A Meditation in Ink #1: Orchid Study, One of the Four Gentlemen

I have recently started Japanese Ink-Painting (also known as Suiboku(ga) or Sumi-e), however I cannot find the right supplies here in South Africa. I found some of the ink on one site, but its too expensive for something I am just experimenting with and I have had no luck with the brushes or ink stones. So I use watercolour paint and a range of synthetic rounds point brushes, round + flat wash brushes, a fabric mop brush and three jars of watercolour paint at different dilutions to get the same effect. Therefore, it is not entirely Suiboku or Sumi-e in the traditional sense, but rather a mimic of the technique. I do try to stay as close to the traditional techniques as I can, where you simply paint as part of your meditative practice without having expectations nor making corrections of the piece afterwards. At the moment I am practicing on plain printer paper, which buckles a lot with the addition of water. Once the painting has been pressed a bit it’s not so obvious, but unfortunately the scanner picks up on most of it. I’ll use higher grade paper once I am more confident in the technique, but at the moment… meh, the water-induced paper wrinkles don’t bother me so much and I can fix a lot of it with GIMP once scanned in.

The first lesson in Japanese Ink Wash Technique is painting the series of ‘The Four Gentlemen’ plants, where the orchid represents the introduction to these. It is a noble plant because of its grace and fragrance. The leaves are painted in a single confident stroke, with no new loading of ink between leaf strokes to give a graded effect from light to darker leaves. As you become more familiar with the technique it is easy notice that the lighter leaves are perceived to be at the back, whereas the darker ones create the foreground. The flowers are done in a light wash, whereas the inner parts are done with more concentrated ink.

Here are a few of my first attempts in painting the Orchid:

First Orchid, Japanese Ink Wash Technique, Sumi-e, All Natural Spirit, Suiboku, Suibokuga, The Four Gentlemen
First Orchid with a Humming bird, Japanese Ink Wash Technique
Orchid, Japanese Ink Wash Technique, Sumi-e, All Natural Spirit, Suiboku, Suibokuga, The Four Gentlemen
Orchid & Wasps
Orchid, Japanese Ink Wash Technique, Sumi-e, All Natural Spirit, Suiboku, Suibokuga, The Four Gentlemen
Multi-flower Orchid
Orchid, Japanese Ink Wash Technique, Sumi-e, All Natural Spirit, Suiboku, Suibokuga, The Four Gentlemen
Orchids – they seem a bit angry here LOL!
Orchid, Japanese Ink Wash Technique, Sumi-e, All Natural Spirit, Suiboku, Suibokuga, The Four Gentlemen
Orchids by the River
Grasses, Japanese Ink Wash Technique, Sumi-e, All Natural Spirit, Suiboku, Suibokuga, The Four Gentlemen
While I was busy with the orchids, I thought it would a a good technique to use for grasses as well…

All the art pieces on this page is protected under a CC-by-NC 3.0 licence and therefore can be used for personal and non-commercial purposes when given attribution to All Natural Spirit (https://allnaturalspirit.wordpress.com). Should you want the high-resolution versions, please drop me an email: allnaturalspiritproducts@gmail.com

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