Save the date!
Virginia’s Book Launch Party, Friday, December 13, 2019!
Come help me launch my new book “Mindful Artist: Sumi-e Painting” at Books & Co on Nelson Street, Lexington, VA Friday, December 13, 5-7 p.m. We will have demonstrations, hands-on ‘brush and paper’ tables set up, book signings, art cards and of course REFRESHMENTS! You can reserve your copy of the book in advance through the store - just drop by or call (540) 464-8697 to place your order. Please join me for a fun event! If you can't make it to the event but would like an autographed copy, order through Books & Co and I will sign it and personalize it and you can pick it up later or have it shipped to you.
"Mindful Artist: Sumi-e Painting" will be published worldwide on December 3, 2019. Here's a 28-second video showing you a sampling of the 128 pages. I created over 300 images for the book, and it is chock-full of step-by-step illustrations, creative tips and prompts. I include detailed instructions on how to paint many favorite subjects and information on paper, brushes, ink and colors. You can read more in my blog posts on materials here and here.
The book is available online worldwide through Walter Foster/Quarto Publishing Group, or direct from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million. (These are the internet links for the U.S.) If you are in another country, you can go to your country's website for Amazon, etc and put in the name of the book. Or you can support your local bookstore by ordering it through a retail outlet.
At $19.99 it makes a great Christmas present!
My videos show up in wonderful places! Sensei William Reed, a long-time bilingual resident of Japan, teaches brush calligraphy at the International College of Liberal Arts in Yamanashi Gakuin University near Mt Fuji. He recently used my Bamboo video as a teaching tool.
Reed's students show great attention and mindfulness as they practice. They found it harder than expected to get the strokes right, but stayed well focused.
And clearly they have fun too!
Sensei Reed gives advice and makes suggestions. His years of calligraphy practice inform his teaching.
...with beautiful results
Congratulations to all Sensei Reed's students! Excellent practice! Now paint enough bamboo leaves to encircle the globe - you're well on the way!
As a Professor of Japan Studies at the International College of Liberal Arts (iCLA) at Yamanashi Gakuin University, Reed teaches Samurai Code and Culture, Calligraphy and Kanji Culture, Aikido, Nanba, and Career Design to Japanese and International Students from over 30 Countries. He has a 8th-dan in Aikido with the Yuishinkai. He holds a 10-dan rank as a professional Sensei of Shodo Calligraphy and is Vice-Chairman of the Zen Nihon Shodo Renmei.
I have exciting news! In February, I was approached by Walter Foster Publishing to write and illustrate a book entitled: “Mindful Artist: Sumi-e Painting”. Both subjects are very close to my heart, since being focused in the moment is essential for channeling the power and vitality of Asian brush painting. I weave the concept of mindful attention into my explanations on how to paint some of our favorite subjects, such as the Four Gentlemen (bamboo, orchid, plum, chrysanthemum) and iris, peonies, wisteria, grapes, bugs and birds. The idea is to demonstrate through step-by-step illustrations how to create paintings, but also how to use the practice and discipline of the painting techniques to focus the mind.
This 128-page book will be available December 3, just in time for the Christmas market. Here are a couple of illustrations I have created for the book. There will be over 300 pictures, some in elegant black ink and others in full color, so the book will appeal to painters, philosophers and art lovers alike! You can pre-order the book now, either online or at your local bookstore. Visit https://quartokno.ws/MindfulArtistSumie for more information and for links to purchase from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more.
Splashing happily in the ink here!
Frogs are hopping out of my sumi-e brush these days, becoming more energetic by the minute. Here's a sampling of the last few years of frogs. Some are whimsical and some are wicked. Some were painted in a moment of exuberance, and some brought me comfort when I was sick. Painting's like that.
My most recent frog. She looks a little shy!
I practice a lot, filling up sheets of rice paper. A lot get thrown out, but then sometimes, they are just too much fun to jettison!
Here's a sneak peek at what you'll find in my new book, "Mindful Artist: Sumi-e Painting". You can order it from your local bookstore or through Amazon or through the publisher Walter Foster Books/Quarto Creates. Publication date is December 3, 2019. The e-book version will be released at the same time as the hard copy. I hope you're as excited as I am! I can hardly wait!
How to paint grapes is one of the fourteen chapters of my sumi-e how-to book.. You can pre-order "Mindful Artist: Sumi-e Painting" at https://quartokno.ws/MindfulArtistSumie or on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2XG2Elf
The book will be out December 3, 2019 - get ahead of the queue by pre-ordering!
This colorful birdie jumped out of the brush at the top of a rather uninspired bamboo painting. With a little sneaky cropping, I saved the good part! Never underestimate the power of cropping: If you are unhappy with a painting and don't know why, try masking off one of the sides and see if that improves the composition. Sometimes we hate to let go of a favorite element ("look what a wonderful rock I created here!"), but by trimming that bit off, the picture suddenly makes better sense.
Tip: don't cut it off until you're absolutely certain!
My sumi-e birds just pop out of the brush on to the paper. I rarely plan them out and while I do attempt to get them somewhat anatomically correct, I realize that often exaggeration is what makes them successful. Like this one: I asked my Facebook followers to give me names for him and I loved the variety of suggestions: "Lord Horty", "Wellhellow", "Crook" and "Themistocles", were offered, then there was "Archibald", "McGrackle" and "Ronald". I think my favorite for elegance points was "Ba Da Shan Wren", a hilarious international word play on the artist Bada Shanren, who painted very funny birds, and of course "Wren", one of our smallest birds.
What kind of bird is this? Not a clue! I just put some body parts together and then got excited when I saw how well the wing feathers came out! Tip: if your strokes are strong and self-confident, you can get away with anything!
Here we have a sophisticated strutter with his nose in the air. I suspect his feet are going in the wrong direction, but does this really matter?
I painted this 18 years ago and I remember thinking I wanted it to be bubbly and springlike. I held on to it because I liked the airiness of the composition and some of the elements - the cabins, the willow and the bridge, for instance - but I knew I had problems with the waterfall and I positively hated my little 'bunches' of red trees. Clearly I had little idea of how to integrate rock and vegetation. It felt unfinished, but back then I didn't know how to progress the painting. I decided to see if I could 'fix' some of the problems as an exercise to train my eye to see alternative choices.
Here are some of the areas I decided to change. I will add more bluish-green pines on the left behind the flowering tree. My reason is to hide the nasty humpy black hill strokes (bottom left circle). Above them, I will make those trees on the left a bit bigger (second circle) because they are the same size as the nasty little red trees on the right and they need to be bigger because they are closer.
I'm still unsure of what to do with those wretched little red trees on the right. I have added some more pines below them which has helped to make the wretched reds recede a bit, but it has also cut off part of the layer of mist (that white band) which, in Chinese painting vocabulary is the equivalent of "....." meaning: there is more landscape between the two layers but the mist indicates that things are further back.