Photographer's Note

Walking along the many paths that take one through the Toshogu Shrine one is constantly reminded on one hand of past glories of mighty men and on the other, that even they could not hold back the ravages of time. And there is nothing more appropriate to mark this impermanence of things than the fleeting impressions made by shadows.

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Sumi-e means: Black Ink Painting. Black ink on white paper, simple, elegant and serene. Simplicity is the most outstanding characteristic of Sumi-e. An economy of brush strokes are used to communicate the essence of the subject.

"If we study Japanese Art, we see a man who is undoubtedly wise, philosophic and intelligent, who spends his time doing what? In studying the distance between the earth and moon? No. In studying Bismark's policy? No. He studies a single blade of grass."
-- Vincent Van Gogh

The tools which are essential to a brush painter are called "THE FOUR TREASURES". These are the Ink SUMI, Grinding Stone SUZURI, Brush FUDE and Paper KAMI.

The ink is not ink at all but consists of a formula of soot from burnt pine wood and lamp black combined with glue and camphor which is then molded into a stick. The ink stick in dipped in water and ground in a figure 8 or circular motion, always in the same direction, on the Ink stone until it forms a creamy black ink, this takes about 25 minutes, this is a time of contemplation.

While preparing the ink, the artist focuses and prepares himself mentally to paint. The artist's mind should become tranquil, reflecting on the painting, the brush strokes to be used and the subject.

Special brushes made in the Orient are used, brushes are considered the most important of the artist's tools because success of the painting depends on masterful brushwork. Although there are hundreds of different kinds of brushes, made of several types of animal hair, they fall in two three basic categories: hard for drawing, soft for coloring and a combination of the two.

The paper is hand made and generically referred to as rice paper but it is made basically from bamboo pulp. Rice paper comes in many varieties, papers which are sized with alum and glue have a less absorbent surface and are best suited for fine line work (bone painting). The most common paper used is Xuan, a soft white absorbent paper

The fundamental brush techniques are best learned by practicing calligraphy, this allows the painter to concentrate on the brush strokes without becoming concerned with color and composition. It is necessary for brush painters to know enough calligraphy to sign their names and add characters of descriptive or poetic calligraphy to their finished paintings. The artist must learn to use the ink freely with a controlled brush stoke. The goal is to capture the essence, the Chi, the Qi, the spirit or the life of the subject in the painting, evoking the poetry of nature.

In brush painting, the brush is held perpendicular to the paper, almost at a right angle to the hand, and is firmly grasped at a considerable distance from the point by the thumb, index and middle finger. During the process of drawing, the fingers remain almost immobile and the work is done by the arm unsupported.

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