West to East – Asian Ink Paintings of Maine

 

 

These are Asian Ink Paintings of Maine. How is this water medium different from watercolor?

The materials are sumi, a pine pitch ink,. It comes as a hard stick which is reconstituted by grinding it on slate with water.

sumi japanese ink
Grinding Ink

The translucent colors are vegetable, the opaque ones mineral.

In classical Asian art the minerals are ground to varying consistences from a pure powder called suido to large granuals.There are 16 different grinds.

 

 

Japanese Colors
Mineral Colors-Iwaenogu

Opaque whites are ground sea shells; originally pearls were used.

Japanese Mineral ColorsIwaenogu
Japanese Mineral Colors
Iwaenogu

The paper is tissue thin and very absorbant. Unlike western watercolor paper on which water rests and moves the pigment on the surface, suen paper absorbs the pigment into its fibers. This means each movement of the brush is recorded as well as color and moisture content of the brush at the time of painting. The brush can be loaded with many different colors and/or values of ink.

For example the base of the brush can have the lightest wettest value, a quarter of the way down towards the tip will be darker and a touch drier and so on to the tip which is loaded with dry very black ink. The brush is applied to the paper in an oblique angle so touching the paper is the tip to the base.

Japanese sieve
Putting Glue through the seive

 

These paintings are done on a fiber paper from China called suen.

 

For example the base of the brush can have the lightest wettest value, a quarter of the way down towards the tip will be darker and a touch drier and so on to the tip which is loaded with dry very black ink. The brush is applied to the paper in an oblique angle so touching the paper is the tip to the base.

Because the paper is so fragile, it wrinkles ( and rips) when wetted.

Japanese Cooked Glue
Cooked Glue

Therefore it must be wet laminated to backing paper.

laminating Asian INk painting
Wet lamination of Paintings

 

stretching Japanese Paintings
Stretching Painting for Wet Lamination Process