Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Buddha Board Sumi-e Fish
A couple weeks ago I visited the studio of my friend Frank Satogata. I met Frank at his art opening at the Xavier Gallery last month and we quickly discovered we both love sumi-e, or ink wash painting (check out his work here). Frank offered to loan me his Buddha Board which is a board that you can paint on with water to practice your brushstrokes. The water then evaporates and you can practice again and again.
After several weeks of sitting on my desk I finally pulled it out because I was going to have lunch with Frank and I needed to return it. At first my attempts were feeble and hideous (no exaggeration here!). I was trying to emulate the drawings I had done for Zen Kitty and it was not going well. I then came across a picture of a fish on the internet and I started to loosen up. As soon as I let go of trying to draw precisely and slowly, things began to happen. I started trying to have longer, more fluid strokes and not worry so much about particulars. After about an hour of playing with it I also realized that I liked the heavy quality that multiple strokes could have as in the fish above.
It is so satisfying to work at something over and over until you start to understand the medium. I feel like I barely reached the tip of the iceberg but you could spend a lifetime working with these wonderful brushstrokes. It was also such a nice break from the computer.
"The goal of ink and wash painting is not simply to reproduce the appearance of the subject, but to capture its soul. To paint a horse, the ink wash painting artist must understand its temperament better than its muscles and bones. To paint a flower, there is no need to perfectly match its petals and colors, but it is essential to convey its liveliness and fragrance." - Wikipedia
At the end of an hour I thought to myself, "I'm going to have to buy me one of these Buddha Boards." Little did I know my wish would come true quicker than I expected. When I left the room this last image was starting to evaporate and I assumed when I got home it would be gone. However when I got home I was surprised to find a faint image on the Buddha Board of this fish. I rinsed it off in the shower and let it dry but it was still there. I then realized that I had switched to using an old brush of mine toward the end because I wanted a bigger brush and that brush must have had old ink residue still in it. Lesson learned! Always clean your brushes thoroughly! And Frank, your new Buddha Board just arrived and I will be bringing it over shortly.