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The New Sumi-E Photography Studio: The Art of Modern Photography with Ink Style

Sumi-e photography is a photograph in the style of Japanese ink brush painters, not only in colors and textures, but also in subject matter. No filters or digital manipulation are used. Rather, natural light is captured from certain angles with a specific aperture and shutter speed to create an effect that is somewhere between a painting and a photo. The backgrounds emulate washi, or Japanese handmade paper, and there is an “empty space” for calligraphy.

As the photos are printed on a suitable support (watercolor paper, canvas), the calligraphy can be painted directly on the photos; each print retains its individual character.

Like the masters of the traditional art form, it takes dedication, passion, concentration, and most of all, clarity of mind and heart to find truth and love in the new art.

Sumi-e’s story

The traditional style of ink painting in Japan has a rich and vivid history spanning the centuries. The “sumi-e” style was introduced to Japan in the mid-14th century by Korean missionaries. Trained in the art of concentration, clarity, and simplicity, the first Sumi-e practitioners were highly disciplined monks. The teachers dedicated themselves to the art form through years of reflection and strict discipline. In preparation, they made ink by grinding a stick of solid ink (formed from the soot of pine branches) on stone and mixing it with water. By loading the brush (fude), they composed poems, stories, and characters with unique fonts handwritten on the delicate rice paper or silk parchment.

Outstanding masters of the style are Sesshu Toyo, Tensho Shubun, and Josetsu.

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