learned about in 1972 while taking an adult ed evening class taught by a NYCity artist who just happened to be Moto Oi, the founder of the Sumi-e Society of America.  "Salmon Pool" illustrated above was awarded the Founder's prize at the Japanese Cultural Centre in Toronto in 2009 which was in honor of Moto Oi (who had passed on) and was part of the exhibition that celebrated "Sumi-e For Today", an international show and my first participation in an exhibition devoted to only sumi-e paintings and calligraphy. My love of sumi-e is ongoing and is a continous "obsession" which draws out images that could never be achieved in any other way of painting.  Sumi-e is akin to competition sports, tho, I might say the only real competition is with the "self". The "aim" is much like an archer's focus to hit a bull's eye on the target and get the arrow right in the very middle.  If a sumi-e brush stroke is "off" just a little, it can mean that the painting, in the artist's eye, is a failure.  The brushstroke alone is the test and there can be no hesitation in it or wiggliness in it that would show that the artist was "off".  It may seem "nuts" for such challenge to preoccupy an artist, but, that's what happens to some creative people who find much pleasure in aiming for the highest ideals in self expression which embody oftentimes pain for the trying and then, one hopes, great pleasure in "getting there!" on occasion.  Finis est!!!!!   

"Diving Minke Whale", 23x35, ink on rice paper, currently in 2022 59th Annual Juried Exhibition of the Sumi-e Society of America, Inc.





"Fish On!", ink on rice paper, in possession of private collector

This figure painting relies on sumi-e fundamentals in creating lines with a brush, aiming for precision and minimal brush strokes to complete the art. Sumi-e work is basically a "less is more" approach to art and demands ultimate control. NFS.
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