Revisiting Sumi-e

Most of my childhood was spent in Japan, on an Air Force base called Yokota Air Base. I lived there from kindergarten through fourth grade, and then again in ninth and tenth grade. Though we were sequestered on an American air base, we were, of course, surrounded by Japanese culture. In fact, in school we had a class called “Japanese culture” where we learned about things like the tea ceremony, various yearly festivals, customary dress, etc. As a family, we ventured out exploring, climbing Mount Fuji, staying in traditional inns, and just tootling around Japanese stores and places of interest.

We all took Japanese lessons, though I remember very little of the language. I can still count up to… 99? ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku…. I can write my name in katakana and remember a few other characters. Mostly, it’s forgotten though. I remember my mother teaching a group of Japanese women English, taking ikibana (Japanese flower arranging) classes, and learning Sumi-e (Japanese brush painting) from a teacher who, I think, came to the house.

In one of my trips through my parents old boxes, I found the traditional inkwell, as well as my mother’s old sumi-e paintings (as well as her teacher’s). This was years ago, and I thought they were so lovely, so I asked her if I could have them. She also had two books on sumi-e that I’ve had for years and years. I found them today, after a brief panic that I may have given them away, along with literally hundreds of books, in Jon and I’s latest material purge.

Anyway, this is all to set up that today I went to a sumi-e class! In the little, artsy town I live in, there’s a little artsy art center. I’ve read about it in our local “town news” that comes in the mail, but have mostly ignored it as I seemed like mostly classes for kids. Great to have, but obviously not for me. But somewhere on Facebook, I happened to see an advertisement for this sumi-e class and thought, “hey, why not?”

The teacher had beautiful artwork. She has a studio in Deer Isle. Many of the students were, in fact, kids. Ha! But there were other adults as well. The class was an hour and a half long, and flew by. Usually, I have a hard time focusing on anything for more than half an hour (literally), but I guess I was having fun. We practiced bamboo, which I was quite good at. Pandas, which I wasn’t. And butterflies, which were ok. It was super fun and now I want to do more. I would say that I’ve never been very “artistic.” Creative, yes. Crafty, yes. But when it comes to drawing, painting, etc. I’ve never been too great. I briefly took a watercolor class at the adult education but ended up missing most of the classes. I enjoyed it, but never got past the kind of frustrating part at the beginning.

Sumi-e paintings
Pandas are hard

So, now I’m considering buying some brushes and giving it a try with the books I have. I’d love to paint some greeting cards with bunnies and cats on them and give them as gifts. Will I follow through? Who knows, but it’s fun to be inspired and get on a kick… that’s what the LoveLarisa life is all about.

xoxo LL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *