This past spring, I took a class in Sumi-e ink painting with my aunt and uncle and while taking it, I noticed some interesting and significant differences between Western and Eastern style art. Besides the materials, there'sthe type of stroke used. Most strokes in Western-style art are what I can best term static strokes. By that, I mean strokes that are the same from start to finish. In Western art, we draw an object, that is, outline the shape, and then fill it in, using a series of static strokes. On the other hand, the type of stroke used in Eastern-style art is what I’ll call the dynamic stroke.
Unlike the static stroke, the dynamic stroke changes from start to finish. It can start thick and get thin or start thin and get thick. It can begin skinny, get wide, and get skinny again. So, in Eastern art, the artist often does not outline and fill in but paints an object, say a leaf, using one dynamic stroke.
I learned to paint a petal using the Sumi-e technique. You load up your brush with paint or ink. You lightly press the tip to the paper, and here’s the tricky part: gently roll the brush to one side while keeping the tip as still as possible. If you do this just right, and I haven’t mastered it, you can get a two-tone look by loading your brush with white and then dipping just the tip of it into another color, such as red. As you roll your brush with the tip stationary, the stroke will be red on the small end and white on the fat end, giving you a red-tipped petal.
Below are some paintings I made in the class.
Painter of portraits and wildlife