Sumi Workbook

Sumi Workbook

Sumi Workbook

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‘In this workbook sumi artist Christine Flint Sato presents a new way to work with sumi, or the East Asian ink medium. Trained in calligraphy (shodō) and ink painting (sumi-e), she has distilled some of the basic techniques of both art forms into an innovative workbook for all.
Based on her experience of leading sumi workshops with both Westerners and Japanese, the workbook offers a non-traditional way of using the sumi medium. It encourages people to connect with the medium directly and to develop a personal understanding of the way it works through practice and experimentation.

The workbook is both informative and practical. Materials and tools: the sumi ink, inkstone, paper and brush are introduced, and their characteristics, how they interact and how to care for them is explained.

The workbook shows how design elements: dots, lines and shapes, and how wet and dry brushwork effects are used in the sumi medium. Each chapter includes step-by-step practice exercises, which are designed for a wide range of practitioners, artists and non-artists alike. Suggestions for experimentation are made throughout the workbook, and there is advice on how to make a finished artwork. Sumi work by participants in workshops in the UK and Japan, and the author’s sumi paintings make up the concluding chapter of the workbook. There is a glossary of Japanese terms used in the workbook and a recommended list of suppliers at the end.

The motivation for the publication of this workbook was the observation that Western participants in workshops become deeply engrossed in working with the sumi medium directly, experimenting and playing with it. It is hoped this workbook will enable more people to try it out and enjoy it. ’




List of Contents:

Introduction: The Nature and Experience of Sumi Arts
Chapter 1 The Tools and Materials: Sumi, Inkstone, Brushes, Paper
Chapter 2 Getting Started
Chapter 3 Sumi Design Elements: Dots, Lines, Shapes
Chapter 4 Sumi Techniques and Effects: Gradation and Multi-tonal strokes; Wet Brush Techniques, Dry Brush Techniques, Combining Sumi lines and Wet Brush Techniques
Chapter 5 More Sumi Techniques
Chapter 6 Composing a Sumi Artwork
Chapter 7 Gallery: Sumi Workshop Paintings, Author’s Sumi Paintings
Recommended Suppliers


Book Details:

Sumi Workbook
Christine Flint Sato
Kaifusha Co Ltd July 2014
2,000 Yen plus consumption tax (in Japan) ISBN: 978-4-87616-031-0

If you would like to purchase these books please click contact on this website,
or if you’d prefer to email me direct click here.
Sumi Workbook is also available on the market place on
If you are unable to obtain it please contact me direct.


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Japanese Calligraphy: The Art of Line and Space

Japanese Calligraphy

Japanese Calligraphy: The Art of Line and Space

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Excerpt from the Preface:

‘This book grew out of the many notes I took while studying calligraphy under Seika Kawabe between 1982 and 1992. During our classes I found there were certain words and phrases which came up over and over again and which indicated two areas of overriding concern: the line and the space. This book is structured accordingly and built round what I learned in the classes. Although I rely heavily on Seika Kawabe as my source, I have interpreted and built the context in which to understand the language of the art from my own readings.’

Excerpts from the Introduction:

‘The two formal elements in calligraphic art are the black line and the white space. The black of the line is Chinese ink, sumi, and the white space the highly absorbent Chinese, Japanese or Korean paper on which the calligraphy is written. Out of these basic elements, both formal and material, is created an art of infinite depth and subtlety which has held the Eastern imagination captive for centuries. It is probably its very simplicity which is part of its charm. It is a simplicity which has given birth to a plethora of expressive line. There are as many lines as there are calligraphers who write. The scripts have certain conventions that should be followed, but the lines themselves are unique to the person writing them. (……)

In this book I deliberately concentrate on these two basic elements, the line and space, to grasp the essence of the art as securely as possible. It means that I do not examine the Chinese characters and hiragana (the Japanese phonetic script form) themselves. (……)

This minimalist approach is not without foundation calligraphically. There is a highly developed Japanese vocabulary and phraseology referring to line and space distinct from scriptural or stylistic variation. I introduce many of these phrases. Secondly the enjoyment of the cursive script is predominately visual as the characters are often illegible. This is especially so nowadays. Lastly an abstract calligraphy in which the character is not necessarily used or, if it is, is indiscernible, has developed successfully since the war. (……)

After the war(…) most calligraphic movements began actively reassessing the art (of calligraphy) and the emphasis moved from education to expression. Of the various
new groups which sprung up it is from within the rather small avant-garde movement that the clearest statements about the art of calligraphy are to be found. Although radical and somewhat controversial, the ideas expounded have been pushed to their logical limits in the work itself. This is seen in particular in the priority given to line over form. As the fundamentals of the art are so clearly outlined in their position, it is the one I use as the base through the book.’ (……)


Table of Contents:

The Calligraphic Line
The Dynamic Line
The Sculptural Line
Practice and Execution
The Natural Line
The Line as Expression of Self
Calligraphic Space
The Language of White Space
The Calligrapher’s Attitude
The Balance of Line and White Space
Hyogen Teishi
The Kana Line and Ma Spacing


Book Details:

Published by Kaifusha, Japan, 1999
ISBN: 4876162646

Japanese Calligraphy: The Art of Line and Space
4,000 Yen
If you would like to purchase these books please click contact on this website,
or if you’d prefer to email me direct click here.
It is available on the market place on
If you are unable to obtain it please contact me direct.

These images may not be reproduced without the permission of the artist.

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